If there’s one thing that burns my toast, it’s listening to people complain about how much more expensive it is to eat healthier. I mean, I get it. When you’re used to buying cheap food that you can eat a ton of and still not be full, it’s hard to get used to buying food with a little cost to it that you can eat less of and be full much quicker.
It’s hard to accept that cheap food has consequences. It’s also sometimes hard to accept that cheap food is cheap because, to save the companies from passing the cost onto you, the good stuff has been stripped out. Good stuff. You know, the vitamins, minerals, nutrients… the stuff that keeps you thriving.
All that aside, it’s hard to jump head first into clean eating. All you really know is “no boxes, no bags, no cans, no bottled water, bon appetit!” Before you know it, you’ve spent $200 on fruits and vegetables that began to rot before you could even taste them all, and you start longing for the days when you could buy food with an expiration date of… next year.
Below, I have five guesses as to why you may be spending too much on learning how to eat clean. I know these are true… because they are exactly how I screwed up in the beginning.
1. You’re indulging too often. If you’ve made the attempt to swap out your doritos for chocolate covered cashews, and that means that you eat your chocolate covered cashews just as often as you ate your doritos – which means… you’re eating them every day – then yes, you’re overdoing it and you’re going to feel it in your wallet. The point of an indulgence is to treat yourself. It is a highly American principle (read: result of marketing) that it makes sense to “treat yourself every day”… especially with food. If you’re going to treat yourself every day, let it be with a nice hot bubble bath, a longer walk than normal or sitting out to watch the sun set. I know the last one is corny, but my daughter and I walk and watch the sun setting together like there’s fireworks out there. We appreciate simple. Simple is also free.
We really appreciate free.
My indulgence? Vegan organic dark chocolate truffles. $5 for a box of two, and worth every chocolatey bite. Know how often I get them? Once a week (if that.) My indulgence expenses for the week? Five dollars. Certainly not $3.50 every two days like it might be for those chocolate covered cashews.
Please note that people who suffer from this problem also often complain about “doing everything right and still not losing weight.”
2. You’re buying out of season. In the fall, I can buy sweet potatoes for $0.29 per pound. That’s right. I can get three pounds of sweet potatoes for under a dollar. Right now, they’re $1.29 a pound. Knowing how much they cost when they’re in season… why would I buy them now? In the winter, strawberries are $5 for a one pound container. Right now, they’re 2 for $3. Again… knowing this, why on Earth would I buy them in the winter? Each season has its own fruits and vegetables that can grow inexpensively, and therefore should be less expensive at your store. If you stick closely to what can be grown in that particular season (which means briefly familiarizing yourself with best options for the current season before you hit the store), you won’t over spend. Yeah, you may want your cherries in the winter… but please believe you will be paying a premium for it.
People who suffer from this problem often wind up not even wanting the fruit they bought – winding up buying it on a whim simply because they’re “surprised to see those in the grocery store this time of year.”
3. You think that as long as it’s marked “organic,” it’s OK to dig in. Not so. Let me explain before I get angry e-mails. Yes, organic is the ideal purchase for those who want to enjoy their food grown properly, without pesticides or other problems(although, if you want to avoid pesticides without purchasing organics, you can always just cling to this list), but just because a food is organic doesn’t mean that the calorie count is automatically decreased to zero! Organic foods, much like anything else, have calories. Sometimes, lots of them. And they affect your body in the same way as inorganics… so you must still be careful.
4. You’re buying too much at one time. Fruits and vegetables have expiration dates… and they don’t keep for years like your typical canned vegetable. If you buy too much at once, something is going to rot. It’s that simple. Spend a little time planning out your week’s worth of food and snacks – keeping in mind what food items you can use, re-use (using apple slices instead of whole apples means you have lots of slices to use in other dishes), and what will keep longer than a week (a bag of flour, for example) – and that’s the fastest way to save your dough.
5. You’re not exercising proper portion control. I see you over there… giant bowl of organic whole wheat pasta with raw milk alfredo and a giant slab of butter from the farmer’s market. You can’t do that! Not only is that crazy for your figure, but your wallet. Raw milk is almost $6! Why waste so much of it in such a way that doesn’t even affect the taste of your dish? Beyond a certain point, using “a whole bunch” of something simply doesn’t add to the taste of your dish. I flavor my dishes with herbs and spices, which allows me to use far less in the form of creams and cheeses and sauces. I don’t cut them out completely, but I use much less (case in point).
Once I figured out these five tips, my grocery budget decreased like you would not believe. At this point in time, it’s actually FAR more expensive for me to buy processed foods, simply because I can’t make use of them in the same way as I would my fruits and veggies. Besides… I’m a darn good cook – I don’t want anyone else cooking for me. 🙂