My $30 A Week Clean Eating Grocery Challenge

My last post was about eating clean on a budget.  I realized I didn’t do so well shopping this weekend – way overspent.  I already had quite a bit of food on hand. I probably have enough food in my fridge and freezer to last almost a month.  So I’ve decided that for the next few weeks I will buy only the perishables that I need and limit myself to $30 per week – less than half of what I usually spend.

I was surfing the net and found lots of posts on eating clean on a budget and was amazed that a family of three can eat well on the same amount that I spend for myself! Eye opener.

Here’s what I have in the freezer:

1 bag of beef and broccoli ( 2 meals)
Package of 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
2 14 oz. bags of turkey meatballs
12 turkey burger patties
4 large chicken breasts
Tuna fillet
2 boxes of whole grain waffles
12 packages of assorted frozen veggies
3 egg white patties
1/2 bag of sweet potato fries
bag of frozen mixed fruit
Package of cracked black pepper turkey deli meat ( Hormel – no nitrates or antibiotics)
Container of frozen sweet corn ( bought corn on the cob on sale, cooked and sliced from the cob)
Large baggie of homemade chicken stock
Package of pasta sauce
Loaf of whole grain bread
8 pack of French hamburger buns ( for the turkey burgers)
3 hoagie rolls – getting a little old – will use for seasoned bread crumbs

In the pantry:

5 boxes of assorted pasta
2 large jars of pasta sauce
Success brown rice
Green tea bags
can of diced tomatoes
2 packages crackers
Quinoa
Bag of split peas
Bran cereal
Wild rice
Can of enchilada sauce
Olive oil
Vinegar
Worcestershire sauce

In the fridge:

Chunk cheese
Eggs
Egg Beaters
6 Hard cooked eggs
Romaine lettuce
Spinach
Celery
Green pepper
Baby carrots
Hummus
Tabouli
Cooked chicken
Cantaloupe
Strawberries
Loaf of whole grain bread
Cocktail pumpernickel bread
Corn tortillas
Grapes
Various condiments
Chicken broth
Homemade black bean soup
Mozzarella balls

Other:
3 apples
1 orange
2 bananas
Natural peanut butter
Almond butter
Large sweet potato
Loaf of baguette bread

I’ve already planned my meals for the week, and will barely put a dent in all of this, except for the fruit and produce.  We’ll see what happens next week – I’ll post my shopping list, $$ spent and meal plan for the week.

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Clean Eating on a Budget

That’s correct – clean eating does not have to be expensive.  You don’t need to shop at an expensive organic food store to eat clean.  Here are some of my cost saving tips:

Plan your menus and make a list.  I check my local Publix flyer to see what’s on sale.  I try to make it a point to buy as much as possible on sale and take advantage of the buy one get one free offers.  Once you get into a routine, you will know what your favorite staples are and how much you need to buy to carry you over to the next sale.  I take inventory of what I have on hand and the sale items, then I plan my menu for the week. I peruse the internet and my old magazines for healthy recipes.

Buy your produce and fruit in season.  For example, strawberries are in season now – 3 pints for $5.  When they’re not in season, it can cost $5 for one pint.  This doesn’t mean I won’t eat strawberries out of season – I’ll buy frozen instead.  Blueberries are another story – they are easy to freeze, so I stock on them when they’re on sale and freeze them. 

Avoid packaged foods – I’ll by fresh romaine, then wash and dry it at home.  I put it in a large zip lock back with moistened paper towels.  It will keep for well over a week!

Soak your fruits and veggies in the sink – add water to cover and 1/4 cup of vinegar.  You’ll be amazed at how much longer they will stay fresh!

Eat from your pantry once a month.  Once you have stocked up on your sale goodies, you will find that you can easily skip a weekly shopping trip – just use what you have.  You made need to buy a few perishables, but that’s about it. 

Make your own seasoning mixes and salad dressings. 

Buy a whole roasted chicken and carve it up.  Breast meat for sandwiches, shred or dice the rest for salads and main dishes.  Freeze the carcass to make homemade stock.

Leftover carrots and celery getting a little weak?  Pop in the freezer and use for your homemade stock or veggie soup.

Regrow garlic, green onions and celery.

Cut and prep your veggies and put in snack bags.  Easy to pop into your lunch bag or have a healthy snack on hand.  I found out the hard way that I waste a lot of food and $$ if I don’t do this.  I store them in plastic bins in the fridge so they are easy to grab.

Don’t buy deli meat – way too expensive and too many additives.  Instead, buy a turkey breast or whole chicken and cook and slice to use for your sandwiches.  I do sometimes cheat with the lunchmeat – I buy Hormel or Applegate farms nitrate free packages – about $4.50 for a 7 oz package.

Skip the sodas and packages drink mixes.  Fill some pitchers with flavored water using fresh fruit.  I also make green tea. Use a little honey if you want some sweetness.  If your a soda junkie, this may take some getting used to, but it’s worth it.

Shop at local farmers markets when you can – prices are more reasonable.  Just make sure the food is local and not trucked in.

Eggs are inexpensive and a great source of protein.  Frittatas are one of my favorite clean meals.  Endless variations using cheese, veggies, chicken, etc.  Great for breakfast.  Turn it into a dinner or lunch by adding a salad.  Hard boiled eggs are a great snack.  I like to dip them in hummus doctored with Dijon mustard – yum!

I’m OK with repeating meals.  This means I don’t have to shop for extra ingredients for that one recipe. Keep your pantry stocked with basics and spices and don’t buy ingredients that you wont use over and over again.  You’ll still have plenty of variety.  You’ll also be surprised that the awesome recipe with the one specialty ingredient that you don’t have on hand can still taste great without it 🙂

No processed snack foods.  Once you’re hooked on eating clean, you won’t want the chips or sweets. Tons of healthy snacks you can make at home.

Homemade soup is economical – lots of veggies and a protein like shredded chicken and homemade broth and you’ve got a filling meal.

Keep a snack drawer or box in your workplace for the days when you don’t have time to make a lunch.
Your Healthy Work Pantry

Eat breakfast every morning – this will keep you from overeating later in the day.

Grass fed beef and poultry are expensive – learn to use less portions – most of us eat too much at a sitting.  3 oz of protein is plenty.  Since there’s less fat, you’ll have less shrinkage.  Make a big pot of chili using 1/2 pound of ground meat or turkey instead of a pound.  The beans and added veggies will make it filling and nutritious.

Shop the dollar stores for spices and condiments – you’ll save tons.  Also, don’t forget about places like TJMaxx and Ross for specialty foods.  I only use the best maple syrup – not the processed stuff.  I got a large bottle at Ross for $4 – this would have cost $7 or more at my local grocery store.

Brown or wild rice doesn’t have to be boring – cook in in homemade broth instead of water.  Sautéed, diced baby portabella shrooms add a nice deep flavor.  Add some shredded chicken and chopped broccoli or other veggies and you have a nice meal.
I
I know you all know this, but I have lapsed myself.  Do not go shopping on an empty stomach. You will deviate from your list and buy more than what you need.  Wasted $$ and wasted food.

Next Week’s Clean Eating Meal Plan

This is a great meal plan for me.  I need to do more of these. Very little prep time and economical too.  3 meals and 2 snacks per day.
I love my DIY “Lunchables” – much healthier than the store bought processed versions.  I combine fruit, cheese, deli meat, veggies and crackers. You can come up with so many healthy variations!  I don’t have a Bento box – I use cupcake liners in my containers to separate the goodies.
I slice and shred the roast chicken for sandwiches and salads.  Plenty of it, so I’ll freeze some of it.  And of course freeze the carcass for homemade chicken stock:)

Here’s the shopping list ( you may already have a lot of these items in your pantry or fridge)

Eggs or Egg product
Chunk cheese
Crumbled gorgonzola
Mozzarella balls
Berries
Grapes
Apples
Celery
Baby carrots
Grape tomatoes
Romaine lettuce
Bag of fresh spinach
Premade roasted chicken
Nut butter
Whole grain bread
Whole grain English muffins
Tabouli ( prepared from the deli section)
Crackers – whole grain – my favorite Crunchmaster Multi Seed Crackers or Triscuit
Packaged frozen beef and broccoli dinner – healthy version.  Less than $5 and enough for 2 meals
Hummus
Nitrate free sliced turkey ( Applegate Farms is a good brand – not too expensive)
Turkey sausage

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
Scrambled eggs with cheese and sausage
Egg white and whole grain waffle sandwich with sliced turkey and cheese.  Cantaloupe cubes
Scrambled eggs with cheese,
Egg white and whole grain muffin sandwich and cheese.  Cantaloupe cubes
Egg beaters with spinach, shredded cheddar and halved grape tomatoes.  Slice toasted Ezekiel bread with almond butter, strawberries
Tabouli with crackers and cheese
 HB egg, cheese, strawberries, crackers
Sliced apple with moz balls and  whole grain crackers
Caprese salad – moz balls with sliced grape tomatoes, basil and a tad of balsamic vinaigrette
Sliced apple with slice of cheddar cheese and whole grain crackers
Beef with broccoli
Chicken dijon sandwich with veggies and hummus
Turkey sandwich with veggies/dip and fruit
Turkey sandwich, salad and apple
Beef with broccoli
Celery and peanut butter
Apples slices with cheese and crackers
Carrots with Greek veggie dip
Celery sticks with peanut butter
Apple slices with cheese and crackers
Grapes, strawberries, cheese, sliced turkey, crackers, carrots with hummus
Chicken Chef salad with crackers and hummus
Grapes, strawberries, cheese, sliced turkey, crackers, carrots with hummus
Salad in a bag – spinach, grapes, nuts, goronzola cheese, grape tomatoes, apple, chicken
Salad with hardboiled eggs

Clean Eating Meal Plan 3

Last week I stocked up at the grocery store – lots of great deals and buy one get one freebies.  So this week I have challenged myself to use what I have in the fridge and freezer -there’s still plenty left.  No deli meat for sandwiches, so I’ll use my left over roasted chicken instead.  Much healthier too 🙂
I’ve prepared a nice veggie/shredded potato frittata for breakfast during the week.  This would also make a nice lunch or dinner – just add a salad.

I’ll round out the protein by using of some of my frozen veggies. Baby carrots, celery, broccoli and apples for snacking.

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
Veggie/shredded potato frittata  Cantaloupe cubes
Egg white and whole grain waffle sandwich with sliced turkey and cheese.  Cantaloupe cubes
Veggie/shredded potato frittata  Cantaloupe cubes
Egg white and whole grain waffle sandwich and cheese.  Cantaloupe cubes
Egg beaters with spinach, shredded cheddar and halved grape tomatoes.  Slice toasted Ezekiel bread with natural peanut butter, slice of cantaloupe.
Apple with swiss and crackers
 Fat free Greek yogurt mixed with berries and walnuts, and drizzled with honey
salami , cantaloupe, cheese and crackers
Fat free Greek yogurt mixed with berries and walnuts, and drizzled with honey
Sliced apple with slice of cheddar cheese and whole grain crackers
Burger with lettuce and tomato, veggies
Chicken taco, veggies with hummus
Burger with lettuce and tomato, veggies
Egg salad sandwich
Meatballs with steamed veggies
Celery and peanut butter
Apples slices with cheese and crackers
Carrots with greek veggie dip
Celery sticks with peanut butter
Apple slices with cheese and crackers
Chicken Chef salad with crackers and hummus
Chicken with steamed veggies
Chef salad with crackers and hummus
Meatballs with steamed veggies
Salad with hardboiled eggs