Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Basics - Making the Paleo Diet Affordable

If you visited this site and read their definition of the Paleo Diet, you'd think that going paleo is expensive, especially when you read:
"Wild game meat would be the ideal, but grass-fed meat is used as a practical substitute. The grass-fed is needed to get the proper balance of Omega 3 (from green plants) and Omega 6 (from seeds) fatty acids"
If you've ever priced "grass-fed beef", that statement would give you a small heart attack...or make your wallet sob in pain.  In my area (San Francisco Bay Area, California), grass-fed beef can easily be double or triple the conventional beef available in your local grocery store.  Then add in the cost of organic nuts, fruits and vegetables and your grocery bill can easily rival the national debt.

Source - AlwaysBreaking
Well, I'm here to tell you you don't have to buy grass-fed and organic to be considered a caveman!!!

((You hear that sound?  That's the Paleo Community gasping in shock.))

But it's true!  You don't have to go into debt to eat well.

Here are my tips for saving money when going Paleo:

  1. Shop Around- Don't depend on one store to provide all of your food needs.  Some stores will have better prices on certain items.  Don't be afraid to shop around!  
  2. Use Technology - I have an price book app on my iTouch that tracks prices for me.  I enter the name, price and unit (number of ounces, for example) and it will sort everything by unit price.  So, for example, for peanut butter, I have prices for different brands and sizes from various stores in my area.  The app calculates the "unit price" and sorts them so I know that Target has the cheapest price.  I can also quickly see if a "sale price" in a flier is actually a sale price or a regular price in disguise.
  3. Check Out the Department Stores - I buy my eggs (1.19/dzn) and the kids' lunchtime bread ($1/loaf) from Target.  Yes, Target has the cheapest eggs in my area - surprising, huh?
  4. Skip the Grass-Fed / Cage-Free  / Organic If You Can't Afford It - I know if I went that way, I'd easily blow through my whole food budget ($225 / month for a family of three) in 2 weeks.  So, instead, I  find the best bang for my buck, which means having to skip all that mumbo-jumbo.  At this point, it's more important that we EAT than stay politically correct.
  5. Go Ethnic - I get the best prices on vegetables at the local Indian stores and the Asian store down the street usually has the best sale prices on chicken and ground beef / pork.  Don't feel subconscious when you walk  into places like that.  Your money is as good as anyone else's.  Remember - usually these stores are locally owned.  You'll be supporting your neighbor by buying your groceries  there!
  6. Shop the Fliers - Every Weds, my postman drops off the week's grocery fliers.  I spend 10 minutes checking protein and produce prices and noting what to buy where on Saturday morning (I run all of my errands Saturday morning to cut down on gas costs).  I only buy what's on sale and am careful not to double up on stuff I already have.
  7. Don't Be Afraid To Buy In Bulk - When the price is right, grab enough to keep you stocked for a few weeks (or until you expect the stuff to go bad).  For example, when a local store had 5 lb bags of apples for $3.50, I bought two because I knew 1) we eat through apples pretty quickly and 2) apples seem to last forever.  I buy 5 lbs each of ground beef and ground pork at a time - usually when it's under $2/lb - portion it out into 3/4 lb amounts and freeze it for later use.  (That usually lasts us about 2 months.)
  8. Eat Seasonally - What ever is in season is usually the cheapest in the stores.  
  9. Buy Frozen - Check out the frozen food section of your grocer and department store.  We eat a lot frozen vegetables (Target usually has them for around $1/lb) and I've sometimes found good prices on fish, chicken and meat hiding in there.
  10. Use Everything! -  When I buy bone-in chicken leg quarters, I usually cook it right away in one big batch, de-bone it and then freeze the meat in 2-meals-size portions.  Then I can use the bones to make a mineral-rich chicken broth to be frozen for later use (but that's another blog entry).  When I trim off the tops of carrots or the ends of celery, I toss the ends into a container in the freezer to be used the next time I make broth.


  1. Why are you feeding your kids bread if you are Paleo?

  2. Hi Sarah V! As I've stated in other places on this blog, I follow a Paleo diet because of my severe wheat allergy but my kids do not have such an allergy so I'm a lot more lax when it comes to them.

    Also, because they spend time between two houses - my home and their father's home - with two different diets, I fear if I take away the wheat completely from their diet while they're at my house, they're systems will have serious issues when they go to their dad's house, where they get a lot of wheat products. (I've tried to have a few conversations with my ex about taking wheat out of their diet but he is not interested in doing so...and that is a battle I am not willing to fight at this time.)

    I have cut back a lot on their wheat intake - only giving them 1 serving at lunch eat day - but right now, I fear it would be more detrimental to their health to take it out.


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