How to eat clean on a budget

Eating clean on a budget

So you want to eat healthier, but you don’t think you can afford it.  Well to be totally honest, I was exactly where you are in terms of thinking that healthy food options were just too expensive for my budget.  However, I did some research on the topic of “eating clean on a budget” and constructed a game plan to tackle this issue.

Let me share some insight with you

As I’m sure you’ve noticed on your trips to the grocery store, unhealthy food is everywhere and the deals are equally as bountiful!  The problem with selecting the cheaper, less healthy options now is that eventually you pay a high price with subsequent medical problems.  Inevitably, eating poorly will trigger certain medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, etc.  After all, your dietary choices make up the 80 – 90% success rate of healthier living (loosing weight, being physically fit, combating health conditions, etc.).

Getting around the price

Let me ask you this:  when you are doing price comparisons, do you consider how many nutrients you’ll get for the price of the food?  In other words, if you have one food item that offers 50 nutrients and cost $10 versus another with 45 nutrients at $2, which would you choose?  Logically, you would probably choose the $2 option since you’re getting nearly the same number of nutrients for a fraction of the price.

Let’s look at vegetables

You don’t always have to buy fresh to reap the nutrients from vegetables.  In fact, canned and frozen vegetables have a much longer shelf life than fresh vegetables and still have a fair amount of nutrients.  For example, when the frozen vegetables were first picked, they were frozen at the pinnacle of their ripeness.  This means that all those nutrients were still packed into the vegetables and preserved.

Here is a list of the most economical and healthy vegetables

  • Kale:  at most grocery stores, you can get a bunch of kale for 99 cents.  With this inexpensive price, you are getting a “superfood” containing vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, protein, iron, dietary fiber, magnesium, and potassium.  You can toss it in a smoothie or find creative ways to cook it in a recipe (ex. kale chips).
  • Cabbage:  you can make a soup or salad with it while receiving vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber into your diet.  Not to mention, some studies have shown that it has cancer fighting attributes.
  • Broccoli:  a nutrient-rich vegetable that you can buy fresh or frozen at a great price.
  • Spinach:  a better option than iceberg lettuce in your salads since it is packed with more fiber, minerals, protein, and vitamins.
  • Carrots:  makes a great snack and contains a great deal of vitamin A.

Some great protein options

  • Chicken and turkey:  typically, the cheaper options and packed with protein.
  • Eggs:  whether you eat them hard-boiled, scrambled, or as part of your morning breakfast routine, you are getting a considerable amount of protein for the price.
  • Canned tuna:  you can get a whopping 28 grams of protein from just one can of Albacore Tuna at a steal of a price.  However, it’s best not to eat it excessively since it is known to increase your risk of mercury.
  • Legumes:  chickpeas, lentils, and beans are inexpensive protein options and can be a great addition to soups, salads, and dips.
  • Protein powder:  this is quick, inexpensive option if you’re short on time and protein consumption.  Just toss a scoop or two in your smoothie and you’re good to go!
  • Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and quinoa.

Best “bang for your buck” fruits

  • Watermelon:  it may be packed with water, but it is also loaded with vitamins A and C, magnesium, an antioxidant known as lycopene, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • Bananas:  bring on the potassium!
  • Plums:  rich in vitamins A, C, and K and fiber
  • Pears:  typically less expensive than plums and are loaded with fiber and vitamin C
  • Apricots, nectarines, kiwis, and cantaloupe

The take-away message

Whatever your goal may be, be strategic about your grocery shopping experience.  Look for any ‘buy one get one free’ deals on healthy options so that you can stock up.  In addition, if you’re looking to lose weight, make sure you’re getting most of your calories from fat and protein.  Lastly, you may consider going to your local farmer’s market to purchase your fruits and vegetables.  The reason being is that these farmers are selling what’s currently in season and thus, offering it for a better price.  Not to mention, if the claim they are certified by the USDA, all of their food is considered organic (free of pesticides).

Happy shopping!  Here’s to living your best life ever!  Feel free to leave me a comment or any additional insight you may have.


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