According to Fitness Magazine, eating clean means:
At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.
I began eating clean with a 30-day “no eating out challenge”. In that month, I had to cook every meal at home and I started learning how to make well balanced meals at home and developed some good habits.
For me, eating clean means minimizing dairy, swapping out white rice for brown rice, switching white breads and pastas out for whole wheat and fitting in as many vegetables and lean proteins as possible. This is something I’m still working on, but here are ways that I’ve found to make clean eating easy and more affordable.
Only shop the outsides of the store: Most things on the shelves around the insides of the store are processed. That’s where you find your sugary boxes of cereal and bags of potato chips. Around the outside of the store, you things like produce, almond milk and frozen broccoli. Of course there are some exceptions here. You’ll find staples like beans, brown rice and steel cut oatmeal on the shelves inside the store and you’ll find frozen pizza nuggets and pizza in the freezers around the outside of the store — but for the most part, this rule of thumb works for me.
Kicking out white: Try using honey instead of sugar or lemon instead of salt. Replace white bread and pasta with whole wheat and give brown rice a chance.
Stay prepared: At my most disciplined, I would take Sundays to prepare my meals for the week so that everything was ready when I got hungry and I wouldn’t resort to hunger impulses like running to the local fast food place because I’d get food quicker. I’d reward myself by cooking my meals “to order” on the weekends. So I’d still eat healthy on the weekend, but I wasn’t eating the same, strategically planned out meals like I was doing during the weekday. It’s especially important to carry snacks around, so that when those hunger cravings hit you, you have a home made granola bar in your bag that you can grab, rather than a bag of chips from the closet convenience store.
Get used to eating a lot of the same thing: This works for me. Buying in bulk is cheaper and cooking food in bulk ahead of time, rather than making a meal every time you get hungry makes it easier to stay on track. For instance, I’ll make a huge pot of soup or bake a huge pan of pasta on a Sunday. I will make that meal my lunch everyday until it’s gone. Say I decide that I’m going to eat chili for lunch this week. A bag of beans, a couple of cans of tomato sauce and a few peppers will probably cost me less than ten dollars to eat lunch for the entire week! That’s the amount that one meal would cost at a local restaurant. I’ve saved money and it’s already made ahead of time. The downside is that that’s my lunch for the rest of the week.
Stick to your shopping list: Always create a shopping list, rather than shopping on impulse and stick to it. This way, you aren’t just dropping things in your cart as you see them. You stick to your budget and don’t overspend. Also, make sure these lists make sense to what you already have in the house. Already have a jar of tomato sauce in your cabinet? Buy some pasta and frozen spinach and turn that into a meal for a couple of days! Try to have a light meal before going to the grocery store so you don’t get “eyes bigger than belly” syndrome and buy everything that looks appetizing to you.
Don’t keep unhealthy snacks in the house: It’s much easier to forego a bag of potato chips that you have to go out to the store and get, than a bag that’s already conveniently sitting in your cabinet. Rather than have my favorite snacks sitting around in my house, if I want them, I have to actually bake those cookies myself, or get off of my couch and pick up a pint of ice cream. I usually end up just eating the healthy alternative that’s already in my house.
TREAT YOSELF: Most importantly, never deprive yourself or you’ll feel like you’re on a diet and want to rebel. When I’m craving a couple of slices from the local pizzeria or a huge order of nachos from Taco Bell that I’ll regret eating shortly after, I go ahead and get it. Having a few “cheat meals” here and there isn’t detrimental. Just get back on the right track once you’ve treated yourself. It’s better to do that than to deprive and eat every pizza slice in sight once you finally allow yourself to have pizza or rebel against yourself for being so “healthy” and eating every single thing you’ve been craving that you can get your hands on.
These are things that I’ve found to work for me in my journey to save money and time eating clean. What are some ways that you maintain a clean eating lifestyle? Share in the comments! :)