Eating Clean on a Budget

I sign off almost all of my blog posts with “Remember, I’m always listening” because it’s true! Stacy M. recently asked me a question on Facebook and I was overcome with emotion. Her note touched me because visions of the whirlwind that life became after I had each of my girls instantly flooded my mind. A bigger family of course means more mouths to feed and a newfound need to spend more wisely. I have also experienced – as so many of us have – the deep sense of body-induced frustration she describes:

Tosca, I’m sure you get or hear this a lot but I need help. I’m to the point where I do not leave my house unless it is for work and I am so incredibly unhappy with myself when I should be on cloud 9 being a new mom to a beautiful baby girl. I hate looking at myself, this is not who I use to be. I was built, happy and full of energy not to mention, always smiling. The struggles of being a new mom is money as the main point. WIC helps out some and I am thankful for it, but buying clean food is hard for me. I was hoping you could help me eat clean on a very small budget, I want to be that happy fit mommy for my daughter and I would like one day to love myself again because as of right now I hate myself. Any tips will help.

For Stacy, all the new moms out there, college kids with little extra cash getting ready to go back in September, and anybody looking to Eat Clean without spending a fortune, my top 5 tips:

1. BUY LOCAL. Find the closest farmer’s market or independent growers in your neighbourhood and make the trip! There are loads of advantages to eating local and in season, and the low price point tops the list. The other day I purchased ten juicy, perfect peaches for less than $5 from a local farmer. No supermarket can beat the price or quality!

2. KNOW WHEN TO CHOOSE ORGANIC. When money is tight, organic is more of a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have”. Cut your costs by going for conventional citrus (unless you’re consuming the rind), avocados, asparagus and cabbage, but when it comes to fruit and veg without skin, rind or outer layers that can be removed (like berries and celery) go for organic. Check out this list from the Environmental Working Group for more insight on when to choose organic.

3. HUNT FOR BARGAINS. Browse online and newspaper flyers for coupons, and be sure to compare deals happening at different stores near you. It’s common for stores to run similar deals at the same time, but I always see a couple discounted items only available at one store. If it’s an extremely good deal and something that will keep, this is your chance to buy in bulk!

4. EAT LESS MEAT. Choose plant-based proteins such as quinoa, edamame, sea vegetables and soy products. Wild fish and grass-fed meats free of antibiotics and hormones can be astronomically expensive, so try eating more vegetarian meals and snacks such as my One Dish Lentil Salad, Grilled Gourmet Bella Burgers or my High Fiber Bean Dip.

5. PLAN AHEAD. I always talk about how planning and preparing meals ahead is vital to your success when Eating Clean, but it’s also a great way to save money. Plan your meals for the week before heading to the store. This way, you know exactly what you need and are less likely impulse-buy foods that don’t fit into your meals. Build leftovers into your plan to stretch your dollar even further!

Do you have other tips for Eating Clean on a budget to share with Stacy? Share them below in the comments, at Kitchen Table or on Twitter or Facebook!

Remember, I’m always listening Tosca