Cheap Healthy Meals: Eat Clean on Less Cash

Eating Healthy can be expensive, but with these tips for creating cheap healthy meals, you can remain faithful to your diet without breaking the bank.

Clean eating, or choosing foods raised, grown, and sold with the least amount of processing, is growing more popular day-by-day. We are becoming far more conscious of keeping our diets healthful and organic where possible. Many more millennials want to eat in healthier ways, but the price tag on organic product has forced them to save by selecting less expensive processed items. In research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, it was found healthier diets added as much as $1.50 per day – slightly more than $550 annually – to food budgets. Keeping that in mind, here is a short list of 6 things you can do to keep your diet clean and lean with cheap healthy meals that wont break your bank.

Buy produce in season.

Buy your fruits and vegetables in season. During the harvest months for various produce, savings can be substantial because of the abundance of product. For example in the month of August you should find excellent prices on raspberries, blackberries, plums, and cantaloupe among others in the fruit area. Vegetables to shop for in late summer include beets, carrots, okra, and, of course, a big staple, tomatoes. Look for sales on all of these at your local market. Want to know what produce is in season so you can add it to your healthy eating meal plan? Many magazines and websites publish fairly comprehensive lists month-to-month, so put that search engine to work and keep your diet clean and within your budget.

To buy, or not to buy organic?

Often we purchase produce that is organic when the conventionally grown alternatives present no greater health risk, and at a far better value. Corn, onions, pineapples, avocados, and cabbage are examples of produce that don’t absorb high amounts of crop chemicals. Save your pennies on these items because the organic varieties do not offer a significant health benefit relative to cost. Generate a list of fruits and vegetables that have low chemical absorption and keep it handy when making your grocery list.

Store brands are okay.


Buying store brands at the market does not mean sacrificing quality. In fact, almost all of your market branded products are packaged by many of the same companies that roll out your name brand canned and frozen varieties. Del Monte, Hunts, and Heinz do a great business by “white labeling” many of their products. White labeling is simply the practice of selling virtually the same product to a major retailer but allowing them to put their own label on the packaging. A $.69 can of black beans with the store’s label on it can be as much as $1.00 cheaper than some brand name alternatives of the same size!

Whenever possible, bulk up your shopping cart!

There are numerous staples that, when purchased in regular sizes, send grocery bills to the moon! Things like rice, beans, nut butters, spices, and cooking oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, should be bought in bulk sizes whenever you have the opportunity. By making this a part of your shopping strategy, you keep a well-stocked pantry and spend far fewer dollars in the process!

There’s no shame in buying frozen.

Somehow frozen fruits, vegetables, and some proteins have been stereotyped as being less healthy than their fresh counterparts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because of “flash freezing,” produce is picked, taken directly to the processing company, washed, and packaged the same day. By doing this, fruits and vegetables are not losing their nutrients by exposure to air during shipping and while in grocer’s bins. Another little tip, when you buy fresh, buy local. Making selections the same or next day beats buying produce that is two or three days old when it gets to your market because of shipping time.

Don’t let leftovers become waste.

freezer_300How you handle leftovers can help you get the most from the clean foods you build your diet around. Instead of sliding your leftovers into the refrigerator in a piece of Tupperware, use freezer bags or vacuum seal them and store them in the freezer to use for a quick meal later. A final idea to keep it clean and cost effective; when you buy items in season and larger quantities, double a recipe, and give the second half the same treatment as we suggested previously. This can be a time, as well as a cost, saver for you in the long run!

Related Article: Healthy Recipes for Grab and Go Snacks

Well, there you have it, six great ideas helping you control the cost of eating clean. Remember, clean eating is simply not eating anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Although the costs of organic, clean foods are coming down little-by-little as more and more of us add them to our menus, if you aren’t careful your food costs can still strain your budget. Keeping our tips in mind can help you keep your diet clean and healthy at far more manageable costs. For greater detail on clean eating on a budget go to Enjoy!

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