Healthy, plant-based and organic on a budget! (Yes, it’s possible!)
One of the main things I get asked from people when talking about healthy, organic, plant-based eating, or eating clean, is how to do it on a budget.
My hubby, Rich, left his salary just over a year ago to start his own business, budget was tight and we had to make some personal budget cuts. We managed to halve our food budget! We were spending $1500.00 (AUD) per month and now spend no more than $850.00 (AUD).
So here goes – a few tips from a family that has walked the walk.
- Bulk Bins: Buying from the bulk bins is more cost effective – stock up on products like brown rice, oats and whole foods with a long shelf life.
- Plant based: Cut out the meat, fish, and dairy. Not only is this a healthier way to eat, it is also more cost effective. Stock up on beans, pulses & meat alternatives. Meat alternatives are usually free of all the toxins., preservatives, antibiotics and hormones found in animal products and area great replacement for protein. The are also more easily digested, easier to cook and child-friendly (kids love them!). Check out http://www.fryfamilyfood.com
- Planning: Plan your weekly meals (a bit of a hack on a glorious Sunday afternoon, but well worth the 10 min of your time!) – this results in less waste and unnecessary, just-in-case purchases.
- Freeze ’em: If you see your veggies are looking worse-for-wear, cook them immediately and freeze them, instead of throwing them in the bin! Most vegetables can be frozen, so peel them, blanch them (2-4 min) and place them in freezer bags for later use.
- Buy frozen instead of chilled: Don’t be scared of the freezer – Frozen foods are often better than chilled foods as they have a long shelf life and most of them do not contain preservatives. They are also far more cost effective than buying food from the chiller!
- Get cooking: cooking from scratch can save you heaps. It also doesn’t need to take hours of your time. I cook everything we eat (almost everything – in under 10 min!) – another post on a few ideas of how to do this to follow!
- No juice: Avoid buying juices and carbonated drinks – you can easily make your own lemonade, iced tea or Kombucha with little to no effort. There is no health benefit to drinking juice or carbonated drinks, so ditch them.
- No snacks: Avoid eating snacks and empty calories that leave you feeling hungry. Not only are these expensive, but they are often loaded with sugar.
- Petrol stations: these can wreak havoc with your food budget – ask us, we know! When Rich and I first got together, we just couldn’t seem to save money. We spent one month keeping the slips from every purchase we had made. We found the problem – “peanuts & red bull”! We now have our own personal budget item called “the peanuts and red bull” expense, which is those last minute, unexpected, must have items that all of us get sucked into buying at some point in the month!
- Buy in season: Check out this Seasonal Food Guide http://seasonalfoodguide.com/australia-general-seasonal-fresh-produce-guide-fruits-vegetables-in-season-availability.html
- Join a co-op – this has been the most cost saving step I have taken. I get a mixed box of fresh, organic fruit and veg (lots of seconds too!), but the box is literally loaded with food for a fraction of the cost of buying at any retailer. And, retailers have now become “destination shops” for me, instead of “browsing-the-isle” shops – I know what I need, so I walk in and buy exactly what is on my list.
- To market, to market…: Markets can be expensive, but you can also find a bargain – buy fresh fruit and vegetables from markets. Remember – not everything needs to be purchased organic. Some foods are naturally organic so no need to pay the premium for “organic”.
The Clean Fifteen – naturally organic
- Egg plants, mushrooms, mangoes, peas, watermelon, sweet potato, corn, pineapple, avocados, rock melon, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, cabbage, asparagus and onions
The Dirty Dozen – make sure you spend the extra
- Blueberries, grapes, peaches, celery, nectarines, lettuce, cucumber, strawberries, spinach, capsicum, apples, potatoes
Print these tips, put them on your fridge and give it a go!! Please also add your own tips in the comments for other readers!