Eating clean can be costly and for most, shopping exclusively at Whole Foods can consume your whole paycheck…but that is NO excuse to eat any other way. There are many ways to save cash and still eat whole, single-ingredient foods and while organic is typically more expensive than “normal” foods, it’s not impossible to incorporate them into your diet without breaking the bank.
This time of can be a financial strain for a lot of us, so here is a list of tips to help you keep eating clean throughout the holidays.
The worst mistake you could possibly make when grocery shopping is to go hungry. Be sure to eat something healthy and filling before you embark upon a grocery store spree. The grocery industry invests millions of dollars on subliminally and blatantly speaking to your stomach in an effort to manipulate you into purchasing WAY more than you need or even want. There is a reason the place is set up like an obstacle course, forcing you to maneuver through the toxic and tantalizing processed foods just to get to the staple items.
Secondly, go in with a plan. Plan out your meals for the week, then make a grocery list of what you will need to make that happen. Give your pantry and fridge a good once-over to see what you already have and look for any hidden treasures you may have overlooked. Only plan to purchase what you know you’re going to use for that week, so you don’t end up throwing away a lot of what you buy and your pantry and fridge are borderline bare by the end of the week.
Once you’ve planned your meals and made your grocery list, stick to it and no NOT deviate from the list. It’s SO easy to get sidetracked, which can lead to unintended, expensive purchases.
The middle of the store often contains the most processed and unhealthy foods, so if you find yourself in these aisles, look to the top or bottom of the shelves rather than straight ahead because the most expensive items are usually placed at eye level. (One of the many Jedi mind tricks they use)
I frequently make lists with the very best intentions, but it never fails that I misplace it or forget it…so I’ve become an app connoisseur these days have at least solved the lost list problem. (I’m still figuring out the lost car key dilemma) There are a myriad of apps available now that enable you to keep a list on your phone, some of which allow you to share your lists, search for recipes, save favorite items and create lists for separate stores as well as send you notifications for sales on items you frequently purchase. My personal Favorite is FOOD.com
Old school paper or tech-geek app – bottom line, use a list!
Cooking at home is much cheaper than eating out when you are the one preparing your own food, you actually know exactly what is going in it. Knock out a weeks worth of lunches in one day by prepping your food ahead of time. Invest in some good storage containers and make use of them! Having even just a portioned out protein source on hand at all times can save you a time in the long run and keep you from reaching for processed, sugar and fat laden foods on the fly.
Another way to knock out some food prep is by cooking larger portions at meal time, portioning out the leftovers and freezing them for another day.
Buy Whole Foods
Whole foods trump processed foods in many ways! Not only are they healthier, they tend to be way cheaper then the manhandled variety.
Buy Generic Brands
Buying generic brands can be a crapshoot, but if you test-drive some options, chances are you will find some rock solid alternatives to the overpriced competition. Also, whole, fresh foods don’t typically tout big name labels to begin, especially if you buy local.
Cut the Crap
Once you eliminate processed foods from you diet, you will be amazed at how much you can save. Simply switching from soda or juices and designer drinks to water can cut your bill drastically.
Local produce that is in season is more nutrient dense, packed with more flavor than the mass marketed brands and are generally cheaper. Produce that is not in season comes at a price and most of that price if in spent on transporting said produce halfway around the world.
Opt for Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Fresh fruits, berries and vegetables are usually in season only a few months per year, and are sometimes rather expensive. Quick-frozen produce is usually just as nutritious. It is cheaper, available all year and is usually sold in large bags.
Frozen produce is great to use when cooking, making smoothies, or as toppings for oatmeal or yogurt.
Furthermore, you gain the advantage of being able to take out only what you’re about to use. The rest will be kept safe from spoiling in the freezer.
Reducing produce waste is a great way to save money.
Buy in Bulk…or NOT
You can’t always ASSume that buying in bulk with save you cash! Check out the cost to volume ratio. Do you really need 2lbs of something if you are only saving 1¢ per pound? Especially if it is something that is perishable.
That being said, buying foods like brown rice, quinoa and oats in bulk can save you some cash.
Embrace the Incredible Edible Egg
Utilizing eggs as a staple protein source can save you some serious cash. Eggs are a rich source of vitamins A, E and K and a range of B vitamins such as B12 (energy), riboflavin and folic acid. Eggs also contain all eight essential amino acids needed for optimal muscle recovery and building valuable minerals like calcium, zinc and iron. With all that to back it AND the fact that they are so affordable, how can you not embrace them.
One of my all time favorite time saving, money saving recipes is the Fritatta. I just throw whatever I have in the fridge in there, pop it in the oven and call it a meal.
NO EXCUSES! Eating clean is simple. If you’re doing it right, you will get accustomed to consuming foods in their most natural state without sauces, toppings, marinades, hyper flavored synthetic spices and the like. And a complete meal should consist of only a few ingredients – a protein, veggies and an unprocessed complex carbohydrate. This simple menu alone can cut costs.