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. There may be that one food you just can’t let go of, but that isn’t the issue either.
The issue is the bottom line, that line item on the budget 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.
Perhaps you picked up the package of organic berries and took one look at the price tag and walked the other way thinking, ‘Are you joking? How do people afford to eat this way?’
It's frustrating, isn't it? You want to eat healthier foods, but your wallet just doesn't allow for it.
Unless you have a whole lot of discretionary income, changing your way of eating and shopping doesn’t usually happen overnight.
So what can you do?
You can make small incremental changes and keep looking for ways to eat clean on your budget. Clean eating can be an investment, but it is one worth making.
Here are my top tips for eating clean on a budget:
1 | Start with the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiles a list of the top fruits and vegetables with the most amount of chemicals, the "Dirty Dozen," as well as fruits and vegetables with the least amount of chemicals, also known as the "Clean 15."
If you are on a budget, start making small incremental changes by eating organic versions of the produce on the Dirty Dozen list.
2 | Prepare Home-Cooked Meals
Cooking at home saves money over eating out any day. You can even take it one step further and start making food from scratch. It can be cheaper than buying those fancy, boxed side dishes and cake mixes.
You will save money and, better yet, you will have total control and know exactly what’s in the food you’re eating.
If cooking is new to you, as it was to me, adopt the mindset that cooking can be a creative outlet. Experiment with new-to-you foods and spices. You may discover that you're good at it and find a brand new hobby!
My challenge to you: Try mastering one new dish a week!
3 | Plan Your Meals and Shop with a List
As I mentioned, the key to success with clean eating (and well, with anything) is to always have a plan. You will save money (and time!) by knowing what you need. And you'll make fewer trips to the store.
I use the app Evernote and have a notebook for recipes that I want to try, and a note with a list of my favorite foods.
Each week I decide what I want to cook for the coming week. Then I take a quick inventory of my kitchen, review my favorite foods list and highlight what groceries I need to buy (and add new-to-me ones too)!
You can even take things a step further and organize your grocery list according to the layout of your grocery store. It sounds a bit Type-A, but it saves time and makes your trip to the grocery store more efficient.
Tip: Find out what day the sales at your grocery store starts. My store starts sales on Tuesdays, so Tuesday mornings are my designated grocery shopping day (it's also less crowded)!
4 | Buy In Bulk
If you have the means, and let's be honest, the kitchen space, purchase groceries in larger quantities, then 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.
Tip: For dry items, also check Amazon for Subscribe and Save deals!
5 | Shop Local and In Season
Foods that are in season are fresher and usually more affordable. Foods that aren't local or in-season have to be shipped from far away places, sometimes even from halfway around the globe!
Also, it pays to know your farmer. When you buy directly from the source, you can ask questions about farming, harvesting and selling practices.
Challenge: Visit your local Farmers Market and see what's in season!
6 | Use Discounts or Coupons
Most grocery stores will have a mailing list that you can subscribe to where they send out notices on sales and often coupons and discounts. Some, like Whole Foods, also have an app that you can download to your smartphone that you can use to learn about specials, discounts, and deals.
7 | 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. You can find them at coopdirectory.com or localharvest.org.
Not sure which fruits and veggies are the best to buy organic?
Download the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists to find out!
Hi, I'm Naomi!
I help smart and savvy women who suffer from chronic stress, unexplained weight gain and burnout, breakthrough their healthy blind spots and relieve symptoms through natural healing with whole foods and by making lifestyle and environmental changes. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day?
I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.