Clean Eating for Busy Moms; 8 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget
Eating fresh, healthy, organic, local foods sounds great—but what if you’re on a budget (like most of us busy moms are)? Maybe you dream of shopping at Whole Foods, but the cold, hard light of day finds you wheeling down the aisles at Walmart instead.
I feel your pain. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to eat well and actually save money in the process. Your shopping list isn’t going to include vegetarian, brown rice sushi rolls from the macrobiotic deli case, but trust me, you’ll live. Here are 8 tips, as well as some of my favorite places to shop for my clean eating foods.
1. Don’t shop hungry!
How often do you swing by the market on your way home from work, tired and starving? While this seems like grandmotherly advice, it’s firmly rooted in current research; a new Cornell study shows that people who shop while hungry are more inclined to buy more calorically dense food. Keep a piece of fruit or a small Ziploc® bag full of raw nuts in your bag to guard against filling your cart with foods you’re craving now but wouldn’t buy on a full stomach.
2. Buy flash-frozen fruits, vegetables, and fish.
While any processing takes away from a food’s maximum nutritional value, flash freezing is a great way to preserve vitamins and minerals when vegetables and seafood are at their freshest. And the convenience of a bag of veggies or a filet of fish in the freezer can’t be beat. The price? For seafood, there’s no comparison: fresh is much more expensive—when you can get it at all. (If you check at your local grocer’s fish counter, you’ll find that much of what is being sold in the case as fresh has in fact been previously frozen.) Produce is trickier: frozen is sometimes, but not always, cheaper than fresh, in-season, fruits and vegetables.
3. Shop at your local farmers market.
This may surprise you, but it’s cheaper to get your veggies—organic or not—at the local farmers’ market than at the local supermarket. A 2011 study by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont is one of several around the country showing that farmers’ market prices are consistently lower than those of neighboring grocery stores. Who knew? So have a great time shopping with your neighbors and supporting local farmers, and be happy in the knowledge that you’re saving money too.
4. Stick to your list.
Don’t cave in to the snazzy packaging on the supermarket shelves. Make your meal plan and shopping list at home, and then stick to it. Here’s the exception: when you shop at the farmers’ market or local produce stand, sometimes a gorgeously fresh fruit or vegetable will stand out—one you hadn’t planned on. Build some flexibility into your list to account for these unanticipated treasures…just decide which meals you want to add them to before purchasing. A good rule of thumb is to stick absolutely to your list of pantry items, but give yourself some leeway with fresh, seasonal foods.
5. Eat lots of beans and always soak your own.
Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, and form the cornerstone of many world cuisines. And they’re dead cheap—if you buy them dried. Soaking your own beans is easy, though it does take more planning than opening a can of them. But it’s no big deal. Just decide the night before what you’re going to eat the next day. If a meal includes beans, then put them in a pot of water to soak and leave them overnight. In the morning, let them cook as you’re getting ready for the day.
6. Buy in bulk.
Costco® and other warehouse stores sell fruits and vegetables at ridiculously low prices—if you’re willing to buy, say, 15 pounds of potatoes or 8 pounds of oranges at a time. You’re in for some work at home, but at those prices, who’s complaining? Also, in many regions it is possible to pair up with another family or two and buy a portion of either a cow or a pig directly from a local farmer. In exchange, you will receive many, many neatly wrapped and labeled packages of meat. An extra freezer is necessary for this, but well worth the investment if you live in a region where such arrangements exist. Another huge benefit of this is that you know the animal was not raised on a factory feedlot. Therefore, the meat will likely be free from the steroids and antibiotics that plague grocery store bargain meat cuts.
7. Join a CSA.
Community Supported Agriculture is another way to save money by cutting out the middleman. With a CSA, you pay a flat fee up front. On the East Coast it’s typically $400-$500—for a whole growing season of produce! Every week you get a box of whatever came out of the farmer’s field. Like buying in bulk at warehouse stores, this calls for some time and creativity in the kitchen. In late summer, we sometimes freak out trying to figure out what to do with all those perfect, ripe tomatoes. What a problem to have!
8. Cut your consumption.
Over the last few decades, restaurant portions have become gargantuan, and we somehow seem to think that a platter of food is actually a single serving. Most restaurant entrées can easily feed two or three. So when you’re out, either share a single entrée, or get half boxed for another meal. And at home, serve smaller portions on smaller plates. It won’t take long at all before you’re satisfied with sensible portions! -8 tips by Kim Kash
Some of My Favorite Places to Shop
I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite places to shop for healthy foods, but also for convenience. Again, keep in mind that some of these places might not be available where you live, but I am sure there are alternatives.
ALDI (find one here)
ALDI has tons of organics, and they are budget priced. I do about 85% of my weekly shopping here for our family. Some of our staples that we by here are (and ALL are their organic brand, Simply Nature), almond milk, eggs, raw nuts, beans, almond butter, whole grain cereal, pasta, tomatoe sauce, fruits and veggies, coconut oil, and coffee beans. Other staples we get (non-organic), include ground turkey, string cheese, frozen chicken tenders, and more.
Their organic brand, Simply Balanced, is great, and they carry a good variety of organic foods. They also carry Annie’s Homegrown, as well as some Earth’s Balance Organics too (these are not fully 100% clean, but they are my go-to quick staples for my 6 year old).
Publix, Super Walmart, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale
Each of these carry a good amount of Organics, and I am really impressed by what Wal-Mart has added over the past year. Especially since I am Vegan (my family is not), and they have added many organic plant-based foods.
Local Farmers Markets and Local Health Food Stores
Now, 4 of my favorites for the BUSY MOMs who need to also outsource their shopping, and speed things up!
This is a food delivery service that delivers to your home, from your local Publix. It’s based off an app on your phone (or you can use your laptop), you select all your foods (even the weekly bo-go specials), and then set up a delivery window, and the foods are professionally delivered to you. It’s based off an annual membership fee, and is GREAT when moms are home with sick kids, or moms are sick, or you just plain don’t have time to food shop. You can sign-up HERE and get your first trial delivery without paying the membership fee.
Thrive Market is an online membership community that uses the power of direct buying to deliver the world’s best healthy food and natural products to their members at wholesale prices. Sign up and HERE get 15% off your first order!
Prime members can shop for groceries and household products in everyday package sizes (for example, a single box of cereal) with Prime Pantry. Prime Pantry allows Amazon to expand its selection and offer thousands of items to Prime Members that are cost prohibitive to ship for free individually.
Prime Pantry provides vast selection, exclusive savings, and convenience. You can purchase groceries and household items in everyday sizes, as opposed to bulk sizes, online or using the Amazon.com mobile apps, and have these items delivered to your doorstep, saving you a trip to the store and giving you some time back in your busy life. Prime Pantry also provides great value with Weekly Deals and Coupons.
Walmart Grocery (grocery pick-up)
How it works: Order online- Shop anytime, anywhere. Choose a convenient pickup time and location. Experts pick the freshest items on your list, or your money back. They do the shopping for you, and even load your car in minutes. Pick up for free- no markups on your items. Get the same Every Day Low Prices found in stores. Great for moms who don’t want to bring the kids inside to shop, but also great for on the way home from a busy day at work too (for my working mom friends).
Watch the Video
In this series, I will continue to touch upon more topics and tips, including, some of my favorite recipes, meal plans, and more!
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