Last week we talked about healthy eating on a budget. Today I want to take it a step further and focus on how to start clean eating on a budget. It is very similar with just a couple of extra steps.
Clean eating focuses on fresh ingredients, no processed foods, and eating good foods as close to nature as possible such as: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cage-free eggs, grass-fed beef and grain-fed poultry, and raw milk (if possible) to your diet.
Some of these may seem like a burden when you are on a small food budget, but with the tips below, you can eat clean and stay within your budget. I am sure you will recognize some from the previous post; but read through there is extra information that applies specifically to clean eating.
Buy In-season Produce
A major component of clean eating is buying fresh produce rather than canned fruits and vegetables. Frozen produce is OK; but, if in-season fruit is available, it is always better to choose that. Buy in bulk, and freeze it yourself.
Use Google to help you search for seasonal produce in your area. When you can buy it from a Farmer’s Market, or even directly from the farmers, it will be less expensive. My next choice is SPOUTS Farmer’s Marker, if there is one near you. Those sources will probably be the least expensive.
For example: you may be able to buy strawberries, peaches, and nectarines very inexpensively in the summer and find that squash is a better buy in the fall. Always buy extra when the price is right and freeze the leftovers
Don’t Worry About Superfoods
When you first start reading about clean eating, you may find “experts” expounding the importance of certain superfoods that you should start eating. The reality is – they are nutritious and excellent additions to your diet; but, you don’t have to eat them just start a clean eating.
If you cannot afford to add chia seeds of flax seeds to every smoothie or eat a pomegranate each morning, don’t worry about it. Buy the clean foods you can afford and eat those – you will be doing just fine.
I have been on a clean eating diet for almost a year and have never purchased chia seeds.
Eat Less Meat
It is important to have a good amount of grass-fed, organic lean meat in your diet; however, it is a little more expensive than other options. To help when you are on a budget, remember: it does not have to be the main dish all the time. You can cut back on the amount of meat you eat by using it as an ingredient in a salad, a casserole, or a stir-fry.
Learn to cook with more vegetables and grains as primary ingredients in your meals. You may even want to learn to cook vegetarian dishes and serve those on alternate days. There are wonderful recipes available that you can try. Check out The Healthy Diet Cookbook for some tasty choices.
As noted before, you can also use chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds to add protein to your meals. Beef is good, but it is not the only choice.
Be Smart When it Comes to Buying Organic
Everything you eat does not have to be organic on a clean eating diet. You just need to know which foods and ingredients should be organic and avoid the extra unnecessary cost of buying the ones that are perfectly fine from the regular bins.
The items that should always be organic, if at all possible are:
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Snap Peas
- Hot Peppers and Sweet Bell Peppers
- Leafy Greens: Lettuce, Green Collards and Kale
It seems like a lot, but all of those listed are fairly easy to find in organic bins and there is not always a huge cost difference. There are a many others you can buy from the conventional bins and be OK – especially items that can be peeled easily – carrots, beets, plums, mangoes, papayas, bananas, oranges, etc.
By following these four easy tips, you will be well on your way to eating clean and sticking to your budget.
Remember planning your meals a week in advance will help you buy only food items you need and will use within the week. And . . . once your list is made, always check your pantry and fridge before you shop so you don’t buy duplicates and end up wasting food.
Clean eating is good for you – for your family – and for the environment. Join the trend today – start clean eating on a budget, and live a longer, healthier life.