There’s a certain level of anxiety wrapped up in filling a grocery cart with perishable, good-for-you food, like…Will that bag of greens taunt you with threats of wilting before making it to your second salad? Or, will that Pinterest recipe for a new veggie dish be flat out rejected by your family members and consequently lay forlorn in the back corner of the fridge for the next five days? Does your carefully crafted meal plan measure up to the reality of the week?
Let’s shake off these anxieties and confront the excuses that eating healthy has to be expensive and complicated. There are ways to create a clean-eating meal plan for you and your family with both a simple strategy and a reasonable budget:
- When creating a weekly meal plan, less is more. Don’t cram it with every idea you ever found. Limit fabulous new recipe attempts to one each week. Draw inspiration from broad themed categories for daily dinners. For example: Monday- meat; Tuesday-vegetarian; Friday- “salad bar”; Saturday- eggs, etc.
- Throwing away unused, spoiled produce is frustrating! As long as it’s not rotten, throw it in the freezer for future use. This article shows how to freeze fruits and vegetables while this one explains how to freeze things you never thought of freezing! If you keep a box of Ziploc freezer bags nearby, there’s not much more to learn.
- Avoid buying higher priced organic produce when you don’t have to. Use the “Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen” guide, now also a downloadable app for your phone, as a quick reference while shopping. Since most chemicals used on produce are water insoluble, quickly soak non-organic produce with equal parts water and white vinegar.
- Buy produce in season. Prices are lower because of lower shipping costs and increased availability. Find out what’s in season year round using this Pennsylvania harvest calendar.
- Repeat what works. What are your household must-haves? Embrace the possibility of a mid-week shopping stop for a replenishment of a few family favorites. Sometimes, shopping European-style has advantages: Buying just a few dinner ingredients the same day almost guarantees no waste due to the fewer number of items and the fact that your meal plan is soon to be executed. It guarantees your purchase will also be the freshest and bonus!...you may score one of those just reduced end of day prices.
- Embrace simplicity. The definition of a salad is not a strict decree of a mix of no less than 6 vegetables. Your favorite greens, topped with one favorite veggie, some tuna and tasty dressing is lunch. Furthermore, 5 ingredient recipes can be some of the most flavorful. A few favorites: herbed spaghetti squash and grilled fish tacos. This is also a very nice list of categorized 5 ingredient recipes.
- Remember to use all the parts of the buffalo, er…chicken. It seems more expensive but you can do so many things with a whole, organic chicken. The meat can be frozen or used in soups, sandwiches or on its own and you can boil the bones to make chicken stock. Try this wonderfully simple and delicious stock recipe from the Gracious Pantry.
Do you have some tips for eating healthy on a budget that work for your family? Please share in the comments section below!