When it comes to eating well and eating on a budget, it’s easy to think that these items are mutually exclusive and only the way the rich can eat. I used to think the same about eating organic. This semester I gave myself a challenge. Could I buy my groceries (to feed two), with clean eating and organic items for around $50 a week? The answer is yes. With a little bit of prep, I’ve learned that this isn’t only possible to do, but actually quite easy to do as well. In our house, we are learning to love our bodies one meal at a time. With a full schedule and long days, it’s easy to come home and throw the quickest thing on a plate. But we find that on the nights we choose to love ourselves and plan out a week’s worth of meals ahead, our bodies are full longer, feel better, and have consistent fuel throughout the day.
Here’s how we do it.
Invest in lean proteins.
Beans, chicken, quinoa, nuts, and eggs are some of our favorite ways to get substantive protein in our diet. Through a variety of combinations, we create meals full of protein with minimal ingredients. In order to have ample energy mid-day without the post-lunch coma, we add quinoa or beans to our salads. This gives us protein without excess bulk.
Cut out the extras.
When it comes to keeping any food budget, cutting out the extras is important. It’s easy to grab pre made items such as hummus, dressings, or breads. It’s also easy to grab the impulse items of bottles of wine, bars of chocolate, and delicious cheese to the shopping cart. Take a bit of time and make a lot of the items you would typically buy. You’ll find in one afternoon of time, you can make most of the items you purchase for 1/4 of the cost. The best part, a lot of the pre made foods you buy have all sorts of fillers in them. Make it yourself and avoid the mystery ingredients.
Stick to the perimeter of your grocery store.
Just like all clean eating plans, purchasing items from the perimeter of your grocery store is going to give you the most nutrient rich food for the least amount of money. Plan ahead a few healthy items for snacks and maybe a cheap organic $10 bottle of wine for a date night at home.
Know your price points. Then go to the farmer’s market.
As you begin purchasing all organic items, you will notice that the price points on items fluctuate with the growing season. Know your growing seasons and the price points you want to pay. I often find I can get higher quality organic produce from the farmer’s market for the same or less money than I can at the store. For example, last week I purchased 3 heads of organic hydroponic butter lettuce for $5. This price can’t be beat. I made an awesome salad for a dinner party and didn’t spend the $7 it would have cost at the grocery.
Here’s a breakdown of how we spend our $50. (All of our items are organic and come from Trader Joes)
- 1 lb organic chicken breast $5
- organic sweet potatoes $4
- spinach $1.99
- kale $1.99
- tomatoes $2
- carrots .78
- garbanzo beans .99
- celery hearts 2.49
- eggs $3.99
- quinoa $5.99
- raw almonds $7.99
- raspberries $3.99
- (1) low sodium vegetable broth $1.19
- pasta $1.49
- half and half $3
- garlic $1.99
- Apples $3.99
Toast with almond butter, raspberries, honey and cinnamon
Eggs with kale and sweet potato hash with toast
Lunches (in addition to dinner leftovers)
Quinoa Salad with spinach and raw almonds
Detox Salad (quinoa with kale, carrot, and raw almond)
Harvest salad (mixed greens with kale, spinach, almonds, berries, and diced apple)
Cream of pumpkin soup
Quinoa Fajita Chicken bowl
Pasta with kale veggie ragu
African Chicken stew
Hummus with veggies