Clean eating on a budget

This week’s round up looks back at some of the things I’ve eaten this week with a particular focus on clean eating on a budget.

There are tonnes of online resources and other blog posts that cover this topic but I’ve always found them a bit broad brush and not necessarily realistic – e.g. buy a whole cow with a mate, never ever buy from a supermarket and don’t eat out. Who can live like that all the time? Not me – or you, I’d imagine.

There’s no denying clean eating on a budget is challenging. I speak from valuable experience. At the start of this year my husband and I had a combined six figure salary, we shopped at Ocado until our hearts’ content. Weekly deliveries were common, as was topping up a larger shop with trips to the Waitrose behind my office and the Whole Foods in front of his. We spent easily £600 a month on food (and some wine, I confess…) and didn’t worry about it.

Now we find ourselves living off one wage that’s three fifths of one of our previous London salaries. We’re far from on the breadline and we’re very lucky to have what we do. But it’s represented a big change for us and one we’ve had to adapt to quickly in order to keep enjoying good, whole foods.

Here’s how we’ve been going about clean eating on a budget

1. Embrace the low budget supermarket

As fate would have it, our new house is opposite a Lidl. I’d never been in one before. I’d (wrongly) equated the store with poor quality and rubbish foods. It couldn’t actually be further from the truth.

If you shop wisely, there really are some hidden gems to be found. Some of my favourites include their rye bread, oat cakes, Danish smoked salmon and dark chocolate. Easily a third of the price of their equivalents that I’ve spent much of my adult life buying.

Clean eating on a budget – fall in love with Lidl


2. Do what your Grandmother would do – don’t waste a scrap

We hosted a yummy lunch on Sunday (even if I do say so myself). The £22 leg of Welsh lamb served us extremely well. Second helpings for five, a plated dinner left for ‘im indoors on Monday and then the deliciousness that was this:

photo 3

When clean eating on a budget think ‘what would Grandma do?’

Cawl – a traditional Welsh broth of lamb, potato, leeks, carrots and stock. Into the slow cooker the leg of lamb went. Two pints of stock, all the scarps of meat and the additional ingredients later, all bubbling away in a pan has made for additional helpings of a perfect lunchtime autumnal warmer.

3. Be less picky and get creative

I don’t really like carrots  – at least not on their own and I’d never choose them as a vegetable on the side. But they’re cheap. And I came across these organic gems, grown in Norfolk in Lidl this week for 90p. Quantity wise, few things can compare when it comes to cost effectiveness gram for gram. So I had a think about how I do like to eat carrots. I  bought them and I roasted them. Divine.


photo 2

4. It’s about less, but better

Meat used to make up such a huge part of our shopping bill but now we’ve found more of a balance and included some new veggie recipes into our weekly repertoire. This spinach, mushroom and feta crustless pie was a big dinner hit – and perfect for breakfast leftovers too. Obviously I switched the hideous spray oil for butter and used cream instead of milk to make it that bit more filling. Cruising for a heart attack? Not just yet…

photo 4One other thing that has made a crazy, crazy difference has been the speed at which I eat and the number of times I chew my food. This was really hammered home in a recent lecture as part of my course around digestion. It really struck a chord (even though I’ve heard it so many times before) so a casual put down of my knife and fork in between the at least 10 chews has left me fuller for longer. Including a portion of pulses a day is the cheapest form of both filler and digestive system mover I could have wished for.

How much do you spend on your groceries? Where do you splurge? Where do you cut back?

9 thoughts on “Clean eating on a budget

  1. Great read as always Ruth! I guess something that I also learnt from you is that you don’t always need to buy the most popular cuts if meats for a tasty and healthy meal. Chickens thighs and pork belly are 2 that spring to mind.

    • An excellent point James. In fact, perhaps later this year we should have an entire post dedicated to thrifty cuts and what to do with them. Crispy chicken skin and crackling is definitely one of the biggest bonuses of said thriftier cuts 🙂 Thanks for checking in – a lovely spot of inspiration for a future post.

  2. Loving the article – when do you get the ‘lottie – that’s when the real fun begins and that’s even cheaper than Lidl!

    • Rob C! So great to hear from you and have your comment on the blog. Are you accepting work experience…? I don’t think with my total lack of common sense and long term urban dwelling existence it’s fair to the soil of South Wales for me to be let loose on an allotment just yet. Hope you and all the family are well. Take care, keep growing the good stuff.

    • I could think of worse housemates than athletic male ones 🙂

      Great to hear from you as ever Primalparkgirl.

      Salad leaves are definitely a grocery budget killer. My husband and I plough through tonnes so the sooner I can grow some spinach in a 1m x 1m box in our new garden, the better!

      Hope you’re enjoying the weekend. Well done on the onions and ginger.

  3. Fab post Ruth. Nice to see you get some Cawl in there too! Now that I’ve reduced my salary to zero too I’m massively working on my food spending habit – which means lentils and quinoa as a source of protein are coming in from time to time. Actually quite enjoying the challenge of some new recipes – and they’re tasty too! Plus eggs eggs eggs – of course!
    Ceri x

    • The Cawl was so tasty. I’ve got some lamb from Trealy Farm in the freezer now so will definitely make it again. A new love of puy lentils has totally transformed my salads! The crustless pie in this post is a totally eggy-spinachy-garkicky treat. You should defs give it a whirl.

  4. Pingback: “I’m hungry” « Let Her Eat Clean

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