Eating Clean on a Budget

A common concern that I hear from readers learning how to adapt to an active and healthy lifestyle is that it’s super expensive to eat clean and fresh. I understand that it can be hard to swap packaged, bottled and preserved foods with an expiry date of 2 years, to fruit, vegetables and meats which rot and decay before your eyes! However, the reason these perishables are more beneficial for you is because they don’t come with a compromise of quality and nutrients.

The reason packaged and preserved items are cheaper in the first place is that companies cut costs by forsaking the “good stuff” such as essential vitamins, minerals, fibre and nutrients found in fresh produce. Not only do they lack the vital “good stuff” but they are also jam packed with things like fructose, sodium, syrups, trans fats, artificial flavours and sweeteners and preservatives. These hidden nasties may enhance taste and briefly give you energy, but will soon leave you feeling unsatisfied soon after, craving more and more.

TAKE AWAY MESSAGE?

If it in a box, bag, package or bottle and it’s not from a health food store then it’s probably processed. So be aware!

Also, the shorter the time between the fruit and vegetables being picked until ending up on your plate, the better source of nutrients they are to you.

A time and monetary investment into your fridge and pantry is inevitably an investment in your health.

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“So how can you minimise costs so that maintaining a healthy lifestyle won’t break the bank?”

Buy in season

become familiar with which fruit and vegetables are locally in season where you live. Strawberries were $7 for a 500g punnet 3 months ago and just yesterday I picked up a fresh 500g punnet for 0.99c because they are grown in abundance at the moment!!! This is such a big difference on your overall shopping bill if you are buying everything in season. Don’t become victim to seeing that cherries have finally become available in the winter when actually they are imported from overseas and you are paying premium price for preserved produce! Which bring me to my next point…

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Buy local

Not only do I think it’s just great to be supporting local farmers, but you are also getting a fresher product, that’s travelled less, with less preservatives, at a cheaper price. Farmers often sell boxes of fruit and veggies with everything you need to last you a week for $35 or so. Do your research in your area.

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Plan, Plan, Plan.

Write out a shopping list, with your meals in mind rather than just buying separate items, as you often won’t end up using everything. Despite temptation stick to that list, unless you can replace items for things that are on sale. Like I previously mentioned, fruit and vegetables do perish and lose nutrients when just sitting in the fridge. Unfortunately, it may mean more trips to the supermarket or local markets but only buy what you need to avoid waste.

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Grow your own herbs

Herbs at the supermarket are getting so expensive!! I neglected watering my mint plant ($1 at the markets) whilst I was away one time (R.I.P) and had to buy mint at the shops and it cost me $2.99 for 2 days worth!!

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Eat less meat

Instead of eating meat with every meal, try opting for a few high protein vegetarian options. Saving your money from eating less meat will allow more funds to be spent on higher quality meats, with more nutritional benefits. Also, be selective about which meat/ seafood you are eating the most of. I love fresh salmon but it costs me a lot more than the chicken breast I love too, so I use the salmon as an “every now and again meal”.

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Eat leftovers

You spend lots of time and money producing amazing healthy recipes all to throw the left overs in the bin? Instead of giving your leftovers to the dog, plan to have your left over dinner for lunch the next day. Also, with leftover unused vegetables you can make soups, stocks and sauces. I love old bananas frozen as they make the best ingredients in cakes, breads and smoothies!

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Some things can be bought in bulk

Although this may cause a significant upfront cost; it ends up saving you in the long run. Nuts, grains, seeds and some flours are much less expensive when bought in bulk and especially when there is a sale. So wait until they come on special at your local health store and stock, stock, stock!

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Hydration

Drinking water is one of the most inexpensive ways to improve your health. Most people aren’t drinking near the amount of water that your body requires. I have a water filter in the fridge to get rid of any nasties and also add lemon and mint to improve the taste. I also avoid buying bottled water as $2.50 (a cheap bottle of water) everyday will end up costing you $912.50 a year.

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Reduce Indulgence in food

A food indulgence is okay every once in a while and can be a great way to reward yourself for sticking to your healthy routine (cheat meals are a whole different subject!). However, instead of splurging on an expensive 5 course buffet to make up for all the healthy eating that week or $19 on a kilo of cherries every few days, try and treat yourself to one food indulgence per week. This will be better for your wallet and your body! Even better, make the indulgence a healthy home-made treat like a gluten-free vegetable pizza or a free experience such as walk on the beach, a movie marathon at home, hiking, paddle boarding etc.

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