The Collins free online dictionary named “clean eating” as their word of the year for 2015. Termed as “the best way to regulate our intake of food to ensure optimum health and fitness”. Since then, the term has become the buzz all across fitness, health, and wellness practices across America. Five day clean eating challenges, clean eating blogs, clean eating ways of eating! Clean eating has become a household name among wellness enthusiasts and wannabes alike.
The pillars of clean eating remain the same no matter which way you cut it. Food needs to be as close to the earth that it comes from, un- or minimally processed, and fresh in order to count as eating clean. However, when we talk about eating clean, people get nervous. There are no coupons out there for “minimally processed” foods. Discount produce is usually just about gone bad. So how CAN we “eat clean” without breaking the bank? Here are my top five tips to help you clean up your diet affordably.
ONE. DON’T TRY TO OVERHAUL YOUR KITCHEN ALL AT ONCE. Take small steps towards swapping out anything that doesn’t fit the clean bill of health. On your next trip to the grocery store, invest in some quality coconut oil and maybe a new spice. And then the next time you go, grab a bag of quinoa and some rolled oats. There is no reason to throw away everything in your cupboards all at once and spend hundreds of dollars in the check out lane. Check out my clean eating pantry staples list to help you get started. Check off the different items that you purchase to stock your pantry each week until you have a clean kitchen!
TWO: SHOP THE BIG BOX STORES. Stores like Costco and BJs now carry whole lines of organic foods, including fruits and vegetables. Buy in bulk and freeze whatever you won’t use right away. Purchase organic free range chicken and separate the breasts as soon as you get home, tossing the individual breasts into a Ziploc bag with a marinade. Put it in the freezer and defrost as needed. Freeze grapes for a refreshing snack at the zoo. Purchase organic maple syrup for your coffee. I have never found organic maple syrup anywhere cheaper than at BJs, and if you only use one teaspoon a day it lasts a long time!
THREE: SUBSCRIBE TO A MONTHLY SERVICE. Companies such as Thrive Market and Amazon Subscribe and Save offer a variety of clean, organic foods at bargain prices, and if you sign up for their monthly shipment plan, you can save on shipping. This option takes a little bit of forethought and planning, but if you get it right, you could be eating clean, organic snacks for the whole month at discount prices.
FOUR: SHOP LOCAL. Your local farms are going to offer produce that is in season at a lower price than purchasing through a chain supermarket. They don’t have to spend as much on packaging, preserving, shipping, and marketing, so they can afford to grow their produce in a more sustainable way. Plus, fruits and vegetables grown by smaller local farms tend to be more nutritious, and carry with them all of the nutrients that you need to fight off local allergens. Plus, you get that cozy feel good feel from shaking hands with the farmer and seeing how it’s all done.
FIVE: INVEST IN A CSA PROGRAM. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) can be a huge time and money saver if you can learn not to be picky and to get a little bit creative in the kitchen. For an annual fee (prices vary depending on the farm) you can pick up a weekly box of the freshest, in season, local produce from the farm. The only possible downside to this endeavor is that you do not get to choose what you will be purchasing. You may get apples and bananas and lettuce one week, and end up with a rutabaga the next week and not know what in the world to do with it! Thank goodness for Pinterest is all I have to say…
Overall, as long as you are following the four pillars of clean eating, then you can rest assured that you are on the right track. You don’t have to be fancy to ride the clean eating train. You just have to be smart about your decisions and remember that sometimes you have to put a little bit more money out up front to reap the rewards and benefits of a fully clean diet later.