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nikkimichaelis

Is this going to be expensive?

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I've been researching this program for the last 2 days now and I feel I'm committed to doing it. My only concern is expense. Is it going to be expensive to turn my efforts into whole foods instead of convenient foods? We have been living on a strict budget for the past few months and I don't want this new effort to eat correctly to drop our budget. But at the same time, I know this step needs to be taken.

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It doesn't have to be more expensive but sometimes it is depending on how someone approaches their whole30.

 

Focus on protein, vegetables and good fats. Don't worry about extra stuff like "paleo" prepared foods, coconut aminos, almond flour, etc. (those are expensive and not needed at all). Keep an eye out for deals on produce and meat--sometimes farmer's markets or farms are less expensive, you might want to invest in a cow share or other bulk meat options to get better pricing.

 

Also keep all of your budget in mind. If groceries go up but liquor and restaurant expenses go way down you are still in a great place.

 

have fun.

Coffeeandshoes and whole38 like this

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Agree with Missmary, when you take away all the junk food and drinks, etc. I really don't think this has to be expensive. Without any packaged foods, snacks, grains, cereals, fancy almond milks, etc. (not to mention expensive happy hours) I haven't felt any pinch at all in my food budget.

 

Good luck to you, I would encourage you to pick a day and start. You will not regret it!! :)

Joolz65 likes this

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This is a concern of mine too.  I'm making a meal plan this afternoon and going shopping ready to start on Monday ans am dreading the checkout total!

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This is such a good question! My sister asked me this and she was horrified when I told her how much I spend (which will be meaningless to you if I tell you as I live in the UK!) but she was comparing it to her student days when she lived off instant noodles and pasta! I actually think I spend less when I do a Whole30, and that's probably mostly because of not eating out and not drinking (London is REALLY expensive for drinking!) like missmary said. When I come OFF the Whole30 I'm horrified at the prospect of a night out with friends with a pub meal and, say, half a bottle of wine coming to what I might spend for a week's food for one! And I would do that at least once a week! So yes, you'll save because you won't be going out too often.

 

You probably know most of this stuff because it's not specific to the Whole30 -- it's good advice for lowering budget all the time! But here's my advice, based on the experience of three Whole30s:

Meat.

- buy the bigger, cheaper cuts, e.g. pork/lamb shoulder, pork belly, brisket, ribs, etc. They should last you a number of meals so although it might SEEM expensive as a whole cut of meat in one go, per meal it works out cheaper. These take longer to cook so if you don't already have a slow cooker I would encourage you to get one. I use mine ALL the time. Even a whole chicken roasted will last 4 meals or so (depending on how many mouths you're feeding of course!) and then you get a carcass leftover to make stock -- WIN!

- look out for deals online. I didn't really follow many UK-based paleo blogs when I did my Whole30s but I do now and there are often alerts and info on discounts on meat and other products. The other day we got 10 sirloin steaks for £35; that's £3.50 a meal for one of the top cuts of meat which is pretty good. Become facebook friends with local farmer's markets, butchers or stall holders to get up to date info on discounts and flash sales.

- bulk out your meat meals with veg, e.g. if you're making a bolognese, put loads of carrots, courgettes, aubergine...whatever veg you like that would stand up to a long slow cook.

- organ meats. This is a really tricky one for me, I'm STILL trying to like liver so I'm trying to eat this once a week or so. It's another very useful way to bulk out your meat -- say you're doing that bolognese, using half the amount again of meat in liver form will bulk it out enough so you get lots of great nutrients from it, but not enough to make it taste too much like liver (I need to do this more often!!). Going paleo and doing the Whole30 has made me more adventurous in my BUYING patterns but not necessarily my cooking habits -- I've still got a lamb's heart sitting in the freezer waiting for me to work up the courage to cook it! (Bonus: it was incredibly cheap to buy!)

- eggs are really really cheap. Nuff said.

 

Veg.

- this is where you'll find you spend more than before as you need to replace the pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. with proper veg. Green veg is usually very cheap and is the best for you so it's a win-win situation. 

- best advice is to buy in season (look for produce that is grown locally) and just grab bargains where you can. I find the basics are the cheapest...but also the starchiest (carrots, swede, turnips, parsnips, etc.) so make sure you get a good balance of starch and leafy stuff.

 

Fish.

- I don't know about you but fish is expensive in the UK. I tend to always have tins of tuna and salmon as they are both very cheap and an incredibly quick meal. 

- Again, not sure how things work in the US but usually at the end of the shopping day, especially on a Sunday or bank holiday, things get reduced down to a serious bargain -- a few weeks ago I got two salmon fillets for 79p, down from £3.79 because they were going out of date, so I bought a load and stuck them in the freezer. I always try to have fillets of stuff (not just fish but steaks, chops, etc.) that are quick to cook on days that I'm out till late.

 

Other stuff.

- broth and stocks are a really good way to fill a hole when it's not quite dinner time. Or just to generally fill you up. I try (but don't always succeed!) to have a small cup of broth with dinner and often at breakfast too. Again, the easiest, least hands-on way to make broth is with a slow cooker. I made one the other day with a leftover roast chicken carcass and a loads of pork trotters in the slowcooker for 24 hours. It made the tastiest most gelatinous broth I'd ever made. My slow cooker is relatively small but it still makes a good few litres of stock/broth...basically from leftovers! It's almost free (we bought the trotters but they were very cheap!). Some butchers will give away things like chicken feet, pork trotters, stock bones; if not, they are usually incredibly cheap to buy.

- oils: you can make your own clarified butter very easily -- melt a pat of butter over a low heat and leave it for 10-15 minutes until the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan. Strain it. Done! It keeps outside of the fridge for a few months. Coconut oil is very expensive so don't bother with that if you're on a budget. Use animal fats -- e.g. if you've made a stock with beef marrow bones you'll probably end up with a thick layer of fat. If you skim that off after cooling it in the fridge that's good to use for cooking (e.g. that bolognese I keep talking about...). Or your local butcher or supermarket might sell animal fat...just make sure it's grassfed/pastured.

- nuts and seeds can be expensive and they are one of things that should be in moderation anyway so don't bother with these if you can't get hold of them cheaply. If you can get, e.g. almonds, cashews, etc. cheaply then buy them raw and make your own nut butters if you want to (literally the only ingredient you need to make the nut butters is the nuts themselves...no oil, no honey, no salt, nothing). Again, these must be limited as they can be addictive so do without them if you want.

- vinegars and other condiments: I found it really difficult to find vinegars without sulfites (especially balsamic vinegar) so I had to buy the more expensive stuff for this..but you use so little at a time and it lasts a while so it's a good investment. Likewise with olive oil (which should come under 'oils' I know! But I'm thinking in the context of salad dressings)...I would suggest you invest in the highest quality you can afford (again, if you buy it in bulk from Amazon it's a big outlay at first but it'll last forever) as the simplest dressing for a salad is balsamic vinegar and olive oil (and, if you want to get fancy, salt, pepper, mixed herbs, mustard. Talking of mustard, again I found it impossible to find decent French of English mustard without sulfites...so I made my own. And it's really easy -- some mustard seeds ground up, mustard powder, water, vinegar, salt. Done! Lasts FOREVER in the fridge.)

- herbs: buy a load of robust fresh herbs (bay, thyme, rosemary, sage) and hang them upside down away from direct sunlight...they'll dry out on their own. Although jars of dried herbs don't tend to be that expensive to be honest.

- spices: start small on the basics. For me, cumin is indispensible, as is paprika. Only have three Whole30s have I got a spice cupboard I'm happy with -- I have 4 or 5 homemade spice mixes (e.g. jerk, peri peri, lebanese 7-spice, Chinese 5-spice) which makes life A LOT easier as you can just rub whichever one you fancy over a piece of brisket (say) and chuck it in the slow cooker overnight. Breakfast is ready the next day! But it has taken me a long time to get to this point so as I said, start small and you'll eventually build it up.

 

Sorry, long message! But I hope it helps!

bcaadd, gabby15, Sundial and 2 others like this

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Wow, TDC, that guide is invaluable. Well done, and thank you!

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Great question. Thank you all for the tips. This has been a big concern of mine too, since we're also on a strict budget. I have a husband and two teenage sons, and as of right now I'm the only one following the program, so it's definitely taken a lot of planning to find things they'll like that are also Whole 30 compliant for me. 

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I almost had a heart attack after my first shopping trip but as the time has gone on (day 25 I think?) I am spending less and less on food because I am not running out for take out or buying processed foods and that stuff adds up. In the end I think it costs the same or less :)

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I'll be the voice of dissent here :/ it has been MUCH more expensive for us to eat this way. We rarely dine out and buy almost no alcohol, so the "you'll actually be saving money!" argument doesn't work in our situation. Feeding a family of five (kids are 3, 5, 7) our normal monthly grocery budget is $700-$759, and that includes toiletries, any dining out, clothing if we need it...everything. This past month doing whole30 we were *easily* $250 over budget, maybe $350. I'm afraid to even look :/

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I should add that I have seen positive effects and will continue on with a lot of the changes after we're done (today is day 27!) but, for us at least, it's a financial sacrifice to do so.

Our diet before was healthy - few processed foods, no fast food, most things homemade including our bread and sometimes our peanut/almond butter; but I did stretch the budget with grains and beans and dairy for a good bit of our protein.

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I found it more expensive at the beginning because I had to buy  meat, spices, and sauces to make dishes that I didn't have in my kitchen. However, as the weeks went by I barely was shopping for anything except for fruits and veggies because I was already stocked with the items I bought from the beginning. With that being said, it is an financial investment to eat healthy. However, I think it is totally worth it especially if you are creative by shopping at the local markets or finding steals at the grocery markets. I was saving money, however, by not eating out. Eventually it evens out somewhere in the budget.

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Mine went up or stayed the same. I don't eat out a lot, or drink a lot so those two expenses didn't change for me. I buy in bulk, take advantage of sales, cook in bulk and have "quick" go to foods. I stick to meat, veggies, fruit and I make my own  nut butters, etc. If I can get a good sale I stock up. I use mostly fresh, and frozen, and if I get a good sale, I'll freeze things.

 

Meat is getting very expensive, so i look for sales, mark downs and family farmers who will sell meat or half a cow at one time. Also, I fnd we have a lot of food waste, so better planning means less waste--cutting out things that spoil and making better use of freezer containers for leftovers (lunches, quick breakfasts) saves a ton.

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My first week was SO expensive. Of course, I just went through the store and bought anything I could have since its not much! I'm hoping it will be better the next couple weeks but I'm pretty sure it will still cost more. I didn't eat out or drink before, so I don't have that to cut out to compensate.

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My paradigm is a bit skewed as I am only cooking for myself and my boyfriend and we're young and fairly carefree so saving is the last thing on my mind, and we don't have a mortgage or loans or any outgoings other than rent and bills so I totally understand that if you have a family and other financial strains, eating this way is dauntingly expensive.

 

Having said that, I earn fairly low by London standards and was getting to the end of the month with zero money every month before I started the Whole30 so I was quite worried. I STILL get to the end of every month with zero money but I don't get into debt so it's clear that I don't spend more on food.

 

I think the biggest shift for me has been that FOOD and HEALTH have become number one concerns for me and I'm happy to spend the money on it. As a consequence, other things become less important. I don't wear much makeup anymore (I used to wear makeup everyday, even if it was just a small amount of mascara). I think it's partly because I'd rather spend my time in the morning getting a good breakfast and lunch and partly because I don't feel I need to wear makeup so often. This isn't a conscious thing but I just don't look at my face in the morning and think 'ughh'.

 

Likewise I don't use much toiletries anymore: I've stopped using face wash, I use soap rather than shower gel. I started using vinegar as a hair rinse instead of shampoo but I didn't get on with it so I've gone back to using shampoo. I also started making my own toothpaste using a recipe I found online but I've gone back to using normal toothpaste as I've run out of the other stuff and haven't got round to making a new batch.

 

I don't use tampons anymore as I use a mooncup and I use vinegar to clean the surfaces around the house.

 

Basically what I'm trying to say is changing the way I eat has changed my mindset about a lot of things. Health has been forced forward as my number 1 priority which means a lot of things other than just my eating has changed, and I think that does have a knock on effect on the budget in a way that is difficult to comprehend until months, even years down the line. It will take a long time to notice this because it won't happen just after your first, or second Whole30 as it's a gradual mindset change that I've experienced. I don't consciously make different decisions about things but I clearly do! I don't FEEL like I spend less money on toiletries and so on, but I must do as I haven't been to the chemist to buy makeup and cleanser and other stuff for yonks. 

 

I've just re-read my first paragraph and when I think about the 'dauntingly expensive' aspect of it I really can't wrap my head around thinking that grains, wheat and other stuff are worth buying simply because they help to bring the grocery bill down. That's the extent to which my mindset has changed, and I'm sure yours will. Yes it might be more expensive at first, but you will somehow make it happen because at the end of the day, chronic illness and early death is more expensive, not just in monetary terms but in quality of life terms -- you cannot put a price on being the most healthy, wonderful mum, dad, brother, sister, lover, child, friend, colleague...

 

Finally, you cannot put a price on looking in the mirror and thinking: this is the best version of me that I have been for years. 

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