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 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.