5 Strategies for Budget Eating

Buying bundles of kale, organic produce and nut milk make for a pretty Instagram picture, but can you afford to turn clean-eating into a legit habit? I believe so. After trial and error, I've discovered that it IS possible to eat clean while on a shoestring budget. Upgrading your diet doesn't have to cost a fortune and it doesn't require you to spend every waking hour in the kitchen cheffing up a fresh meal. It does however require some creativity and a solid game plan. If you're ready to eat clean without losing precious time and overspending, follow these 5 simple strategies:

1. Create a budget

Most people are surprised when they keep a food journal and track how much they spend on food each month. Take out the element of surprise and be honest with yourself. See where you can cut back and then create a realistic budget. You can even use coupons to help save your coins. I'm pretty frugal so I aim to spend between $60-$65 on groceries each week. When you have budget, it motivates you to spend intentionally because every dollar counts. 

2. Find your tribe of bloggers

Subscribe to food blogs that are in line with your taste buds and your budget. There are thousands of bloggers sharing mouthwatering recipes, so take some time to research the blogs that resonate most with you. I love waking up to an affordable new recipe in my inbox every week. I'm currently obsessed with the following food bloggers:  

  • Mininalist Baker. Simple recipes, 10 ingredients or less and under 30 minutes to prepare.
  • $5 dinner. Learn to cook an entire meal for $5 or less.
  • BudgetBytes. Beth shares delicious recipes for small budgets.

3. Meal Prep

This step is crucial if you're trying to save time and money! Prepare your meals and snacks in advance so that you're not tempted to buy outside food that probably has little nutritional value. Simple things like organizing your smoothie ingredients or cutting up vegetable and fruits slices really make a difference. I spend about 2.5 hours every Sunday making dishes that will last for the entire week. Most people complain about eating the same thing more than once, but if your dishes are creative, healthy and flavorful then you won't mind. I'm a huge advocate of meal prepping because it eliminated my mindless spending at the Farmers Market and grocery store. I know exactly what I'm shopping for, which means more money in my pocket and less time wasted thinking of meals on the spot. When you are intentional about what you're eating, overspending and wasting unused food are no longer issues. 

4. Shop at a Farmers Market

Farmers Markets are the best place to buy affordable, fresh, whole food! Plus, you get delicious samples. If you're curious about the Farmers Markets scene in NYC, be sure to check out my "Meet Me at the Market Series". I do most of my shopping at markets and then head over to the grocery store for items I can't find like grains. It's best to visit a market towards closing time because farmers are likely to sell food for discounted rates. They would rather reduce prices then lug all that food back onto the truck.

5. Buy organic

The goal is to buy organic, but know when to skip it. I buy organic according to the Dirty Dozen list. If a fruit or vegetable is on the list, I buy it organically since it is the most contaminated. Some of my favorite items are on the list like spinach and potatoes. Prioritizing my organic purchases definitely helps me to save money. Just to be on the safe side, I use a DIY Fruit and Veggie Spray to clean pesticides off of organic and non-organic produce. You can find the recipe here

Don't fall for the myth that eating healthy is too expensive. If you do your part and create a solid game plan then you can eat BIG on your small budget. I do. 

Who are your favorite food bloggers for eating healthy on a budget?

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