It’s a common misconception that following the paleo diet on a tight budget is not possible. While eating high-quality real food is an investment of time and money, it’s absolutely possible to stay true to a budget while consuming REAL FOOD. Successful eating starts with a carefully laid out plan. Consider the following advice before you trade your paleo diet shopping list in for weight loss shakes or bars.
Consider any type of eating out of your home occasion when you don’t take food with you “eating out.” This ranges from a weekend evening at a nice restaurant, an occasional lunch at a popular chain or a to-go salad picked up on the run. The average person goes out to a dinner 2-4 times a month, which could run up to a total of $200-$400, especially if there’s family in tow. Add to that 2 lunches a week on-the-go at a $15 a piece. This monthly tally could easily be over $500. You’ll save big bucks when purchasing food on the go becomes the rare occasion and not the norm. Swap that coffee stop for a to-go cup brewed from home and you’ll save another $50 a month.
Tis the Season
Humans are creatures of habit. We tend to find the foods we like and eat them often. Eating what is in season rather than repeating your tried and true favorites can help save big money on the produce bill. Look for melon and lettuce in spring, berries and peppers in summer, apples and cauliflower in fall and bananas and root veggies in winter. Planting seasonal herbs and freezing for future use is an easy low-cost way to add fresh spice to every season. Click here for a complete list of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
The concept is simple. Buying and cooking in bulk is a great way to save time and money. Join a savings club like to purchase larger cuts of meats at better prices and hit the local produce stands for great seasonal sides. Mashed sweet potatoes are a year-round staple that can be made in a crock pot. (Add some apples and cinnamon for a real treat.) The fall/winter season is great for soups and stews that are easily stored in freezer bags for future use. Setting a few hours aside on a Sunday for meal prep can keep your entire week on track—and on budget.
Without a plan, eating out becomes inevitable. Convenience store options are wildly expensive and limited at best. In addition to making and taking, look for clean pre packaged options to keep in your pantry. PaleoKits are a great complete meal perfect for travel time, or simply pair PaleoStix with some Dried Mango or Dried Strawberries for clean protein and carbs on the run. When selecting any pre packaged paleo food, make sure it’s REALLY Paleo. Check the deck for added sugars, preservatives and added junk. Many popular brands of jerky and dried fruit have more added sugar than a candy bar. Beware!
Eat This, Not That
It would be nice to have a filet mignon with a lobster tail every night, but for most, that’s just not affordable. Make the finer cuts of steak a monthly treat and reach for leaner packs of ground beef for your weekly paleo menu planning. Select bone-in cuts of meat which tend to be more affordable their their de-boned counterparts, and save the bones for broth making. Chicken thighs are generally less expensive than breasts and are very delicious when grilled or pan fried with your favorite PaleoChef. Everyone loves breakfast for dinner, so once a week swap your meat protein for eggs and save BIG over time. Canned wild fish and sardines can be a economical and convenient alternative to fresh fish. Creative swapping and smart shopping is a great way to keep your paleo meal plan affordable.
Highest Quality Versus Good Quality
Most people can not afford the pinnacle of paleo perfection. Grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and organic produce adds up fast. A little research and smart shopping can provide great alternatives if the best options are out of financial reach. Conventional meats are not the devil. Look for meat that has not been treated with hormones and antibiotics even if it is not organic or grass-fed. Toxins are stored in fat so trim some away when buying fatty cuts. It’s always better to go with a less optimal version of real food than over processed junk made with added sugar and preservatives.