Slider of 5 healthy foods for under a five, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

5 healthy recipes for under £5

Our Food Fixer Rob Hobson understands how expensive it can be to cook healthily so here he shares five healthy recipes for under £5 that are also full of flavour and nutrition  

What’s the true cost of being healthy? Are you less healthy for not investing in the latest ‘superfood’ or trendy ingredient? Do these ingredients really offer superior health benefits or is it all just media spin? Is it possible to cook the latest  ‘on-trend’ healthy meals for around a fiver?

Is it possible to cook the latest ‘on-trend’ healthy meals for around a fiver?

These are just a few questions I was thinking about after it cost me £15 to buy the ingredients required to make one banana loaf using a recipe found in a new healthy eating cookbook on the market (even if you wanted to, you couldn’t buy a loaf for that much money on the high street).  Don’t get me wrong, the loaf was delicious, and I have one similar in my new book, however, to create gluten or dairy-free foods, especially sweet treats, you need to replace traditional ingredients such as flour with foods like ground almonds. This can work out pricey.

To create gluten or dairy-free foods, especially sweet treats, you need to replace traditional ingredients such as flour with foods like ground almonds which can work out pricey

five pound (coins), 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

Instead of forking out, you could eat for under a fiver

 

However, if you’re not intolerant to gluten, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional piece of traditional banana cake and the additional cost is realistically of no extra health benefit. One thing’s for sure, after working out the nutritional value of this cake and other gluten and dairy-free dishes (one thing I also noticed when writing my new cookbook, The Detox Kitchen Bible), you’ll be surprised how calorific they are when loaded with nut, seed and dried fruit alternatives to traditional ingredients which means adopting smaller portion sizes to get value for money per serving.

The key message? Not all calories should be viewed equally (gram for gram nuts, seeds and dried fruit do have a lot of good nutrition to offer).  These types of foods have to be eaten in moderation and should be eaten with the view that ‘less is more’, especially if you’re trying to watch your weight. Don’t think they can be eaten in large serving sizes just because they are labeled healthy. You still need to exercise portion control no matter how ‘healthy’ the ingredient list looks.

Nuts, seeds and dried fruit should be eaten with the view that ‘less is more’

I love the discovery of a new exciting ingredient, but food trends come and go, and if you look closely at the nutritional breakdown of the latest ‘superfood’ in the media, often it’s only high in one or other nutrient that can be gleaned just as easily from a more commonly available food (a reason Lily Simpson and I made every effort to include as many traditional foods that some may view as being a bit boring).

In response to these thoughts, I thought it would be quite nice to develop five dishes that cost around a fiver to prepare. Remember, if you’re cooking for one then get into the habit of storing your left-overs in the fridge for lunch the next day. You can also turn leftovers into whole new dishes with a little tweaking.

If you’re cooking for one, get into the habit of storing your left-overs in the fridge for lunch the next day

8 money saving healthy cooking tips

  1. Get freezer friendly There’s nothing wrong with freezing food and often it will keep for at least a month which also gives you a healthy quick supper for nights when you just can’t be bothered to cook or lunch options to take to work.

2. Experiment with meat cuts For example chicken thighs may need a little trimming but offer a great economical option (according to Sainsbury’s, chicken thighs are 40 per cent cheaper than breast). Better still, roast a whole chicken (you’ll be surprised how many dishes you get out of a medium chicken – and don’t forget to keep the carcass to make a delicious stock).

ROAST CHICKEN with trimmings in oven dish, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

You can get a lot of meals from a roast chicken

 

3. Don’t shy away from canned foods Pulses, lentils and beans are a great way to bulk out a dish and add valuable nutrients without breaking the bank. If you want even better value for money then try ‘dried’ although it’s a little more effort soaking overnight (although I do like being able to get a ‘bite’ to my pulses which you don’t get from canned varieties).

Pulses, lentils and beans are a great way to add valuable nutrients without breaking the bank

4. Eat with the seasons In season fruits and vegetables will be cheaper.

5. Don’t be put off by frozen foods There’s often a big difference in the price of fresh versus frozen especially with foods like fish, fruit and veggies.  I think these foods work best as ingredients to other dishes rather than being served alone (frozen berries are great in smoothies and healthy desserts as are frozen vegetables in casseroles, stews and curries).

Frozen berries in a bowl, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

Don’t be put off by frozen foods

 

6. Avoid pre-packaged veggies yes, they’re convenient but often significantly more expensive and I know I’m not the only one that throws away soggy bags of salad at the end of the week.

Shopping list with 'Healthy living' typed on it surrounded by fruit and veg, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

Making a shopping list can help you save money

7. Plan ahead I know it sounds like a faff, but even having a basic idea of what you’re going to cook across the week will help you to do a more focused shop. Never go shopping when hungry or with a hangover as you’re more likely to fill your trolley with comfort foods. Also take the time to do a weekly shop at your local supermarket rather than their local branches which often only offer packaged foods and lack the weekly offers.

Never go shopping when hungry or with a hangover as you’re more likely to fill your trolley with comfort foods

8. Get online I’m new to online food shopping and can’t understand why I hadn’t discovered it sooner. You can order your cupboard essentials whilst easily checking for deals and monitoring your trolley spend.  However, I still try and do my weekly veggie shop at the local market.

To keep up with growing food trends, more of the large food suppliers have begun to stock their own versions of foods such as grains (red rice, black rice, quinoa and freekeh), spices (sumac and zaatar) and those tailored to dietary needs such as gluten-free flour which are significantly cheaper than branded products. My only exception is coconut milk. The better brands just contain coconut and water whereas cheaper brand include stabilisers and frequently split on cooking.

13 of my favourite affordable nutritious foods (per serving price)

Quinoa Bowl of quinoa, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

Eggs

Avocados

Frozen peas

Frozen soya beans

Canned tuna

Brown rice

Lentils pumpkin seeds in a bowl and over wooden table, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

Canned beans and pulses

Tofu

Sweet potatoes

Chicken or turkey thigh

Pumpkin seeds

 

To make these dishes you may initially need to fork out for a whole packet of food but when used prudently, their value will stretch a long way. For these ingredients, their cost per gram has been calculated into the dish cost.

5 HEALTHY RECIPES FOR UNDER £5

1. Tuna, avocado and white bean salad (serves 2)

Total recipe cost £4.25

Cost per serving £2.12

459 calories

Rich in: Potassium, iron, selenium, vitamin D, E, B6, B12 and C

Tuna, avocado bean salad, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

 

Ingredients

160g can of tuna, drained

1 large avocado, cubed

400g can white beans, drained

1/2 red onion, finely sliced

Small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Method 

1. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl and gently toss (try to keep the tuna in large chunks)

  1. Divide between two small plates and serve with wholemeal pitta bread (optional)

 

2. Prawn, broccoli and sprout stir-fry (serves 2)

Total recipe cost  £5.40

Cost per serving £2.70

390 calories

Rich in: Potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin C and B complex

Prawn, broccoli and sprout stirfry, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

 

Ingredients

100g puy lentils

2 tsp coconut oil

1 red chilli, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 inch piece ginger, cut into sticks

2 tsp sesame seeds

150g frozen king prawns (defrosted)

200g broccoli, trimmed

10 Brussels sprouts, quartered

Small handful of coriander

Soy sauce (reduced salt)

Method 

      1. Heat the coconut oil in a large deep-sided non-stick pan or wok and add the garlic, ginger, chilli and sesame seeds cooking for 2 minutes.

2. Add the defrosted prawns to the pan and cook for another 3 minutes until cooked.

3. Add the broccoli and Brussels sprouts to the pan and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes adding a small splash of water half way through to help steam the greens a little (you want then to remain crunchy)

4. Throw in the lentils and combine then add soy sauce and coriander stirring for 1 minute then take off the heat.

3. Thai green curry (serves 2)

Total recipe cost  £5.02

Cost per serving £2.51

500 calories

Rich in: Potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin C and B complex

Thai green curry, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

 

Ingredients

2 tsp coconut oil

300g chicken thighs (cut into chunks)

1 courgette, cut into batons

100g broccoli, cut into small florets

100g frozen peas

100g frozen soya beans

1⁄2 red onion, finely sliced

2 tsp Thai green curry paste

150ml water

1⁄2 can coconut milk

Small handful of coriander, finely chopped

Method 

      1. Heat 1 tsp of coconut oil in a large non-stick deep-sided pan or wok

2. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes until cooked through, then set aside

3. Wipe the pan clean with kitchen towel and then heat another tsp of coconut oil in the pan

4. Add the vegetables and cook for 3 minutes, plashing with water half way through to steam the vegetables

5. Add the chicken and cook for 1 minute

6. Add the curry paste and stir for another minute until all the ingredients are coated with the paste

7. Add the water and cook for another 3-4 minutes until completely dissolved

8. Stir through the coconut milk and cook for another 3 minutes

9. Stir through chopped coriander and serve in small bowls

10. You can add in a little cooked quinoa of you want to bulk out the dish

4. Superfood salad (serves 2)

Total recipe cost £3.93

Cost per serving £ 1.96

Cost per serving (with 150g cooked chicken) £3.00

Cost per serving (with 100g cooked prawn) £4.00

Calories 440

Rich in: Potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B6, C, E and folate

Superfood salad, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

Ingredients 

1 large avocado, cubed

1 spring onion, sliced

1 courgette, diced

100g mixed lettuce leaves

1 large raw beetroot, julienned with a peeler or grated

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

50g quinoa

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

lemon juice

Salt and pepper

Method 

  1. Combine ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Serve alone or with cooked chicken breast or prawns

 

5. Turkey chilli  (serves 4)

Total dish cost £5.50

Cost per serving £1.37

Calories 380

Rich in: Potassium, iron, zinc, vitamin C and B complex

Turkey Chilli in dish, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.com

 

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1  tsp mild chilli powder

300g ground turkey, preferably dark meat

2 packs of chopped tomatoes  (buy in tetra pack and opt for the finest organic you can find)

150 ml Water

1 tin of black beans, drained

1 tin of aduki beans, drained

1 lime, juiced

2 spring onions, finely sliced

Coriander, chopped (optional)

Method 

      1. Preheat the oven to 180C

2. Combine the sweet potato chunks with a little oil an season well then place on a non-stick baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes until tender

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, non-stick deep-sided pan over medium heat then add the onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, chilli powder and cook for 10 minutes, until softened

4. Add the turkey and continue to stir for 15 minutes

5. Add the tomatoes and water then turn up the heat to come to a boil the turn the heat down and cook on low for about 24 minutes, adding more water if the mixture becomes too dry

6. Stir in the beans, lime juice and baked sweet potatoes, cooking for another 10 minutes

7. Serve in bowls with sliced spring onions and coriander

Read more Food Fixer blogs from Rob Hobson

rob-headshot, 5 healthy dishes under a fiver, by Healthista.comNutritionist Rob Hobson runs consultancies RHNutrition and HOPE (Helping Older People to Eat Well) and has built a reputation as a trustworthy and inspirational source of information working for the NHS, private clients and leading food and nutrition companies including supplements provider Healthspan. An obsessed foodie and skilled cook, Rob regularly cooks for celebrity clients and contributes to national press including Stella, Daily Mail, Grazia, Harpers Bazaar, Runners Fitness, Healthy magazine and Women’s Health.

To purchase a copy of Rob’s book, The Detox Kitchen Bible, please click here.

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