How to Create a Frugal Clean Eating Menu Plan
So many of us are doing our best to exercise, build muscle tone and live healthy lives. A big piece of that puzzle is clean eating. A common misconception is that healthy foods costs a lot. I don’t believe it does. It just takes a little planning ahead, creativity and willingness to try new things. Here are some easy tips to come up with a Clean Eating Menu Plan on a budget.
#1 – Take Inventory
If you’re diligently trying to follow a clean eating menu plan, you’re likely going to be eating a lot of fresh fruit and veggies. The trouble with this is that it’s easy to overbuy and have food spoil before you can use it. Before you create a menu plan for the upcoming week, take inventory of anything fresh in your refrigerator or pantry that you need to use up. If things can be frozen, tuck them away in the freezer.
#2 – See What Produce is on Sale
Fresh fruits and veggies can be budget-busters with any clean eating menu plan, but they don’t have to be. Chances are you’ll find some great deals if you’re willing to look for them. Deals often revolve around what is in-season at the moment. Peruse the store flyers and coupon booklets (or check the online app) to see what’s a good buy.
#3 – Check out the Loss Leaders and BOGO Deals
Most deals are advertised in your store’s weekly circular, but most major grocery stores like Cub Foods now have loyalty programs and apps that you can view online or on your smartphone, making saving money easier than ever. In fact, you can sign up for the program online without even setting foot in the store. View more information on the Cub Foods Loyalty Program, its benefits, and how to sign up.
#4 – Find Clean Eating Recipes Based on Items in #1, #2, and #3 Above
Search for clean eating recipes based on what you have to use up, things that are on sale, and that use additional ingredients that are low-cost and nutritious on their own (check out the Top 25 Frugal Nutritious Foods as voted on by Mommysavers readers). I usually like to include a mix of what I know my family already likes (such as Roasted Cauliflower in Buffalo Sauce and Turkey Burgers – YUM!) as well as some new recipes. Sites like Allrecipes.com and CleanEatingMag.com are good sources.
#5 – Create Your Weekly Menu Plan
Create a weekly menu plan based on the recipes you’ve come up with. Some people I know prefer a bi-weekly menu, but if you’re buying fresh fruit and produce I believe it’s better to go to the store once a week. If you don’t use up all the produce you buy, incorporate what’s left into next week’s menu plan (see #1). Don’t forget to include snacks and beverages. There are all sorts of different ways to track your menu plan. Some of our favorites:
- Weekly Menu Planning Method #1: iPhone Calendar App
- Weekly Menu Planning Method #2: Dry Erase Frame
- Weekly Menu Planning Method #3: Calendar
#6 – Make Your Shopping List, and Stick to It!
List your items in order of where they are found at the store. Typically, produce is first, then canned goods. Dairy is usually found at the back of the store. That way, you’re not having to back-track. Research has shown that the longer shoppers linger in the store, the more they spend. Make it a goal to get in and out quickly and stick to your list.
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Cub Foods. All opinions are my own.