Nutritious Meals on a Budget

Conducted by: Chua Chin Leong, Social Worker 

                      Nuruljannah Binte Surahman, Programme Coordinator

Conducted on: 21 March 2015



So how can the rest of us still have nutritious meals without breaking the bank? It all boils down to the definition of a nutritious meal, which surprisingly many are not aware of. A nutritious meal is one that provides us with all the essential nutrients that the body requires. The body requires 6 essential nutrients namely carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre.

According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), these essential nutrients are important for the well-being of the body. To help Singaporeans meet the recommended intake of these essential nutrients daily, HPB has introduced a new guide in 2014 known as My Healthy Plate.

My Healthy Plate encourages Singaporeans to practise healthy eating habits using an easy-to-understand visual representation of a balanced and healthy diet. To learn more about My Healthy Plate, please visit <a></a>.



Life today isn’t quite as simple. Our busy lifestyles are characterised by convenient bites – ready-to-eat meals and processed foods – all within easy reach. We want our food fast, yet tasty. But here’s the trade-off. Processed food strips away the nutritional value of food and is usually made with too much sugar, salt and at.

Not only do these get us hooked on their addictive qualities, these are necessary ingredients in the food manufacturing process. For example, sugar helps make donuts bigger when fried, and bread stays fresh for longer. Fat makes food tastier (chips are suddenly crunchier); fat also reduces the incidence of food sticking to pans during the cooking process. Best of all, fat lets food sit on the supermarket shelves for months without spoiling. Throw in advertising and the art of obfuscation into the mix – claims of 0% trans fats, added vitamins etc. – and you can begin to see just how much more challenging it is to be able to eat healthy these days.



So,is it even possible to eat nutritious and healthy meals on a budget?

Healthier methods of cooking is one sure way to healthier eating. But more importantly, shopping smart is the way to go. Many of us frequent supermarkets to shop for groceries,but do you know that:

1)    The most expensive products are usually placed at eye-level. The trick is to look up and down the shelves and compare prices with other brands.

2)    Chocolates and sweets are placed at the eye-level of children. Gently steer children away from too much sugary food, saving unnecessary purchases too!

3)    Daily necessities such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, dairy products, egg, bread, and rice are placed at the perimeter of the supermarket. You can avoid browsing the aisles in between, helping you save on extras you don’t need.

Besides these supermarket tricks, here are some other tips to achieve your goal:

1)    Keep an organised pantry and fridge

2)    Plan meals in advance

3)    Make a grocery list

4)    Be wary of bargains

5)    Repurpose leftovers

6)    Store food properly*

As you can see, eating healthy on a budget can be a rather daunting endeavour to the uninitiated but it is not impossible. With awareness and some planning ahead, eating healthy can be a sustainable way of life – with or without expensive organic produce. At the end of the day, it all comes down to making the right choices. The journey of healthy eating starts from one small step.The next time you go out shopping, try looking out for HPB Healthier Choice Symbols on the packaging. You can be sure that these are lower in total fat, saturated fat, sodium and sugar.

* To learn more about proper storage of fruits and vegetable, visit <a></a>.