Whole30 on a Budget
Healthy eating gets the stigma of being expensive and people often feel like they can’t eat healthy because cost is a barrier. I am here to break that stigma and tell you how I eat Paleo and do the Whole30 on a budget.
I am 27 years old, have a Master’s Degree and have all the student loans that come with years of schooling. Needless to say I DO have a budget of what I spend on food every month because I have other bills that need to be paid. Do I cut costs in other places if my life to enjoy some of the fun Paleo foods, yes, but this is not a necessity and I have had to make that choice. I hardly eat out, I don’t drink much alcohol and I choose other areas that can get cut back in order to make MY health a priority. However these are things that are a choice and eating healthy is totally doable, even if you don’t have areas of your life that you can cut back on.
My top 7 strategies to eating healthy on a budget ensure I can get all my produce and meat at an affordable price.
Skip on organic. While organic and grass fed products have their benefits, non-organic produce has just as many nutrients for your body as organic. If you can’t afford organic skip it. If you can afford some organic but not organic, think about the Dirty Dozen. Which are 12 of the “dirtiest” fruits and veggies. These are items that have been tested and have the most pesticide residue on them. They are typically fruits and veggies that you eat the skin of. Versus the clean 15 which are 15 of the safest non-organic produce. These are often produce with thick skin that you don’t eat and the pesticides don’t get to the actual “meat” of.
Shop in season and local if possible. This means find what fruits and veggies are in season near you and stick to that eat season! This is when the crop is at its highest yield and will be the cheapest. Which goes along with my next point...
Shop sales. Each week, before I even make my grocery list, I look at the ads for the grocery store I shop at, which is Sprouts. I have their app on my phone, so it is easily accessible to me. This is something most stores do as well! Do a quick search in your app store for your local grocery store. Make your meal plan around the ads, so if a certain veggie is on sale that week, make it a staple of a couple of meals. This is a good way to add variety each week and guarantee the freshest produce, as well.
Stick to your list!!! I mean this. If it is not on your list, don't buy it. That means don't walk up and down every aisle, just stick to what you need for the week. This will take extra work on your meal planning and list-making, but it will also save you so much money. This also might mean, don't go to the store hungry. You are so much more likely to pack your cart full of snack foods and unneeded food when you are wandering through the store starving.
Do without. You don't need all things Paleo or Whole30 just because they are labeled as such. I promise you, the Whole30 is doable without all the extras. You don't need every dressing, condiment, emergency food, or any of that. Remember all you need is protein, veggies, fat, and some fruit. Use the "extras" sparingly if they are not in your budget. They can be used in a special meal every once in a while, instead of every meal you eat. You can also try making sauces and dressings by hand... it is WAY cheaper.
Space out buying the expensive items. This sounds confusing and can take some practice, but if you are buying all the expensive groceries in one week, you likely will go over. My example for this is almond milk and mixed nuts. It can be expensive for each of these individual items (depending on the brand), so I never buy them in the same week. A bottle of almond milk lasts me two weeks and a bag of nuts or trail mix will last me for two weeks. I buy almond milk one week and nuts the next, never together. This allows you to budget better for the rest of your items without breaking the bank on just two items.
Take inventory before you leave. You will be amazed how much food you waste each week... on average Americans waste 150,000 tons of food, each day combined. If you take stock of what you have before you leave for the store, you are more likely to use what you have. This will save you from buying so much each week. Use everything you have before you buy more!
All in all, eating healthy at the grocery store can take practice, but it can be done. If this feels overwhelming, master one step at a time. Practice makes perfect. If these steps still aren't getting you to your budget, then "let good be good enough", as Melissa Hartwig says. Even if you can make one small health-promoting change to your plate, that is better than none at all.
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