Several months ago, I decided to lose 50 pounds (and I’ve lost 35 so far!). I was sick and tired of gaining more and more weight. I knew that if I didn’t make some major changes to my lifestyle, I would keep putting on the pounds. I started exercising 5-7 times per week, and I drastically changed my diet – I now eat a vegan, whole-food diet. There is a common misconception that eating clean is exorbitantly expensive, but this is simply not true. A whole-food diet certainly can be expensive, but if you follow these tips, your healthy diet doesn’t have to break your budget. Here is how to eat clean on a tight budget.
Skip Overpriced Stores
I LOVE Whole Foods. Every item I’ve ever purchased from them has tasted amazing. But their prices are high, and if you can’t afford it, don’t shop there. You can find healthy, whole foods at an ordinary grocery store for a fraction of the price. Did you know that Walmart offers the largest selection of organic foods?
There are also some other health conscious stores that are much cheaper than Whole Foods – such as The Daily Table, Fresh Thyme (love this one!), and Safeway.
Limit the Organic
Many experts say that there isn’t enough evidence to prove that organic foods are healthier than non-organic ones. Despite this, organic food is often more expensive – sometimes a lot more expensive. If you’re convinced that organic is healthier, try eating some foods that are organic and some that are non-organic.
Certain foods – such as avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, onions, cabbage, mangoes, honey dew, cantaloupe, and cauliflower – are less likely to be contaminated with pesticides, so you don’t need to purchase organic for those.
Don’t Buy Too Much
Be careful to only buy what you will actually eat – when you’re buying a lot of fruit and veggies, it’s easy to accidentally buy too much. Unlike processed junk food, natural food expires quickly. Pay attention to what you throw out every week, and adjust your grocery list accordingly.
Use Your Freezer
I eat whole wheat bread, and I used to throw it out every week when it would expire after only four days. I realized it was silly to waste bread every week, so I started keeping the bread in the freezer instead. Now it won’t expire before I finish the entire loaf.
When I want to make my morning toast (Ezekiel whole wheat bread with 100% natural peanut butter), I take the bread out of the freezer, pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds to thaw it out, and then put it in the toaster.
Meal Prep Ahead of Time
Cooking healthy meals can be time-consuming. I used to get frustrated by how much time I was spending making a salad every day for my lunch, so I started making all of my salads for the week on Sundays. It’s amazing what a difference that makes!
I spend about 20 minutes chopping up veggies and putting my salads together, and I’m prepared for lunch for every day of the week. It’s awesome to not have to worry about making meals on week nights after I get home from work and just want to relax. It’s also MUCH less tempting to grab something unhealthy (and more expensive) for lunch when I’ve already got my salads ready to go.
If you can’t see what you have, it’s easy to forget about something until it rots and gives your fridge an unpleasant odor. To avoid this waste, keep your fridge and freezer organized so you always know exactly what you have.
I have a pretty high tolerance for eating the same foods over and over, and I love the convenience of reheating leftovers. I realize that other people prefer to have more variety in their diets, but throwing away leftovers is like throwing money in the toilet. If you really hate leftovers, try to buy smaller amounts of food so you won’t have any leftovers to waste.
What tips do you have for eating healthy on a tight budget?
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