A Brief Guide to Clean Eating on a Budget

Food costs in the USA have been steadily rising. In 2020, lower-income families are even going into debt just to keep their kid’s lunch boxes stocked.

Combine this with the ill-health of people eating a poor diet, and you can see why clean eating on a budget is gaining so much traction in 2020.

From guidance on healthy eating on a budget to directions on creating a clean eating meal plan, this article has you covered.

Read on to learn how to eat clean and how to save money.

But Clean Eating Is So Expensive, Right?

This is a cry you hear often from people stuck in a rut with their diet. If you dig deeper, you’ll find these people are eating a lot of highly processed convenience foods.

You can employ some simple strategies to improve the quality of your diet while reducing your food budget.

These include:

  • Sticking with whole foods and reducing meat consumption.
  • Planning with weekly or monthly meal plans.
  • Budgeting and shopping around to take advantage of specials, sales, and coupon offers.
  • Buying in bulk.
  • Visiting your local farmer’s market.

Eating clean on a budget is not only possible, but it’s also healthy and, most importantly, delicious!

3 Popular Clean Eating Diets in 2020

There are a lot of different types of diets that espouse clean-eating values. And all of them can be budget-friendly with a little clean eating meal planning.

Let’s take a look at three of the most popular clean-eating diets in 2020.

  • WFPB Diet

Followers of a Whole Food Plant-Based diet (commonly known as WFPB) avoid overly processed and refined foods and eat little or no animal products. They meet their nutrient needs with legumes, seeds, and nuts, whole grains, and vegetables and fruit.

Proponents of this diet favor organic, non-GMO produce and sometimes avoid eating sugar and oil, too.

  • Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet (“keto” for short) focuses on low-carb, high-fat whole food choices. Followers try to achieve a state of ketosis by replacing the carbohydrates in their meals with fat. The diet can reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, which studies have shown may have a surprising number of health benefits.

Looking to find a new keto snack here to eat at work or on the go? Check the labels of packaged snacks to ensure the ingredients are as simple as possible.

  • Paleo Diet

People who follow a paleo diet try to eat foods that our Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors might have eaten. Raw vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds, and lean meat and fish are all popular choices on this diet.

Proponents believe that humans are not well adapted to eat processed foods like grains, dairy, and legumes that resulted from the rise in agriculture and farming.

Cooking From Scratch Is Important for Clean Eating on a Budget

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which diet style you prefer. The key to healthy eating on a budget is sticking with food that is minimally processed and cooking at home.

Advice for Novice Home Cooks

Do you have a lack of cooking experience with cooking? Take advantage of tools and appliances that make cooking at home a breeze.

Slow cookers, for example, allow you to make simple one-pot meals with little effort. Add the ingredients to the pot in the morning, turn it on low, and you’ll have a hot meal to eat when you get home in the evening.

If you want to add time-saving appliances to your kitchen, shop second-hand first to save money.

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Snacks From Scratch

While pre-packaged cookies, crackers, and candies are certainly convenient, they’re likely not that good for healthy eating on a budget. Not only are these snacks full of preservatives and other non-essential ingredients (and that’s not clean, right?), they are also expensive.

The solution here is to make your own. There are endless recipes online for baked goods with few ingredients. If you have a dehydrator you can make your own dried fruit, whole-seed crackers, and even fancy clean eating foods like raw-nola.

Planning Ahead Couldn’t Be More Important

Demanding work schedules. Kids to take care of. How do all those super-organized clean eating momma bloggers and YouTubers maintain their healthy diets and keep costs down?

Whether you’re planning weekly or monthly, crafting a clean eating meal plan is quick, fun, and is certain to save you time and money.

Combine weekly meal planning with the following strategies for an even bigger impact:

  • Batch cooking: Double or triple a recipe and freeze the extra for later meals.
  • Meal prepping: Shop on Saturday and prepare your meals for the week ahead on Sunday.
  • Freezing food: Store leftovers in the freezer and pull them out when your schedule gets busy.
  • Buying long-lasting produce: Select produce that stays fresher longer like root vegetables and apples and oranges.

Budgeting Is Even Easier If You Take Advantage of Sales

The price of products can vary wildly across supermarket chains.

Be sure to check online for deals at your local grocery store before you head out on your weekly shop and don’t be afraid to clip coupons.

Incorporate sale items into your weekly or monthly clean eating meal plan. And choose organic, wild-caught, and GMO-free produce only when it’s affordable.

Buy as Much Food as You Can in Bulk

Consider buying a membership to Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club. This will benefit big families who shop frequently the most. Each wholesale retailer has its positives and negatives, so do your research before committing to the yearly fee.

Another option for healthy eating on a budget is to buy bulk dry goods online. Big bags of non-perishables like flour, grains, and dried beans are much cheaper to buy than the equivalent amount in small packets and will last a long time in your pantry if properly stored.

Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market for Seasonal Produce at Low Prices

Save money and support your local community by shopping at your local farmer’s market.

Farmers will discount produce that is in the season because they have so much of it. In-season produce is not only in abundance. It’s also at its most nutritious. Usually, if you buy produce by the box you can get a substantial discount. Any extra produce that you don’t eat can be frozen or canned.

Best of all, organic produce is clearly labeled at a farmer’s market. And you have the opportunity to speak directly with the grower to ask about their methods.

You can’t get much cleaner than locally grown organic food!

Clean Eating on a Budget is Healthy and Doable

With all these practical tips up your sleeve, you’re now all set to help you and your family move toward a healthier diet without breaking the bank. We hope that clean eating on a budget doesn’t seem as far out of reach now.

Looking for more advice on how to eat healthily and save money? Be sure to browse the articles on A Thrifty Mrs.