The first question we ask when we are trying something new or starting a new journey is “how much will this cost me?” Your food budget might be fixed with not much wriggle room. In this post we will provide you with tips on how to calculate how much you are spending now, how to budget accordingly, and how even to save with a few quick money saving tips!
There are certain things we absolutely should not compromise on. One is the health of the family. When you start on your clean eating journey, you will be surprised by the difference in how your feel. But you may also notice that your bank account feels a change as well. A lot happens when you decide to eat better. You eat out less often, plan better, and learn to not let anything go to waste. This takes time and practice but it soon becomes second nature!
You can save money eating clean in three major ways:
- Only buy and consume what you need.
- Eat out less.
- Less medications / doctor’s visits.
What are you spending now?
We typically think of our grocery/food budget as what we purchase at the supermarket, but this is not the case. To understand your budget, print out bank and credit card statements from the last 3-4 months. The more months the better. Next you need to itemize these expenses. Highlight every single food expense. This includes grocery stores, restaurants, every trip to the local coffee shop, etc. Add those all up. You may need to include an estimate of any cash purchases you make. Complete this for each month and then average the number (add up the 3 or 4 months’ worth of money going out towards food purchases and divide by 3 or 4).
We are going to assume that you want to keep this number roughly the same each month. You can categorize your monthly food expenditures to see exactly how much goes to eating out, take-out, etc. It is now a matter of shifting your priorities and making some lifestyle changes. Lifestyle changes include snacking less often, eating out less, etc.
Save by not wasting.
A classic scenario for many families is the following. You go to the grocery store with an item list but no real meal plan for the week. After a hard day’s work you look in the fridge and don’t want to deal with it. Time to order pizza! So you eat poorly and risk throwing out food that might go bad. If you want to make sure to use everything in your fridge, then everything in your fridge needs to have a purpose and go with a plan. Each week, plan what your family will have for dinner each night. You don’t have to stick exactly to the days, but this gives you a rough outline of what to buy. Make your grocery list according to the dinner menu items. Now when you shop, everything on your list has a purpose and won’t be wasted. It’s time to go shopping!
Save by shopping smart.
So how do you afford to eat “clean”? Almost every town has a farmer’s market where you can buy fresh, local produce at better prices than the super market. This will help to alleviate some of that budget pressure. Also, because you are wasting less and eating out less, you can allocate some of those expenses to the family grocery budget. Purchasing less processed or junk foods will also save a significant amount of money.
Another way to control some bad food spending habits is to give yourself a ” fun spending allowance”. Each week you allocate a small sum of money to each person in the house. This can be as little as $20. It could be used at the local coffee shop or to pick up a healthy drink, etc. For each person, when the money is gone, it’s gone. When you buy something during the week, you will think twice about your choice as the money has to last you 7 days before your next allowance comes. This is a powerful tool to help break those little $5 – $10 spending habits that can add up quickly and have you looking at your account at the end of the month wondering where it all went.
Save because you are healthy!
When you are eating clean and getting the best nutrients for your body you will spend less time in the doctor’s offices and less money on medications. You won’t notice this type of savings directly with your food budget, but your overall budget will feel it. You have nothing in this world if you do not have your health. The purpose of this page and this community is to give you all the tools we possibly can to make sure you feel like we do about your health!
We at I am a Clean Eater, do not want to tell you what to eat we only want to help support you wherever you are on your journey. The message is about understanding what’s at the end of your fork and making the best and most informed decisions for you and your lifestyle!
- Only buy what you are going to consume based on a weekly meal plan. There is no waste. Food is not being thrown out. Psychologically, when you purchase inexpensive foods, you’re generally fine with throwing things out.
- Limit eating out and take-out. Most restaurants do not make good clean eating choices, and charge you a lot anyway. You will be healthier in the long run if you cook yourself. Eating clean is satisfying. It does not promote ‘mindless’ eating. You get fuller faster and stay full longer.
- Be healthier overall! Less doctors visits and medications.
If you would like more information please see our youtube video on this topic for further explanation or this blog: