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How to Eat Clean on Budget

By Sarah Davis

“Eating clean” is a phrase used to describe a healthy diet that consists of mostly natural, unprocessed foods. The term was coined by fitness and nutrition professional Tosca Reno, who wrote the “Eat Clean Diet” book along with subsequent recipe books. According to her Eat Clean Diet website, eating a clean diet helps you to feel your best, with the most energy. It can also be used to help promote weight loss. Though some of the ingredients in the “Eat Clean Diet” book are hard to find in stores and are fairly expensive, it’s possible to eat clean on a budget.

  1. Trade processed foods for fresh fruits and vegetables. Processed foods such as chips, cookies, candy and other snack foods generally cost more than fruits and vegetables and are also higher in fat and calories. Eating a piece of fruit or a bag of freshly sliced vegetables will not only save you money, but will also save you fat and calories. Additionally, fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting antioxidants that junk foods do not have.

  2. Try meatless Mondays, in which you make at least one day a week vegetarian. Vegetarian sources of protein, such as beans and tofu, cost less than meat. You can buy a block of tofu or a can of beans for less than a dollar in many stores. Replacing meats such as beef and pork with beans, lentils or tofu one day a week can reduce your fat intake and save you money while still maintaining your protein intake.

  3. Make a meal plan and stick to it. If you go to the grocery store without a shopping list, you’re more likely to buy impulse items such as chips and crackers. Instead, create a meal plan in which you map out all of your meals for the week, then write down a grocery list based on your meal plans. This way, there is little risk of you spending too much money on impulse items, which are also usually unhealthy.

  4. Find whole grains at your local supermarket or discount superstore. One of the main components of eating clean is eating whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta, instead of refined grains such as white bread and white rice. Whole grains have more fiber and nutrients than refined grains and are also more natural, as they do not have the outer layer of the grain stripped away. Whole grains can be expensive in regular grocery stores, yet you may be surprised that many discount, 99 cent stores and bakery outlet stores carry whole grain foods, such as whole wheat bread and brown rice, every day.

  5. Tip

    When shopping for whole wheat bread, make sure that either the label says "100 percent whole wheat (or grain) bread" or that "whole grains" or "whole wheat" is the first or second ingredient on the ingredients list next to the nutrition label. Food makers can get away with using a small amount of whole grains and still are allowed to put "whole wheat" or "whole grain" on the label, which can mislead consumers.

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