EATING CLEAN: IN A NUT SHELL - Remember that not every meal has to be a BIG one. Remember too that portions, when you Eat Clean, are not gigantic. The idea is is smaller meals, more often, with a very simple formula. These are smaller meals built around the Protein+Complex Carbs+Healthy Fats formula. When we keep the blood sugar steady through these clean meals we experience less of the swings that cause disease further down the line. We also experience less cravings. Here’s a list of 11 ways to eat clean, while keeping your dollars in the bank.
CUT BACK ON RESTAURANTS - Remember that not every meal has to be a BIG one. Remember too that portions, when you Eat Clean, are not gigantic. The idea is is smaller meals, more often, with a very simple formula. These are smaller meals built around the Protein+Complex Carbs+Healthy Fats formula. When we keep the blood sugar steady through these clean meals we experience less of the swings that cause disease further down the line. We also experience less cravings. Here’s a list of 11 ways to eat clean, while keeping your dollars in the bank.
BUY LOCAL - Find the closest farmer’s market or independent growers in your neighbourhood and make the trip! There are loads of advantages to eating local and in season, and the low price point tops the list. Local Markets trump supermarket prices and quality - guaranteed!
KNOW THE DIRTY DOZEN/ CLEAN FIFTEEN - Know when to buy organic! When money is tight, organic is more of a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have”. Cut your costs by going for conventional citrus (unless you’re consuming the rind), avocados, asparagus and cabbage, but when it comes to fruit and veg without skin, rind or outer layers that can be removed (like berries and celery) go for organic.
HUNT FOR BARGAINS - Browse online and newspaper flyers for coupons, and be sure to compare deals happening at different stores near you. It’s common for stores to run similar deals at the same time, but I always see a couple discounted items only available at one store. If it’s an extremely good deal and something that will keep, this is your chance to buy in bulk!
EAT LESS MEAT - Choose plant-based proteins such as quinoa, edamame, sea vegetables and soy products. Wild fish and grass-fed meats free of antibiotics and hormones can be astronomically expensive, so try eating more vegetarian meals and snacks. Try switching to more meatless meals, especially at breakfast and lunch, and invest in buying higher quality meats instead.
PLAN AHEAD + LOVE THE LEFTOVERS - Learn to love the phrase: batch cooking. Plan your meals for the week before heading to the store. This way, you know exactly what you need and are less likely impulse-buy foods that don’t fit into your meals. How about leftovers? Don't toss them. With a little TLC, leftovers can be transformed into fresh new meals.
FRESH PRODUCE: SHOP AS YOU GO - Buying fresh produce in small quantities, for the meals you need, when you need it to avoid food spoilage. Instead of doing big grocery runs once a week for fresh produce/veggies, shop as you’re cooking throughout the week.
DRY GOODS: Buy in bulk - Grains, nuts and seeds, and even expensive flours can be bought in bulk either online, or at many natural foods stores, at a significant savings to you. Buying from bulk bins allows you to only buy what you need, and by eliminating packaging, the producer can pass those costs on to you. OR, buy buying items in large bulks, you save money by making a large investment up-front, with significant savings to you, in the long run.
Buy cheaper cuts of meat - Skip the bells and whistles when you’re shopping for meat; choose chicken thighs over chicken breasts. Ease the transition, and eat more affordably, especially when entertaining, by eating tougher cuts of red meat, or bone-in dark poultry meat when cooking for your eyes only.
Make your own dressings and sauces - The average bottled dressing costs $3.00 a bottle, and is loaded with preservatives, sugar and sodium. Want an “all-natural” preservative free bottle of salad dressing, and you’re likely to spend $5.00, whereas to make a simple olive oil based dressing at home can literally cost you pennies on the dollar. Plus, it’s preservative and chemical free.
So, keep it simple tonight: Not every meal has to be an exciting five star production. Cook several simple meals throughout the week, and have some easy cheap side dish options on hand to save you from going to bed hungry, or worse, hitting up the drive-thru.
The basic road map of eating clean is simple – eat less processed foods, eat more whole foods including fruits and veggies, eat high-quality animal products, and eat at home more. There are no rules about organic/gluten-free/vegan; that is the beauty of clean eating. At the very core of this way of life, it’s all about getting back to the start, to how we used to eat, before drive-thrus and massive supermarkets became a common part of our everyday. It takes time, practice, research and some creative budgeting, but it changes, be it big or small, can be done, even on the tightest of budgets.
Your turn: What are your savvy, money-saving solutions? Inspire our community with your Eating Clean tips on a budget by leaving a comment below, on Twitter, or Facebook!