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Try our Eat4Cheap challenge

Find out how you could wipe hundreds of pounds off your food shopping bill and still eat a healthy diet.

Taking on the idea that "healthy eating is expensive", NHS Choices has launched the "Eat4Cheap" challenge.

The Eat4Cheap challenge asks you to see how much money you can save over a week while still eating a healthy balanced diet.

Eat4Cheap aims to show that healthy eating doesn't have to cost the earth - in fact, with a few simple tips, you can save money.

From cutting down on takeaways to choosing cheaper brands and reducing waste, households could save as much as £2,650 a year on food.


How much could I save?

The average household's weekly spend on food in and away from the home is £81.40, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) (PDF, 104kb).

Below is a breakdown of areas where you could potentially make significant savings while eating a healthy diet:

  • Reduce waste - the average household wastes £700 a year on food and drink according to this report from WRAP (PDF, 3Mb).
  • Cook from scratch - swapping takeaways for home cooking can save £800 a year, says Change4Life (361kb).
  • Trade down - buying cheaper brands than you normally do could save you up to £886 a year (based on saving 30% on a £56.80* weekly shop for food and non-alcoholic drinks), according to the MoneySavingExpert.
    *average household spend according to the ONS (PDF, 104kb).  
  • Eat less meat - if you were to halve your intake of red and processed meat you could save about £265 a year (based on an average weekly spend on red and processed meat per household of £10.20), according to the ONS (104kb).

Total potential saving: £2,651

With that amount of saving, you could afford to fly a family of four for a week's holiday at Disneyland Paris and have some spare cash to spend while you're there:

  • Flights and hotel: £1,896
  • Spending money: £750

source: Expedia. Booking search selection (made on 03/04/14): 2 adults, 2 children, from London to Disneyland Paris (7 nights: 26/07/2014 - 02/08/2014).


The Eat4Cheap challenge

The Eat4Cheap challenge asks people to see how much they can save over a week and share how they did it on our popular Healthy Eating community.

Use the community for all things relating to healthy eating on a budget, including money-saving tips and healthy recipes.

Before you start the challenge, read 20 tips to eat well for less.

"Taking part in our Eat4Cheap challenge is win-win," says NHS Choices chief editor Paul Nuki. "Eating healthily and saving money is good for your waistline and your bottom line.

"Rising food prices may be discouraging some households from trying to make changes to their diet. Eat4Cheap aims to show that healthy eating doesn't have to cost more."

Research carried out by NHS Choices shows how you can still buy five portions of fruit and vegetables for less than 50p.

How to get your 5 A DAY for less than 50p:

  • Tesco red UK cabbage: 7p per 80g portion (52p for 650g)
  • Sainsbury's Basics carrots: 6p per 80g portion (69p for 1kg)
  • Sainsbury's tomatoes loose: 15p per 80g portion (£2 for 1kg)
  • Asda bananas: 6p per 80g portion (68p for 1kg)
  • Asda Smartprice apples: 15p per 80g portion (90p for 500g)

Total: 49p
source: - accurate as of March 2014.

While participants can set their own money-saving target based on their individual circumstances, they must stick to the government's healthy eating guidelines.

This involves eating the right foods in the right proportion as illustrated by the eatwell plate and getting at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.


Unhealthy eating in the UK

The scale of unhealthy eating in Britain is alarming, with six out of every 10 people in England currently overweight or obese.

Only three out of 10 adults are achieving the recommended target of eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

It has been estimated that 15,000 deaths could be avoided if people ate more fruit and vegetables, according to a 2010 study.

As food prices rose 12% from 2007 to 2012, purchases of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables fell 16% and 6.3% respectively over the same period.

'How we saved'

The Eat4Cheap section is brimming with examples of people who have improved their diet and slashed their spending at the same time.

Examples include Caroline Finucane, who ate healthily on £3 a day, and mother-of-three Rachel Mostyn, who managed to cut the family's weekly food spend by £100.

"The challenge was a real eye-opener," says Rachel, from Bristol. "I know we spend a lot of money on food and I felt there were areas where we could make obvious savings."

Article provided by NHS Choices

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