Eating Well on a Budget: Nutritional Wins from VIVA’s Kitchen

VIVA’s Home Nursing team recommends at least one meal that is rich in nutrients and provides lots of fibre to keep the body doing what it’s got to do to keep us as happy and well as we can be! 

But eating healthily on a tight budget is challenging, especially with today’s rapidly rising food prices. However, by focusing on nutrient-dense, whole foods and incorporating budget-friendly ingredients, you can create delicious, balanced meals for yourself and those you might be supporting too. Here are some tips for eating healthy meals and getting the best value for your dollar:

– Buy in Bulk: Purchase staples like rice, lentils, and oats in bulk to save money

– Seasonal Produce: Choose fruits and vegetables that are in season to get the best prices and flavours

– Frozen Vegetables: These can be cheaper than fresh produce and are just as nutritious

– Store Brands: Select store brand items, when possible, as they’re often more affordable than name brands

– Plan and Prep: Meal planning and preparation can reduce waste and ensure you have healthy meals on hand.

By incorporating these tips into your shopping list and weekly menu, you can enjoy various nutritious, tasty, and budget-friendly meals despite today’s rising food costs. Here is a week’s worth of cost-effective main meals designed to provide nutritional balance and variety:

Lentil and Vegetable Stew

Eggs are an affordable source of high-quality protein. Stir-fry cooked brown rice with eggs, frozen mixed vegetables (or whatever’s leftover in the fridge), and a bit of soy sauce for a simple yet nutritious meal. If you’ve got some in the cupboard, add a dash of sesame oil for flavour, and include chicken or tofu for extra protein.

Chickpea Spinach Curry

Chickpeas are inexpensive and packed with protein. Sauté (quickly fry) onions, garlic, and ginger, then add spices like garam masala or curry powder. Mix in some canned chickpeas, frozen (or fresh) spinach, and a can of coconut milk. Serve this rich curry over brown rice for a complete meal.

Egg Fried Rice

Eggs are an affordable source of high-quality protein. Stir-fry cooked brown rice with eggs, frozen mixed vegetables (or whatever’s left over in the fridge), and a bit of soy sauce for a simple yet nutritious meal. If you’ve got some in the cupboard, add a dash of sesame oil for flavour, and include chicken or tofu for extra protein.

Baked Potato with Tuna & Salad

Bake some potatoes until soft and fluffy inside. Mix canned tuna (in water) with a bit of mayonnaise, lemon juice, and chopped spring onions. Serve the tuna mix over the baked potato with a side salad of mixed greens, carrots, and tomatoes, and if you want, dress the salad with olive oil and vinegar.

Vegetable Pasta Bake

Wholegrain pasta is budget-friendly and filling. Cook the pasta and mix it with sautéed (fried) vegetables like zucchini, capsicum, and mushrooms. Add a jar of marinara sauce (or your favourite jar sauce) and some grated cheese before baking until bubbly. This dish provides fibre, vitamins, and calcium.

Bean and Cheese Quesadillas

Canned beans are cost-effective and nutritious. Mash them up with some shredded cheese, spread the mixture on half of a whole-wheat tortilla (or any thick wrap or round bread), fold, and cook in a frypan until golden. Serve with a side of salad (a cabbage slaw is often very affordable).

Stir-fried tofu with Vegetables

Tofu is a low-cost protein source that’s versatile and absorbs flavours well. Stir-fry tofu with a mix of whatever vegetables are on sale (e.g., broccoli, bell peppers, carrots) and a simple sauce made from soy sauce, garlic, and a touch of honey or sugar. Serve over a bed of brown rice or quinoa.

For people who aren’t fans of tofu, try some chicken or other protein instead.

Shortly we will be promoting a complimentary VIVA cooking experience with one of our VIVA founders who is a passionate cook in your own home.

If you’d like to learn more about health and well-being for yourself, your client or someone else, VIVA Mutual’s Support Centre team is always available to share our expertise and experience for the benefit of Support Coordinators, NDIS participants and those who support them. Many of us live with disabilities ourselves and/or have family members with NDIS Plans too, so we know what we’re talking about. 

For a confidential chat with one of VIVA Mutual’s understanding and supportive folks, please call 08 8877 8000 or send us an email via admin@vivamutual.org

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