Let’s face it. Eating clean, fresh and healthy may be amazing for your body, but it can wreak havoc on your bank account. So here’s some easy ways to keep your waistline lean while keeping your wallet fat.
1.Plan it out! Meal planning is the best. You can prep and even prepare dinners, that
double as leftover lunches, for the entire week in one day. And if you meal plan before you shop, it cuts down on impulsive purchases on your way to the check out.
There’s an app for that: Mealime You can mega-personalize your meal preferences. It designs your weekly meals to use common ingredients (and gives you suggestions of what ingredients you can sub in and out). And it puts together a shopping list for you, so you don’t have to actually do math across 6 different recipes.
2. Shop smarter. Shopping can be stressful for multiple reasons. But here’s some ways to take the stress out of that final price tag.
• Know where to get what. *It may take a little longer to get all of your shopping finished, but once you figure out who has the best deals on what, that weekly sticker shock won’t be so shocking. *Farmers markets and co-ops often have fresher and cheaper options, and check out the prices of produce at your local Asian market. *And figure out what groceries you can buy online. Keeping to your list is really easy when you don’t actually have to walk down the cookie isle. And some online retailers will actually auto-ship your weekly regulars, which is super stress free.
• Know what to get. *Most importantly, know the difference between the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen, so you don’t waste money on unnecessarily organic options. *Price out whether it’s more cost effective to buy fresh-then-freeze, already-frozen, or
in-a-can. *Pre-cut produce is usually more expensive, so only splurge when you don’t have time to wield your own knife. *Don’t automatically count out the store brand - it’s usually cheaper and goes on sale more often. *And stop buying sugary sodas and processed juices. You’ll make room in your jeans and in your food budget. If you really need some flavor in your life, try out these ideas!
• Know how much to get. *Don’t fall into the buy-in-bulk trap. Wasting food is the easiest way to turn a good deal into a bad deal. *Only buy what you know you will use. So be smart about purchasing perishables. Think non-perishables: coconut/almond/wheat flour, olive/coconut oil, long-grain/brown rice, coffee/loose tea, etc. And remember that you can find nutritious and filling base ingredients like split peas, lentils, beans, or many whole grains for not a lot of money in the bulk bin isle, even in pricier stores.
• Know when to get it. *Deals are way better on in-season produce. So snag what they have, use what you can, then freeze the rest. Here’s a super helpful guide from the USDA to help you know the best time to stock up on rutabagas and muskmelons (as well as your basic greens and gourds). *Meat that’s set to expire in the next day or two may be marked down. Get it. Take it out of the wrapper and put into a Ziplock with the date on it.
There’s an app for that: Ibotta Get cash back on stuff you’re planning on buying anyways. And you can get it in the form of a gift card or have it deposited straight to your Venmo or PayPal account. And it works so many groceries stores, even Whole Foods and bulk shopping like Costco & BJs. Bonus: It works for 300+ retailers in all different categories
3. Find your green thumb. Even if you don’t have a midwest backyard, there’s still a way to grow (and thus save) some green. Herbs are the easiest thing to grow if you don’t have a lot of space. And just think how nice it would be to grab a handful of some fresh cilantro without having to buy a huge bunch.
*Tips on how to grow stuff…and how to grow stuff without a garden. Tips on how to grow stuff without outdoor space at all (that’s me…ugh).
There’s an app for that: Garden Compass Need help keeping your plants alive? This intuitive app puts you in touch with experts who can answer all of your questions. Best part? Stick your plants in the My Garden area, then sit back, relax, and let the experts tell you what to do each month.
4.Keep your perishables non-perished. The worst is when you have to buy twice as much produce as you need in one recipe, have to throw out the rest at the end of the week because it’s spoiled, then realize that you totally could have used rest for your next meal prep.
*Produce likes to act out West Side Story in the fridge. Gas releasers and gas sensitives just don’t get along. But even your Fridge Side Story has to have a Tony and Maria, so try sticking a ripe banana in a paper bag with a unripened peach and watch the magic happen.
Interactive guide to storing individual produce. *For ingredients you know you’ll need every week, or even everyday (think greens for both cooking and morning smoothies), pick up a Blue Apple. It keeps produce fresh for up to 3 times longer than just throwing it in your fridge. *Berries: Wash your berries the day you get them to keep them from getting moldy. Mix 1 cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of water and immerse the berries. Strain and rinse in cold water. Store in a container with a paper towel at the bottom and the lid resting on top to vent the berries. *Don’t worry if your best efforts to keep your fruits and veggies fresh can’t keep up with your cooking. You can always find ways to use it. When produce starts to get mushy, throw it in the freezer. When your apples go mealy, make applesauce. When your bananas go brown, bake muffins. Spotty tomatoes can be sauced and frozen. If you have excess herbs, you can make pesto and freeze that too. *Just because you throw something in the freezer, it doesn’t make it Ted Williams. There’s still an expiration date. So make sure that you don’t end up throwing it away anyways. This infographic shows what you can and can’t freeze, and how long it can stay in there.
There’s an app for that: Is My Food Safe? iOSGoogle Play This super simple app will give you all the info on when to toss the stuff in your fridge. Bonus: It also tells you safe cooking temps
Gwyneth’s $200 breakfast smoothie might not fit into the budget, but that doesn’t mean that you have to live off of Top Ramen, either. It’s still possible to eat healthy, it just takes some game planning and a little creativity. And a solid set of Tupperware.
Jaimie is the co-founder and former Managing Partner of Millennial Capital Partners, a boutique personal financial planning firm in New York City. She now freelances for My Body Buddy, a comprehensive health and wellness coaching company. Follow Jaimie’s blog here.