Eating Clean on A Budget: 11 Frugal Tips
(Anyone Can Follow)
What exactly does eating clean mean?
Most of us have heard of the expression of eating clean so let’s learn more about what it entails.
The basic fundamentals of eating clean are consuming more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, healthy fats and of course limiting highly processed foods. The benefits of eating clean are not only losing weight but improving your overall health.
Some people feel it’s too expensive to eat clean but is that true? Clean eating doesn’t have to cost you your whole paycheck.
By following a few simple tips, you can eat clean on a budget.
#1 – Buy Bulk When Possible
If you want to save money then buying bulk is a huge money saver. If you buy things like spices that are already prepackaged you can be paying upwards of $6 just a small bottle of your favorite spices.
Buying in bulk allows you to buy the amount you want at a fraction of the cost, believe me.
Bulk bags made from natural fabrics are very popular when it comes to buying bulk. They are available in many sizes with tare weights on them and are reusable and eco-friendly.
#2 – Never Shop When You Are Hungry
How often have you gone into the grocery store and noticed your stomach rumbling?
All of a sudden you lay your eyes on a bag of chocolate chip cookies or salted chips. You waltz by the ice-cream aisle only to stop and your digestive juices are all ramped up when you stop dead in front of the salted caramel ice-cream. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have done this.
Supermarkets are also designed in such a way to lure us to buy the items we don’t need. They always say to stick to the outside perimeter of the store and for good reason.
Bottom line, according to research, is if you go shopping when you are hungry then you are going to make unhealthy choices and purchase higher-calorie foods.
#3 – Eat Foods That Are In Season
Produce that is grown locally is most often cheaper than commercially grown produce because it does not have to be transported from long distances to get to your local store.
Your local farmers market is also a good place to compare for less expensive products, although I have noticed in some cases they can be pricier. In some cases, it might be worth paying a little extra for the locally grown, but it depends on each individual.
Check out the USDA Department of Agriculture website and they have helpful resources to show you what produce is in season.
The best part about in-season produce is the taste is more flavorful, you will notice a difference, and more nutritious.
#4 – Cook at Home – This Is A No Brainer
Preparing your meals at home is not only healthier but cheaper. Studies that have been done also agree that home-prepared meals are the better choice. When you are cooking at home versus eating out, you know the exact ingredients and control the portions of fat and sugar.
Also, you don’t end up waiting and paying for someone else to do all the preparation and the time it takes to cook. It is so easy to easily spend $50 on an evening out and when you drink alcohol or have those fancy drinks, the price goes up exponentially.
So, if you want to save money, try eating at home more often and your wallet will thank you.
#5 – Write A Grocery List
A grocery list, once again, saves you time and money. When you have a specific list of items that you want, it will also save from wasting food. An added benefit is that it stops your waistline from growing because you aren’t purchasing items on a whim.
Oftentimes, we end up writing items on a sticky note that looks like a bunch of chicken scratch. You can have a designated paper and pen for your grocery items or a prewritten grocery list you can just check things off on. Another option is to write the items down on the notepad on your phone. I use a simple app that allows me to write the item down and I can check to mark it off as I go.
Having an item-specific list also helps in your meal planning so you are only getting what you need.
#6 – Create Your Own Dressings and Sauces
Making your own dressing and sauces from scratch is so much healthier and surprisingly easy.
With just a few basic ingredients such as olive oil and lemon juice with a few added spices, you can easily create a tasty dressing that will go a long way.
When you purchase ready-made salad dressings they can run you between $3 and $8 and are filled with a lot of added sugar.
#7 – Invest In A Slow Cooker
I highly suggest investing in a slow cooker and it doesn’t have to be expensive. My slow cooker is over 25 years old and it works wonderfully.
You can cook cheaper cuts of meat at a low temperature for a longer period of time and this helps to make it tender. You can even use it to put oatmeal on overnight and your breakfast will be ready in the morning. Once you try a slow cooker you will wonder how you went without one.
Not only that, you won’t heat up your home by putting the oven on and it saves electricity.
#8 – Freeze Your Meat and Fish
You can take advantage of discounts by freezing meat and fish on sale. Meats are usually on the more expensive side so when you find them on sale you can buy extra and freeze it for later.
Also, depending on the type and cut of meat you purchase will vary the length of time you will want to have it in your freezer before using it. I have reusable silicone storage bags for freezing my meats or leftovers that come in assorted sizes and they work great.
Check here for a downloadable pdf from the US Food Safety website of how long your fresh or frozen food is good for.
#9 – Opt for Frozen Foods
Eating clean doesn’t always mean that you have to buy fresh food. Frozen fruits and vegetables are totally acceptable and also cheaper. It’s a good practice to read labels to ensure you are always getting the healthiest option without added chemicals. Frozen peas are something I always have on hand as they can be added to soups or casseroles easily.
In fact, studies show that frozen food is as healthy as fresh food.
#10 – Buy Store Brand Products
Store-brand products are also known to be cheaper than big brand name items.
For comparison, I took a picture of 3 cans of diced tomatoes showing the ingredients, which were all similar. The big-name item was more expensive than the store brand at almost double the price. Again check the labels and they will tell you a story.
These 3 different brands of diced tomatoes had almost identical ingredients.
Muir Glen Organic – $1.89
Simple Truth Organic – $1.29
Kroger Brand – $0.99
#11 – Don’t Waste Leftovers
Americans throw out a whopping 40% of the food they purchase according to the NY Times.
How many times have you thrown out food? I have done it more times than I like to admit.
There are legitimate times when food has to be thrown away. However, if possible, take it for lunch the next day, heat it up for another meal, or even incorporate it into another freshly cooked meal.
This will help you save money and the environment.
There you have it – 11 frugal tips to eating clean that anyone can do.