Home Clean Eating Boot Camp The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money on Healthy Food and Clean Eating

The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money on Healthy Food and Clean Eating

by Erika Nicole Kendall
credit: flickr / andrewczap

Far too often, people complain that the biggest and most frustrating part of trying to eat healthily, is the cost. It’s expensive, they yell out. It costs too much, they cry. I ain’t got money for alladat, they complain.

And, I can honestly say, it can be. For the person looking from the outside in, it’s very difficult to understand how to make “affordable” happen when each ingredient is $2, $3, $4… especially when you’re used to buying things that have all the ingredients in one box, and that box is $3, $4 alone. Just add water. Just microwave for 5 minutes.

Except, despite the ease with which processed food can be bought, the reality is that it isn’t filling and it isn’t especially nutritious, so it’s not enough to have just that one box. You’re now buying multiple boxes or eating multiple high-calorie, high-sugar servings in order to feel satisfied. The cost is now far higher, not just for your wallet, but for your health.

Hopefully, this list will put a stop to this.

Here, I will keep a collection of every single healthy living tip I come up with or come across, all in the best interests of ensuring you understand how healthy living can be affordable and delicious!

25-Minute Meals: Corn, Chickpea, and Cod Ceviche
Save money: Go Weekly!

“Why weekly?

For starters, it allows you to avoid your produce rotting. If you dedicate one day to grocery shopping and food prep, you can spend the rest of the week cooking from your fridge, your cabinets and your pantry. It allows you to “shop” from your own reserves. This way, you prevent wasting your money on stuff you “can’t eat” because it doesn’t look quite as fresh as it did when you got it.” read more—»

Save money: Buy in Bulk

“When you buy your product in bulk, you’re not buying marketing. There’s no brand for which you have to pay a premium. There’s also no additional pollution in the form of pretty boxes, cans or wrapping to deal with. It saves the planet – a big point in clean eating – and saves your pennies. Sure, saving $0.90 on one item might seem like a little, but…” read more—»

25-Minute Meals: Chana Masala

Save money: Go Generic!

“The next time you go grocery shopping, look at your cart. Is there anything there that you like, but is unnecessary for you to buy THAT brand in particular? Let me tell you a secret. Generic foods/store-brand foods are often just as good as some of the better name brands sold on the same shelf. They’re less expensive because the grocery store wants to make sure that you can still get what you want even though you’re not paying as much as you might for the name brand. This way, they can ensure that you’re not pricing yourself out of owning the product entirely, and they can still squeeze a couple extra dollars out of you.” read more—»

Save money: Buy It In Season

“When you pay for strawberries out of season, you’re paying for labor – it takes effort to get strawberries from Florida to Snowville – as well as the fuel used to drive them to you. Yes, you’re paying for the gas. That cost has to be passed on to someone, and why not the customer who insists on having strawberries out of season?

Remember the great gas hike of 2008? Remember how the news kept saying that it affected food prices, but no one understood why? We were paying for the extra cost of the food being shipped to the store. Interestingly enough, those people who were buying their produce locally and in-season were relatively unaffected by the hike.” read more —»

Meal Prep Tips: Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs

  • Take advantage of BOGO sales, even if you don’t need both items you can get one item half off (at least at Publix you can) [Erika’s note: this is important – sometimes, to enter an item as buy-one-get-one, the price of the item is simply marked down to half so that both items together equal “one item.” Stores that have that “10 items for $10” deal also do this by simply marking the item down to a dollar instead of you needing to spend $10 to get the full deal!]
  • Negotiate at Farmers Markets and continue to patron those who are willing to compromise-trust me they remember you …and appreciate your business
  • Buy in bulk where feasible (I have a kilo of oatmeal in my pantry, lololol)
  • plan your dinners on Sunday and buy only the items needed for the recipes for the entire week; take the leftovers to work for lunch
  • I got a carry along cup for xmas, lol. simple but it’s my favorite thing right now. I refill it with water all day, I think I’m at 10 glasses a day. I have not bought any OJ since getting this cup. Strictly water now — Pretty Keish

I signed up for a local CSA which made organic produce affordable. I plan my meals and shop accordingly. I also only cook what I will eat. I only buy things that I know I will use in a timely manner. – Reneschia

Firstly, my CSA and the Farmer’s market. Discount Fresh foods stores like Aldi and Easy Way. Definitely coupons and sales papers online have been my savings guardian angel. Now that Kroger’s let you load coupons on the plus card online ( no… coupon clipping), I’ve been saving. – Cassie

Cowpooling is basically a collective of people coming together to share… a healthily grown, properly raised cow. It’s one of those situations where if you save up the money to plunk down at once (can start around $150 for an eighth of a cow up to $900 for half a cow and beyond), you can easily freeze the rest of the cow and save money on your beef purchases throughout the year. EatWild is an amazing resource for finding farms that might participate in your area.

25-Minute Meals: Zucchini Noodle Mediterranean Salad and Balsamic-Glazed Salmon

Buy frozen!

“A giant bag of fresh spinach? On this date, could run me upwards of $2.50. I can get a container of frozen spinach for $0.87 right now. I’d simply have to forego the spinach salads if my money was tight.

Fresh mushrooms? Cost me approximately $2.79 right now. Frozen? $1.29.

Brussel sprouts? (Yes, Brussel sprouts.) $2.89 fresh. Frozen? $1.49.

Need I go on? Seriously. I’ve already saved about $4 thus far… and y’all know I’m cheap.” read more —»

Buy smaller!

“[…] we asked 40 adults at a PTA meeting to watch a videotape and provide some feedback about it. As a thank you, they were each given a bag of M&M’s – either a half-pound bag or a one-pound bag – to enjoy while they watched the tape. In reality, we didn’t really care what they thought about the tape, we only cared how many M&M’s they ate while watching it. After they finished the video, we weighed the remains in their M&M’s bag. The results were dramatic. Those who were given a half-pound bag ate an average of 71 M&M’s. Those who were given the one-pound bag ate an average of 137 M&M’s, almost twice as many – 264 calories more. Sure, a person saves some money by buying the big bag, but if he decides to watch a hundred videos in the next year, it will also cost him nine pounds of extra weight.” read more—»

Q: Okay Erika, you’re always talking about saving money and eating clean… but I don’t see it! My grocery cart has never cost me more than a hundred dollars for me and my son and regardless of what anyone says… it is expensive to eat healthy! I’m just not sold on it. Prove to me just how little you can spend and maybe I’ll try your tips.

A: I’ve said this time and time again: if your grocery cart – for two people – is running you over $100 for one week’s worth of groceries… you’re buying too many pre-made products… read more—»

Join a CSA!

CSAs (which stands for “community supported agriculture”) are actually kinda awesome. Ask LocalHarvest:

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief…

Advantages for farmers:

* Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
* Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
* Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

* Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
* Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
* Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
* Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
* Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

It’s a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound.

My CSA? $390 for 20 weeks… a little over $19/wk for a nice sized half-box of vegetables. Gotta love a good deal. read more—»

5 Reasons You’re Spending Too Much on Eating Clean

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.” read more—»

Learn to make your favorites from scratch, and save money!

Everything from Sexy Ranch Dressing to low-sugar jams and jellies, fresh almond milk—yes, from scratch!—and more, make more of your favorite condiments and other items from scratch!

Check out the recipe directory to explore the kinds of things you should be prepping in your kitchen, and check out the Clean Eating Boot Camp, which will allow me to guide you through eating clean and healthful dishes step by step!

Improving Access to Healthy Food While on Food Stamps

A #bgg2wlarmy member shares how she and her family uses their food stamps to ensure access to healthy food in this in-depth comment:

I live in an area with enough grocery competition that I can stretch my food stamps – I shop buy one get one free sales, and stock up on stuff like cereal (the healthy stuff DOES go on sale from time to time), salad dressing (because if you have enough salad dressing, you’ll eat salad more often, right?), yogurt, bagged salad stuff (which sometimes makes it cheaper than buying actual lettuce and cutting it up, but is definitely not a “stock up” kind of thing), frozen veggies, stuff like that. (Yogurt freezes well, and I use the frozen stuff for smoothies.)

The best part about food stamps, for me, was being able to buy seeds and plants with it. I have a HUGE strawberry patch ($3 for 10 strawberry plants at Wal-mart, have more than paid for themselves, and they’ll come back year after year), blueberry bushes, even an apple tree, all paid for by food stamps. (The caveat here is that you have to buy them at a store that accepts food stamps. Home Depot and Lowes and any garden place that I’ve ever seen does not.) I have a garden in my front yard growing zucchini, crookneck squash, cucumbers, lettuces of all types, spinach, tomatoes, pumpkin, and watermelon. As long as it is going to grow into a food, any packet of seeds or plant is covered by food stamps.

I try to use natural fertilizers – banana peels provide potassium to the soil, crushed egg shells provide calcium. Both of which can be bought with food stamps. […]” read more—»

Living healthy on a budget is something I’m no stranger to – remember, I’m the one who originally started out with lifting gallon jugs full of water because I couldn’t really afford a gym membership or equipment at the time – and it’s only until recently that I’ve even actually had more money to work with. I mean, I can clearly remember the days of looking up my bank card balance on my cell phone as the cashier was ringing up my purchase, to try to stave off the “declined” message. I’ve always been doing this by the pennies.

The challenge stated that, for $35 per adult and $20 per child, I would have a total of $90 to spend for the week to make do with. But, as someone who was easily one getting by on $50 for two people, is this really a challenge for me?If I were being honest with myself, the answer would be no… so I had to kick it up a notch.

What if I took my challenge… directly to Whole Foods? And, furthermore, what if I bought all of my veggies organic? That.. felt like a challenge. read more—»

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1 comment

Ebony October 25, 2016 - 5:22 PM

Thanks so much for posting this.
I would like to include that there is the possibility of emailing companies that make organic or minimally processed products for coupons or samples. You can email companies that you already like, rant and rave a little about how much you love their stuff.
I’ve gotten coupons from Silk, GT Kombucha, Earthbound, Stoneyfield, Chobani, and more.
It may take a few days to a few weeks to get any coupons, but you’ll have them unless they say they are all out. Which is rare.

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