Being on a budget and eating healthy might be an oxymoron. Yet, if you are trying to switch to a cleaner diet with less processed and packaged foods, here are some tips for doing that while also sticking to your food budget.
Keep in mind, that when budgeting and eating healthy don’t seem to go together, they actually can if you learn how to eat clean on a budget and make use of the tips in this post. Many are looking to switch to a better, healthier diet, which means eliminating processed and packaged foods.
Yet, the rise in food costs has turned many away from the idea of eating clean, and one is left feeling like these cheap processed foods are the only option as food costs rise.
Nonetheless, this post will provide you with numerous ideas to help you eat clean on a budget and save money on healthy foods.
What is clean eating?
A common question that people ask is “What is Eating Clean?” While this can be interpreted in a number of ways, the most basic answer is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by consuming whole, unprocessed foods with some balance.
According to the Mayo Clinic, clean eating involves eating more real foods, eating for nourishment, eating more plant-based foods, and making this a lifestyle change rather than a “diet.” (Source Mayo Clinic)
In a “nutshell” clean eating is avoiding foods that have been prepared to be in cans, prepackaged, and full of preservatives.
The Benefits of Clean Eating
The benefits of a clean eating diet include weight loss, a sense of control over your food choices, and improved mental clarity. If you’re looking to improve your health and wellness, eating clean might be what you need. This diet is also open to all types of foods (including meat) and can be just as satisfying and filling as any other way of eating. The clean eating lifestyle is all about enjoying the process more than the end result
Related: 100 Frugal Living Tips to Save on Everything!
If you are trying to eat clean on a budget, there are some things that you can do to save money. Here are 11 Tips to Help You Eat Clean on a Tight Budget:
#1 Avoid Processed and Packaged Food
Whilst it can cost a fair bit of money to shop at health food stores, when you eat clean and avoid processed or packaged foods, you will save money in the long run. This is because fresh whole foods are cheaper and less calorific than junk food alternatives.
Whole foods are foods in their natural state – e.g. beans, rice, or pasta in bags that haven’t been pre-soaked or mixed with other ingredients. They may be purchased fresh and whole from the freezer or fresh from the produce section.
Eating highly processed foods is linked to a great risk of obesity, higher BMI, and WC. (Source Nature.com) By refraining from eating processed and prepackaged foods, you are eliminating costly trips to the doctor down the road.
Avoid processed food as much as possible. Processed food is usually cheaper than fresh food, but it is also filled with additives and preservatives.
#2 Base Your Meals Around Budget-Friendly Foods
Find budget-friendly foods that will be the bulk of your meal. By building your meals around budget-friendly clean foods, you can save money and eat well. Some inexpensive options include:
- Oats (not flavored)
- Quinoa and barley
- Canned tomatoes
- Frozen vegetables
- In-season produce
- Canned tuna
Related: Cheap and Frugal Meals When You are on a Tight Budget or How to Buy Organic Food on a Budget
#3 Buy in Season
To save even more, try only buying seasonal fruit, which also tastes better when in season.
Find out what is in season and add this fruit to your weekly grocery list. I also like to buy frozen when certain fruits I enjoy are not in season.
#4 Plan Ahead
If you want to eat clean, it is best to have a plan. Meal plan with whole foods to ensure you are eating clean.
Start by jotting down your meals and then add in snack items. Use items you already have on hand and then make a grocery list of other items you need for your clean eating meal plan.
Related: Budget Meal Plan: Two-Weeks of Dinners for under $75
#5 Learn How to Garden
Growing your own food is a great way to save on clean eating food costs. This is a wonderful option if you enjoy gardening. Make sure to have some recipes on hand when your harvest comes in so your clean food doesn’t go to waste.
#6 Buy Bulk When You Can
Buying food in bulk will save money and if you are feeding only one or two people, you can always freeze leftover food for later. Stock up on sale items, especially if it is something you will use in the near future. If your items are on sale stock up if you can afford them. This will save you money in the long run. Other foods such as meat, cheese, seafood, product, and poultry can be frozen.
Buy in bulk and freeze what you don’t need right away. This will help you save on the cost of meat and produce, which can be expensive when bought in small quantities.
Related: 41 Tips to Save on Your Grocery Bill
#7 Cashback apps or Coupons
Did you know you can earn money back on groceries? I often use cashback apps to save money on my grocery bill.
Use coupons or cash back apps when grocery shopping. This will help you get the best deals on your favorite healthy foods.
My favorite apps that often have “clean eating” foods are as follows:
Fetch – This app is so simple to use. Just upload a picture of your receipt and it finds the deals for you. Even if there are no extra fetch points for things you bought, you will still receive 25 Fetch points for your receipt. You can then turn in points for gift cards and save even more on food. For example, I buy groceries at Target, and I redeemed my Fetch points recently for a $10 Target gift card.
Sign up here and get 4000 Fetch points which are equal to $4.00 in gift cards
Ibotta – This app also gives rewards for uploading your receipt. It is store specific, but I love it because I can add my loyalty card and I don’t need to scan recipes. It also pays in pay in Paypal cash or gift cards so I usually cash out (min. $20) in Paypal.
Checkout 51 – Thsi is another cashback app you can submit your receipt to. However, Checkout 51 is not store specific so you can qualify for more offers.
Related: Ibotta or Rakuten: Which is Better?
#8 Check the Freezer Section
Often buying frozen produce as opposed to fresh produce, will save you money. Not to mention, frozen food will last longer and won’t go to waste.
We often buy frozen fruit packages to make smoothies, and frozen broccoli to go with our meals.
You can even try freezing your own fruit to make it last longer.
#9 Bring Your Own Snacks
Usually, snacks cost way more when you buy them at a shop, gas station, or a “snack shack” at a kid’s place.
Try loading up your bag with snacks from home. Buying snacks in bulk will help you save money in the long run.
You can also try buying bigger bags/boxes of your kids’ favorite snacks and packaging them yourself. You can buy reusable bags or containers to help save the environment and waste.
#10 Price Compare
Make sure to price compare grocery stores and/or flyers for weekly sales.
Stock up when popular household items go on sale.
Keep a chart displaying the prices of stores in local areas for things you buy often.
Keep track of sales cycles which usually run every six weeks and stock up on items that are on sale.
#11 Buy Store Brand
Did you know, that many store brand items are made by name-brand companies?
Often store-brand items are much cheaper than their name-brand counterparts.
Once in a while, I find a store brand item I don’t like, but more often than not, the store brand is just as good.
We often buy the Target brand items and Kroger brand as well.
Eating Clean on a Budget Conclusion
Make the most of your budget by eating clean. Here’s a list of high-quality, low-cost foods. Eating clean does not have to be expensive. The key is to plan ahead, identify where you can save money, and follow the tips below.
Related: How to Save Money on Gas