The biggest hurdle most people have to clean eating isn’t the food. Fresh, homemade, organic food is delicious! It isn’t giving up those ‘unclean’ foods. The issue is the bottom line, when you try to switch it all to clean, organic, GMO-free food, hit the checkout line for the first time, and almost faint when the total comes up. Maybe you didn’t even make it that far. Maybe you picked up the package of organic cereal and took one look at the tag on the shelf and walked the other way thinking, ‘How do people afford to eat this way?’
I can tell you, unless you have a whole lot of discretionary income, changing over your way of eating and shopping doesn’t usually happen overnight. We make small changes and keep looking for ways to eat clean on our budget and find ways to funnel more money over to the food line. It is an investment, but I can tell you that it is one worth making.
To help you out, here are my top 7 tips for eating clean on a budget:
Make it from scratch –
Cooking at home saves money over eating out any day. You can even take it one step further and start making food from scratch, which is even cheaper than buying those fancy, boxed sides and mixes. You will save money and, better yet, you will know exactly what’s in the food you’re eating. Try mastering one new dish a week! Scroll down for a quick salad dressing you can make at home – its delicious without any preservatives and additives!
Plan your meals and shop with a list –
It is always a good idea to have a plan. You will save money by knowing what you need and making less trips to the store. Also, you don’t need to buy everything organic. Check out the EWG list of Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen. Peaches and apples are in the top of the Dirty Dozen list while onions, avocados and broccoli are in the Clean Fifteen list. Check out more info on www.foodnews.org.
Buy in bulk –
If you can, purchase larger quantities, and freeze and store the extra for another week. Stores always have bigger packs that cost less per unit. Be wary, though: sometimes the big package isn’t less. Be sure to check the unit price and be a smart shopper. Costco has expanded their organic produce section – the only issue with the big packages of fresh organic produce is that they don’t last long and hard to consume on your own – split the big packages with another family or friend.
Shop local and in season –
Foods that are in season are generally cheaper than the foods that have to be shipped from halfway around the globe. Also, it pays to know your farmer and buy directly from the source. The biggest advantage of seasonal veggies and fruits is they are packed with nutrients!
Use discounts or coupons if you can find them –
Sometimes, you can find a deal or get a coupon on healthy snacks and some of those great, organic convenience foods.
Join a group –
There are plenty of local groups that share in the savings by pooling their buying power. Check out a local co-op or CSA or start one in your area. You can find them at coopdirectory.com or localharvest.org.
Go meatless –
If you haven’t cut meat out of your diet yet, you can start by eliminating it from a few meals a week. Beans are cheaper than beef!
Salad dressings make eating salad a lot more fun. Here is a salad dressing recipe – kids approved! This one will beat any of the store bought ranch dressing and will make the pickiest eater go for a 2nd or even a 3rd helping!!!
You Are The Chef Salad
- Organic greens of your choice
- Veggies of your choice – make sure to follow the EWG Shopper’s guide to purchase fresh produce. You don’t have to buy everything organic. I like to use celery, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers (different colors), radishes, avocados and beets. I like to roast beets on 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes and keep them refrigerated. They add a delicious sweet flavor to the salad. Make sure they still have a little crunch and not over done.
For Yummy Ranch Dressing with a Twist
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (add a little extra water if using greek yogurt). Click here for Homemade yogurt recipe (you can leave out yogurt for the vegan version)
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/4 avocado
- 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro (or flat parsley) – roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
Blend and store in a small jam jar. Will stay fresh in fridge 4-5 days.
I love this dressing over fresh greens, raw salad or steamed veggies. It will also be great over chicken or fish if you eat them.
Do you have any local resources to share or any tips that can help save a buck? Leave a comment below.
Also check out my blog on Can we eat Healthy on a Budget?