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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Paleo on a budget

I have been thinking about this post for a while; I get a lot of messages from y'all via Instagram (which by the way, I love, love getting your messages!) that read something along the lines of, "I want to start eating more paleo-ish, or I want to do a whole 30 but I'm concerned about the time and money involved.." In this post I'm hoping to address the money aspect and I'm hoping to give you some tips that can be applied pretty broadly- whether you are looking to do your first whole 30 or just trying to cut out some processed foods from your diet.

Feeding a family a whole foods based diet on a budget is something I know quite a lot about. I am by no means a financial wiz, but as a single-income family with a child with special needs (read: medical bills) we're constrained to a pretty tight grocery budget.  I'm happy to break down the specific numbers in another post, but for now, considering that everyone's circumstances are different and everyone's cost of living is different, I'm just going to give some general tips.

First, my general philosophy regarding this topic is: do the best you can with what you've got. There have been seasons in the past that we have purchased grass-fed beef, organic produce and free-range eggs exclusively, because we could afford that. In this season, that's just not possible. AND THAT'S OK. We just try to eat the best we can (which for our family is a gluten-free, dairy-free, mostly whole foods based diet but not always organic, free-range and grass-fed)  with what we have. I would encourage you to do the same- live within your means and just try to do the best you can.

Second, I would encourage you to make a plan before you step foot in the grocery store. The grocery store is laid out in a specific way- to maximize the amount of time you spend in it and therefore the amount of money you spend (Business Insider). Having a detailed list before you go in- even labeling each section of the list (I lay mine out like this- Produce, Misc., Meat, Freezer, Dairy) so you can minimize the amount of time (and money) you spend in the grocery store. I aim to go to the grocery store once a week (for the same reason in addition to time efficiency) and have basically planned every breakfast, lunch and dinner we will eat for the week, beforehand. As you do this more and more you will become more efficient at minimizing unplanned and unnecessary purchases and food waste, which leads into my next tip...

Eat the food you buy- all of it.  For an average American family this can be the biggest and easiest money saver.  The sad reality is that in America, 40% of all food is just thrown away- costing the average American household $2,200 a year (Washington PostCNBC). Planning what you will eat and then eating everything you buy and make is a simple and attainable way to save money on groceries. Along these lines supporting a local CSA or food co-op that grows/buys mis-shaped produce can be a big money saver (The Atlantic).

My last tip is simple;  shop around (which is easier than you think). If I am really working hard to reduce our grocery budget, I will often go to at least two grocery stores (usually Aldi and Kroger), but I am by no means saying this is what you have to do to save money. A simple way to shop around is by utilizing online subscriptions or buying in bulk. Thrive Market is a great way to save money on the organic brands you may already purchase, Butcher Box is another great subscription for grass-fed/hormone free meat, and even just doing a quick Amazon search to look up prices on pantry items can save you a lot- especially things like alternative flours & protein bars- that you can order in bulk.

A few other practical things to save money:

-Eat breakfast for dinner once a week- eggs are one of the cheapest sources of protein.
-Plan your meals around the produce that is in season and meat that's on sale for the week.
-Cook a frittata or soup at the end of the week to use up extra veggies and protein that's going bad.

This is by no means an exhaustive list so please feel free to share your tips and ways your family saves money on groceries below!


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