How To Eat Clean On A Budget
Like most Americans, we (the Lindow family) struggle with eating the right types of foods, and our weight, sleep patterns, and even our energy levels show it.
But we finally figured out how to eat clean on a budget.
Most families in America are like us, with an estimated 97 million adults being considered obese – and we can guess the effect that the extra weight has on all of those families. Less playtime and more sitting around lead to the absence of family bonding, and becomes a self-deprecating cycle that can continue for generations.
Isn’t it crazy how one little problem with food can spiral into something for more serious?
We know the effects of preservatives, artificial ingredients, and far too many processed foods on our waistlines and health. Depite what big pharma tells us, with just a little research the correlation between unnatural foods and obesity can’t be denied.
This is why, for the last couple of years, our family has been slowly but surely making changes to our diet that make it more “clean.”
What is “Clean Eating” you ask?
In a nutshell, Clean Eating is placing an emphasis on eating “real” foods: foods that haven’t been processed, genetically modified, or contain artificial ingredients. It’s a so-called simple eating plan that, in reality, isn’t so simple. Part of clean eating is only consuming foods that have been minimally processed, refined, or handled, making them as close to the original form as possible, but there is also another component: determining which foods are actually clean, since modern processing has made deciphering the truly clean foods from clean eating impostors a very difficult task.
But, with some general knowledge about how food is grown, and label reading skills, clean eating can be within reach.
It’s not a raw food diet, calorie-restricting diet, or any other fad diet, but rather Clean Eating is focusing on nourishing your body rather than putting harmful chemicals into it.
While we’ve been trying to eat clean over the last couple of years, one small change at a time, up until about 6 months ago we were really struggling. Clean eating, while completely within our grasp is a lot of hard work. Because it requires you to cook from scratch 95% of the time, we all know how busy life can get, and how hard it can be to consistently cook at home – and our family is no exception.
Jam-packed schedules, big work changes, and even home remodeling projects were slowly chipping time out of our days and we found ourselves eating out at restaurants more and more.
Besides the negative impact on our budget, eating our was slowly affecting our weight. While we continued to exercise consistently, we were gaining weight, felt sluggish, and were sleeping worse.
But then, we discovered a really cool solution to our problem, that for the last 6 months has completely changed the way we think about food, the time we spend preparing food, and has us eating cleaner than ever.
We got help with our meal plan.
I’ve been a longtime eMeals fanatic (as evidenced by this post and this post) because of the more than $1,400 that eMeals saves me each year. So long, in fact, that eMeals was doing for me exactly what it was designed to do: putting my meal planning on autopilot.
But I’ve got news for you: meal planning only works if you use it.
I had set my meal plan to the “Budget” plan and forgotten about it. Sure, I was still shopping and cooking about half the meals, but that wasn’t enough to help us meet our Clean Eating goals. Why is that so bad, you ask?
Because eMeals has more than 50 different meal plans to choose from:
- Clean Eating
- Low Carb
- Low Calorie
- Low Fat
- Portion Control
- Heart Healthy
- Slow Cooker
- 30 Minute Meals
- Budget Friendly
- Kid Friendly
- Gluten Free
- Simple Gourmet
- Paula Deen
We had been missing a huge component to our Clean Eating goals: the right meal plan!!
eMeals makes our new Clean Eating lifestyle incredibly easy.
How Does It Work?
1 – Pick Your Plan
Choose your meal plan based on your dietary preferences, family size, and even your favorite grocery store.
2 – Get Great Recipes
Each week, your meal plan arrives in your inbox – complete with seven simple, creative, family-friendly dinner recipes – each with an entree and side dishes.
3 – Shop & Save
Along with a meal plan, you’ll receive a detailed grocery shopping list – organized by section. And if you choose a store-based plan, your grocery shopping list will include prices and coordinate with weekly sale ads.
4 – Cook & Enjoy
eMeals takes care of the meal planning, and grocery list and the budgeting, while you get to feel good about feeding your family healthy, home-cooked meals that they love.
Our lives got way easier when we started using eMeals to help our Clean Eating diet, and since we switched our plan not only have we saved time and money, we’ve lost weight, are sleeping better, and have had enough energy to complete some BIG home improvement projects, spend more time outdoors and bond as a family.
The right meal plan is only part of the equation if you are wanting to make the switch to Clean Eating.
Here are our 5 best tips for getting your family to eat clean:
Make Changes Slowly & Consistently
Even the best-natured families are sure to have trouble making a drastic change to their eating habits. In our family, our daughter was actually MORE adaptive to change than my husband was, so I had to “sneak” dietary changes up on him. Each week, make one swap such as quinoa for rich, or Grapeseed oil for Canola oil. Simple and easy changes will go over easier with the family and with your budget.
Embrace The Easy
Just because you’ve decided to eat to nourish your body – and ditch the processed crap – that doesn’t mean that you have to become a gourmet chef overnight. Embrace easy meals like those for the crockpot or freezer, or pair simple foods like steak and vegetables. You can always bust out a fancier meal when you have time, but the change to clean eating will be tough enough without it taking up your whole day.
Scope Out a New Grocery Store
If you’ve been struggling to eat better for some time, your go-to grocery store may be the problem. Check out a new store (I recommend Aldi if you have one close) to not only shake things up a bit, but expand the offerings of dietary plan approved foods.
To keep time on your side, once you’ve landed on a few meals that are winners with the family, cook double batches: one half for dinner that evening, and the other half to either be frozen for a later dinner or portioned for lunches during the week.
Give Your Family Some Grace
Change can be tough on family – your spouse and your kids are all probably going to balk at certain foods or meals at some point, so you have to prepare yourself for when it inevitably happens. We require our daughter to try at least 1 bite of a meal she’s not thrilled about. 95% of the time, when she does, she finds that it’s not as bad as she thinks it is, and will continue to eat what we’re eating. On the rare occasion she doesn’t like the food after trying one bite, we allow her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not exactly health food, but she’s only 2, and bound to not like every single food we put in front of her.
Eating clean (or paleo, or low-fat, or any other diet) isn’t something that can happen overnight. If it does, be cautious, because the changes you’re making may very well not last.
But, with a little help from eMeals and the tips I’ve given you above, you can make lasting changes to your family’s health like we did!
If you are interested in trying eMeals FREE for 2 weeks, click here.
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