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This is EXPENSIVE! Divided household expenses advice needed please.

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Okay, Im only on day 3 and Ive spent an obnoxious amount of money on food. Ive killed my budget beyond where I thought was even reasonable. I went grocery shopping friday, spent $250, forgot some stuff, went to Trader Joes, Spent $70 and then forgot more stuff and Im almost out of meat, went back to grocery store today, spent $90! $410 on food in 4 days?


Let me explain that we are a family of 5 and Im the only one doing this. My family supportive of me but not on board at ALL. So I am shopping for extra. I am eating for thr whole30 and when they eat with me, they have a side of some carb. I didnt think that would be such a big deal. My kids are 16, 11 and almost 2. A normal weeks groceries is around $200, we eat as much organic as possible and avoid most preservatives. No fast food etc...but Ive spent double and I CANNOT afford this. Am I doing this all wrong or is this just the way it is. I printed that pdf called "grocery shopping on budget" on day zero, and I complete killed it. Honestly, Im now worried about making it two weeks to the next pay check.


People have said it shouldnt cost me much more because Im replacing boxed food with healthy food, but I still have to buy that pasta in a box for my family and WAY more fresh food which is a lot more expensive than even the best organic boxed foods.



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hey there!


sorry this has got you stressed; there's enough to deal with during the beginning of a whole30. hopefully this stressor can be eliminated!


i am wondering if your bill was higher this time around because you were stocking up on supplies. things like coconut (oil, butter, whatever), nuts, nut butters and good quality meats can be expensive. if you didn't have most of those things on-hand to begin with, it makes sense that your initial investment would be higher.


also, if your family was eating a mostly SAD diet beforehand, there are no two ways around it: fresh meat, eggs and veggies cost more than dried rice and pasta. 


however, with some patience and practice, you can make the dollars stretch. is there a wholesale club you can access? you will save bunches on bulk meats, eggs and veggies that way. yes, you may spend more the first week or two, but the products will last longer (for example, one 8 oz package of the bacon i like it $5 at the grocery store. at costco, i get 3 packages for $10). 


you an also google ideas like "paleo on a budget" or "cheap paleo meals" and tailor them to fit the whole 30 template.


additionally, i am wondering what these meals are looking like. not every dinner needs to be complicated and full of expensive ingredients. maybe pick one fancier meal each week and stick with cheaper but heftier portions every other night? steak is amazing, but on-sale ground beef in a family pack mixed with frozen green beans and carrots, cooked in coconut oil with a side salad and a half a sweet potato is a delicious, filling and relatively inexpensive meal.


and, this is just me, but - assuming you're the main cook in your home - i'd tell your other family members to deal. why should you kill yourself making two meals? you're not a restaurant, right? :) this is what i tell my kids every day: this is not a restaurant, and i am not your waitress. they can live for 30 days with you making whatever the hell you want. and if they are unhappy, they can make their own food, especially that 16 year old! you're doing something good for your body and good for your family. again, it's only 30 days.


i hope this helps. hang in there and well done, you!

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Hey Dlynn! I hear ya, we doubled our food budget during our Whole30 last month and there are only two of us. I am working really hard this month to get our spending down to manageable levels (I'm extending to a Whole50 and hubby just added in some beer and chocolate), and at least one week in, it's going better. A lot of the improvement is thanks to the discussions in this thread: http://forum.whole9life.com/topic/9559-spending-way-too-much-on-groceries/

I have been meal planning and shopping with a renewed focus on extended leftovers and finding cheaper cuts of meat as well as nicer cuts on sale. And while I'm no Extreme Couponer, I started flipping through the weekly flyers and clipping a coupon or two, especially for meat. The biggest change between last month and this month is that I've simply accepted I can't have the best everything, organic everything, grass-fed everything. It was kind of a bummer at first, given that we ate REALLY good last month--but I'm determined to find delicious recipes that will make even cheaper ingredients shine. So far, it's been possible, and kinda fun.

Good luck! You can totally do it.

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I feel your pain. there is only 2 of us - we eat a lot, and spent a lot before. this week we've spent over that again. from bout $400 to well over $500. granted, there are meals in the freezer that'll last probably 2 weeks, but we still need to buy the vegies to add to those meals, stuff for breakfast etc. I haven't taken into consideration things we haven't had to use/buy, but there doesn't seem to that much of that.


I seem to be at the shops constantly, even though i'm trying to use up what we already have! fingers crossed I can get more of a plan to make prep quicker, and get a better idea of quantities to buy.


(sorry...that was no help...if you get any good tips, hopefully i'll see them here!)

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Maybe instead of buying pastas and such, you could buy a big bag of rice? My conventional store had a 15 lb bag of it at less than $1/lb. Super cheap, and that way your family can just cook some up if they want it before you eat dinner. And if they get sick of it, they don't have to eat it! 


Stick with cheaper cuts of meat, and if you can't fit it into your budget, then don't do organic. Do what you can afford. If that means a lot of ground beef, then so be it. When it was just me at home, I could afford my grass-fed antibiotic-free beef. With hubby home, there's absolutely NO WAY it would work out and still let us save money for our future home. So we do conventional and go with leaner cuts. Not ideal, but workable. We still do organic eggs when we make them at home, but our breakfast lately has been provided by our workplace (well, not provided, but it's $2.50 for all you can eat, which includes a short-order egg line and with hubby's typical breakfast being eggs/bacon/grits/french toast/fruit/juice...it is awesome) so we are only going through 12-18 of them per week. A 4 lb bag of chicken parts here is a little over $1/lb at our conventional store (at least until we move, then we get our own chickens! Eeeeeee!), so we use a lot of those. Hubby is stubbornly a boneless/skinless breast guy, but once we're settled in at our next spot for a 6 month class, I'll do drumsticks, probably, for lunch for me.


We're moving right now (movers are here for their second day today) from Europe back to the USA, so we're in use-it-up mode, which makes for interesting, though non-compliant, meals. Lunch yesterday was a cherry pie Larabar (cherries, almonds, dates), almonds, and some fridge pickles. We went out for dinner, to say the least!

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At first I was spending heaps of money as well, but now I seem to have been able to cut right back without too much trouble. Here is what I've found:


Root vegetables are cheap and filling. Eat them.

Mince meat, chicken legs, stewing meat, tinned fish, eggs. Cheap.

For some reason, making extra dinner and having leftovers for lunch works out cheaper than making something else for lunch. Always! In fact, making meals ahead always seems to work out cheaper, I'm not sure why exactly.... might be just me :P

Salads are EXPENSIVE (well mine always were). 

Have just a couple of different types of vegetables as a side, and just have more of them, seems to work out cheaper than making complicated 7 vegetable salads/sautees.


After a while you'll find you develop some magic sensor for food bargains - you'll end up with a fridge full of beef cheeks and turnips one week, and chickens and carrots another. A big freezer is a bonus :)

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  • I base my weekly meal plans on what's on offer at the store.

Our freezer (and fridge) are tiny and I don't have a car, so I can't take advantage of all the special offers and buying in bulk, but if you might have those options.

We eat a lot of eggs (no wonder, when I can buy free range eggs for Â£1.50 for 15)

I've only just realised that tins of tuna are nearly as expensive as steak here. 

Check prices on everything you buy and see where you're spending the bulk of your money.  Break it down into meals too. (I made a pretty spreadsheet for a few weeks to really get an accurate idea of the costs of everything)

Find out when your supermarkets reduce foods and time your shopping appropriately.  (I can get veg for anywhere from 9p-39p if I am lucky enough to be there at the right time).

Determine a price that you don't want to go above for fruit/veg/meat.  I haven't had cauliflower in months because I can't justify the cost when there are so many cheaper options.

Frozen veg is often cheaper than fresh

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I think you're probably over-complicating, (or over-indulging) the needs/demands of the rest of your family. The biggest difference between Paleo and a "normal" home cooked meal is what's being served on the side of the protein. The muggles opt for a grain-based starch: rice, pasta, corn, potato*, whereas we get more veggies.


The great thing about that (IF you're going to indulge them...which I'm totally against, btw) is that those foods are some of the cheapest source of calories in the grocery stores. 1lb boxes of macaroni at my grocery are $1...the 10lb bag of rice? turns out to be pennies per serving. Not only that, but it also has a really long shelf life, so you can stock up for them when you get coupons.


So make a protein for all of you, give them the side of grains, you get the extra veggies. Buy frozen, it's usually cheaper.


Side note: I don't have kids, and I'm not married...but my S.O. is the complete opposite of Paleo. When he's over my house, he knows that he's not going to be fed shit. I'm doing the shopping and the cooking, he doesn't get to complain (he's actually really good about not). I know a lot of families that also follow this strategy.


I think it's my tendency to be a crotchety hardass, but honestly...if your hubby and older two kids aren't happy about what they're getting served, they can do the shopping and cooking themselves. They can't have it both ways. You're too nice!

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thanks for the advice all! I dont know what Im not getting notifications that I had all these responses. Hmm...well anyway, perhaps Im over doing it. I think I just over all bought too much food in a panic that Id never eat again! lol But, I admit I am a food snob. I suppose I need to downgrade things a bit. And no one is complaining here, the kids and hubby are being very supportive! Its only day 4. I have a mountain to climb it seems, and Im just feeling blah.

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