One of the most common misconceptions about clean eating is that it has to cost a fortune. In reality, everyone can treat their bodies and their budgets well! All you have to do is follow a few simple tips…
1. Limit processed foods, even “healthy” ones: When you buy processed foods—yes, that includes fancy energy bars and paleo granola—you are paying for packaging, preservatives, and transportation. When you eat fresh, whole foods, you get more for your dollar. This doesn’t have to mean cutting out convenience. Fruits, veggies, and nuts are just as portable as a granola bar, but they’ll cost a lot less and fill you up more. And feel free to avoid most trendy (and expensive) “superfoods”—the regular ol’ veggies, fruits, meats, and good fats are super enough.
2. Buy in bulk: Costco and other warehouse stores are great places to find clean-eating ingredients like grass-fed beef, organic eggs, coconut oil, and organic canned tomatoes. Pro tip: Some regular supermarkets also offer case discounts when you buy a large amount, which can mean major discounts on non-perishables like coconut milk. Most stores have bulk aisles where you can save on packaging and processing. Find nuts, gluten-free flours, dry beans, wild rice, and quinoa without the waste, and save money at the same time. If you’ve got a big freezer, also explore buying a cow share—it’s the best way to get affordable, pasture-raised meat at the fraction of the cost of supermarket butcher counters.
3. Eat with the seasons: Eating seasonally means buying healthy, delicious foods when they are at their peak, which saves money and connects you to your local environment. There are loads of resources out there to help you pick foods that are in season in your area, but nothing is simpler than heading out and seeing for yourself. Check out your local farmers market and see what the local farms are offering right now. Better yet, find out what they’re drowning in—the most plentiful crops will often be the least expensive. By supporting local farmers and producers, you cut out the middleman and gain access to the freshest, most nutritious foods. And from a health perspective, the longer food takes to get from the farm to your plate, the less nutrients and vitamins are in that food.
4. Make your own: Starting with one food at a time, find replacements for packaged goods or grab-and-go meals you’d normally buy at the supermarket, including bread, breakfast sandwiches, energy bars, and even jerky.
5. Eat out less: Skipping restaurants is a no-brainer, but it can take a toll on your social life—so change up the routine and host a healthy dinner party, picnic, or potluck. Nothing beats the feeling of cooking up a great dinner with people you love! If you think of yourself as a good cook, try this fun experiment—think of your favorite restaurant meal, and try to duplicate it at home with local, organic ingredients. You get to control everything about the meal, and feel good knowing that you’ve saved money and supported local farms. If cooking isn’t your thang, invite everyone to bring a dish or make a simple roasted chicken. We promise, everyone will love it.
6. Eat ugly fruit (and veggies): Ask around at your local stores and supermarkets—they probably have an area of discounted produce that are perfect for smoothies, soups, and baking. It’s all about being creative—applesauce made with slightly ugly apples or a soup made with the farmer’s less than champion squash taste just as fantastic!
7. Make friends with your slow cooker: This oft-forgotten kitchen tool is the secret to turning cheaper cuts of meat into easy, delicious meals while you’re at the office, the gym, or just hanging out. Google “paleo slow-cooker recipes” for tons of great ideas, and start saving!
8: Make extra dinner for lunch: I get it. Sometimes buying lunch is unavoidable, but the practice really gets pricey when it happens most days a week. A simple solution? Make double of whatever is for dinner and pack it for the next day. Cook once, eat multiple times!