How To Eat Clean On a Budget
Those fresh athletic clothes cost a pretty penny, the gym membership isn't exactly cheap, and all the workout gear you thought you'd use at home often collects more dust than sweat. So how the heck are you going to justify the added cost of eating cleaner? Health food isn't exactly the cheapest thing that comes to mind, right?
We're here to say two things:
1) We feel you. Keeping up with your health is an investment - but one of the best you can make.
2) Where there's a will, there's a way. A little know-how and creative thinking can put more money in your pocket and better food in your gut.
The True Cost of Food
Diet and nutrition is arguably THE central thing to living a life of physical wellness. Unfortunately, most of Western culture has deprioritized its worth and settled instead for meals of speed, sweets, and salt. One can only wonder what medical bills might be avoided if people chose to spend their cherished dollars on quality food rather than ingredients that are making them sick?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends roughly $7,700 per year on food and eating out. That means it's one of the highest line items in the American family budget other than housing.
Tips for Affordable Clean Eating
If you want to eat better without forking out every penny you make, you've arrived. Welcome to the club. The transformation begins with a few deep-rooted concepts and some daily best practices.
If you want to eat better you should start by auditing your sources. You don't need to track down farmers - start higher. Are you eating out or shopping at grocery stores? Are you cooking your meals with quality ingredients that align with your plan or picking something tasty off the menu?
Next, you'll need to consider wants versus needs. Needs should encompass the daily nutrition and intake your body demands to function at its best. We're sorry to report that ice cream and nachos do not make the cut. The process of eating cleaner involves arguably as much removal of junk food as it does the introduction of better options. If you can cut out unnecessary binge snacks and unhealthy cravings you're one (massive) step closer to eating better and pocketing the savings.
As for the daily practices that can cut costs over time?
- You'll pay more for foods that aren't in season.
- Chop the goods yourself. There's a ton of markup on pre-packaged fruits and veggies.
- Buy local when/where you can. If you have the chance to support the farmers in your region, chances are you'll skirt a lot of the price hikes for the same food that's in stores.
- Search for bulk deals online and limit one-off purchases when possible. Many grocers have gone online and therefore honor competitor prices/coupons in order to compete.
- Embrace your inner green thumb. Who's to say you can't grow your healthy food at home? Not to mention, the Vitamin D from more time outside can boost your mood!
- Think "Family Style". Are there others on your food mission? Can you mass prepare or divvy out portions of a meal to split the costs a few times a week?
- Learn to love leftovers. Stop throwing out perfectly good food. It's like lighting your money on fire and hoping your bank account won't notice.
Have you found other ways to cut costs? Are you a master saver? We'd love to know your secrets!