Tips For Eating Clean When You’re Broke

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Does clean eating seem like a really expensive and overpriced option to you? Avoiding clean eating because you just don’t think you can afford it?

I was the same way at first. That is, until I learned how to eat clean on a budget! Below, I’ll share with you the 5 tricks and tips I’ve used to do just that.

5 Tips For Eating Clean When You're Broke

Shop in bulk

Start in the bulk section of your local health food store. Bulk foods are cheaper than the packaged versions, and you get really clean and healthy foods. Think beans (easy to cook and cheaper than buying cans), whole grains such as barley, millet, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), and whole grain flours. Avoid anything boxed or canned. While this is pretty much a general rule of clean eating, many clean items still come in a can or box. Remember, you pay for the packaging!

Selective Organics

You don’t have to purchase all organic produce to get the benefits of eating organics. Save your money for the organic options of the “dirty dozen”. Those foods which contain the highest amounts of pesticides.

  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Bell Pepper
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes
  10. Spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes

Get familiar

I shop at three different stores because I know where I can get better prices on different foods and supplies. That said, you have to factor in the carbon foot print and cost of driving from store to store. For me, these stores are relatively close together. If I had to drive further to get to each one, it would outweigh the benefits of going to a cheaper store.

Clip those coupons

While few people want to take the time to clip and organize coupons, it can definitely add up in the savings department. Typically, you won’t find a lot of sales on bulk items or fresh produce. But often, stores will put out coupons for a certain amount off of your entire order, as opposed to the manufacturer offering a discount on one specific item. Keep your eyes open for these deals. I know Whole Foods occasionally offers discounts on anything in their bulk section. This is the time to stock up, especially on items you buy regularly.

Cook from scratch

I know, I know. You don’t have time to cook every day. But with a little planning, you can work in home cooked meals every day of the week. Plan to cook and freeze portions of large recipes on the weekend. Bake your own bread. With the right recipe, it’ll be cheaper then that 99 cent loaf at the SaveMart. And it’s easy! Here’s a recipe for Healthy Bread In 5 Minutes A Day, and here’s another quick and affordable recipe for Irish Soda Bread.

Buy the whole bird

Buy a whole, organic chicken. Yes, it seems pricey at first. (I paid almost $14 for a medium-sized, organic chicken at Trader Joe’s). But here’s the thing.There are so many ways to extend the “life” of that chicken. The meat can be frozen or used in soups, sandwiches or on its own.Plus, once you’ve removed the meat, you can boil the bones to make the best chicken stock ever. You just can’t beat a home-made chicken stock. So you can start to see where you can actually save money by buying a whole bird.

This is by no means a definitive list. If you know of any ways to save on eating clean, please share them in a comment below. We’re all on a budget these days. Let’s help each other out and save some money, while still maintaining our health!

Article is an original work and is © Tiffany McCauley. It may not be reproduced for any reason without written permission by the author.

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111 Comments

  1. Hello, I have started clean eating back in March. I had read a couple of Tosca Reno books about clean eating and I have looked over your site as well. I was sold on the idea of cutting out sugar and this would help me loose weight. You see i am 42 ( close to 43) and i weigh 334 pounds. I finally came to the reizarion back in March, that i really need to do something. But the sad part about it is, i have been working out at a gym for the last two yrs. I had lost y 0 pounds and gained it ba k cause i just did not care, then one day i had my “ah, ha” moment. So, I pulled out my CE books and got started. But I belive I am making some mistakes. In a months time, I had only lost 10 pounds, this was working out as well at leaat 3 to 4 times a week. This is what I ate in one day: B: Oatmeal (not instant) w/flax seed and wheat germ, 3 hard boiled eggs whites and one yoke. S: missed was working out, L: Tuna salad sandwich ( olive oil mayo, sweet relish ( what I had on hand, and sm amount & chia seeds) 9 whole grain’s bread and a cheese stick. S: apple w/Almond butter, D: whole wheat pasta, natural spagetti sauce added black beans and grd turkey, S:banana and walnuts, (up late, stay at home mom, usually up late) another snack, clean eat pumkin/walnut muffin. So what do you think with this one meal? Also another question, my 9 yr old is eating clean with me, but he is a little over weight, but he is complaining he is still hungry, I would not let him eat anymore, then all of a sudden I noticed he is going thru a growing spirt. How shld I handle this? I hope you can help, jt wld be greatly appreciated. Thx

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jill B. – In regards to your son, be very careful. I don’t know how old he is, but you don’t want to interfere with healthy growth. As long as he’s eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise, I wouldn’t deny him a healthy snack. If he’s hungry enough to eat a salad or a bag of veggies, then he’s honestly hungry. If he’s saying he’s hungry but only a muffin will do, than you can probably feel safe saying no because it’s more likely just a craving. I think your best course of action is to talk to a dietitian where your son is concerned. They can help you determine how many calories he should be getting every day, especially while growing. I know when I was young, I ate like a bird until a growth spurt hit. Then I ate everything in sight. But every kid is different, so please consult a dietitian. It’s well worth it.

      As for you, have you considered cutting back a bit on the carbs? It seems like you are getting a lot of them. With clean eating, you have to keep things balanced and from what you list here, it just looks heavy on the carbs. This is just a guess though. I’m not a dietitian. It’s very difficult for me to give out specific advice the way a dietitian can. I’m sorry, I wish I could be more help.

  2. I do apolgize for typing errors. I had lost 50 pounds

  3. Danielle C. says:

    Hi! I have been wanting to start eating clean for a long time but when I start looking into it I get overwhelmed. Also, Im on an extremely tight budget right now. Since I dont have the extra $ to stock up can I still eat clean until I can afford to buy in bulk?

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Danielle – Bulk is typically cheaper than packaged goods. But you don’t have to buy bulk to eat clean.

  4. Thank you for your responses. I was wondering if I was having too many carbs. But I think this is confusing me a little ( I might be over thinking it ) From my understanding, you are to have a complex carb and protien at each meal? I just want to make sure Im doing this correctly, I hope you don’t mind If I disect this so I am understanding? So for the breakfast, oatmeal ( complex carb )w/flax seed ( healthy fat) and wheat germ (complex carb ); which I believe was too much carbs, right? Plus the 3 egg whites (protein ). Lunch, Tuna (protein )salad sandwhich ( bread was a 9 wholegrain, not 9 pieces of bread, which was a complex carb ) tuna was mixed w/ mixed with olive oil mayo & sweet relish and chia seed ( healthy fat ). Sweet relish bad, I know and a cheese stick ( protein). Snack: apple ( complex carb ) almond butter ( protein ). Dinner: whole grain pasta ( complex carbs ) natural spagetti sauce w/ black beans ( compkex carbs ) was this too many compkex carbs? And ground turkey ( protein ). Snack: banana ( complex carb ) walnuts ( protein and healthy fat ). Late snack: pumkin/walnut muffin, ( complex carb and protein and healthy fat ). So am I looking this coeectly? Again, I hope you dont mind me disecting this, as I stated before, I just want to make sure I am doing this right. Thank you bunches…..

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jill B – You definitely have the right idea! I simply meant that if you are not making the progress you would like to make, that maybe you need to look at adjusting your macros. Perhaps, even with this balance, it’s just too much for your body. A big part of clean eating is figuring out what works for you personally. Sometimes you have to tweak things a little. So maybe try having eggs and a turkey patty for breakfast and have a low carb dinner. I really don’t know anything about what will work for you, you just have to experiment to see what will get your body moving in the direction you want it to.

  5. Made this morning, not bad. I tried the “icing”, it made the oatmeal thicker, but that is ok. Have to try new things. But I have noticed that eating clean, some foods are bland in taste. Thank you for the recipe, otherwisee, not bad…..

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jill B – Icing?

  6. Ok, good. Thank you much….

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jill B – Sure!

  7. One of the comments from above, they took greek yogart and vanilla to make an icing.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Jill B – Oh! Okay. 🙂

  8. Sorry , it was on cartot cake oatmeal comments.

  9. kyli atkinson says:

    I have been trying to find the whole recipe to the banana, pumpkin, maple syrup, and pumpkin spice recipe but i cant. Please help me, thanks.
    if you could send me any others and an easier way to understand your website id appreciate. As i have MS and i am a dork sometime.
    sincerwly
    kyli

  10. janet fazio says:

    Good ideas! I buy a lot of rotisserie chicken and make soup after cutting off all of the meat. You can’t beat homemade chicken soup.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Janet – Nope! It’s the best soup around! 😀

  11. I like to bulk cook and put stuff in mason jars! Put the food in hot (boiling if a sauce) and it seals itself! No need to freeze and only needs to be kept cool! Saves on defrosting time

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Abby – Interesting! Do you know a lot about canning? For some reason, I’m scared to do it!

  12. First off, please don’t can unless you know what you are doing. I only use recipes from the Ball Blue Canning Book. You do NOT want to just can something and hope it doesn’t go bad ( botulism is NOT worth it!!)

    Our ” health food store” in my area (sprouts) usually has 3 or 4 produce items as loss leaders each week in their ad. If it’s something I love, I’ll buy a ton and freeze it on a cookie sheet. Then put it in a freezer bag and have it on hand!

    I also have changed my mentality for grocery shopping. Instead of just buying what we need, when we need it, I try to stock up on the sales. I also realized that things go on sale every 4-6 weeks, so I don’t have to buy (and store) a years worth of a product.

    Once you’ve watched the sales for a few cycles, you can start a price points list. It’s a list of the lowest price of the products you buy most often in your area. It lets you know if the sale price is actually a good price, or if it will drop in a few weeks.

    Finally, multi-purpose items help save money. For instance, I can buy vinegar at Sams Club for $3 for 2 gallons. I can use that for cooking, canning, floor cleaner, ant deterrent, etc. same goes for coconut oil. Cooking, in smoothies, face wash, hair mask, etc.

    1. The Gracious Pantry says:

      Hales – I agree on the canning thing! That’s why I haven’t really started with it. I need to learn more. I know there are some botulism test strips in the works, but they are not available to the general public yet. Fingers crossed that happens soon! Thanks for sharing your tips!

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