How to eat healthy on a budget!

This post will be in English, as a help to foreign exchange students in Norway and will be based on the short lecture given to the newly arrived exchange students at UiO.

When eating healthily there are a few key things to think about. When you add in a tight budget those key things become so much more important. In Norway the cost of food can seem pretty steep for foreigners. Especially fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy, and of course alcohol (we are students after all), can cut a substantial chunk out of a tight budget.

So what should we spend our money on?


Your body needs proteins. However, those proteins do not necessarily have to come from meat, and chances are you are already eating more protein than you need with the diet you had before arriving here. Since meat is expensive in Norway, and the cheaper options often do not have a great nutritional value, it is a good idea to switch to vegetarian options as well as egg, canned fish or bigger packs of frozen fish and meat. Legumes such as beans and lentils are often very cheap, even when you buy the pre-cooked ones, and are a great source of fibre in addition to protein. In general people in the western world do not eat enough fibre, so to have a protein source that helps with fibre intake as well, basically makes legumes a superstar. To help make the protein in legumes complete you should pair it with whole grains which are also a good source of fibre. In addition you will get healthy carbs, iron, B-vitamins, zinc and magnesium.

Eggs are already complete in protein quality, and extremely versatile. Maybe this is the year you will perfect the art of cooking egg. When buying fish and meat, the cheapest options are canned tuna and mackerel, or frozen bulk packs. Bigger packs of fresh meat and fish can also be divided and frozen in portions.

Fresh lentil salad

Photo by Karoline Alvik

Fruits and vegetables

Vegetables are such an important staple in staying healthy. They provide important vitamins and minerals, fibre, phytochemicals, at the same time as they are low in calories. The cheapest vegetables will always be the ones in season, that are grown in Norway. Even though cabbage, carrots, onions and beets might be bit boring, they have their own charm I think and are definitely very healthy. Roots in general are excellent when making soup, and can be eaten raw, stewed, and roasted as well. If you want to get several vegetables for one meal frozen packs of mixed vegetable are usually pretty cheap, and have a high nutritional value, because they have been frozen quickly after harvesting. Fruits will also vary in prize according to season. To get the most fruit for your money, stick with bananas, orange, and apples, and buy frozen fruits for smoothies.

Money saving hacks

Oslo has a great selection of immigrant stores, that you will find in the highest concentration in the east part of the city. These stores usually have a bigger selection of fruits and vegetables that are lower in price than the usual chain store. The selection of legumes, rice and other grains are also often better and cheaper.

Cooking with friends usually means lower price for the meal, because you can buy bigger sizes of things and not let them go to waste. This is also a nice way to connect to other people when you are new in town.

Use apps to get deals. Mattilbud is an app that summarises all current offers in chain stores. Many chain stores also have their own app that give you better deals.

Plan your meals. Make sure you pack your own lunch, so you avoid spending money when you are hungry and do not have any option other than an expensive one.

Do not make a habit of eating in restaurants and cafes.

Make your own coffee:)

Some healthy Norwegian habits

Make oatmeal porridge. Oats are so healthy, filling and cheap, and can be varied in flavour in many different ways. My favourite is to mix oats and Biola(a flavoured soured milk) and stick it in the fridge over night. In the morning I put some berries and nuts on top and it is honestly so good.

In Norway bread is commonly whole grain. Use the bread cutter in the store and you can put it in the freezer so that you always have a fresh slice to put in the toaster. We use many different «pålegg» such as mackerel in tomato sauce, brown cheese, cheese in general, shrimp salads, cold cuts, jam and peanut butter. My favourite is mackerel with mayo and cucumber slices. Knekkebrød is also a great and healthy alternative to bread, and are best when they are whole grain.

Drink water. The water in Norway has excellent quality right out of the tap, so get a bottle that you can refill during the day.

Here are some recipes for you to try out!

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