Lots of people comment about the cost of eating whole food diets. I want to make a couple comments before giving you some tips and tricks of the trade. First, QUALITY is important, and you pay for what you get. You want a cow that was fattened up with gummy bears and put on steroids to hurry the process along? You will save a few bucks a lb for his meat. You want a cow that ate grass and went through all the natural processes to mature? You will pay a few bucks a lb extra for his meat. Is it worth it? Yes. You will likely pay the extra money at some point in healthcare costs….invest in prevention or invest in the consequence…that is the question.
Once people start thinking more about quality, they realize that stuff they are used to is just not going to cut it. This is when they start cooking more at home so they have control over quality and what goes into things. This saves a ton on the eating out and junk food bill. You will spend more on groceries, but cut way back on other food expenses.
The initial investment in any large change is going to be slightly inflated compared to the cost of maintaining. If you don’t have ANY pantry items to make tasty food, or any quality meat in the freezer, or any veggies from your garden, then guess what? You will likely need to make an investment to get the operation up and running. However, once you have stuff on hand, maintaining the lifestyle costs about $300/mo per person including eating out, coffee, and wine (I calculated this over the past 10 months). That budget is ALL organic, grassfed, with wine and dessert regularly. If you don’t bake at all, then you will likely pay less than that.
Ok now for tips….
1. Cheap protein: eggs, canned tuna (make sure there’s no crap on the label), meat in bulk, and organ meats
2. Garden: grow your own veggies all summer (at minimum herbs!). Freeze abundance. Join a CSA that costs a fraction of the grocery for all organic.
3. Beans: They are not technically paleo, but if prepared correctly (soaked and cooked for long periods), they can bridge the gap in the budget
4. Rice: Once again, not paleo. However, if you are someone that works out a lot or has a manual job, rice is gluten free and a cheap easy source of carbs. This is a really good option for active kids, too.
5. Frozen veggies on sale: They are frozen when ripe and you can often get coupons for frozen veggies or they will go on sale for $1 a bag!
6. Make a menu based on sales: If the grocer has fish on sale that week, that’s what’s for dinner! Same with any veggie selection.
7. Eat out when it’s worth it: Eating out costs a fortune, especially if you are trying to eat healthy. So host more dinner parties and eat an awesome grassfed steak…IN. Have an awesome restaurant in town? Make it a special occasion and foot a larger bill for those special occasions. It’s worth it if it’s good quality.
8. Buy wine by half a case: grocery stores give you 10% off if you buy 6 bottles at a time. This will cost you more the month you buy it, but it will last for future months.
9. Make your own coffee: you can save a TON of money by NOT going to Starbucks at 2.25 a shot for a black coffee. Make it home. If you have a Keurig, get a reusable K-cup and not only will you be polluting less, you will save at least 50 bucks a month if you drink coffee daily!
10. Make it YOURSELF! Figure out what you are spending the most on at the store and see if it’s worth your time to make it yourself. I have found that making my own ice cream, vanilla extract, almond butter, chicken stock, laundry detergent, and deodorant are the easiest, cheapest things I ever could have adopted!