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NicBimber

Affording Whole30 on a Budget

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I'm on Day 17 of my first Whole30 and the only one in my home doing it.

I'm wondering about affordability for life after Whole30 (and during). Wondering what some of your monthly food budgets and expenses look like.

We were eating what I thought was pretty well when I began this, but now I know better and my husband is basically finishing off what's left of the "bad" foods. We were spending about $500/month for myself, my husband, and our (almost) 10 month old who is mostly exclusively breast fed, so he doesn't count very much yet still.

I just finished our budget this month from spending and we spent OVER A THOUSAND DOLLARS on food this month! :o

Please give me some ideas of what it costs to live a Paleo lifestyle. Wondering what next month will be like, cannot BELIEVE how much I spent this month on FOOD.

If there's a better section of the forum I should post this to, please let me know! I wasn't sure where to post.

Thanks in advanced!

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I budget about $400 a month on food for myself, though I don't always spend quite that much. I do think that starting out requires investment in pantry staples that don't need to be replenished weekly or monthly, so it might not sting quite as much next month. I know there are some good threads and or blog posts on this subject.

FWIW, I remind myself that eating this way is an investment in my health and will reduce medical costs and suffering down the road!

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I spent close to $1000 the first W30 I completed last winter.  Full disclosure:  I have 18yo and 21yo sons at home who were happy to play along!  I purchased a lot of organic chicken, grass fed bison, Aidels sausages, compliant sunbutter, different oils, spices, Kerrygold butter, and other high end food products.  Had I purchased exclusively grass fed beef I'm sure that number would have been closer to $1200. This was my Christmas present to myself.    

 

This go around, I'm keeping the costs down by purchasing conventional meats/chicken and discarding skin/fat.  I simply cannot afford the grassfed/organic options.  Also, I'm buying vegetables/fruit in season and relying on hearty/cheaper standbys such cabbage, sweet potatoes, onions, etc.  I'd love to eat swiss chard, fresh mustard greens, etc. as I want,  however spinach and kale are cheaper and just as nutritious.  Frozen vegetables can also be purchased on sale and stocked.  For making mayo, I use the Bertolli Light Tasting olive oil.  It routinely goes on sale for 50% off and I then purchase 2-3 bottles at a time.  I no longer buy salad mixes but purchase the greens and prep them myself.  I don't buy expensive nuts, bottled probiotic drinks ($4/bottle), sausages ($6 for 4), etc.  So far, my weekly food budget has only increased by about $30.  I'm hoping these changes will help me complete another W30 and keep me from the dollar menu at McDonalds.  

 

Good luck!

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I can't give specifics because I don't know what area you are in, but I buy meat on special, buy beef in a 1/4 cow share, and have a set price for veges and fruit I won't go above. We are eating a lot of swede and pumpkin at the moment, because that is what's in season, and therefore cheap. Would like to start growing our own sweet potato, they are so expensive!!

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Ugh, I told myself we would be saving money from not eating out as much, but I definitely underestimated the cost of eating this way. I've had to be creative in using every last thing in the fridge. Do you have a Costco membership? I got some bulk chicken and mahi there, and their produce can be pretty reasonable sometimes. It's probably not the best quality, but it's definitely less than Whole Foods!

My son turns one this week, and he is turning into a human garbage disposal already during meal times. I can barely keep up with prepping his food some days!! I hope this is no indication of his teen years!!!

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I hear you. We started eating paleo earlier this summer, and that increased our monthly food budget by several hundred dollars in one month. Now that I am doing the W30 (with my husband still mostly paleo) things are still spendy, and I have to get that under control. It's amazing how you can cut costs by using grains, pasta, rice, bread, which can all be had cheaply. It's a work in progress and I like reading through these ideas!

good luck

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Understood and appreciated how much you have to spend at the grocery store to feel better.  I'm the fortunate one.  My husband is a hunter and a fisherman.  A relative has grass fed beef.  I'm fixed in the wild game and beef department.   I have a deep freezer the length of a room and it's stuffed with proteins and offal.

 

I only have to buy fruits and vegetables, good oils.   My expenses have been cut in half.  I wish you well and hope you can find items to fit into your budgets.

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Oh I hear you. I can buy a 1 pound box of regular pasta for 50 cents on sale. Gluten free pasta is $2 a box on sale. A spaghetti squash cost me $6.50. 

 

I've been subbing in white potatoes in the place of grains. I buy the cheap 10 pound bags. I wasn't allowed white potatoes on my first whole 30 so I was curious to see how they would make me feel eating them this time. I feel exactly the same and am still losing weight too. I I grated them to the cheese grater to add them to cabbage rolls instead of rice and it worked perfectly. I'm going to try it for other dishes that normally include rice. 

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I was shocked at my food bill at first, but I realized that a good chunk of that came from pantry items like sunflower seed butter or coconut oil or compliant sriracha that would last a while. 

 

I also cleaned out my freezer and stocked up on grassfed beef, organic free range chicken, and wild sockeye salmon when they came on sale, which made my grocery bill for those weeks much higher, but which are also reducing the bill now when I draw from those supplies. 

 

 

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I agree with those who say this way of eating is initially very expensive.  It is!  Pantry items - almond butter, coconut aminos, nuts, coconut butter, etc.  1/4 of grassfed cow.  It all adds up!

 

You have to do the best with what you have access to.  If it is regular grocery store meat and chicken - just remember to go with the leaner cuts, drain the fat, remove fat on the chicken, etc.  I refuse to buy "free run organic" eggs for almost $10.  To me this is rediculous, and my buget can't afford it. 

 

Initially my better half complained about my kombucha habit (I drink about 2 bottles a week).  It was until I compared to drinking wine that he understood.  Now I mix it up between brewing my own, and occasionally supplementing.

 

I don't eat lunch out anymore - it used to be a fairly frequent occurence before - when I just "didn't feel like eating leftovers"  So on that front I think we are spending much less.  I also have been blessed with in-laws who have a garden - earlier it was lettuce, now it's squash, zucchini, parsley and basil.  There is so much zucchini that I have been starting to joke about 101 ways to make zucchini!  But I am not complaining. I love zucchini.

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Couple of things come to mind:

 

- Attitude readjustment :)  How much do you spend on your cell phone plans?  cable TV?  New shoes?  Big screen TV? On and on... The US has one of the lowest per capita costs of food in the world.  So you are *used to* not spending much.  Good food may cost more.  But it is an *investment* in the health of you, your husband and your child.  So don't beat yourselves up over it.  Cut elsewhere if you can.  

 

- Don't let the pursuit of perfection stop you in your tracks.  Regular beef from the grocery store that came from agribusiness cows is still better for you than Oreos.  

 

- Get the most bang for your buck - good eggs may be $4-5 per dozen - but that is 4 meals for most people.  $1 per "protein".  Skip the pastured pork sausage from breakfast and just have eggs.  Buy off-cuts people don't want - oxtails, cross shanks.  If you are brave try heart or tongue - both are still muscle meats and not organs but nobody wants them so they are cheap.  At farmers markets if you go as they are closing sometimes you can get a whole 1-2lb heart or tongue for 5-10$ because they just want to sell them (this is getting harder since this whole "health" movement caught on - now even organ meats are getting pricier... : ) ).  I make heart a lot - but I'm a science nerd so I don't mind cutting around the aorta to trim it :)  Tongue has a slightly different consistency than muscle meat - more like a bologna - a little spongier - so you can't sneak that into your husbands dinner as well.  Not that I've tried that...

 

- Don't buy coconut butter!  $10+ a jar - you can make your own from coconut flakes for 1/5th the cost.  Almonds per pound aren't much cheaper than almond butter though.  Same with Lara bars and stuff like that.  

 

- The first month is always bad - stocking up on coconut aminos, compliant fish sauce, etc.  Its a sunk cost.  If you keep eating this way it is worth it.  

 

- Carry that dirty dozen list with you to the grocery store and only buy organic for those items.  If it grows underground or has a thick skin (mango, banana) don't worry so much about organic.  

 

- Eat seasonally, can, freeze, pickle... Live like it was the 1800s :)

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Couple of things come to mind:

 

- Attitude readjustment :)  How much do you spend on your cell phone plans?  cable TV?  New shoes?  Big screen TV? On and on... The US has one of the lowest per capita costs of food in the world.  So you are *used to* not spending much.  Good food may cost more.  But it is an *investment* in the health of you, your husband and your child.  So don't beat yourselves up over it.  Cut elsewhere if you can.  

 

- Don't let the pursuit of perfection stop you in your tracks.  Regular beef from the grocery store that came from agribusiness cows is still better for you than Oreos.  

 

- Get the most bang for your buck - good eggs may be $4-5 per dozen - but that is 4 meals for most people.  $1 per "protein".  Skip the pastured pork sausage from breakfast and just have eggs.  Buy off-cuts people don't want - oxtails, cross shanks.  If you are brave try heart or tongue - both are still muscle meats and not organs but nobody wants them so they are cheap.  At farmers markets if you go as they are closing sometimes you can get a whole 1-2lb heart or tongue for 5-10$ because they just want to sell them (this is getting harder since this whole "health" movement caught on - now even organ meats are getting pricier... : ) ).  I make heart a lot - but I'm a science nerd so I don't mind cutting around the aorta to trim it :)  Tongue has a slightly different consistency than muscle meat - more like a bologna - a little spongier - so you can't sneak that into your husbands dinner as well.  Not that I've tried that...

 

- Don't buy coconut butter!  $10+ a jar - you can make your own from coconut flakes for 1/5th the cost.  Almonds per pound aren't much cheaper than almond butter though.  Same with Lara bars and stuff like that.  

 

- The first month is always bad - stocking up on coconut aminos, compliant fish sauce, etc.  Its a sunk cost.  If you keep eating this way it is worth it.  

 

- Carry that dirty dozen list with you to the grocery store and only buy organic for those items.  If it grows underground or has a thick skin (mango, banana) don't worry so much about organic.  

 

- Eat seasonally, can, freeze, pickle... Live like it was the 1800s :)

 

We don't have cell phones. Or cable. I am wearing a 7 year old pair of shoes every day. And we don't have a big screen tv, our tv was a free hand me down. We don't have any of these things because we can't afford them. 

 

I think a lot of people who eat paleo are DINK or OINK and really don't understand the cost of raising a family on one income (or even two, since daycare costs up to $2200 a month per child in this country). We've already cut ever non food corner, believe me, and all the food ones too. We're paying a mortgage, property tax, electricity, heat (in a very cold place), phone, car, house and car insurance, gas, water/sewer AND groceries on $2000 a month. When food costs start to run past $600 a month and you're already paying $1100 for your mortgage alone there isn't much wiggle room left.

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I'm sorry, I didn't mean to touch a nerve.  I had no idea about your income situation - you are right, there isn't much wiggle room left.  However, I think - in general - lots of people (clearly not you) are in a situation where they have not trimmed ever corner already and are simply not used to food being a major expenditure.  My husband and I had 1 income for 2 years after I lost a job and I had to go back to school to get a new job.  It wasn't easy.  

 

Some other ideas - can you volunteer time at a farm - CSAs near me give a discount for 1-2 hr/wk of farm help?  Volunteer at a local co-op?  My local co-op gives working members (3 hrs/wk) a 24% discount - this makes organic food the same as conventional, most of the time.  Once the W30 is over go back to more safer starches - eat more potatoes and rice - they are fillers and cheap.  Grow some food if you can - I saved a lot this summer by growing tomatoes and eggplant - veggies I go through fast.  

 

There are blogs out there about paleo on a budget too - have you read any of those?

 

http://paleoonabudget.com/

http://stupideasypaleo.com/2014/01/14/paleo-on-a-budget/

 

At the end of the day the best you can do is the best you can do - if right now only small changes are possible, so be it - just do the best you can.

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We aren't able to volunteer (nobody to watch the kids), but we do get a CSA box of fruits and veggies for 20 weeks of the year which helps. We also buy the rest of our produce in season or by what's cheap (the kids eat a lot of bananas, bagged apples and bagged oranges plus bagged frozen berries). I buy potatoes for the grown ups by the 10-15 pound sack and giant sacks of white rice for the kids. We eat a lot of grass fed ground beef (because it's local and part of a co-op it doesn't cost a lot more than regular grocery store beef), fryer chickens and bagged frozen sole when they go on sale at costco. We can't eat any eggs since 2 of us are so intolerant that even the smell of them cooking make us dry heave. It's a shame because they are so cheap. I think I'm going to have to get super creative with ground beef, or cook the chickens during the day and pick them clean to make meals out of them while my husband is at work. I generally just cook it all for dinner and then he devours most of it. It works better when the meat is mixed in with other food.

 

I'm going to be going back to work part time because I don't like living that close to the edge financially, but even so it's going to remain tight. Having the kids still eat rice and beans and cheese helps cut back on the meat costs (we only give them meat one meal a day) but I wish all 4 of us could afford to eat this way. We have zero entertainment budget right now though (free movies and books from the library!) and we get a lot of hand me down clothes for the children. I'm always fiddling with recipes to make them cheaper (I can't afford lots of expensive condiments or specialty items, so onions, garlic and salt are my main flavors...). Thanks for the links!

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I don't have children, but I have been living paycheck to paycheck the last year on a very strict food budget. I did one Whole30 during that time, and I just started a second. A couple tips that really helped me after my first whole30 grocery store trip told me this wasn't sustainable financially.

 

1. Prioritize the foods that you are going to splurge on and stick to it. I only buy a handful of items organically or at Whole Foods, (Avocado Oil, nut butters, rotisserie chicken when I'm in a pinch, 6 packs organic eggs for mayo) and that's it. Everything else is bought at my discount grocery store.

 

2. Do you have an Aldi near you? I love Aldi, so many vegetables and meats, and some of it is even organic, and it's so incredibly inexpensive. As a single person, I spend $30-$40 every two weeks on groceries and I make meals that my coworkers are jealous of.

 

3. Don't buy organic if it's not in your budget to do so. I might get yelled at for saying this but hear me out.  My boyfriend, his family, and several of my friends are constantly telling me how important it is to eat organically, and to keep the dirty dozen in mind when I'm shopping. My response is to ask them if they are willing to pay my grocery bill. Until I make more money, buying organic fruits and vegetables, and grassfed organic meats is simply not in the budget. I don't pay for much beyond rent, food, utilities and gas so there isn't much wiggle room for me either. I understand the importance of organic and prioritize it where I feel comforable but beyond that I'm buying the cheapest meats and produce, and I don't feel bad about it. Eating regular chicken or beef is 10x better than eating processed junk. Even the whole30 shopping list says those things are fine, just that it isn't preferred.

 

At the end of the day, you have to be okay with the fact that it isn't going to be perfect. But that doesn't mean you aren't going to experience the positive effects of eating healthy, and isn't that what's most important? I know I'm not cooking for a family but I can understand living paycheck to paycheck and being frustrated when something that is necessary, like food, is making you exceed your budget.

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emalli87 I am like you,

 

I only get $1000 a month on my retirement, I've cut everything I can off leaving me only the internet and a cell phone. But unfortunately I'm stuck shopping at Wal-mart.

 

I am struggling to keep my food budget under $200 I've had people pressure me to go on food stamps but there are others worse off than me.  MY expensive items are mainly one to two boxes of 32 burgers 100% beef.. 2 boxes of eggs ( total of 60 eggs). I buy frozen veggies like green beans and broccoli, but notice the Green Beans are less for same price now and the Broccoli has become mostly stems.. more expensive to get the heads >.>

 

If I can afford it I get cabbages and now also russet potatoes, love mushrooms but the price.. >.<.  I might have to look at canned but they always have junk in with the mushrooms.  I need to buy a new knife that is sharp and learn to cut up tomatoes so I don't know price on them  because I have to buy canned ones and they have stuff added.  

 

My seasons are all 5th Season unless there is one i can't get (Curry.. will cost me $2.34) Sea salt lasts a long time so a rare purchase.  I get Spinach in a bag, but I haven't found a good way to store it so have to use it quick and don't always have enough to get more then one bag once I've run out. 

 

I was getting 5lb chicken breasts but for the price of that I get about 15 or so meals out of it, where if I get 5lb rolls of ground Beef I can use it in soup and stretch that to about 20 meals depending on how much soup I eat at a sitting.  

 

My "splurge" Items are Olive oil, I try for extra virgin cold press first press and in dark glass bottles not majorly exposed to light (read that light affects olive oil badly) .One is for cooking and the other for Vinaigrette dressing.  And Coconut Milk which I use in my eggs.

 

I have to start looking at Teas now cause I was buying bigalows and mixing with wal marts black tea but didn't realize those aren't as healthy and I have to get real teas. Which is going to cost. 

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Tessina,  you could get by without tea...but I'm a tea lover, too.   It's comforting.  Loose teas cost more than the bags.  You should be saving money by only buying from the perimeters of the grocery store.  All refined foods cost twice as much as vege and fruit.  You should splurge on  EVCoconut oil.    If you can only afford one oil, that's the one I would go for.

 

Tessina, if you have a grocery store with a butcher....buy a brisket and a chuck roast.   Have them grind it up into hamburger in 1 lb. packages for you.   You'll like it better than that 5lb roll.  I think I know which one you're buying.  Eggs are pretty reasonable.  Do you have a local farmers market where you live?   Especially during the warmer months....I'm thinking you might find sweet potatoes, pumpkins and other good things there.  Yes, don't store your oils on the cabinet top where the sun hits them.  

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I will look at EvCoconut oil, I found out other day that I was cooking wrong with Olive oil (is probably why my omelettes are scorched a tad.  I've never been to one but I did a search and found that there are two two farmer's markets in town, but both are ended till spring so I will have to look then.  

 

I don't think Wal-mart has a butcher but I will ask

 

 

Good thing is the cupboard that i have the dressing in is over the sink and the sun never gets to it as the window is in the wrong place for the sun to get into the kitchen.

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Tessina, I believe certain WM's have a butcher but I don't believe they would do that for you.   

 

I'm thinking about the quality of health in those 5 lb. rolls of burger.    The reason my husband and I suggest the brisket and chuck roast for your burger....we know it would be a vast improvement over the rolls.   Brisket

20090923Brisket.jpg

 

 

and chuck roast

20090923Chuck.jpg

are two of the most reasonably priced cuts of beef you can buy, but they're good quality.

 

This is the only way to know what is in your hamburger.

I think the best meat for burgers come from the Beef Chuck, followed by the Beef Round. Both are tasty, the Round being leaner than the Chuck. Buy Boneless Chuck Roasts, Boneless Underblade Roasts, etc and Boneless Beef Chuck Shoulder Clod. The Brisket  will make one of the best burgers you've ever had. If you opt for the leaner, buy Top Round, Eye Round or Bottom Round Roasts. Occasionally you will find whole Sirloin Tips on sale and these make good burger, also, but extra fat may have to be added.

 

As far as value, that would be entirely up to you. If you can find any meat around $2.00 a pound these days, that's a good buy! Check with your butcher or Sam's/Costco/BJ's, etc for a price on whole primal cuts, such as Boneless Chuck, Shoulder Clods, Gooseneck (Bottom) Rounds, Peeled Top Rounds or Sirloin Tips. I would avoid buying "marked down or reduced" steaks or roasts for grinding UNLESS you are going to use the burger that day. It's already got an 'age' on it and defrosting it will add some more time to it. 
 

 

If you're living on hamburger, we would like you to consider doing this for your health.   I don't know what kind of grocery stores you have, but call around and ask if they have meat counters with a butcher.   Have them package in 1/2 lb packages vs. one lb.   Put the rest in your freezer.   If you will try it, it will make some of the best tasting burger without all of the the other things that go into 5 lb. rolls of burger.    

 

This is the one item I would do for myself and the EV coconut oil.    WM has reasonable fresh broccoli.   The frozen is really the weeds, very little heads and all stems.  Go for the fresh vege when you can.  When you pick fresh broccoli, look for the darkest purple green color in the bin.

broccoli-sm.jpg

 

 

  It's the best.

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Okay, because I was just thinking about you.  ;)    I care.

 

I want you to have the best quality that your budget will afford.  It's for your heart, health and well being.   Those 5 lbs packages of burger are called chubs by meat processors.    If you could only buy the brisket, chuck roast, broccoli and apples....you would be far ahead here.  Oh, and your tea bags.   This should all come under $50/week.

I care about you, Tessina.

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We ate out a good amount, and drank wine often, so while we spend more on food on a Whole30 we save on those things. I now make my own kombucha and we bought a SodaStream machine which we use to make sparkling water.

 

Cheaper options we buy often:

 

Protein

Canned salmon - make salmon cakes or just toss with mayo for salmon salad.

Wild sardines in water or tomato sauce

Eggs

Make Bone Broth yourself from the leftover bones from chicken, beef, pork bones. Talk about stretching your dollar!

 

Veggies

Buy whatever is on sale, fresh or frozen. Fresh/local winter squash, etc can be found for 99c - 1.99 a lb often.

Buy veggies that are most nutrient dense. Sweet potatoes fill you up more than cucumbers or jicama and pack way more nutrition.

Buy local or in-season veggies. Produce from far away will cost more (for you, and for the environment/air quality).

 

Fats

Skip the nuts, they make grass fed beef look cheap in comparison.

Buy a big tub of coconut oil on Amazon subscribe & save (discount!) or other internet source if you don't have a Costco/Sam's Club membership.

Canned olives (read your labels) are another option.

 

Good luck!

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I agree with pp about eating out. My food bill is crazy but we work from home, and we eat at home. So of course the grocery budget is going to be higher.

I'm sure someone already mentioned the slow cooker being your best friend. It is great for cheaper cuts if meat.

Now that white potatoes are allowed, take advantage! This time of year they should be really cheap. I've always thought a potato was better for you than processed pasta or rice anyway. And they are so versatile.

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