How to Eat Clean on a Budget

Fast foods and takeout appeal to many professional women. They’re affordable, filled with tasty flavors, and fit in today’s fast-paced world where many of us hardly have enough time to cook our own meals.

But those tacos, fries, pizzas, donuts and soft drinks come with a hidden price – your health. Fast foods are often loaded with too much sodium, extra sugar, saturated fat and harmful chemical preservatives.

When you factor in the cost of managing heart disease, diabetes and obesity, those meals don’t seem to be much of a bargain, do they?

Many of us eat junk food because we believe that eating healthy doesn’t come cheap. However, with the right strategy, you can easily eat right without a hefty price tag.

Here are 10 tips you can use to start eating healthy on a budget.


Buy Frozen Fruits & Vegetables

Buying frozen fruits and vegetables can be a great money saving option. Frozen foods usually have a longer shelf life, and this makes them cheaper than their fresh counterparts. Since good vendors pack their frozen fruits and vegetables right from the farms, many of the nutrients are locked in, thus ensuring that the frozen produce retains all its nutritional value. You can even save more by buying healthy frozen fruits and vegetables in bulk when they’re on sale, then store them in your freezer and not have to worry about the food going bad.


Don’t Go Shopping When You’re Hungry 

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but you’re more likely to succumb to temptation and buy expensive foods and snacks when shopping on an empty stomach. Having a meal before you shop for food will actually help you to avoid impulsive spending and stick to healthy choices while you shop. If you don’t have time for a full meal, a filling healthy snack, like almonds or veggies and hummus, will still work to help you avoid overspending.


Drink Plenty Of Water

Water is the best beverage to keep you hydrated. It contains no calories and best of all, it costs nothing. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day helps to promote weight loss, flushes out toxins, improves skin complexion, boosts immune function and relieves fatigue. Water will also help keep you full on less food, and the less you eat, the healthier you are and the more money you save.

Start from where you’re at. If you can’t drink 8 glasses of water each day, aim for 4. Then slowly up that number until you feel like you’re adequately hydrating each day. Pay attention to what feels good in your body.


Fill Up on Fiber Rich Foods

Fiber provides a feeling of satiety since it metabolizes slowly in the digestive tract. This in turn curbs hunger cravings, allowing you to eat less - and spend less. Fruits, leafy greens and whole grains are some of the best sources of fiber. These foods are also packed with nutrients and generally low on calories, making them a great addition to any healthy diet.


Freeze Your Leftovers

Studies have shown that the average family of four in the US throws away about 40% of the food that they purchase every year. However, these leftovers can easily be frozen and re-heated. By doing this, you’ll avoid wasting such large quantities of food that would otherwise end up in the garbage, and therefore spend much less at the grocery store.


Go for Fresh, Lean Meats

While processed meats such as deli lunchmeats and fried chicken are tempting, they’re neither healthy nor good value for money. If you purchase fresh, lean cuts of meat such as chicken breast or turkey breast, you’ll pay as little as $0.50 per serving. You’ll also supply your body with the essential nutrients it needs without filling up on harmful trans fats and chemical preservatives.

The best part is with a few spices, you can crank up the flavor of these meats and make them taste even better than their processed counterparts.


Look For Special Offers & Sales

Before heading to the grocery store, take the time to look for discount deals. There are many sites online which provide great deals on local healthy foods which are constantly updated. Local daily newspapers are another excellent way to find discounted healthy groceries in your area. Also, make sure to keep your eyes peeled when you’re in the grocery store, as there are likely to be lots of promotions running while you shop.

My favorite way to save money on everyday pantry staples, supplements and clean household products is through a membership with Thrive Market. I’ve consistently saved 25-30% off items I’d regularly buy in the grocery store. Plus, they deliver right to your door, so you’re saving time as well. They gave me this special link for you to get 25% off and free shipping on your first order!


Try Homemade Sauces

Making and canning your own homemade sauce can save you money. You can use many locally sourced fruits and vegetables for the ingredients and these will cost a fraction of what you’ll end up spending on one bottle of ketchup.

The best part about making your own sauces is that they taste so much better than the processed sauces you’ll find in stores. Plus, there are many free recipes on Pinterest (my go to!) that can help you get started making your own sauces instantly.


Prepare Your Healthy Meals In Advance

A sure way to overspend is by heading to the grocery store unprepared and tossing whatever looks good into your shopping cart. Instead of doing this, plan your healthy meals in advance and write a shopping list for the week ahead. This will allow you to control how much you spend on groceries and prevent you from going over your budget.

I like to plan my recipes for each day of the week, then decide what ingredients I already have on hand, and which I’ll need to buy at the grocery store. If we’re really sticking to our budget for the week, Blake will often add up our grocery bill as we shop. This way, we know if we can grab an extra snack or bottle of wine, or if we should stick to the basics.


Take Advantage of Wholesale Stores

You can cut back on your grocery bill by buying in bulk at stores like Costco or BJs. For example, buying lean meats in bulk saves you money, and you can employ one of the above tactics and freeze meats until you’re ready to use them. And buying in bulk isn’t just for large families. Blake and I are only a party of two, and we regularly shop at wholesale stores to stock up on pantry staples and save money. Our go-to items are frozen salmon filets, almond milk, nuts (we eat some and use some to make almond butter), kale or other greens (perfect for my daily green juice!), rice, oatmeal, canned diced tomatoes, and chicken stock.

However, it’s important to shop smart at these stores. It’s easy for your bill to jump up when you start tossing things in your cart because “they’re such a good deal.” Think about what you’ll realistically eat in a two-week time period. Will the 5-pound bag of apples go to waste, or will you use it to make applesauce that you can preserve? Are you planning to make a big batch of soup you can freeze? Plan ahead to make the most from your wholesale store shop.


The Takeaway

If you want to eat healthy but haven’t found a way to do it while sticking to your grocery budget, these 10 tips can be used to slash your shopping bill while increasing your intake of healthy foods. Start implementing them right now to see how much money you’ll save and to see how easy it can be to stick to a clean(ish) way of eating.

If you’re looking for a simple place to start, sign up for my free 10-Day Clean & Healthy Challenge, where you’ll learn 10 new habits to help you look and feel your best.

Been there, done that? Ready for the next step? Enroll in my Clean Eating for Beginngers 14-Day Plan. Learn the basics of clean eating so you can get back to slaying your day. With helpful tips, recipes and suggested meal plans, clean eating has never been easier!