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Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Cost of Clean Eating

I wanted to put together a meal plan that would show my readers that eating clean doesn't have to mean breaking the bank.  I have built menus.  I have made grocery lists.  And I think the menu and the lists are probably either on the coffee table or in the bottom of my purse.  Because, let's face it, I like to take short cuts.  If you read my Facebook page, Clean Eating -- It's a Lifestyle, that becomes very apparent.  I don't make up my own recipes very often.  I don't even adapt other people's recipes.  I just use recipes, pretty much as written, and if they taste good I share them with you.  And if they are complicated, forget it.   You won't see it on my page!

So instead of actually costing out the menu, as I had planned, I will just share with you the basics.  So, first of all, there are some things that you really need to buy up front.  The first trip to the store is going to be pretty pricey, but most of these things will last you quite a while.  And do shop around for price.  There are wide differences in prices on some things between Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and your local Giant (or whatever).  The things you have to have in your clean kitchen include whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour (if you use wheat), coconut flour (relax, most recipes call for small quantities), almond flour, coconut oil, coconut crystals, honey (get some local stuff), blackstrap molasses, sea salt.

Now that you have all this stuff, pour through the web sites.  I personally love www.paleomg.com, www.thegraciouspantry.com, and www.thenakedkitchen.com, although I am also starting to use recipes from some others.  Think about how you can use ingredients from one meal in another.  For instance, Sunday we will have a pot roast.  Monday we will have grilled chicken and pineapple.  Tuesday is barbecue beef night -- made with leftover pot roast, and Wednesday is barbecue chicken and pineapple pizza (again, leftovers from a previous night).  I will also use leftover meat (chicken or beef) to make soup. I think you get the idea.

It will be expensive at times, depending on what's in season, but try to be creative and thoughtful about your menus. And, for goodness sake, please do make a menu.  When you are purchasing fresh ingredients, you really have to have a plan for using them so they don't go to waste.  Once you get the hang of it and find some recipes you really like, it will get cheaper.  Where we live, produce tends to be pretty expensive.  Heck, everything is expensive here!  But when we go to the in-law's, we have found that we can get some things quite a bit cheaper.  Not cheap enough to make a special trip (it is more than two hours away), but worth it to stock up when we are out that way.  Maybe you are fortunate enough to have a local farm nearby where you can buy produce or meat.  Definitely take advantage of it!  Next year I hope I can make the time to do more canning, drying and freezing when things are in season!

Initially, truly, it cost me about an extra $50 a week.  I know that's a lot, but it has started to stabilize to the point where I am spending about the same as I was, especially since I do plan better and waste less.  I think in the long run, it will work out to about the same.  Think of it this way, if you were just setting up your household, you would have some pretty big grocery bills because you have to start with the staple items.  So just set up a new household!  A Clean One!
 

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