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Budget Paleo

Friday, September 13, 2013

A friend of mine recently said that she was interested in Paleo but was worried about her food budget getting out of control. This is a rational fear as Paleo eating is rather more expensive than the Standard American Diet (SAD). So, I made a list of 10 tips that have helped me as I learn about the Paleo way. I do spend a little more money than I used to when I was eating the SAD way; but these strategies help me keep my grocery spending in line. Unfortunately, I don't have any advice for those of you who can't stop shopping for new clothes because you are loving your new bodies too much after trying the Paleo diet!


10 Tips to do Paleo on a Budget

1. Shop locally at farmer's markets whenever possible -- they usually have the best options for cheap locally-grown produce.

2. Buy certified organics at Trader Joe's. I don't like to buy non-organics there because I don't trust their business practices; but I do find that their prices on organics often beat supermarket prices on the same non-organic equivalent. And since the FDA is fairly rigorous about certified organic labeling, I like taking advantage of the great pricing at TJs for this stuff.

3. Avoid Whole Foods like the PLAGUE. We refer to to this store where I'm from as "Whole Paycheck" because you go in there and before you know it you have spent a hundred dollars and you don't even have enough food for a week. I LOVE Whole Foods and when I need specialty items (like organic hemp seeds), or if I want a salad bar where everything is well-labeled so I can avoid eating off plan, I will stop there in a pinch. However, it is not a cost-effective place for regular daily grocery shopping.

4. Buy frozen veggies when necessary. Frozen veggies keep costs down and they keep longer. TJ's has some great organic veggies in their freezer section, and I also buy certain things like okra at regular grocery stores.

5. Don't worry too much yet about switching to grass-fed/pastured/wild meats. Right now, just try to get a grip on this way of eating. Switch to grass-fed when you have the budget to do it, and when you have a good understanding of how the diet works.

6. Buy meat (especially chicken and steaks) in bulk and freeze it individually. You can even buy it at Costco, BJs, or Sam's Club in the freezer section already wrapped individually, but you might not save as much $$.

7. If you have a family, try to get them on the same eating plan by NOT TELLING THEM what you are doing. This is easy to do by following great recipes and serving starchy veggies instead of pasta and rice (sweet potatoes, yuca, taro, plantains, etc.) This way, you aren't shopping for two separate menus. I do this a lot when I am feeding guests. A few nights ago for example, I made a Creamy Coconut Chicken with mushrooms and onions, mashed plantains and carrots, and a side of spinach & kale with onions and peppers. My guests did not even know they were eating Paleo and one person said, "Aren't you still on your diet? You're cheating tonight!" I resisted the urge to punch the person for policing my plate and then told her that actually she was on my diet tonight also! She said, "You're losing weight on this plan?" I said, "The proof is in the pudding!"

8. Make ahead as much as possible and always pack your lunches. Just as if you were planning for a SAD week, make ahead meals for your Paleo week. I like to make frittatas on Sunday nights and take them breakfast throughout the week. I ALWAYS make enough food for dinner so that I have lunch the next day.

9. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. I have started creating a weekly meal plan and grocery list. That helps me to not buy random things at the grocery store. I go in, I get the things that I need, and I move on. No muss, no fuss. I have reduced my grocery bills exponentially by doing this. Check out Paleoplan.com for meal plans if you are cooking only for yourself and up to one other person. Check out Wholefamilystrong.com and thepaleomama.com if you are cooking for a family.

10. READ, READ, READ. Commit to reading about the Paleo diet -- at least one article or book chapter per day. KNOWLEDGE is POWER on PALEO. That is my slogan. The more you know about what you are doing and why you are doing it, the easier it is to manage everything, including costs.

Here's my Coconut Chicken dinner. This is definitely making another appearance!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • LISSTEVENS
    Thanks, RyderB!! I love that hungry emoticon!! HA!
    2477 days ago
  • RYDERB
    Great tips! emoticon Your dinner looks fabulous! emoticon
    2478 days ago
  • LISSTEVENS
    KAPELAKIN -- THANKS for your post! We don't have a large freezer to stock -- in fact my roommate freaks out every time I bring home more than 2 bags from the grocery store! HA!! Not kidding!! So, I didn't mention the meat shares, but you are right they are great ways to save on pastured meats. I sometimes get the overflow from a friend's farm share, and I am planning to buy one for 2014 myself. I didn't know about bountiful baskets -- THANKS!
    2482 days ago
  • KAPELAKIN
    Great tips! It's defintitely a challenge to keep the budget in check on a paleo diet. For those who can, a few things I would add are: see if you can buy meat in bulk locally, if you have or can get a large freezer. For instance, local grass-fed beef bought by the half or side is a fraction of the cost of by the pound, plus you get the bones and can get the liver and whatever other organs you might be willing to cook with. Lasttime I did this was about $400 for like 120 pounds of grass fed beef cut, wrapped and frozen to my specs! Secondly, check out Bountiful Baskets or another food co-opavailable in your area. Bountiful provides two big baskets of fruit and veg for $15, andsomegreat extras like raw honey and coconut milk. I justgot 48# of cauliflower, a paleo staple, from them for $28 when it's $1.79 a pound in the store! Lastly, learn to shop the bulk section at the natural foods market, and shop around for best prices. Just yesterday I was buying Tapioca flour, and it was about $4.69 for a 20 oz bag, but then I found it in the bulk bin, even labeled as the same brand (Bob's Red Mill) for $1.69 a pound! Lastly,if at all possible, grow a garden. If you have space to put in some lettuces, or maybe beets or kale, that will save lots of money. Even better if you can do some perennial vegetables and fruits like berries and asparagus, which are a one-time investment, but cost a fortune in the store.
    2485 days ago
  • KAPELAKIN
    Oops,double post.
    2485 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/14/2013 12:58:12 AM
  • LISSTEVENS
    Blush, you are spot on with your comments about organics. Embracing the spirit of the diet is the most important thing, and you're right that some people won't be able to afford organics right away and that doesn't mean that they can't or shouldn't adopt a Paleo lifestyle. Everyone needs to know what their own budget is and operate within it. There are two separate keys to what I said about produce, though,: One is to shop at local farmers' markets whenever possible. They WILL have better prices than the grocery stores about 80% of the time -- especially when you buy produce that is currently in season. Secondly, shop organics at Trader Joe's because their prices actually beat the grocery store non-organic prices. For example, I can buy a 12-ounce bag of wild organic frozen blueberries at TJ's for $2.79. The regular price of a 12-ounce bag of frozen wild or non-wild (not necessarily organic) blueberries at Shoprite is $4.79, currently on sale for $3.49. Fresh organic blueberries at Trader Joe's are running around $3.99 a pint at my local store right now -- the exact SAME price as regular fresh blueberries
    As for Wegman's that is my absolute favorite place in the world and even though I know southerners like to claim everything that's good (LOL) Wegman's was founded in Rochester, NY! I didn't mention it because we don't have one near us so I don't get to shop there lately so it wasn't in my head. More importantly, I can't speak specifically to the products and costs because I haven't been there in over a year but it is a place that I would HIGHLY, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend to ANYONE who wants to buy food for ANY reason! Did I say that I love me some Wegman's? Because I do!
    Thanks for your comments on my blog!!! Awesome!!
    2485 days ago
  • BLUSHIOUS
    This is a great blog and these are WONDERFUL tips. Yea, we are definitely on the same page with the shopping in bulk and planning. Go figure. ;) Also, I'm a BJ's and Wegman's girl (I think Wegman's is more of a Southern store, though I could be wrong). I buy the big bags of Tyson chicken breasts at BJ's (NOT individually wrapped). I spend $20 for about 40 pieces, so it's well worth it! I avoid grocery stores like the plague, and find myself shopping at Target and Walmart for everything I can't get at the bulk stores.

    I do have one question: Were you recommending organics right out of the gate, which is cool (non-organics are LOADED with, well, poison)? Further down, you said don't worry about grass-fed right now. Do you recommend that the organics and non-organics be interchangeable? What if folks are just starting out and, for whatever reason, even on this great plan you've laid out, can't afford organics? That might be discouraging to them. This is an example of what I meant when I said "make it your own" -- sometimes people gotta tweak a little. emoticon
    2485 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/13/2013 6:10:31 PM
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