It can be difficult to buy healthy groceries at the supermarket without paying through the nose once you reach the till. However, in a bid to show Kiwi households how they can eat nutritiously without breaking the piggy bank, Pak'nSave and the Herald have come together to discover what you should be doing to eat well and pay less.

We've all heard the saying from our parents, teachers or doctors, "five plus a day keeps the doctor away".

However, the majority of New Zealand adults fail to reach the mark each day.

Estimates from the 2015/16 New Zealand health survey found only 40 per cent of adults ate the recommended five-plus servings of fruit and vegetables a day.


In addition, many Kiwi consumers were changing how they eat due to their lifestyles.

"We tend to eat what is easy and most available," Healthy Food Guide nutritionist Claire Turnbull told the Herald.

"To break that cycle we need to normalise getting into the kitchen and some key basic cooking skills.

"We need to get back to basics, how to make an omelette, make soup, a veggie curry, stuff that's cheap and affordable."

Nutritionist Claire Turnbull. Photo / Supplied
Nutritionist Claire Turnbull. Photo / Supplied

Teaming up with the Herald, Turnbull and Pak'nSave sought to educate consumers on how to buy and eat healthily without blowing the budget.

"We've always tried to do it and to the core of our business, we try and support Kiwis," Pakn'Save's head of marketing Kamran Kazalbash said.

"But we're also trying to inspire them to make healthy, delicious choices as well - which also happens to be good for their wallets."

Four separate households from around New Zealand were selected to take part in an experiment.


Turnbull recorded each household's usual shopping and eating habits before making short recommendations they could follow.

She also learned about their lifestyles outside of the kitchen, making further recommendations around children and work-life balance.

The households included retirees, students, an urban family and a solo parent looking after three children.

Mechanical engineer Joel Young, who shared care for his children Kade, 7, Kyra, 6, and Mila, 4, was one of those.

Young has the children for seven days each fortnight, sharing the care of them with their mother.

He hoped by taking part in the Eat well, Pay less experiment, his cooking skills would improve to benefit the health of his children as well as his own.

Single parent and father of three Joel Young. Photo / Supplied
Single parent and father of three Joel Young. Photo / Supplied

Chicken and bacon fettuccine was a staple dish and something he fed to the children often but he wasn't sure it was the best option for them.

When it's his week to have the children, he would finish work in time to pick them up from school and they'd go shopping and do other activities before bedtime.

"We normally get home around 4.30 or 5pm and then it's a struggle to get dinner ready, showers done, homework done and all that kind of jazz," he said.

"I hope to get a better understanding of healthy eating really. To try and find new ideas to feed the kids and keep them healthy."

He also hoped to save a buck or two where he could, as he budgeted between $100 and $130 for groceries but often found himself spending upwards of $170.

"When I don't have the kids I'm finishing work at 7 or 8pm so it leaves the options quite limited when you want to cook something healthy," he said.

"A full day of work and then you still have to work when you get home, it makes it a bit daunting."

Turnbull said Young could make significant change by using more store brands like Pams.

Cooking in bulk, packing the children's lunches and going back to basics for breakfast with porridge and muesli would also help.

Turnbull also suggested getting the children to help with cooking at least once a week, which would help them in the long-run.

"Getting the kids involved in cooking and getting them to choose a theme for one of their meals once a week makes it a new fun routine."

>Top tips and tricks to eat well on a budget

Power planning

At the start of the week, sit down at a set time to plan your meals for the week ahead. Planning each week helps make sure you get a balance of foods to keep your body healthy but allows you to best plan the use of leftovers and makes it less likely you will need to buy things throughout the week.

Make your own lunch

Pack your own lunch as you would for your children if you have them - using leftovers from the night before is a great way to save money. If you deliberately cook extra, make sure you serve it up into containers when you serve dinner to avoid eating more than you need.

Smart snacks

Pre-made snacks can often be packed with sugar and salt - as well as expensive - but even if they're cheap, they're very unhealthy. Here are some alternatives you can try: Instead of buying bottles of yoghurt - buy unsweetened natural yoghurt in large containers and add to containers with a tablespoon of frozen fruit; make your own healthy snack bars, and eat homemade popcorn.

Egg-citing meals

Eggs are nutritious and quick and easy when making a meal. Omelettes and frittatas are also great ways to use leftover bits of veggies or hard bits of cheese you have lying around. A great low-cost meal is eggs on wholegrain toast, with tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and avocado if they're in season.

Slurp on a smoothie

Nutritious and quick, smoothies are a great option for breakfast. Here are some combos which you might like: Banana, milk, a tablespoon of oats and a tablespoon of peanut butter. Spinach, banana, milk and a tablespoon of yoghurt. Peeled and chopped carrot, banana, milk, a tablespoon of desiccated coconut, a pinch of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

This article is part of a partnership between the NZ Herald and Pak'nSave aimed at helping people learn how to eat well for less. To see how the other households went, click here