Clean Eating is a topic that I commonly discuss with my clients. One of the most common concerns that I hear is that it’s too expensive. People automatically assume that it’s a lifestyle that is unattainable unless you make a lot of money. It’s this reason and more that I want to share my Top 10 Tips for Clean Eating on a Budget.
I remember when I started making a lifestyle change and noticed a difference in prices when I shopped the aisles. I was in my early 20’s, in college, with a college sized wallet and living in a small apartment off campus. I was over the cafeteria food, wanted to live a healthier lifestyle and set out to make a change.
With time and experience, I discovered many tips that were a game changer. Not just with the foods that I was buying but with the amount of money I was spending.
After attending school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I started experimenting with new things. I got out in the community and started learning more about my food. In addition, I was saving money and eating healthier.
Not only do I want to share these tips but I also encourage you to try new things.
Top 10 Tips for Clean Eating on a Budget
1. Stock Up on In-Season Produce
I am a huge fan of seasonal foods and shopping local. Whether you’re picking up local produce at the farmer’s market or your local grocery store, I recommend loading up on produce that’s in season. Shopping for foods that are in season not only provide a larger availability but they also come with many savings. You can usually find specials and deals when shopping in season. Not to mention, seasonal eating is great for your body and health. If you’re unfamiliar with a certain item, ask questions and try a new recipe. This past summer, I began canning and freezing more. Not only did I have a bounty of fresh veggies at a great value, but I had a variety of soups, sauces and salsas to enjoy.
A lot of variety of foods can freeze easily. If you love berries, peaches and melon, buy them in season and freeze them for the moths to come. I love peppers and use them in a variety of dishes. I buy them from a local farmer for 3 peppers for $1. I take bags and load up at her stand or farm. They cut and core well for freezing. They are perfect for stir fry dishes, sauces and stuffed peppers. It’s a huge deal compared to $3 for one organic pepper in the fall and winter. A lot of green beans and leafy veggies can be steamed and frozen for later use.
2. Buy in Bulk
I’ve become a huge bulk shopper because I find a huge savings. Bulk shopping is perfect for items like rice, beans (better than the can), seeds, nuts, quinoa, oils and other condiments. I buy my meat in bulk too. If you find a good deal and have room in your freezer, I recommend freezing meats. Local grocery stores often have sales on bulk meats. I like to buy a couple of turkeys from a local farmer around Thanksgiving and freeze the ones I am not using. I use the entire turkey from the meat to the bones for broth. You can find a lot of farms that sell beef, chicken and other meats too.
Bulk food stores like Costco have been adding a lot of organic options at a bulk price. They have tons of healthy goodies for you to buy and prep or freeze. This is a great alternative for off season shopping or anytime of the year.
3. Get to Know Your Farmer
I know this ties in with seasonal eating, but there are some other tips that I want to share when shopping local. Building a relationship with your farmer comes with many benefits. Not only are they great to talk to and exchange recipe ideas, but you can have a better understanding of the farming process and products used to preserve the food. A lot of farmers have a surplus of food at the end of the day, week or harvest. I discovered this when I was volunteering for a local food bank and we would have shopping carts of produce rolling in to give to the community. Not only do a lot of farmers donate food, but they offer great deals as well.
When shopping at the local farmer’s market, you will find discounted items and better deals towards closing time. The variety of options to choose from may be less, but farmer’s often offer discounts so they don’t have to pack up and take back a lot of leftover food. Shopping at CSA’s and sharing produce with friends and family is another great way to save.
4. Grow Your Own Garden
If you have the land and ability, growing your own food is a great way to save and have control of your growing practices. It’s usually so much food that you may end up giving some away or start canning and freezing. You can have exchanges as well. Maybe you have a garden and your neighbor has chickens. You can trade produce for eggs. Not only is having a garden a cost saver but it’s fun and healthy as well.
5. Learn About Labels
When I first started eating clean, I thought “natural” meant just that. I thought it was just as beneficial as organic and “labeled” it safe. Since attending Nutrition School, I’ve learned that just about anything can be called natural. It’s commonly used by companies to market food as healthy. The same foods that often come with a higher price tag. Learning about fat free, low fat, natural and other terms which are often thought of as healthy is a great way to have more control over your food and budget.
Since learning about labels, I’ve also started making a lot of my own condiments and seasonings. Check out the back label of taco seasoning, sauces and many salad dressings. Often, it’s hard to pronounce the ingredients or know what they are. A lot of dressings, seasonings and sauces can be made from simple staples that you have in your kitchen. Staples that can be stretched a great deal.
6. Shop Sales
Spending a little extra time shopping around for deals and clipping coupons can go a long way. Especially for items that freeze well, keep in the pantry and can be stretched in recipes. There are many online websites and apps that help you stretch your dollar. I’ve even seen coupon parties where a group of ladies get together and swap coupons for items they won’t buy but others would enjoy. Getting creative with sales and coupons can make your green go a long way.
7. Preparation is Key
When it comes to grocery shopping, preparation can save time, stress and money. Taking a little extra time to plan-out your meals for the week will help relieve stress about what you’re cooking and will also help narrow your grocery list. This will keep from over-purchasing and grabbing things that may go to waste.
Food prep can help with cost and time as well. Once you know what meals you are making, you can sort through your staples to see what you need to buy. Once you shop, prep some ingredients for the week to have ready to cook or snack on. Cook some meals ahead of time and freeze them for later use. Food prep parties and freezer crock pot parties have become a hit because of the benefits they offer.
8. Enjoy Leftovers
Unless I have food prepped for certain meals, I usually make enough dinner dishes to enjoy for lunch the next day. Not only does it save time that I would spend making another meal, but it saves food that could be wasted. Leftovers (depending on the ingredients) usually keep for several days. A good variety of them can freeze as well. I encourage cooking dishes in larger batches to enjoy for future meals.
9. Keep Your Fridge and Pantry Organized
When you can see what’s in your kitchen, you are less likely to waste food and buy more than you need. This especially pertains to fresh ingredients that can perish quicker. In addition, having a clean and organized kitchen may help with better food choices.
10. Organic Foods
Personally, I choose to eat organic over non-organic foods. Especially when it comes to meat and certain produce items. If you’re discovering that eating all organic is not in your budget, I welcome you to check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists. These lists show which items are more contaminated over others. Again, it’s your decision but if you’re wanting to remove chemicals and toxins from your food and body, check out the list and see what’s more important to buy organic.
Click here for the current list from EWG: Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen
I hope you’ve found some value from this list of tips. They have been a game changer in my life and I hope they provide great benefit to yours. If you’re looking for some more tips or have questions about anything I’ve shared, I welcome you to message me.
Do you have some tips of your own that I did not mention? Please share below. 😁