Planning for a change

When Dennis was told he had an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, he and his wife Sarah knew they had to make changes to their diet.


With diabetes being a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, and Sarah managing high cholesterol, they knew they had to eat well if they wanted to stay healthy. 

My world sort of changed straight away. I thought well - what's going on now? Your whole life changes because the concept of eating changes


In the short term, ditching the takeaways and switching to fruit instead of sugary and fatty treats made a big difference – but in the longer term they found it hard to budget for the healthy foods they knew they needed to get a balanced diet.

Chatting with dietitian Sue Baic, Sarah and Dennis discussed the fact that they don’t plan ahead when thinking about what they’re going to eat for the week. 

After thinking about what a healthy diet looked like and realising they weren’t sure what they were spending over the week,  they worked together to plan some meals and write a shopping list.  This meant they spent £42 for three healthy meals a day for two, with plenty of storecupboard staples left over.

“When you think about forty two meals that’s twenty one pound each. You’re going to spend that if  you get a take-away." says Dennis. "The insight has been fantastic, and it has taught myself and Sarah a heck of a lot."

You can now order our Eat well, shop smart, save money films on DVD.

The films include information about batch and microwave cooking, healthy family meals and menu planning.

The DVD includes subtitles in English, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Pujabi and Urdu, and in-vision BSL translation.

Order now

Dennis and Sarah's meal plan

Dennis, Sarah and Sue came up with a list of healthy main meals and used this for the basis of a shopping list.  The meals were:

  • Roast chicken with roast potatoes, peas and spinach
  • Chicken curry (using leftover chicken), using spinach, chopped tomatoes and frozen peppers
  • Spaghetti bolognese using lean beef mince, onions, and mushrooms
  • Turkey stir fry using a pack of stir-fry vegetables
  • Chilli con carne using lean mince, kidney beans and chopped tomatoes
  • Home-made pizza using pre-made pizza bases, tomatoes, frozen peppers and reduced fat cheese.

Dennis and Sarah's shopping list

Dennis and Sarah's shopping list is based on having fruit juice, eggs and wholemeal toast or cereal for breakfast - simple lunches such as mackerel on toast, tuna and jacket potatoes or soup - and the evening meals outlined above.


Fridge    Storecupboard  Freezer   Fresh fruit & veg  
Orange juice 65p (1L) 12 eggs £1.86 Frozen spinach £1.50 (1kg)
Bananas £1.15 (for 8)
Milk 89p (2 pints)   Fruit & Fibre cereal £1.75 (500g)  Peppers £1.50 (750g)  Tangerines £1 (750g)
Reduced fat mayonnaise 60p (250ml)  Tinned sardines 60p (120g) Peas £1.45 (1.2 kg)  Lettuce 70p (1 lettuce)
Reduced fat cheese £3.25 (400g) Tinned mackerel 90p (125g)   Tomatoes 89p (450g)
Whole chicken, turkey steaks, lean mince £10 (as part of a deal) Wholegrain bread 90p (800g)   Stir fry mix £1 (700g)
2 Tins of soup 60p (400g)    
  Tinned tuna in spring water 90p (185g)    
  Potatoes £2.09 (2.5kg)    
  Tin of beans 30p (420g)    
  Pasta 35p (500g)    
  Rice 40p (1kg)    
  Curry powder £1 (80g)    
  3 cartons of chopped tomatoes £1.05 (400g)    
  Onions £1 (1kg)    
  Mushrooms 99p (400g)    
  Noodles £1.69 (375g)    
  Kidney beans 30p (400g)    
  Pizza bases £1 (2 10" bases)    
  Tomato puree 35p (200g)    

Based on prices shopping in Sainsburys in Spring 2014.  This  is intended to illustrate how a week of healthy meals could look. It is not intended as an eating plan to be followed on a long term basis. Talk to your GP or practice nurse who can advise or refer you to see a registered dietitian if you need more tailored support to plan your meals.

Top tips for savvy shopping

  • Check the labels to make sure you're getting the best value on foods like rice and pasta. Foods of the same weight can look very different depending on their packaging. Order our Guide to food labelling for more information
  • Choosing supermarket own-brands can help you shave pounds off the price of your shopping.
  • Think frozen. Frozen fruit and vegetables can be a convenient to keep in the freezer and are often cheaper than fresh.
  • Plan your own meals- Order or download our Eating well booklet for free, which includes the weekly meal planner shown in the film.