Posts Tagged '5 a day'

Cheapest way to 5 a day

30 August 2023 at 13:49

Cheapest way to 5-a-day

The cost of living crisis is a real challenge this year, as many are looking at their weekly budget and trying to find ways to reduce costs.

Food prices in particular have soared in the UK and this can change our shopping habits – buying what is affordable rather than the healthy food that we want.

It can be very hard to resist high calorie/low nutrient foods like biscuits and doughnuts when they are on offer at the supermarket. But these foods are low in micronutrients that the body needs in order to use those calories, and also low in fibre which helps to keep us feeling full and reduce hunger and cravings.

With this in mind – we set about calculating whether it is possible to achieve 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day for less than £5/week. And the good news is – yes it is possible!

What is a portion?

For the purpose of this analysis, a portion of fruit or veg is around 80g, or one medium sized fruit (edible portion). Some sources measure portion sizes in cups or handfuls; however, this varies depending on how finely the vegetable is chopped. The NHS website lists individual items such as 2 broccoli spears and 1 slice of melon as one portion – again, this is just a rough guideline as sizes can vary quite a bit.

Fruit juice can be counted for a maximum of one portion per day, as can pulses. Potatoes are starchy carbohydrates and are not counted, although sweet potato has a different nutrient profile and so is included.

Cost analysis per portion

In the analysis we found that carrots provided by far the best value for money per portion – their low price and high density makes an 80g portion just 3p (when taken from a 1kg bag). But to ensure a good range of nutrients are consumed, we need a range of different fruit and vegetables in different colours including yellow, orange, red, green and purple. Ready prepared mixed fruit and vegetables (such as stir fry or fruit medleys) work out most expensive per portion, at around 20p or more, due to the time and effort it takes in preparation and packaging. If you enjoy large fruits like pineapple and melon it is far more cost effective to buy the whole fruit and prepare it yourself.

Achieve 5 a day for less than £5 / week

Across a fortnight we are aiming for 70 portions in total (5 portions x 14 days) for under £10. The good news is that with a little planning, it is very possible to achieve this – with 5-a-day coming in at under 72p per day. Below is our example, using the current prices from various supermarkets. Bear in mind this doesn’t take into account any special offers or loyalty discounts, so you may be able to do even better than this! Each week try to switch different foods in and out to keep the diet interesting and varied. Also take a look at our article on foraging berries - Autumn is the perfect time to get some fruit completely free!

Two weeks fruit and vegetable shopping:



Approx. Portions

Total Price**

Price per portion

Medium broccoli - 375g





Carrots - 1kg bag





Onions (500g)*





Red cabbage - 540g





Spinach - 900g bag





Large mixed Stir Fry - 600g





Large tin tomatoes (400g)





Large tin kidney beans (240g drained)





6 Gala apples





6 Kiwi fruit





1 litre orange juice (not from concentrate)









*500g onions taken from a 1kg bag

**Prices correct as at August 2023



Buying in bulk and using leftovers

You may have noticed that the best value for money comes from buying larger sizes – but what if you can’t eat that much? Dense foods like carrots, apples and onions usually last longer than a week, so these can be purchased in bigger quantities. But other produce needs to be eaten much sooner. If you find yourself with leftovers that won’t last, one easy way to save them is to pop them in a blender and then freeze in small portions – these can be used in soups or smoothies in the following week and make an excellent contribution to your 5 a day with very little effort.

Be careful what you throw away

We do tend to waste a lot of valuable food during preparation, maybe through habit or just not being sure which parts are edible. If you ‘top and tail’ your veg, ask yourself whether it is necessary. If it is, make sure you are not taking off more than needed. What about the thick stem of the broccoli? It is not just the spears that can be eaten. The same goes for cauliflower leaves which are often discarded in favour of the white centre. Can you eat the edible skins on some foods, rather than peeling? You will get a lot more nutrients this way. Using the maximum amount of the fruit or vegetable possible may help you achieve several extra portions over the course of a week!

Final thoughts

Now that you have seen the example, hopefully you will feel reassured that eating healthily can be achievable on a tight budget. And to complete your healthy diet you would only need to add some grains (e.g. a large bag of brown rice), additional protein (more beans/lentils, or animal products like eggs, fish and chicken breast) nuts and seeds, and healthy fats like olive oil - plus a variety of herbs and spices for flavour.

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

Tags: Cost of healthy living in the UK | 5 a day

Posted in Health | Nutrition