With simple changes to how you shop for the food you eat, you can save money and eat clean. These are tips that I’ve implemented in my home and they work.
The need for organic food is definitely growing in Canada. Ten years ago when I was shopping for organic food the selection was limited and the price was steep. Today, that has changed, organic food is much more accessible, but the cost for some items is still pretty high (like meat for example).
Even though this is the case, there are so many reasons why choosing to go organic is better for your health and the health of the planet that sustains us.
In Canada organic means that no antibiotics or growth hormones are used; no pesticides and herbicides are used, it’s non-GMO and has been grown without the use harmful, toxic, fertilizers.
There’s been conflicting information on the web whether or not organic food is actually better than its conventional counterpart. But keep this in mind: if you eat food from healthy soil, that has no harmful chemicals in it, isn’t it fair to say it’s probably healthier. To me, this is simple, common sense.
Good reasons to buy organic food:
- less pollution in our waterways
- better, healthier soil
- reduced toxic load (you are not eating insecticides, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, fertilizers and toxic artificial additives, flavourings, colourings, and preservatives
- no in-store spraying to help ripen the foods faster
- there are no preservatives so the food is fresher and there is much more flavour
I wanted to highlight organic food because I feel overall it is better for us, but I do understand that if you are on a tight budget it may not be feasible. There are certain things I have learned over the years that have helped me save money and eat well. I’m going to share them with you today.
I wrote about practical ways to reduce food waste a few weeks ago, take a look there are some really useful tips.
- Prior Planning is key
This is really so important, not only does it help you stick to a healthy meal plan all week, it helps you stock up on staples, which are normally much cheaper.
When choosing your recipes (there are a ton online) choose ones that have healthy staples like whole-wheat pasta, potatoes, yams and brown rice paired with budget-friendly proteins like legumes, lentils (all packed with fiber) and eggs, instead of meat and poultry. On Sunday’s before I head out to shop, my hubby and I sit down and plan out the week, I have a selection of recipes that I rotate and I shop according to which ones we choose for the week. I also set aside time on Sunday to cook a batch of food for the week, it makes packing lunch for my family so much easier.
2. Stock up on seasonal vegetables
Eating nutrient dense veggies that are in season will keep you full and when paired with a budget-friendly protein, it will save you money as well, for example, you can throw together some chickpeas, brown rice, spinach and sweet potatoes in a bowl, for a healthy nutritious meal.
Here are some examples of affordable seasonal produce:
- sweet potatoes
- frozen vegetables like peas and beans
- canned (make sure it’s BPA free) or bottled tomatoes
Follow me on Instagram for great tips on how to shop for seasonal foods.
3. Stock your pantry the right way
Along with seasonal veggies having a stocked pantry gives you a ton of flexibility for preparing quick healthy recipes. You don’t have to buy all these suggestions all at once, you can stock your pantry slowly depending on what foods you cook regularly, by planning out your meals each week, you will have a better sense of what your pantry needs. These are some of the staples I have on hand all the time.
- Cooking oils (avocado and coconut)
- Brown Rice (from Bulk Barn)
- Rolled oats
- Canned chickpeas
- dry beans, lentils (from Bulk Barn)
- Canned tomatoes
- Pasta (buckwheat or rice pasta)
- Assorted Spices
- Almond Milk
- Salt & pepper
- Frozen fruits and veggies (for smoothies and stir fry)
- Nuts and Seeds (from Bulk Barn)
- Flax seeds and Chia Seeds
Here are a few meal ideas you can make using staples you have on hand:
Pasta with a tomato sauce, and mixed veggies.
Rolled oats with frozen fruits, add some almond milk for a delish smoothie. Add some flax for a good source of fiber.
Whip up a quinoa bowl with beans ( an excellent source of protein), diced tomatoes and mixed veggies (nutrient dense).
Keep a lookout for sales on staple foods listed above.
4. Let’s talk about fiber
Planning meals that are high in fiber and paired with a really good source of protein, especially for breakfast. Think rolled oats with blueberries, flax, and almonds (these girl boss overnight oats are the bomb) or a slice of whole wheat bread, with almond butter and a banana. Scrambled eggs and toast are the bomb too, 1 egg has 6 grams of fiber, so get cracking. 🙂
You want your fiber coming from veggies and seeds, it’s the best kind for you. Flax, pumpkin, sunflower. And you get all your good omegas too.
5. A bit about protein
I’ve provided you with some ideas for cheap protein (eggs, legumes) but if you want to eat meat opt for drumsticks, minced meats, and chicken wings, they are cheaper than a whole breast for example. When buying meat, I am a huge proponent that it must be organic. Since you are saving money on staples by stocking up over time, you can spend a little more on good quality meats. If you eat red meat daily, I highly recommend you cut that back to only once a week. A plant-based diet is healthier for you and the planet.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor Bodhi Batista adds that “there are many great and inexpensive choices for protein. First off, there is a misconception that we need Protein to survive. In actual fact, it is the building blocks of protein that we truly need. While eating complete proteins such as those from animal sources, are helpful, it is quite a taxing process for the body to break down the protein into amino acids and then rebuild it into usable protein to rebuild our muscle tissue. The reality is, we actually don’t need to eat complete protein chains to get the job done. Think of the amino acids we use to build our protein as being stored in a reservoir. Each time we eat, we add to that reservoir. All, fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and nuts, contain different amino acids in different proportions. All that is necessary, is that we eat a wide variety of these foods to ensure that we receive all the building blocks necessary to rebuild our damaged tissue. Because it is really only necessary to eat about 10-15% of our total daily calories from protein, it is quite easy to “meat” or rather “meet” our amino acid needs.”
6. Get Growing
Grow your own herbs, it’s fun, easy and will liven up any boring meal, they are also always available and so good for you. Adding fresh herbs to your diet is a great way to get a boost of vitamins and bonus, you’ll also save money too.
7. Visit more than one farmer’s market
Going to a farmers market is a great way to really connect with your food and meet the farmers who feed you. If you follow a few simple tips, you can actually save money.
First off, you are (in most cases) buying organic food at a better price than you would get it at the grocery store, simply because you have cut out the middleman.
If you can visit more than one, there are 5 in my area, you can find a variety of meat, sustainable eggs, and proteins. You can also price compare which gives you more bartering power.
Other useful tips:
1. Bring your own bag or cooler, it’s good for the planet and valuable social capital.
2. Ask about organic, in many cases small farms can’t afford the cost of third-party certifications and many of them do implement organic practices and don’t use pesticides, so ask.
3. Bring small bills
4. Don’t be afraid of the ugly duckling, we tend to shop for the best looking produce, but sometimes that odd looking tomato or potato tastes better and (in some cases) is cheaper.
5. Get there early and buy in bulk, you can always freeze what you don’t use.
6. Shop around to compare price and quality.
7. Try something new each week, think yellow tomatoes, purple kale and more
If you need help finding a farmers market in your area, visit www.farmersmarketsontario.com
8. Look to save in other places
If you are willing to give DIY a try you can save a fortune. My DIY vs. Buy Guide will help make that decision even easier. Start with simple things like making you own All Purpose Kitchen Scouring Scrub and Cleaner or you can try a homemade bleach solution. When it comes to skincare you can save big, start with easy things like a good body butter, the point is that if you make certain items at home you will save money that you can spend on other more important things, like food.
Savings by the numbers:
You will save about $650 per year if you cut back on sugary pop and drinks, by reducing to two 12 packs per week. I hope you stop altogether cause well it’s basically poison, but even cutting back on save you big $$.
Cook with the whole chicken, you will save roughly $600 per year.
A family that cuts back on meat by just two pounds per week can save about $250 per year.
Use reusable glass jars to store foods and avoid plastic baggies, you will save up to $50 per year (if you use one bag per day, on average). Here are six Useful tools for a green kitchen.
Make new meals from leftovers and save up to $500 per year, that’s about $10 per week on food costs.
Make your own coffee and tea instead of popping into the local coffee shop. If you drink a latte every day, you are spending a lot of money, if you change that habit to every other day, you will save up to $700 per year.
Do you have any money-saving tips for eating clean on a budget, please share below in the comments.