I was on Twitter the other day reading some comments about clean eating and I was struck by this one in particular: “Wow. Clean eating is NOT cheap eating. Hope this is worth it!!”
While clean eating may not be cheap, it can actually be moderately priced, and a lot less expensive than the Standard American Diet so many people in this country readily consume full of too much sugar, salt and preservatives. Not to mention that a bit of investment in healthier foods goes a long way to protecting your health in the future. I talked about just this topic on my friend ChaChanna Simpson’s radio show a few weeks ago as we made sense of healthy and moderately priced eating for twenty-somethings.
The key is to marry consistent meal planning, week after week, with more clean foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Trust me when I tell you that clean eating doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, to prove my point, let me share how inexpensive it was to make one of my favorite dishes — quinoa southwestern stew.
Quinoa is a grain from South America that’s high in protein, quick cooking and gluten-free. I married this with the other ingredients in the recipe and ended up with a dish that made eight servings.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the main ingredients and their cost:
Onions – 1.00
Quinoa – 1.50
Organic chicken broth – 1.50 for quart (thanks to BJ’s Warehouse)
Can of organic black beans – 1.79 (and no added sodium)
Can of organic tomatoes – 1.50 (also from BJ’s)
Frozen, Organic butternut squash – 3.69
Frozen corn – 1.00
Organic ground turkey – 9.00
Fresh cilantro – .75
The total was just under $22.00. And you can see I used high quality turkey so that added about an extra 5.00 over what I’d find in my big box grocery store but it’s worth it for the added quality.
Here’s the key to clean eating being reasonably priced — the total cost per serving was a whopping $2.71! I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anywhere you can go and find a healthy dish with high quality ingredients, not loaded with sodium and/or sugar, for this price. To me, this speaks volumes to the power of meal planning, fresh ingredients and some foresight to create clean eating meals that don’t break the bank.
My husband and I have been taking this for lunch this week and the combination of the hearty stew along with a salad of fresh greens means that we’re spending roughly $3.50 each per day. That is a bargain! Where we live, you can’t buy a decent lunch for less than $7-$8 so we are actually saving money, not to mention supporting better health.
What are you thoughts on the cost of clean eating? Is it too expensive or do you simply need to become a better meal planner and find creative ways to cook at home that can help you save and improve your health?