Thursday, January 24, 2013

Eating Clean...on a Budget!



I get asked quite a bit on how to eat clean on a budget, so I wanted to help out. Truth be told, this article has been a long time coming - I really wanted to put some good resources and tips for people, so I've taken my time writing this article. 

Let's face it, most Americans don't eat healthy for two big reasons- Price and Accessibility. 

With this current economy, I have had to tighten my wallet as I'm sure many of you have had to, as well. Unfortunately, healthy food is much more expensive  than a grabbing bag of potato chips or a frozen dinner. And much easier to prepare and consumer, to boot. Since I've been a so-called "Clean Eater," I have found myself in many tight spots when traveling or running errands - it's amazing how difficult it is in our society to get a quick, healthy meal on the go. Unless you have planned ahead and packed a lunch, it is often quite difficult to eat clean when there are fast food restaurants a-plenty. 

And not to mention the price of healthy foods. 








After a couple of years of being a clean eater myself and trying out different methods of price saving, along with taking advice and tips from friends, athletes, and online resources, I put together a list of tried-and-true tips for being Healthy while on a Budget. 

If you want to see how I eat clean on a daily basis, 



Plan Ahead:   Make a grocery list for each week like this one, planning your meals in advance. There is truth to the old adage, "Fail to Plan, then Plan to Fail." When you have a list going in to the store, you avoid running the risk of grabbing impulse items and are more likely to stick to your healthy habits. I personally keep a Word document open at my home office desk, and add or cross-off items as I need them. I am a creature of habit, so I generally have an idea of what my meals for work and home will be each week. Believe me, the extra 10-15 minutes you put into your meal planning will save you more money in the long run. 

In addition, when you make and have foods ahead of time you actually save yourself the expense of going out to eat at restaurants. Not to mention avoiding the temptation of buying additional foods like appetizers, soups, desserts and alcohol. Preparing and eating your own homemade foods while on the go will always save you money and unnecessary calories. 


Cook in Bulk: A great method of cost saving (and time saving!) with healthy food is making large batches of a recipe that will last for 5-7 meals. Baking, slow cooking, preparing large batches of soups all fall into this category for buying and cooking smart. 




Buy in Bulk: When purchasing products like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, go for the large containers rather than the individual serving size ones. Oats, rice, quinoa and barley also fall into this category. The larger containers tend to be a lot cheaper, especially if you buy the generic brands. If you get a chance to go to places like Costco, BJ'S Wholesale or Sam's Club, you can make a monthly trip to purchase usually expensive items in bulk for less, such as chicken, fish and nuts. 


Check out the Savings: I often make Sundays my grocery shopping day, and buy large quantities of reduced-price produce and meat. Keep your eyes out for Manager's Specials. These items I either cook that day in a crock pot dish or bake as "veggie chips," that will last all week, or store away in my freezer for later.  Stock up when canned fish goes on sale as well- just this week it was as cheap as 25 cents a can!


Frozen Veggies: Fresh fruit and veggies can be very expensive when your diet is relying on them. To keep prices down, I purchase large containers of mixed and regular frozen vegetables in the freezer aisle. You can seriously find some good deals here- plus frozen vegetables are easy to prepare and are already pre-washed and pre-cut. Most frozen items that are store brand only cost about 99 cents. All you have to do is throw them in a crock pot or stove top pan with some water, and voila! A very cheap, very filling, side dish. 



Did I miss anything? What are your thoughts? Let me know if you have any other helpful ideas and tips for saving money and your waistline! 






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7 comments:

Karlene Linxweiler said...

Thanks for reading my blog - I hope it helps you on your fitness journey. Leave a comment/question and I will get back to you.
Karlene

KittyW said...

How do you suggest cooking "clean" for two people? My husband doesn't eat much, and we can't buy in bulk because a) we have a tiny refrigerator/freezer, and b) if we do, it usually goes to waste. I'm trying to find ways to eat more protein, but it's just so hard to find a way to eat enough of it! (Especially since I'm really picky about my meat and I can't stand any fat or gristle.)

Karlene Murphy said...

Hey Kitty! One great way to get more protein into your diet is adding protein powders to smoothies and shakes, along with putting protein powder into your morning pancakes or oatmeal. Getting portion sized Greek yogurt (non fat, plain) and/or cottage cheese is also an easy way to get protein in your diet. Canned Tuna in water is also a great way to get in lean protein. I mix my tuna with avocado, Greek yogurt or pesto. Tastes so good :)

You can also buy pre-packed, lean cuts of meat that come in portion sizes and vacuum-packed, are also great - they are a little pricey, but they last a long time and will fit well in a small fridge.
Or, go to your local grocer or butcher a few times a week and purchase a lean, grass-fed beef or free range chicken when you need them.

I have a Healthy Breakfast e-book you can check out: http://www.amazon.com/Kickstart-Healthy-Breakfast-Collection-ebook/dp/B00D3B17NM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372366091&sr=8-1&keywords=healthy+breakfast+kickstart.

Hope this helps :) Karlene

Anonymous said...

I too have just my husband and I to cook for and I kinda disagree with you, I don't make a menu for the week. I have a few shopping apps the one I like best is favado it shows me what's on sale in the stores around where I live I have it set up to show me the best 20 items......since I have the pantry, fridge and my freezer stocked I don't have to buy every week and I can buy when it's the best price. Plus I can cook whatever I want to usually without having to run to the store and buying an item at full price. Now I have freed up my grocery money for buying alot of fresh......I shop a couple times a week and I always check out the counter where they keep the not so perfect stuff. You can find great deals there all year long, a few weeks ago I bought a bunch of citrus and apples so I made marmalade and apple sauce. You have to be open to try new things and like you said talk to other on how they eat healthy. Also I have a couple friends come over once a week and we take turns cooking, so we share large meals that if we cooked it by ourselves it would take forever to eat....now we share it and each one of us has some. Plus we don't have to cook each week and we get to try something new......sorry I talked so much hope some of this helped

AJFoodieBailey said...

I would suggest cooking one protein and then repurposing it for other meals. Example - roast a chicken at the beginning of the week (pay around $1 per pound for the whole bird) and then make the rest of your meals for that week based on the chicken you've already cooked. 1. Roast Chicken & Veggies. 2. Chicken Fajitas. 3. SW Chicken Salad. 4. Chicken Teriyaki & Brown Rice w/Carrots & Edamame. 5. White Bean Chicken Chili...you get the idea. This also works great for ground turkey and pork loin.

Karlene Murphy said...

Thanks AJFoodieBailey! Planning ahead is important, too - plus reusing your food for future meals is efficient. I love your suggestion!

Karlene Murphy said...

Those are all great ideas - thanks for sharing!

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Hi! I 'm Karlene Murphy. A lover of food (especially if it's gluten and dairy free!), getting outdoors, lifting weights, travel, writing, and snuggling with my two puppies. My addictions include chocolate, coffee, cookies, and sharing my love of being HAPPY and HEALTHY! My passion is educating others - whether at my full time job as a high school Psychology teacher, or with YOU my readers. I have been in the fitness wold for almost 10 years, and currently am an Online Fitness Coach, Fitness Instructor, Pilates and Yoga Instructor in Southern New Hampshire. Contact Me if you need help with designing your own fitness and nutrition program.

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