You may have noticed lately that you feel a little “off” and nothing, not extra sleep, exercise, or supplements, has worked. You are tired of feeling sluggish, bloated, achy and maybe even a little gassy. So, you did the research and decided to take the next step by committing to eat a healthier diet, packed with nutritious whole and organic foods.
Now maybe this is your first foray into the world of eating healthy rather than dieting. Or maybe you characterize yourself as having always eaten “pretty healthy,” but tend to eat a lot of prepackaged or premade meals. Either way, eating clean is decidedly your next stop on the road to a better sense of health and well-being.
Determined to make a fresh start, you throw out everything in your refrigerator and cupboards, then head to the nearest market determined to fill your cart with fresh herbs and spices, vitamin and mineral rich veggies, and grass fed pasture raised meats. Excitedly, you enter the store and take one step into the produce isle where you are immediately confronted by a litany of price tags that stop you dead in your tracks and send you straight into sticker shock while your brain bellows one question; “How can I possibly afford to eat healthy?”
But don’t be discouraged. While eating healthy foods can sometimes be a bit pricier, it is possible to purchase whole and organic foods in a way that keeps your finances, and your sanity, intact.
These 5 easy steps can help you keep that clean eating commitment to yourself without breaking your bank.
1. Start Small – Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither were your dietary habits, nor should be the changes in your diet routine.
Attempting to overhaul your food supply all at once is an expensive undertaking regardless the nature of the food being purchased. Additionally, over-purchasing groceries during even routine trips to the store is a common occurrence these days, as evidenced by the popularity of membership-based food warehouses. So, try to focus on small changes that pack a punch.
Begin by changing over only one section of your food supply, per week. Such as:
- Week 1 – Meat and Poultry,
- Week 2 – Dry Goods,
- Week 3 – Perishables.
Remember, when purchasing perishables, only buy enough for the week. Resist the urge to buy kale, spinach and chard or multiple servings of more than three types of fruit in the same trip. Pick one type of greens for the week and try something different the following week. Rotate your fruit choices in the same manner.
Perishables tend to spoil quickly, so over purchasing could lead to spoilage thus a waste of your hard-earned cash.
2. Rotate Your Foods – Eat the Rainbow!
One way help prevent over-purchasing is to devise weekly menus that include a variety foods. Shopping from a menu tends to keep shoppers on track while in the store, preventing impulse purchases. Using the rainbow can help give menus shape and keep meal ideas fresh.
Additionally different color foods provide different health benefits, thus eating a combination of colors can maximize your nutrition. For instance, red foods support heart health, brain function and lower blood pressure; orange foods support eye and blood health, and help both the digestive and nervous system; and green foods boost immunity and have cancer-fighting properties.
Mixing up colors, or rotating foods, also helps to prevent eating foods that are not in season, and eating the same items over and over, saturating your meals with one color while omitting others; like consuming tons of green veggies to the exclusion of orange, red or purple. Eat the rainbow to both boost nutrition and reduce the wreckage to your wallet!
3. Buy Dry Goods in Bulk – If you are purchasing perishables on a weekly basis, try purchasing dry goods monthly.
Dry goods can be stored for longer periods and tend to be cheaper when bought in bulk. Foods that can be purchased in bulk generally cost less than when the same food is purchased on smaller quantities. Stock up on things like beans, grains, nuts, flours, starches and pastas. Membership based food warehouses can be a great source for finding inexpensive dry goods in large quantities.
4. Shop Local – Give your local farms some love!
Buying food from local sources means you will likely be buying food that was grown on a farm close to home. Local farmers often sell their products at farmers markets and other local distribution centers. They usually bring food that is in season. Food that is in season is less expensive, and since it is fresh, it generally tastes better too.
Check the price tags. Often, foods from local sources, like small market places, are less expensive than the same foods in commercial grocery stores. Since food from local sources does not incur exorbitant transportation costs, they tend to be cheaper and are good for the environment too!
5. Shop Around – One stop shopping may be convenient, but is not always the least expensive option.
Don’t be afraid to purchase different items from different sources. For instance, you might get fresh produce weekly at the local farmer’s market, various meat cuts from your local butcher every few weeks, or from a local farmer once a year if you buy in bulk, and dry goods from a membership-based food warehouse once a month.
Although you may get your food from more sources, with a bit of planning, you will not have to do more shopping, and will save money to boot!
If you’ve made the commitment to yourself to eat clean but are battling a belief that clean eating is cost prohibitive, remember, even if it may cost a bit more, with these simple tips it is in fact possible for you to afford your healthy new lifestyle. And the resulting improvements to your health and the way you feel will be priceless.