How to eat clean on a budget

Sam Jackson

May 5, 2014

November 13, 2018

How to eat clean on a budget

'Eating clean' means avoiding the processed foods and pesticides that can be harmful to your health, and cutting back on refined sugar and grains. It doesn't mean spending over the odds on fad foods.

Plan your meals

The easiest way to ensure you don't overspend is to follow our simple meal plan process:

  • Use our free money management software to get an overview of your current shopping spend, and set yourself a weekly budget
  • Make weekly meal plans, ensuring you cook the most perishable foods first
  • Research the costs of the ingredients online before you head to the shops to avoid being stung by supermarkets
  • If you're shopping in-store, take a list to help you avoid impulse buys
  • When you see interesting alternatives on the shelves, list them, don't buy them. You can always add them to next week's plan once you've done your research

Prioritise products

Cutting down on meat and sweets is an optional part of eating clean, but it's an easy way of reducing costs and therefore giving yourself the financial flexibility to experiment with different organic and wholefood products.

It's also wise to buy plenty of longer-lasting hard veg. Carrots, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower all have relatively long fridge lives, so they're more forgiving than some of their more fragile cousins.

Preserve your food naturally

Fresh, organic food can perish more quickly without added preservatives, but there are still ways to avoid waste.

It's easy to focus on the fresh fruit and veg aisle for clean meals, but don't overlook all the value on offer in the dried food and cereals sections. You can often find organic, naturally preserved beans and pulses for bargain prices, and they can be stored for a long time in the cupboard. Nuts and seeds are often good for weeks too.

If you're cooking up a big bean chilli or a vegetable casserole, don't forget to freeze those leftovers. Buying in bulk and freezing portions for later is a great way of reducing shopping and cooking costs, while also being a handy time saver.

Consider shopping alternatives

Once you've developed comfortable cooking habits, with a good armoury of clean eating recipes and some serious planning skills, look into specialist organic and wholefood firms for your shop.

Sometimes veg box schemes work out cheaper in the long run, particularly if you sign up for extended periods. And you know you're getting quality products delivered.

If you're lucky enough to live near a farmer's market, you might also find that they pass on the savings they make by avoiding conventional shop supply lines.

Give yourself (some) slack

One thing that distinguishes clean eating from many other dietary trends is its realism. Many clean eaters apply the 80/20 rule, meaning they're happy with an 80% success rate. Others shop for items with five ingredients or less as a guideline. Giving yourself a little flexibility, at least at the start, will make sure you don't panic buy the heavily marketed, expensive foods that target diet trends. Of course, one thing that shouldn't be compromised on too much is take away. Most fast food is fatty, processed and expensive, so it ticks pretty much all of the fail boxes on this one.

 

Posted by Marc Murphy

 

Sam Jackson

Money Dashboard

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