Healthy eating habits/Cost Effective Healthy Eating for Students and Part Time Workers

What is Healthy Eating?


Healthy Eating is choosing a wide variety of foods that have a lot of nutrients in them. When eating healthy it is important to have different foods from each of the five food groups. This will ensure you get a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating [1] has more information on food groups and serving sizes. Below we explore the five food groups[2] a little further.



The grains or cereal food group provides a lot of the carbohydrates we use for energy, and contains grains such as

  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Quinoa

The foods in this group can be eaten as they are or made into other food items such as

  • Bread
  • Porridge
  • Whole wheat biscuits
  • Wholegrain pasta
  • Polenta
  • Crumpets

When choosing foods from this group it is important to eat foods that are wholegrains, that is cereals or grains that use the whole grain in the food product such as wholemeal pasta, wholemeal multigrain bread, brown rice and crumpets.



Consuming vegetables each day is an excellent way to include vitamins, minerals and fibre. [3]Eating a wide variety of vegetables has been linked to a reduced risk of developing some nutrition related diseases, so it is important to eat lots of different colours and varieties.

Consider eating dark leafy vegetables like

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Silverbeet

or root vegetables such as

  • Carrot
  • Beetroot
  • Sweet Potato
  • Swede

Also included in the vegetables group are legumes and beans. These are suitable as meat alternatives and contain lots of fibre [3] .Varieties include

  • Chickpeas
  • Red kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Split peas
  • Baked beans

Also include other vegetables such like zucchini, pumpkin, tomato, avocado, asparagus, capsicum and parsnip.

Fruit and Vegetables



Fruit is an important part of having a nutrient packed healthy diet. Fruit has a lot of vitamins and minerals as well as fibre [3]. Eating fruits that are in season can help save money and add variety. Include different fruits like

  • Apples
  • Berries,
  • Mandarins
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon.



Dairy foods are an excellent source of protein , calcium and zinc [3]. These nutrients are important for healthy bones and overall body health. Dairy foods include

  • Milk
  • Yoghurt
  • Cheese

Dairy alternatives include

  • Soy Milk/Yoghurt
  • Almond Milk
  • Rice Milk

Meat/Meat Alternatives


Meat and meat alternatives are a fantastic source of protein. Red meat in particular is a good source of dietiron iron and Vitamin B12 [3]. Healthy options in the meat and meat alternatives group include:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Kangaroo
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Fish (tuna/salmon)
  • Seafood (oysters, prawns and crab)
Meat/Meat Alternatives

Alternatives to meat include:

  • Eggs
  • Nuts (almonds/cashews)
  • Peanut spreads
  • Seeds (sunflower seeds/pumpkin seeds)

Does healthy food cost more?


When choosing a snack it is important to look at what you are actually getting. For example, a 2 pack of blueberry muffins will cost approximately $4, and for that you get 2 snacks. However, a jar of peanut butter will cost around $4.50 and a packet of rye biscuits around $2.50 which totals $7. This may look more expensive, but when you look at cost per serve it is a lot more cost efficient. The added bonus here is that you will get more value out of the peanut butter and biscuits as you get more serves out of it compared to the blueberry muffins. Below are some more cost effective food swaps for snacking.

1 Medium Apple + 20g Almonds
= $ 1.27
1 Medium Chocolate Bar
= $2.00
2 Rye Biscuits + 1 tbsp Peanut Butter
= $0.42
1 Blueberry Muffin
= $2.00
170g Greek Yoghurt
= $2.20
90g Potato Chips
= $2.52
40g Rolled Oats
= $0.06
30g Cocoa Pops
= $0.39

Top tips for Saving money


[4] Some tips to include healthy nutritious meals, save money and make the most out of your food.

  • Take advantage of foods that are in season. Choose frozen or canned varieties when fresh foods are not in season.
  • Make meals in bulk and freeze them. This will help you use all your ingredients and minimise how much food gets thrown away. This will ensure you always have a healthy meal or snack on hand.
  • Take advantage of multi-buys for products such as cereals, yoghurt, breads and vegetables. Fresh foods can be frozen or included into a meal which can be frozen.
  • If you have large amounts of vegetables that need to be used they can go into making nutritious soups or stews. These can also be frozen and make for a quick and healthy meal if you are time poor with study or work.
  • Choose generic brands where possible. Products such as oats and canned beans are a good place to start.
  • Do not shop when hungry. Have a small snack or chew mints or gum when shopping.
  • Take advantage of bulk pantry items like pasta, rice, canned beans and cereals. These last a long time and are a good base for a lot of meals.
  • Plan what you are going to buy before doing your shopping and consider using a list to help you purchase only what you need.

Further Information



  1. Australian Dietary Guidelines, Eat for Health. (2014). Australian Dietary Guidelines. Retrieved from
  2. [1], Eat for Health. (2014). The Five Food Groups. Retrieved from
  3. a b c d e Whiteny, E & Rolfes, S.R.(2011). Understanding Nutrition. (12 ed.).Belmont, CA. USA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning
  4. [2], Dietitians Association of Australia.(2014).Healthy Eating on a Budget. Retrieved from