Eating clean can be daunting at first. Not only are there big changes to your lifestyle and habits, but it can take a toll on your budget — especially if you don't know what you're doing. Don't worry, we called on an expert to help you navigate.
Australian trainer Emily Skye has been eating clean for years, and knows exactly how to shop when you're a little more strapped for cash. She's here to share her top six money-saving, clean-eating tips and her grocery list.
"There is a misconception that healthy food is expensive, but if you shop smart and in the right places, a shopping list full of healthy foods won't break the bank."
"When doing your weekly shop, it's important to try to plan as best you can what meals you are going to eat for the week," said Emily. "Personally there are probably about half a dozen 'staple' meals that I like to rotate during the week. I've been living a healthy lifestyle long enough to know the types of meals I like to eat are not only good for me, but they are also providing me with all the daily nutrition my body requires."
It can take a while to figure out what your staple meals are, but to get you started, Emily has some budgeting advice that'll keep your body and wallet happy — from there, you can try new recipes and figure out what works for you. It starts with strategic grocery shopping. "There are some simple strategies you can put into place that will make your weekly shop easy to do as well as being very affordable," she said.
And trust us, you're not alone if you're worried about your budget. "This is probably the biggest concern I hear from ladies when they decide to change their diet to a healthy one," said Emily. "There is a misconception that healthy food is expensive, but if you shop smart and in the right places, a shopping list full of healthy foods won't break the bank."
- Try to shop local. "Shopping in the big supermarket chains can be a very expensive experience. I live in Australia and the healthy food wave has really taken off here. Big business is really taking advantage of this trend and they are charging their customers accordingly. I find that when I shop at the local green grocer or the local farmers market, I can find some real bargains. Another thing I also find is the produce is more often than not fresher as it's sourced and grown locally."
- Look for items on special or sale. "This is something that I do all the time! Particularly when it comes to food that is approaching its 'best by' date. Supermarkets will often put items on sale that are approaching this date. As long as you plan on eating whatever it is on sale soon, you can really save on your total shopping bill."
- Shop with a plan to avoid waste. "This may sound like a simple tip, but you'd be amazed at how many people throw away perfectly good food that has gone bad because they didn't plan their weekly shop well enough. Certain foods are only going to last a few days, so try to use those foods quickly. I'm not suggesting you need to go absolutely crazy and have everything planned to the smallest detail, but try to have some sort of idea what meals you're going to have, when you're going to have them, and what ingredients you need. For example, if I were to plan my weekly shopping list and I wanted to include two chicken dinners, I would buy 400 grams of chicken breast or thigh and just enough salad and sweet potato to go with those two meals. If I need a bit more, I can just pop into the shop and buy some extra. Better to have to go out and buy more than to throw out food that has gone bad."
- Buy generic-brand foods. "You would be surprised at how many generic-brand food companies are making foods as good as, if not better than, their big brand competitors. The great benefit of buying generic brands will be apparent when you pay for your shopping at the checkout. Generic brands are a great deal cheaper than their big brand counterparts. I would honestly say half of my weekly shop is generic-brand foods."
- Never shop when you're hungry. "This might sound like common sense, but I can tell you from experience that shopping when hungry can be the worst if you're trying to stick to a budget or healthy eating. Things that you wouldn't otherwise buy will almost always find their way into your shopping cart if you're shopping with a grumbly tummy."
- Buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season. "A lot of the time if a particular recipe calls for a specific vegetable, you can usually substitute it for another vegetable that is cheaper due to it being in season. Or, just plan your meals around the food that is in season."
The Grocery List
"Here's what my weekly shop looks like," said Emily. She eats a well-rounded diet and has a lot of staples at home, but these are the foods she tends to replace weekly — and go through a lot of! She also included some money-saving and nutrition tips to keep you healthy and on budget.
- Chicken Thigh. "I'm a big fan of chicken thigh. It's a cheaper cut of meat, but in my opinion it's a lot tastier."
- White fish. "Although salmon is great for you, it can get pretty expensive. Fish is one of those particular things that, depending on the country you live in, the availability of it can change greatly. In Australia, whiting or dory is a good choice. In the USA, halibut is a good choice."
- Almonds. "I like to buy a 500g bag of almonds to snack on during the week."
- Pine Nuts. "I'll buy a small bag of pine nuts that I'll put into the spinach salads I make with my main meals."
- Pumpkin Seeds. "I also love adding these to salads along with pine nuts."
- Frozen Strawberries and Blueberries. "I buy a bag of generic-brand frozen strawberries and blueberries that I put into a blender with my protein powder each day. A bag of each will generally last me for the week."
- Sweet Potato or Pumpkin
- Baby Spinach
Sauces and Spices
- Coconut Amino Seasoning. "This sauce is an absolute lifesaver. I'll generally include coconut amino seasoning with a chicken meal I make to add flavor to the meal. Chicken by itself can sometimes be hard to eat and rather flavorless and coconut amino seasoning changes that!"
- Pink Himalayan Salt. "This salt is great because it goes with pretty much everything and is a much better choice than regular table salt. Himalayan salt contains the same 84 trace minerals and elements that are found in our body. When you consume Himalayan salt, you're actually consuming less salt than table salt because the pieces are larger and it's less refined."
- Rice Cakes. "These are great for a snack. Sliced tomato and ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, or avocado go perfectly on a rice cake and really hit the spot if you're feeling a little hungry."