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I'm a mom, but I am also so much more. I'm a wife, I work, cook, shop, craft, try to stay healthy, keep up on the latest technology, and style trends, and much more! Come join me in my adventure of making a new blog that allows us to share the everyday things (ups and downs) that turns living an everyday life into living a lively life!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Clean Eating On A Budget

As I said at the beginning, cleaner eating isn't about going all organic. A majority of American families can't afford that, including me!

However I can make the choice to allocate a few extra dollars towards buying some organic vegetables and fruits that might contain less pesticides and be healthier. 

I also have to be willing to take a little bit of extra time to maybe make a few things instead of giving into buying the pre-made versions at the store.

Here's some great tips from the Small Wonders Blog I found for clean eating on a budget.


1. Plan Your Meals
This is not always as easy as it sounds. We get busy.  We get lazy.  We go into the grocery store with no plan and wander the aisles aimlessly grabbing whatever we think looks healthy.  $300 later, we’re home unpacking everything.  We’re so proud of ourselves for finding all of these healthy foods!  We aren’t even that upset about the price we paid.  Until a week later, when we have 5 overripe avocados, two bunches of brown bananas, and some sour, chunky milk.
I’ve done this plenty of times.  I always feel guilty for wasting food, knowing that there are hungry people in this world.  Also, I’m pretty pissed that all of that money is going right in the trash.  It’s not that I don’t like the foods I’ve bought, it’s just poor planning.  That’s why meal planning is my number 1 tip.

2. Love (or Learn to Love) Cooking
This goes hand-in-hand with the meal planning.  If you’re going to eat clean, you should prepare your own meals at home.  Eating out or ordering food is expensive.  Just think- if you usually spend $20 ordering take-out, you could buy enough clean food for two meals with that money.  Instead of ordering pizza, you can get the kids involved and have them make their own clean pizzas at home!  Or if you spend around $50 going to a restaurant for a date, you could have had at least 4 clean meals at home with that money. Instead of going out, you could buy quality ingredients and spend the night cooking with your significant other.
And don’t worry- If you do decide to cook most of your meals, it doesn’t mean you have to spend all day in the kitchen either.  There are plenty of clean crockpot recipes, or recipes that take 20 minutes or less.  Check Pinterest or buy a ‘clean eating’ cookbook for ideas.  

3. Focus on the Dirty Dozen
When it comes to buying your produce, you DON'T have to buy everything organic.  If you have the money, and you want to buy all organic- by all means, go for it!  But if you are trying to stick to a budget, focus on the dirty dozen.  The dirty dozen is a list of 12 fruits and vegetables that you should always buy organic.  The reason is that these fruits and vegetables have the highest pesticide residues and also because we typically eat the skin(s) of these foods.
The Dirty Dozen
  1. Peaches
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers / Hot Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Cucumbers
  9. Grapes
  10. Spinach / Leafy Greens
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Potatoes
All other fruits & vegetables (with the exception of summer squash which is also recommended to be organic when possible) are okay to buy regular.  Try to include a lot of other fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, avocados, bananas, and broccoli in your menu if you are concerned with the prices of organic produce.

4. Use Your Freezer
It’s okay to buy the frozen stuff!  Not only is frozen produce usually less expensive than fresh, it lasts areally long time in your freezer. You can buy frozen berries to make smoothies or to add to oatmeal.  Frozen spinach can be a quick side dish or a veggie to add to lasagna or soup.  The same goes for meat and chicken.  I can often find deals on frozen ground grass-fed beef, so I stock-up and keep it in the freezer.  You can even freeze a gallon of milk!  If you have a freezer in your garage or basement (like I do) it’s a good idea to keep a list of what is in that freezer.  When you buy your groceries, add them to the list before putting them in the freezer.  When you use something from that freezer, cross it off on your list.  This will help you from forgetting what’s in there and letting it go to waste.

5. Buy In-Season
Buy in-season fruits and vegetables and plan your meals around them.  In-season produce is usually less expensive that out-of-season stuff that has to be shipped in.  

6. Watch Your Portions
It’s hard to avoid sticker shock when you see organic milk for $5.99 a gallon. Around here, regular milk often goes on sale for less than $3 a gallon, so I’m paying more than twice as much.  Then, I think about all the times I’ve poured my kids a glass of milk and they drank two sips of it. Or I gave them milk in their cereal, and I end up pouring all the milk down the drain.  Since I began buying organic, I’ve become much more stingy with the portion sizes of our food.  Instead of filling up a glass with milk for the kids, I give them about 4 ounces.  If they still want more, I’ll give them another 2 ounces.  The same goes for me!  When I make dinner, I’ll think, “Do I really want to eat a whole piece of chicken?”  I know if I only eat half, I can eat the other half for lunch the next day.  A serving of chicken should only be about 3-4 ounces anyway, so an entire breast is usually more than twice the serving size.  Because the organic food is more expensive, I don’t want to ‘waste’ it by eating more than I really need!

7. Beware of Organic ‘Junk’
It’s important to know that just because something is labeled as organic, it’s not always clean or healthy.  There are organic cookies and chips, but they aren’t necessarily good for us.  Also, they are usually pretty pricey.  If you’re on a budget, stay away from organic junk food, so you’re only spending your money on foods that are truly nutritious.
Drinks are another waste of your money.  Avoid (or cut back on) sodas, sports drinks, & energy drinks.  Stick with water (and milk if you’re having dairy).  Fruit juices are full of sugar too, even if they are 100% juice.  You’re better off eating your fruit.

8. Eat Leftovers
I know some people are not huge fans of leftovers, but if you’re on a budget, you gotta learn to love them!  When you prepare a meal for dinner, only eat as much as you need.  Once you’re full, put any leftovers in the fridge for lunch the next day.  I find that it’s best to put things into clear plastic containers or clear glass with plastic wrap. Clear plastic or glass helps keep the food in sight, so it won’t go to waste.
Also, you can use some of your leftovers as ingredients for another dinner meal.  For example, this Friday, we’re going to have burrito bowls.  I’ll make shredded chicken, and we will have black beans, roasted corn, tomatoes, peppers, etc. to add to our bowls.  I’ll save all the leftovers and make chicken tortilla soup a few days later.  I’ll throw the chicken, tomatoes, beans, corn, peppers, etc. into a pot with some chicken broth and let it simmer.  I’ll add any extra ingredients I need, but there’s no reason to let all of those leftovers go to waste!

9. Consider Joining a CSA for your Produce
CSA stands for community supported agrigulture.  What this means is basically you are buying a share into a local farm.  You will pay a fee in the beginning of the season, usually based on a package you choose.  Sometimes they offer weekly or bi-weekly packages with varying amounts of produce.  You will have to decide based on your family size and how much produce you think you will eat.  I will tell you that the more produce you buy, the lower the price per pound typically is.  Then, the famer uses the money to plant and grow crops.  Depending on your plan, you will go and pick up your produce weekly or bi-weekly. The downside to a CSA is that you usually don’t get to choose what you get.  If you’re a picky eater, it may not be for you.  The good news is that you get locally-grown, organic produce at a great price.  It also gives you the opportunity to try new foods and experiment with new recipes.

10. Buy in Bulk, Buy Local
If you are really serious about eating clean, and you have the freezer space, consider buying chicken, beef, or pork from a local farm.  Some farms allow you to buy packages of meat and poultry, while others will only sell you the whole cow or whole chickens.  You could split a whole cow (or a side, which is half a cow) with another family if it seems like too much meat.  Just like the CSAs, typically the price per pound decreases as the amount you are purchasing increases.  Also, some farms have CSAs for meat and poultry (and milk and eggs even).  If you’re interested, check some local farms to compare prices and quality.
Other things that you can buy in bulk are nuts and grains.  They may not come in fancy packaging, but they are the same thing!  Also, these staples will last a while in your pantry.

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