As a Coach, Nurse Practitioner, and host of The Clean Eatery, I often hear clients and patients say how expensive they think clean eating is.
At first, I didn’t understand. I didn’t find it expensive at all. In fact, it’s much cheaper! I soon realized why. There are six mistakes people make that cause clean eats to be more expensive than eating processed foods.
Before we look at how cheap clean eating really is, let’s look at the common mistakes people make that can inflate the cost unnecessarily.
Costly Clean Eating Mistakes to Avoid
- Filling the Fridge with Good Food
It sounds weird, doesn’t it, that putting good food in a fridge is a mistake? But it is. People get all pumped up, fill their cart in the produce section, and set it in the fridge… and it’s more than they can or will use in a week, so it goes bad. Money effectively flushed.
- Buying Pre-made
It can be tempting, especially as a beginner, to buy pre-packaged food. It’s certainly easier, and if you’re in a pinch for time, sometimes it’s worth the cost. Buying pre-cut fruits and veggies, for example, is much more costly than buying the whole fruits and veggies and cutting them yourself. You’ll pay more for a pre-packaged parmesan chicken breast than a plain chicken breast that you season at home. (You’ll also save yourself the chemicals, but I digress…)
- Going Organic
No, despite immense pressure from the foodie community and those who can afford such luxuries, buying organic is not actually required. Especially if you’re starting out or on a limited budget, there just has to be some flexibility on this point. Eating clean is not an all-or-nothing deal where you have to eat all organic, fair trade, locally sourced, or don’t even bother. It just isn’t. Listen, a carrot or salad is better than crackers or chips any day of the week – organic or no. I know there’s a lot of pressure and social status attached to one’s food choices these days, but trust me on this – it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to go non-organic, and a carrot by any other name (organic or not) will taste as sweet.
- Buying Frozen Produce
Despite popular belief, fresh produce actually tends to be less expensive than frozen. This is highly debated, in part because of how fresh produce prices fluctuate seasonally, but I found a third option that’s even better. I buy fast frozen vegetables. They have a longer shelf-life, and their nutritional value is often more intact than raw or canned vegetables.
- Eating Clean and Dirty at the Same Time
The most expensive option I can think of is to maintain old shopping and eating habits while also buying items for a clean diet. When people double up like that, they inevitably must throw lots away. Lettuce wilts, tomatoes go uneaten, and the drawer of good intentions – er, I mean the crisper, fills with microbial lifeforms. It wastes both food and money, and nobody eats any cleaner because of it.
- Lack of Planning
And I’m not talking about meal planning. I’m talking about thinking ahead so when you’re stuck in the middle of a day of errands and appointments and suddenly get hungry, you’re not stuck doing drive through. Forgetting to eat before you head into your day’s activities leaves you stranded, having to buy unnecessary extras on the go.
Clean Eats on a Dime – Keeping Costs Down
Clean eating doesn’t have to cost much. If you start by avoiding those six common mistakes and doing the opposite instead, you’ll be saving money on your grocery bill, not spending more.
Keep costs down by…
* Buying only one week’s worth of food at a time.
* Avoiding pre-made – make your own meals from whole and not processed foods, cut your own veggies.
* Buy non-organic produce.
* Don’t assume fresh produce is more costly than frozen. Compare prices often.
* Commit to clean eating – financing both old and new diets is expensive.
* Plan your day – eat ahead, and pack food along – to save on expensive convenience foods.
Clean eating is actually super simple and cheap.
If you’re just starting out and feel overwhelmed, or feel this whole clean eating thing is complicated, check out this post on how simple and minimalist it can really be. I hate cooking too much to be inventing new, sophisticated recipes with obscure ingredients. My plan’s got to be fast and easy. And it is.
Also, if you’re looking for some motivation, community, or help along the way in your clean eating journey, come on over and join The Clean Eatery, my Facebook group. We’d love to have you.