NEW YORK (MainStreet)I can appreciate a $5 health food bar as much as the next person, but eating healthy doesn't mean you have to pay premium prices.
You may have heard the term "clean eating" being tossed around by your fitness fanatic friends. It's trendy at the moment, but it may very well be the key to sticking to a healthy diet AND a budget.
Clean eating just means eating foods in their natural staterather than processed, pre-packaged items. Packaged foods are expensive, and even if they're advertised as healthy they're usually full of sodium, preservatives and other things you probably shouldn't be eating. Watch the video below, and click through the slideshow to get concrete tips on getting delicious and nutritious food on the cheap.
To avoid diet and budget killers, stick to the outer aisles next time you're at the grocery store. Stay away from the middle aisles where the packaged food lives, except to pick up staples like brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. You'll pay a little more for the healthier versions, but it's worth it in the long run.
You can save money on produce and meat by looking for whatever happens to be on sale the day you're at the store. If it's a vegetable you've never tried before, you can find a tasty recipe by searching on a site like EatingWell, Yummly, or Epicurious.
Spice it Up
Speaking of tasty, don't forget to pick up cheap ingredients that greatly improve flavorlike garlic, scallions and spices. Trust me, it helps to have these items on hand if you're cooking your own healthy meals. Nobody wants to eat a bland piece of chicken for dinner.
Take it to Work
Make sure you prepare enough food to pack a lunch for the next day. If your household is anything like mine, mornings are far too hectic to worry about putting together a healthy lunch. Make your life easier by putting the leftovers in a tuperware the night before.
Stock up on frozen fish, frozen berries, and frozen vegetables. That way you always have something healthy on hand, even if it's been a busy day.
Don't be Manic About Organic
Don't feel pressure to buy organic. Sure, it's probably ideal, but it's also expensive. And let's face it you're better off buying non-organic grapes than a fast food hamburger.
Be a Locavore
Look for farmer's markets, CSAs or other inexpensive ways to pick up healthy, seasonal ingredients for a fraction of the cost you might pay at the grocery store.
And finally, don't buy things you don't like. No matter how nutritious they may be. If you don't like it, you probably won't eat it. And wasted food is wasted money.
--Written by Lauren Lyons Cole for MainStreet