Monday, January 3, 2011

Whole Foods on a Budget - Is It Possible?

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine last week.  She recently decided to start following the "17-day Diet" (Yes, I know...another fad diet.  At least it's touting whole foods....).  She knows my diet (protein / veggies / fruit / fat) is somewhat similar so she asked me, "How do you afford all of the meat, fruits and vegetables?"

My reply included the following points:
  • I review the grocery ad fliers ever week and buy only those items that are on sale.
  • I rarely ever buy fruit that is over $1/lb - and yes, that means we eat a lot of apples and pears during the winter.
  • I don't do Organics - they're too expensive for my budget right now.
  • I buy a lot of frozen vegetables (usually at Target where they're around $1/lb).
  • We eat a lot of eggs - they're cheap protein that everyone in this household is willing to eat.
  • I'm not picky when it comes to protein - the harder-to-cook cuts and parts (like liver, skin-on leg quarters, well-marbled beef, etc) are usually the cheapest so I've learned to cook them well. 
  • We rarely eat fish - it's just too expensive and it seems to not have a lot of "staying power" with my body.  I'm usually hungry an hour after I eat fish.
  • I shop around at different stores and keep a Price Book so I can easily compare sale prices to regular prices at other stores.
  • I buy those items I know will keep (condiments, peanut butter, protein and frozen vegetables) in bulk when they're on super sale.
  • I don't mind doing some prep work on the weekends (like precooking a lot of chicken at one time) to make weekday dinner time easier.
  • Waste not, want not - I make broth with chicken and beef bones, I save vegetable trimmings in a bag in the freezer and make vegetable broth when the bag is full (yum!), bacon grease is saved for cooking (best stuff ever to fry eggs in), fruits that are becoming over-ripe are frozen for later baking or smoothies, dinner leftovers are eaten for lunch the next day, and larger pots of soup or stews are bagged and frozen in lunch-size portions for later consumption.  Nothing goes to waste here....
Do you have any great ideas on eating whole foods while on a budget?  Comment below....


  1. Hi Anne--

    I just discovered your blog, and am kind of excited to find someone else bloggin about Paleo on a budget. I think all of your tips are excellent! (They are exactly what I do as well)

    I would add "stretch your entree when possible" I make a lot of one-pot meals to which I add onions or yams, which stretches everything enough to make four servings out of what would ordinarily be two. There are just two of us in our family, but we are limited to about $70 a week for groceries, and I aim for less than 100 grams of carbs a day too.

    Great to find you! --S

  2. That's a great idea, Sara! I used to do that a lot pre-Paleo (stretch a meal by adding more rice, beans, potatoes, and veggies to it) but now I find that harder to do. I severely limit my intake of potatoes and don't eat beans or rice...and you can only add so many vegetables to something before the emphasis becomes the veggies and not the meat. ;-) I'll have to brainstorm about that one for a bit...

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Hi Anne,
    I know this is probably a stupid question but, thought you could explain how to use price book app...I've gotten as far as adding stores:( do you just record the prices for items? Do you have to go from store to store to accomplish this
    ? Sorry if I sound stupid:(
    Thanks for all you do...I was a single mom of 2 kids for many years so I know taking the time to run a blog is a big job and I am very grateful:))))
    Your Primal friend Mona Lisa

  4. Hi Pimalmonalisa!

    I have this app --> <-- on my itouch and it classifies everything by store and product.

    When you first get it, you set up your stores (Costco, Safeway, Walmart, Target, etc). Then as you add products, you do it generically.

    So, for example, I have in my list "Butter". When I click on that, I see that I have 2 entries for 2 different stores (Costco and Smart and Final) with prices for each calculated out to the ounce.

    It gets even more fun when you do something like "olive oil". I have 4 different olive oils from Smart and Final (all different sizes and brands), 2 from costco (different sizes), two from Target, and one from Trader Joe's. The nice thing about this is that it auto-calculates for you by whatever count you want (ounces / lbs / cups) and sorts them by "price per ounce" so I always know that the top price is the cheapest.

    I hope that made sense. If not, shoot me and email ( and we'll see what we can do.

    Thanks for the question and encouragement!

  5. Hi Anita!
    This is a great list! I like the one about doing prep work on the weekends. I need to do more of that as dinner time at our house can get kind of crazy with 3 kids under 5 and a husband who works evenings.

    I have a similar list on my blog:

    I'm glad to have found your blog and am enjoying reading it!



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