Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy.
Are you having trouble eating clean on a budget? Buying all the ingredients to make healthy clean meals is a lot different than just purchasing a ready made frozen meal, or popping by your favorite fast food chain and ordering up a dish. And since nutrition is an important part of your healthy lifestyle, it can be disappointing to feel like eating clean is out of our financial reach.
It doesn’t have to be more expensive though. A recent study showed that while it is slightly more expensive to eat healthy food in the US, the difference between healthy and unhealthy is only about $1.50 per day. So if you’re looking for a way to get more bang for your buck with cheap clean eating tips, here are a few suggestions for how to eat clean on a budget.
Steer clear of packaged foods
It’s easy to go down and pick up a pre-packaged carrots, pre-made lean turkey burgers, or pre-chopped bell peppers and onions, but you risk blowing a hole in your budget right out of the gate. The convenience factor often isn’t worth the extra dough you’ll spend for it. Just plan on taking a little extra time to prep your food before you cook it and you’ll have plenty of affordable clean snacks on hand.
Eat a little less meat
Meat is one of the more expensive parts of a clean diet, especially the lean cuts of beef. You can easily reduce the cost of clean eating meals by including more high protein, cheap clean eating foods such as tofu, beans and rice, and tuna fish into your diet.
Don’t forget about canned food
Healthy doesn’t always look fresh. Some of the cheapest and best foods are canned at the peak of their nutritional content, so if you’re looking for a way to stock up on clean fruits and veggies, hit the canned aisle once in a while and fill your shelves with chopped spinach, no sugar added peaches, and crushed tomatoes.
Not everything has to be organic
Don’t get me wrong, there is an excellent cause to buy organic produce, but there are exceptions. Certain foods just don’t absorb pesticides the way others do. In addition to the “dirty dozen” list, which specifies which foods have the highest concentrations of pesticides, there is a list called the “clean 15,” which points to foods that don’t pose a risk. Buy from the clean 15 as often as you can, and you won’t have to pay the high price for organic.
The Freezer is your Friend
So, fresh may be best, but for great savings, take a look at your grocer's frozen food isle! Frozen veggies, fruit, meat and even fish last much longer when they're frozen. Another way to eat cleaner on the cheap? Buy in bulk, prepare and cook your meals or ingredients and THEN freeze them. This will not only save you money, but time in prep and cooking too!