It may seem like there’s no way to eat clean without breaking the bank, but there are lots of tips and shortcuts that will help you keep yourself on a budget while still eating a healthier, all-natural diet. Plan and shop smarter and you won’t be spending all those hard-earned dollars on groceries. Master all these tips and you will no longer think twice about avoiding those middle aisles in the stores (you know, the ones with all the processed and pre-packaged foods!). Whole Foods doesn’t have to live up to its infamous nickname “Whole Paycheck” if you follow these steps below.
Shop in-season produce.
When fruits and vegetables are actually in season, their costs drop due to the increase in availability. Plus, this is when they’re in their peak in terms of nutrition and flavor. So not only will this save you money, but it’s actually better nutrition-wise to eat seasonally! If you’re not sure what’s in season when you’re shopping, ask the staff in the produce department. They’re usually knowledgeable about this. Or just use a website that offers a seasonal food guide, like Sustainable Table.
Don’t avoid store brands.
Tiny Green Mom
You aren’t sacrificing quality when you buy the store brand version of products at your preferred market, but you are saving money! Especially if you’re looking to buy organic, the store brand version of the product is always less expensive but still just as organic. Even Whole Foods has its 365 Everyday Value line, which can make your trip to that particular market a lot less costly. Other stores like Trader Joe’s and Safeway offer their own versions of organic options.
Buy in bulk.
You save money when you buy some items in bulk. Your everyday staples like rice, oats, beans, quinoa, and other grains will last for a while and double in size once cooked. Plus, you’ll save a lot of excess waste and packaging because you’re only buying once instead of multiple times. Even stocking up on spices and oils will save you money in the long run. Most markets have a bulk bin sections and charge by the ounce or pound.
Know when to prioritize buying organic.
There are certain foods that absorb a minuscule amount of chemicals when they’re still crops, and are deemed okay to buy without the organic label. These are known as “The Clean Fifteen.” But then there is “The Dirty Dozen.” These are the produce items that can have a higher amount of pesticide residue left on them. Buying these organic is worth it, but not worrying about splurging on organic versions of the others can save you money. Print a helpful chart like the one featured above and keep it in your wallet for when you go shopping.
Know what you can acceptably buy frozen.
The convenience and affordability of frozen items is a great way to eat clean but still save money. Fruits and vegetables go right from the farm in peak ripeness and then get flash frozen, so they still retain most of their valuable nutrients. Most markets offer their own brand versions of frozen fruits and vegetables so you can stock up without spending too much.
Find recipes that use the fruits and vegetables that are in season (or that you can find frozen!). Then, double the recipes so you can freeze the leftovers to eat later! This is usually done with casseroles, lasagnas, and stews because they freeze and reheat well. Save money now by buying larger quantities of the cheaper in-season produce, and then save money later when you already have a meal prepared to eat.