Eating better is high on most people’s list when it comes to things they want to change. But, unfortunately, a lot of people feel like they can’t afford to eat healthy foods, so they turn to cheap food. Clean eating can be pricey and overpriced, but with my tips, you can do it on a budget. I bet you there are many times that you bought cheap food when you could have afforded much better food if you had just known how to spend your money properly.
What is clean eating?
Everyone has a different definition of clean eating but overall, the idea is to eat whole foods and eliminate processed food. While some people may exclude gluten, grain, and dairy products, others may be an advocate for raw food. Define what clean eating means to you.
Here are my tips to help you start eating clean:
- More organic and less conventional
Choose organic when you can and focus on buying organic foods from the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. Organic produce farmers use natural pesticides so by buying organic, you are eliminating manmade pesticides. When it comes to organic meat, the animal never uses antibiotics or added hormones, they had a better living condition and feed.
- More fresh fruits and vegetables
Eating more fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of a number of chronic diseases. The fiber can help keep your microbiome (good bacteria) happy.
- Cut out/reduce processed food
Eliminate all processed food (boxed, bagged or packaged food) all at once is not practical but it is doable over time. If you are looking to cut all processed food out of your life, do it in moderation. Clean processed food does exist like plain yogurt, whole wheat pasta, etc. Just read the ingredient list! Keep an eye out for added sugar, salt, saturated fat, and long words you can’t pronounce.
- Eat less meat
While you don’t have to become vegan, more and more research suggests cutting back on meat is healthier for you and the planet. And meat is expensive, especially when it comes to organic meat.
- Eat more whole grains
Avoid refined carb and opt-in for whole wheat or whole grains. Whole grains contain high amounts of nutrients and fiber. It can support healthy digestion and reduce chronic inflammation, and much more.
- Stay hydrated
Try to stay hydrated throughout the day versus chugging a ton of water right before bed because you have to. I get a headache when I’m not hydrated, and if I chug a ton of water before bed, I won’t sleep well. When the body is dehydrated, it cannot correctly remove waste as urine or feces. When waste builds up in the body, people may feel bloated, swollen, and tired. Bloating can add inches to a person’s waist. So stay hydrated for detox and weight loss!
- Learn to stay full
Avoid emotional and mindless eating, and learn how to stay full. For example, grab almonds, blueberry or even just drink water to stay hydrated will make you feel full.
Tips for clean eating on a budget
- Buy in bulk
Bulk food is cheaper than individual packaged but only on products you use often or doesn’t go bad quickly. For example, if you go through whole wheat flour fairly quickly, purchase your whole wheat flour from club stores like Costco or Sam’s Club.
- Buy the whole bird
When it comes to organic chicken, buying the whole bird is much cheaper per pound than the parts separately.
- Use modern technology to your advantage.
There are saving and cash back apps that you can get on your smartphone or computer.
- Ibotta: One of my favorites apps is Ibotta. I love this app because you can get cash back from stores like Wholefoods, Trader Joe’s, Costco, etc. Just select your purchases and snap a picture of your receipt when you’re done. Ibotta will instantly refund you your money! Get $10 right now.
- Honey: a great app that you can use right on your internet browser to help find the best discounts on the internet!
- Stop snacking on processed food.
I know it is super difficult to go cold turkey, and it may seem impossible to stop snacking. Set goals for yourself and do it in moderation. For example, snacking once a day instead of two or three times. Over time you will be adjusted to the new habit. And instead of snacking on processed food, snack on healthy whole food. Remember processed snacks are costly and less nutritious than whole foods.
- Clean Snack
Depends on what clean eating means to you, you may allow yourself to eat cleaner ingredients packaged raw, organic or paleo snacks. Before you head to Wholefoods or Trader Joe’s, check out Thrive Market. If you are not familiar with Thrive Market, it is organic and natural brands deliver to your door for less. I love using Thrive Market because it delivers better for you snacks, beauty, and household items right to your door. This option comes in handy if you are busy, live in a city where there is always traffic, or lives far from a health store. When buying packaged snacks, be sure to read the added sugar, sodium and saturated fat nutrition content. And always, always read ingredients!
- Store price comparison
As a healthy and clean lifestyle becomes more and more in demand, many stores like Target, Walmart, Vons, CVS now carry better for you options. Before you run to Whole Foods or Trader Joes, check out grocery store nearest to you first. Also, check out grocery subscription companies like Farm Fresh To You, Imperfect Produce ( You can use promo code ORGANICALLYBLISSFUL to get 50% off your first box), Butcher’s Box. These subscription companies could help you save! For example, I use Imperfect Produce for my fruits and veggies. I spend an average $25 per week for two on produce. I would still go to the store to pick up protein and grains but I very rarely need to pick up additional produce.
- Read labels to avoid over pay
It is important to read labels and the ingredients list because sometimes, ‘organic’, ‘natural’ and ‘clean’ can be deceiving. The word ‘natural’ is not regulated in the food industry so be sure to read the ingredients. You could be paying for the ‘natural’ label price when the product is not actually ‘natural’.
- Have a shopping list
A well thought-out meal plan can help you to cut down on expenses when you prioritize fresh produce that is in-season. It also helps you keep on track and help to eliminate unnecessary purchases.
If you do run into a situation where your fruit or veggie is about to go bad, freeze it or find ways to use it before it goes bad.
- Less meat and more beans
Whether you are a meat lover or vegan, beans are one of the cheapest protein sources.