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Clean Eating on the Cheap

Danielle's best tips for eating clean on a budget. How to save money at the grocery store while still eating clean!

Eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. One of the many community share discussions we have during my Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating program are tips for eating clean on a budget.  I consider myself an expert in this area, as I tend to be a bit of budget grocery shopper. I am known for visiting SEVERAL different grocery stores to get the best price, especially when I know the exact same item costs less somewhere else. There are definitely a few items I will gladly spend more on to get the quality I want, but I always cut back somewhere else to cover for it. And that my dears, is trick number one in my little bag of “eating clean on the cheap” tricks.

Rob Peter to Pay Paul

Can’t live without those organic strawberries? Me neither. But I CAN live without organic avocado, bananas or anything else with inedible skin. I use the Clean 15 list from the Environmental Working Group so I know when I don’t need to go organic. I also don’t bother with organic produce that I can get locally, or, better yet garden grown. My neighbors (who gladly share herbs with me) don’t use pesky pesticides. Nor does my sister, who has an AMAZING garden. Check out her cabbage and potatoes. I recently made this with her fresh tomatoes. Which brings me to my next tip…

Shop with Seasonality

It’s easy to give in to eating tomatoes in the dead of winter, but I just don’t do it. I don’t eat zucchini in the winter either and I don’t eat Acorn squash in the summer. I try to eat what is available to me locally during that particular season. It makes sense to do this for a variety of reasons (taste being the best one) and cost is a huge factor.  When you can, shop your Farmer’s markets, CSAs and grocery stores that support local farms in your area. If you live nowhere near a farm (you’d be surprised, you probably live closer than you think) then the next best thing is to stay on the same coast. If you live in VA, then NY produce is still a better (and oftentimes cheaper) choice than Mexican or California produce. Click here to learn what’s in season in your neck of the woods.

Think Outside the Produce Aisle

I know what you’re thinking, she wants us to eat processed food? The answer is yes, sometimes. I’ve written about how to eat processed food before and there’s definitely a hierarchy you need to be aware of, but other than that, packaged food can be a real bargain! Just because a food is canned or boxed doesn’t automatically make it unhealthy, if you take a little extra time to read labels. Processed food should be responsibly processed (canned fish should be sustainably caught, for example) and the packaging should be safe (BPA and plastic free). Clean choices that are relatively inexpensive include: whole beans, canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and veggies, oatmeal, rice and other grains, yogurt, salsa, etc. Canned fish like tuna and salmon can seem a little on the pricey side, but compared to fresh, they cost less and they’re super versatile.

DIY, Whenever Possible

I actually LOVE to recreate restaurant dishes myself, so this tip is near and dear to my heart. I have a girlfriend who doesn’t like eating out with me because I’m that gal who comments about the cost of restaurant food. It’s difficult for me to spend close to $20 (sometimes more!) for a salmon salad that I know I could make myself for much less. So here’s the deal, anytime you can make something yourself, do it…especially at the grocery store! I know convenience is a “thing” and I understand that, but you pay for that convenience, big time.  Having the grocery store clerk slice your onions, chop and bag your broccoli, clean and chop your Romaine lettuce or spinach…well that is going to cost you.

Buy your veggies and greens whole, by the pound, and you’ll be able to “splurge” on the organic strawberries, worry free. This rule applies even more with meat and poultry. Buying a whole chicken can save you a ton of money. Even if you’re buying an organic, locally raised, pastured farmed chicken, it’s cheaper than buying that skinless, boneless chicken breast at the store. Think I’m crazy? Read this post. Not only do you get several meals from one bit of cooking effort, you can use the leftover bones to make healthy, gut-healing bone broth. Perfect for Nourish!

Compare the Unit Price 

This is something I’ve been doing since taking consumer math back in high school! I check the unit price when comparing brands. It’s such an easy way to save money. It actually irritates me when stores don’t include unit prices on the shelf, but it’s regulated by state, so not every store has them.

Unit pricing takes the price of an item and divides it by a unit of measurement (ounces, for example). This number tells you know how much the item costs per unit. For example, let’s look at organic yogurt.

If the 38 oz tub of organic vanilla yogurt is $4.99 and the 6 oz organic containers are $.99 each, which is the better deal? Let’s calculate the unit price to find out. The price per ounce for the large tub of yogurt is $0.13 /oz. The price per equivalent ounces in little containers is $0.17 / oz.  So, the 38 oz tub is a better deal. The larger container was cheaper in my example, but that’s not always the case and, unfortunately, you can’t always trust the unit price provided. Your best bet is to just calculate it yourself. Here’s why.

I hope you enjoyed my tips for eating clean on a budget. I hope you’ll join me for Nourish this fall so you can put all of my tips into action! The fall session starts September 12th.


Join Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating this fall! Registration opens Sept. 1st!


Chia Fresca w/ Pineapple and Turmeric

zesty pineapple turmeric chia fresca

This delicious and refreshing chia fresca smoothie is my new favorite afternoon snack. I was looking for something refreshing and satisfying, but not so BIG. My smoothies are typically large and in charge so I knew I had to pair it down a bit to get what I wanted.

I also think it’s important to add a little something healthy to your meals, whenever possible. In this case we’re talking turmeric. Indeed, you don’t often think of turmeric for smoothies, but I knew I could make this work. Turmeric has a distinct taste to it that goes great with tropical flavors. Mango would have been just as good in this yummy chia fresca.

chia fresca with pineapple and turmeric

What’s so great about turmeric?

Great question! For over 4,000 years, Ayurvedic healers have used turmeric root for its health-promoting properties. From helping to decrease inflammation and reduce joint pain to aiding in digestion and boosting energy levels, turmeric is a nutrition superstar.

Curcumin is responsible for the bright orange color in turmeric and for its antioxidant power. Curcumin is a potent antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals and helping to decrease inflammation. Curcumin is naturally found in turmeric, and turmeric is a main ingredient in curry. I don’t eat a lot of curry, so I like to add turmeric to my diet whenever possible!

zesty pineapple turmeric chia fresca

I should also admit that this is not your typical chia fresca. Fresca is a Mexican lemonade and usually consists of water, sugar, lemon and chia seeds. I decided to put my own spin on this refreshing drink by blending frozen pineapple with coconut water, a hit of lime juice, and turmeric. Then I stirred in the chia seeds. The result is a divine delight of refreshing deliciousness.

If you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up like other, blend up my pineapple chia fresca — you’ll be glad you did.

Chia Fresca w/ Pineapple and Turmeric

Yield: 1 serving

Chia Fresca w/ Pineapple and Turmeric


  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • juice from half a lime
  • 4-6 oz coconut water
  • 2 tsp chia seeds


  1. Blend pineapple, lime and turmeric in a high speed blender. Pour into serving glass and stir in chia seeds. Let sit for a few minutes before drinking!

Healthy, antioxidant rich pineapple chia fresca with turmeric


Creamy Cashew Parsnip Pasta w/ Pistachios

This creamy gluten and dairy free parsnip pasta is old-school comfort food at it’s best. 

creamy parsnip pasta with cashew sauce

I had a bag of parsnips sitting in my fridge for a while so I decided to get out my spiralizer and create parsnip pasta! I tossed the pasta with a favorite sauce from my raw cooking class days. This raw cashew sauce is an awesome substitute for Alfredo, if you’re either not eating dairy or, like me, just don’t like cheesy sauces. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s made with cashews. This sauce rivals the decadent creamy texture of any cheese sauce, without being greasy or hard-to-digest.

creamy cashew and parsnip pasta

After spiralizing the parsnip noodles I sauteed them in a bit of oil to soften them up. I usually don’t bother with heating my veggie noodles, but parsnips have a slight bitter bite when eaten raw. It’s crazy how just 5 minutes in a saute pan transformed them from bitter to nutty, sweet and delicious. Roasting has the safe effect. Have you tried roasted parsnip chips? They are a super tasty treat! Just slice up, season, and roast until crispy.


I think all spiralized pasta should be topped with a nut or seed for good crunch. Shelled pistachios complement the earthy parsnips perfectly. I seasoned the pistachios myself with one of my favorite Dizzy Pig seasoning blend. Their limited release IPA herb-infused seasoning blend gets a workout at my house. I put it on everything  —  from Brussels to salmon to pistachios!

Make this creamy parsnip pasta with seasoned pistachios for a delicious gluten and dairy free comfort food fix!

I made this parsnip pasta recipe for my Inspired Vegetarian column on Healthy Aperture. You need just a few ingredients to make this quick dinner or lunch, and it only takes about 10 minutes to make, start to finish.

—> Click HERE to get the full recipe.