The Ultimate Guide to Clean Eating on a Budget

One of the biggest things we hear from people is that eating healthy is expensive. And yes, it can be and it can most certainly add up. But if you plan properly you can actually save money.

Below are some tips and tricks on how to save money at the grocery store while keeping your clean eating diet in check.

Grocery shop for meat 1 time per month. It can be much more cost effective to purchase meat (chicken, ground turkey and fish) from a warehouse store such as Costco or Sam's Club then from the grocery store. Non negotiable purchases for meat on your list should be chicken breast, ground turkey and fish (on occasion). When you purchase these items from the warehouse store you are fully stocked for about a month. Of course this depends on the size of your family and whether or not you have the freezer space.

Now its time to round out the rest of the meals with vegetables. Try and buy fresh vegetables whenever possible. Make your initial purchases for the month at Costco or another warehouse retailer. This can usually get you through about a week and a half and stuff rarely goes bad if you're eating a diet primarily based around fruit and vegetables.

But how do you get through the rest of the month? Check out these tips below.

Reduced produce- What? Many grocery stores will sell produce that is nearing the end of its shelf life at a discount. If you purchase these discounted items and don't plan on cooking them right away, then you are throwing your money away. However, if you meal prep and cook this discounted produce on the day or day after you purchase it you're good to go. Reduced produce to keep an eye out for: peppers (green, red, yellow) onions, asparagus, broccoli, sweet potatoes or white potatoes. Cut up and toss with your favorite seasonings, drizzle with Olive Oil and roast them right away. Cooked they'll last much longer and you'll have enough vegetables prepped for at least two days.

Another great produce item to purchase discounted, bananas!  They're not completely bad, but if you bought them and left them on your counter, in a day or two nobody would want to eat them.

 Grocery stores sometimes sells them for as little as 24 cents a pound. That's a killer deal! Peel them all as soon as you get home, slice them in half and throw them in the freezer in a gallon size baggie. These are great to use in smoothies or protein shakes (no defrosting needed) or let them thaw and make banana bread.  You can also mash them when you first get them home then put them in a container and freeze them for a little frozen banana "ice cream".

Frozen Vegetables / Fruit- Do buy fresh whenever possible. However, in between your trips to Costco, ALWAYS stock up on frozen vegetables.

Frozen Broccoli, cauliflower, peas and corn are relatively inexpensive. ALWAYS buy the generic brand and skip the fancy sauces or the ones in the microwavable steamer bags. Its just as easy to steam these using a steamer on the stove top and those cheesy or buttery sauces are loaded with calories we just don't need.

Eggs- Lots of eggs! Buy eggs at Costco in bulk. Eggs are relatively inexpensive, are pretty versatile and are a great source of protein.  Breakfast burritos, omelets, scrambled eggs and hard boiled. What's great about eggs is they can pretty much work with any meal including a snack! 2 hard boiled eggs is one serving of protein.

Whole Grains-  Try to avoid purchasing quick cooking "fast" rice. Although its more convenient, its also more expensive. Its MUCH more cost effective to purchase traditional brown rice in bulk. Invest in a good sealed container to store it in so you never have to worry about it going bad. A 5 lb bag of potatoes is another great investment. Potatoes are relatively inexpensive and can  last quite a while. A plain baked potato is a great source of calcium!

Eat In- This alone is the BIGGEST way to save and stretch your grocery dollars! Not only are you saving money but you are ensuring that what you are eating is healthy and you know exactly what's going in it. We're not saying NEVER eat out again. Just simply eat in more and watch your dollars add up.

Sugary Drinks- Try to eliminate or at least cut back on sodas and juices. If you prefer almond milk or coconut milk then you know it can cost more but since you're are saving by not buying sodas or juices regularly its worth it.

Plan and Prep- If you take the time to plan out your month, you'll find yourself making a lot less trips to the grocery store to pick up odds and ends. A quick trip to the grocery store to grab whole wheat pasta can easily turn into spending $50.00!

Once a month, prepare a menu for your family. Try to cook in larger batches at the start of the month so you can freeze leftovers for those busy nights when you only have time to reheat something or when you don't feel much like cooking. Having a plan can definitely also helps cut back on eating out.

And of course if you have a garden you can save even more! Eating healthy doesn't have to cost a fortune. With a little preparation and planning you can actually save money and you might just find that you don't miss all those "extras" .