We are exposed to a cocktail of pesticides, antibiotics, estrogenic hormones and trans fats in our foods, daily. Some dispute just how harmful this is, but there is no one dispute that less exposure is better.

The challenge for many is this. Eating lean and clean costs more. Or does it? If you want to clean up your act, without breaking the bank, here are some tips.

Find Extra Money in Your Budget 

You might be surprised how much you are spending on those frothy lattes and restaurant meals. Cutting them out of your budget will give you more money to invest in healthier options.

Prioritize Your Produce

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group ( produces an annual list of foods that have the highest level of pesticides called the Dirty Dozen. These you should always buy organic. But there is a Clean 15 — conventionally grown, less expensive versions that are safe to eat.

The Dirty Dozen (buy organic): Strawberries, Spinach, Kale, Nectarines, Apples, Grapes, Peaches, Cherries, Pears, Tomatoes, Celery and Potatoes.

The Clean 15 (buy conventional): Avocado, Sweet Corn, Pineapple, Onion, Papaya, Sweet Peas Frozen, Eggplant, Asparagus, Cauliflower, Cantaloupes, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Cabbage, Honeydew Melon and Kiwi.

Budget for Healthy Proteins

Eggs are a low-cost protein source. If you cannot afford organic eggs, choose cage free, no antibiotic versions.

Dried beans cooked in savory spices are a deal. They can be made into burgers, soups, and burritos.

Grass-fed beef does cost more, but red meat should be eaten in moderation anyway. Buy quality, eat less.

Seafood is pricey, but when you do eat it, keep it clean. Wild-caught Alaskan products are among the lowest in contaminants. Albacore tuna, troll or pole-caught, is also a cleaner choice.

Yes, omega 3 (both DHA and EPA) is important for basic health maintenance. Sardines and salmon are among the best sources. If you cannot afford clean seafood, it might be less expensive to get your omegas from a high-quality fish oil.

Buy Generic Store Brands or Bulk

Many of our area grocery stores carry organic store-brand options. They offer similar quality for less money.

Look for bulk bins of grains, beans and nuts. These items are generally cheaper by the pound.

Healthy oils (coconut, olive, sesame, grapeseed) cost less in larger quantities. Just be sure to refrigerate or store in a dark place so they do not go rancid before you use them up.

Take Advantage of Sales

Tweak your meals to accommodate the best buys of the week.

Stock up and/or freeze your deals for future use.

Buy Ugly

Deformed or slightly spent foods are generally as nutritious as their beautiful counterparts, and often offered at a lower price.

Use Every Bit

Leftovers are a huge time and money saver. Eat them now or freeze for later.

Aging fruits and veggies as well as chicken carcasses and beef bones can be used in soups, broths and smoothies.

Choosing quality food might seem expensive on the front end. But consider the long-term financial savings of lowering the incidence of serious and expensive chronic diseases. Now, that is hard to budget for!

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Certified Life and Wellness Coach Author/columnist, motivational speaker Certified Trainer for TLS Weight Loss Solution

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