How to eat clean on a budget

I hope everyone is having a great week so far!  My week has been very busy. Yesterday was my dog Charlotte’s birthday, so I spent the whole weekend celebrating with her, and tomorrow night I’m going camping to watch the meteor shower, which is supposed to be awesome! Today, I wanted to write about eating clean on a budget.

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Me with Charlotte on her birthday.

The biggest hurdle most people have to clean eating isn’t the food. Fresh, homemade, organic food is delicious! It isn’t giving up those ‘unclean’ foods. There may be that one food you just can’t let go of, but that isn’t the issue either. The issue is the bottom line, that line item on the budget when you try to switch it all to clean, organic, GMO-free food, hit the checkout line for the first time, and almost faint when the total comes up. I know I have my weeks when I go to the grocery store and think that I did really well, but when the total comes up, it’s over $100. Maybe you didn’t even make it that far. Maybe you picked up the package of organic cereal and took one look at the tag on the shelf and walked the other way thinking, “How do people afford to eat this way?”

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I can tell you, unless you have a whole lot of discretionary income, changing over your way of eating and shopping doesn’t usually happen overnight. It is best to make small changes and keep looking for ways to eat clean on your budget and find ways to funnel more money over to the food line. It is an investment, but I can tell you that it is one worth making.

To help you out, here are my top 7 tips for eating clean on a budget:

  1. Make it from scratch Cooking at home saves money over eating out any day. You can even take it one step further and start making food from scratch, which is even cheaper than buying those fancy, boxed sides and mixes. You will save money and, better yet, you will know exactly what’s in the food you’re eating. Try mastering one new dish a week! 
  2. Plan your meals and shop with a list – It is always a good idea to have a plan. You will save money by knowing what you need and making less trips to the store. I know the days that I go shopping without a list, I usually either spend much more or don’t get certain things, and have to go back to the grocery store for a second time.
  3. Buy in bulk – If you can, purchase larger quantities, and freeze and store the extra for another week. Stores always have bigger packs that cost less per unit. Be wary, though: sometimes the big package isn’t less. Be sure to check the unit price and be a smart shopper.
  4. Shop local and in season Foods that are in season are generally cheaper than the foods that have to be shipped from halfway around the globe. Also, it pays to know your farmer and buy directly from the source.
  5. Use discounts or coupons if you can find them – Sometimes, you can find a deal or get a coupon on healthy snacks and some of those great, organic convenience foods. 
  6. Join a group – There are plenty of local groups that share in the savings by pooling their buying power. Check out a local co-op or CSA or start one in your area. You can find them at coopdirectory.com or localharvest.org. I recently joined a CSA in my area, and have been happy with it. (If you are in the San Diego area, and are interested in the CSA, it is http://www.farmfreshtoyou.com. If you live in San Diego, and would like to try this service, you can receive $10 off your first box if you use my code KELL7491.)
  7. Go meatless – If you haven’t cut meat out of your diet yet, you can start by eliminating it from a few meals a week. Beans are cheaper than beef! I know when I started eating meat again after being a vegetarian for 6 years, my grocery bill increased significantly.

Do you have any local resources to share or any tips that can help save you money? Leave a comment below.

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