NicBimber

Affording Whole30 on a Budget

Recommended Posts

My roommate and I started Dec. 1st - the first week I went a little crazy with spices and things I have hardly ever touched :P  Since then we've gotten into a perfect plan and spend a little under $100 per week, for both of us.  That's one weekly trip to Costco and then walking across to the New Seasons and purchasing fresh fruit and veggies every couple of days.  I feel like I spend less now on groceries than ever before, AND I'm eating whole, organic, healthy foods. 

Food prep is a breeze, too.  I could see it getting overwhelming if you wanted gourmet style meals every night, but we found a few favorites that we just keep bringing back :)  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A roast chicken every week is both inexpensive & easy.   Buy one on manager's special at your local supermarket (sunday evening here), unwrap it, salt & ghee on top, then put it in the oven at 350 until it reaches temp.   You can roast some veggies at the same time, too.

 

It does take some effort at first to figure out how to manage your budget, but it's definitely doable. You won't be eating grassfed ribeye for every meal, but you can still have tasty meals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you have a deep freezer?  I very rarely buy meat.  My husbands hunts so the majority of the meat we eat is deer.  If you know anyone who hunts, ask them if they have extra meat.  Most do and would be happy to share (maybe offer to pay for the processing which should be about $75 for a whole deer that will last you a long time).  We have donated deer on multiple occassions when my husband has shot one and I felt we were already good on meat for the year.  Also a deep freeze allows you to stock up when you see sales on meat or to go in on the purchase of half / quarter animal. 

 

I also second shopping at Aldi's.  I bought some vegetable wash at Trader Joe's that claims to remove pesticides, so I just always wash my veggies with that.  Sure, I'd rather be eating organic apples, but I can't buy a bag of organic apples for under $2.  I also don't stress myself about having all the seasoning / ingredients for a recipe.  If I have most of them, then I just leave out or substitute what I don't have rather than going out to buy the missing ingredients.  Sometimes it doesn't turn out right, but most of the time I don't think it makes a huge difference.  Even with more main ingredients, I just substiute the meat / vegetable / whatever that I have on hand. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank You for the Resources you provided Littleleg!!  I understand what many feel about being on a budget as I am in the same situation.  I walk by aisles on Co-op and just the prices for grass fed beef and grass fed chicken are outrageous.

 

I did save money buying frozen vegetables and I feel grateful we have Winco in the area.  I want to thank the moderators for your support.  We can do this!!  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi NicBimber,

 

You mentioned you are in Northern California?  I wonder if they have Winco.  They have varieties of seasonings, nuts, teas you can buy in bulk, very good deal,  They also have organic produce for a lower price, and I only saw one form of organic meat, (ground beef), for $5 something a pound.

 

I hope this helps....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A recent shopping trip of mine (at the regular grocery store) included the following organic foods: chicken, beef, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, blueberries, green beans, apple. I bought the following in nonorganic form: avocado, sardine, cauliflower, crushed pineapple, sweet potato, banana. I use the advice of the Environmental Working Group as to what can be purchased conventional and what needs to be organic.

 

I buy coconut oil online (a recent purchase from Vitacost: $43 for two 54 ounce containers). Every two weeks I visit a local coop where I purchase fermented beets, frozen organic chard and sometimes bones for bone broth (when they have them). I buy wild caught salmon at Walmart (8 servings for $10). Don’t attack me – I’m doing the best I can.

 

I don’t do snacks and I don’t do dessert. I have organic green tea occasionally and I used to enjoy organic coffee, but eliminating coffee has saved me lots of money. I used to buy bottled water, but I’ve gone with a little tap water and a lot of the filtered water available at work.

 

My (rare) splurges are buttered, salted popcorn and gluten free sandwich cookies.  Even more rarely, I get a high quality chocolate bar

 

When I evaluate recipes online, it’s always with an eye toward the cost. If I see expensive ingredients, I look no further because that recipe is not for me. My grocery bill is $60-70 per week for just me.

 

There’s lots of expensive things that people talk about: nut butters, kombucha, coconut aminos, to name a few. I get along without them. After all, I’m after a sustainable way of eating.  

Barbara 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just feed me and my dog. I'm a disabled retired enlisted vet and am a full-time student. Own a home. And have chronic issues that takes a lot of money as my insurance doesn't cover chiro and massage. Which means I do not have a lot of money. If you shop for sales it won't cost too much. Before I went organic, I could buy enough food for a week (meat, veggies, and fruit) for about 30 bucks. If you have a farmers' market, they often have cheap veggies and fruit. We have a Sprouts here in Colorado. That was without buying extra stuff like oils and herbs and flavor stuff. Stock up. This week I spent a bunch buying ground meats for this month...lamb, veal, bison, beef,elk. I figure a pound of meat will last 2-3 meals. You can buy frozen veggies. Those are usually pretty cheap.

 

Good luck.

 

~jj

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm getting towards the end(Day 29) and I'm getting a little stressed thinking about how to proceed. Our food bill more than doubled for this month and I'm the only person participating. My husband sometimes eats what I eat but sometimes he's eating things that aren't compliant just so my compliant food goes a little farther. I'm not one of those that spent a lot on the "pantry staples" as I didn't buy any of those. We are overseas and everything is just very expensive. I'm just so disappointed that I may not be able to keep eating well just because of how much it is. Would living off of frozen vegetables, frozen fish/chicken and beef be enough?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Would living off of frozen vegetables, frozen fish/chicken and beef be enough?

 

That is a great start. I would be sure to add some good fat sources, but they might not be as expensive as you think (maybe buy a big tub of coconut oil at one time to save money?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I want to add is to look outside the grocery store. We just have a Walmart and Sav-a-lot in my town so if I want a very specific grocery item I have to drive 20 minutes to the nearest grocery store. In the last few years a local meat store has opened (it started out super inexpensive and has now gone up quite a bit in price, but I can still get really inexpensive ground pork and affordable pork butt that isn't factory farmed.) A produce place also opened last summer and is open year round, in the summer they carry local produce. Every town I've lived in has had some kind of international grocery store where I could find a good price on olive oil, bulk tea, canned goods, unsweetened coconut, olives and sometimes they even carry cheap produce. When I was visiting my grandma in PA I went to an Amish bulk food store and stocked up on coconut oil, ghee, and nut butters. Stop into stores you've never been in and see what they have to offer!

I would love to someday get everything I need right here in town between the meat and produce store, local cream and eggs from my own backyard. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I want to add is to look outside the grocery store. We just have a Walmart and Sav-a-lot in my town so if I want a very specific grocery item I have to drive 20 minutes to the nearest grocery store. In the last few years a local meat store has opened (it started out super inexpensive and has now gone up quite a bit in price, but I can still get really inexpensive ground pork and affordable pork butt that isn't factory farmed.) A produce place also opened last summer and is open year round, in the summer they carry local produce. Every town I've lived in has had some kind of international grocery store where I could find a good price on olive oil, bulk tea, canned goods, unsweetened coconut, olives and sometimes they even carry cheap produce. When I was visiting my grandma in PA I went to an Amish bulk food store and stocked up on coconut oil, ghee, and nut butters. Stop into stores you've never been in and see what they have to offer!

I would love to someday get everything I need right here in town between the meat and produce store, local cream and eggs from my own backyard. 

The bolded part is my fantasy too. :wub:  Part of my hangup right now is schedule - I barely have time to breathe, much less go from store to store. I'd love to include in a future life plan, having time to shop for and prepare great food all throughout the week. :D  Right now I do a monster cookup on the weekend and then spend the week slinging food from the fridge to the microwave to the table. It works, but it ain't elegant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AmyS- I think it's so much harder in the winter! I'm joining a CSA this spring and since I'll have a newborn in May, I'm thinking about splurging on having it DELIVERED! It's definitely not easy to go from place to place, especially when the smaller privately owned stores sometimes have funky hours... but when it's warmer the farmer's market will start carrying more of what I need. 

I think it's awesome to work in advance like you do, that takes dedication and serious planning. I just think I thrive under last minute pressure ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AmyS- I think it's so much harder in the winter! I'm joining a CSA this spring and since I'll have a newborn in May, I'm thinking about splurging on having it DELIVERED! It's definitely not easy to go from place to place, especially when the smaller privately owned stores sometimes have funky hours... but when it's warmer the farmer's market will start carrying more of what I need. 

I think it's awesome to work in advance like you do, that takes dedication and serious planning. I just think I thrive under last minute pressure ;)

My children are old enough to entertain themselves for hours at a time (this is a distant fantasy for you, I know), so a monster cookup on the weekend is actually possible for me. I used to not have ten minutes at a time to call my own. :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually spend a lot less on groceries since we switched to Paleo/whole 30. We (family of 2, me and my bf) buy grassfed beef/pork once every two months for about 250 euro, and spend about 70 euro a week on organic fruit/veggies/eggs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm 3 weeks in and doing whole30 for the first time.  I've noticed I'm not spending a whole lot more than I was before, I'm just splitting it differently.  Prior to this, we were spending about $800 a month for the family of four, and so far this month I've spent about $591.  This does include my husband dropping out after 10 days.

 

We also, however, have significantly reduced the amount of money we've been spending on restaurants and treats--it used to be at least $300 a month (usually 1-2 meals for just the adults per week, plus 2-3 per month on all four of us) and only spent $78 on restaurant meals which were all prior to beginning the whole30.

 

I was surprised at how frugally I've been able to do this, actually.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ya, it is so subjective --- compared to someone eating PB&J, corn flakes, ramen, and hot dogs, ya, Whole30 is expensive ... but compared to getting Starbucks for breakfast, takeaway for lunch, restaurants for dinner, high cost-per-serving convenience food in the pantry, and alcohol a few times per week, Whole30 is practically a discount plan!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've also noticed I'm eating significantly less quantity overall.  I'm eating larger meals, but i was a constant snacker before.  Plus we're not buying soda, we're buying a lot less cereal and crackers and stuff, etc. Plus our ice cream pints a couple times a week, cheese is lasting longer, etc.  My store- and product-split has certainly changed, but overall I think I'm spending less to feed us than I used to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live in Upstate NY and spend $300 every two weeks to feed a family of four which includes two boys 14 and 16. We all lean towards the principles of Whole 30. Three of us either limit our dairy or don't have any (me). I go to a butcher shop where they carry grass fed and local meats and spend about $85. Our fruits and veggies are 90% organic. Everyone gets their lunches packed from home and breakfasts prepared. Very little is pre packaged. I try to limit sugar consumption for my youngest. He is the sugaraholic and the pickiest of the family. He also still eats bread but we are working on that. I go to 4-5 different stores every 2 weeks or once a month depending on what I need. It takes time but can be done. Whole Foods and Trader Joes once a month(45 minute drive), meat store, Aldi's and BJ's (20 minute drive from home) every two weeks and Hannaford once a week for fill ins. We have a great health food store too if I need something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

So after week 4 grocery shopping, I've spent $733 this month to feed us. And we've only spent about $40 on restaurant foods. I used to loosely budget $800 just for groceries, not saying anything about our restaurant dinners and treats. So I'm actually doing this a lot more cheaply than our "conventional" diet. My off-week shops have gotten bigger and i'm spending a lot different proportions at the stores i shop at. but overall we're eating WAY better for pretty significantly less money. I am still surprised at how frugally i've been able to accomplish this whole30.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love hearing about everyone's experience with this. It has helped me tighten the reins on my food budget, something I wasn't sure could be done without too much sacrifice. But it can! I've been able to reduce spending from $100/week for myself to about half that by relying on whole chickens, eggs, ground meat, and canned fish for protein; limiting fruits; using frozen veggies and greens as well as local root veggies wintered over at the farmers market--and mostly eating coconut oil and homemade ghee for fat. I'm actually enjoying the challenge and simplification.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I buy all my fruit & veg from a local farm shop and I've been lucky enough to befriend the owner who now throws a few things in for free each week as I'm doing a huge part in keeping him in business! The same applies to my meat - I buy from a local farm shop & try to stick with cheap cuts that I can throw in the slow cooker, and only buy the more expensive cuts when they're on offer. Fish I buy tinned - sardines/mackerel/salmon - or again whatever is on offer.

Nuts, olives, ghee etc I can find much cheaper in the 'foreign food' section of Tesco than in the 'whole-food' section, and for the likes of nut butters, coconut oil etc I buy online - Google is my friend!!

Initially I had a huge outlay to get all the basics in, but now I'd say I spend about 75% of what I spent on food before - plus my cooking skills have improved immensely to the point where I'll quite happily read a recipe and adapt it to make it compliant without compromising on flavour....

It's all good!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm always surprised when people recommend the farmer's market for cheap produce ... my farmer's market is slightly more expensive than Whole Foods and hardly anything is organic ... I think it's because shopping there has become trendy, and I can't blame the farmers for asking prices people are willing to pay.

 

I did my first W30 with some money I'd saved up from extra work. I'm thinking of attempting another one to see if I can do it on my regular $120 a month grocery budget (for one person - oh, and that budget has to cover things like soap and toilet paper as well). I don't eat out, don't have cable ... and I'm definitely not getting lattes and manicures, so there's not much I can trim from other areas besides trying to use less water and electricity to bring my utility bill down. I decided to live life on a small salary, so I've got no complaints (although some days I get mad that good food costs so much while lousy food is cheap) but for someone who has kids to provide for or hasn't been able to find a well-paying job or has heavy expenses beyond their control, trying to eat healthfully or do W30 could be very frustrating. And sometimes it's nice to just have that acknowledged.

 

I know grass fed and organic will be completely out of the question on my budget, but I'd like to see if it can be done at all. I ordinarily eat about 70% vegetarian in order to make it, because beans are just so cheap. And the other 30% of meals are often egg based. Rice fills out a lot of meals for me, too. But I'm not a natural vegetarian because many days, I just want some MEAT.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm always surprised when people recommend the farmer's market for cheap produce ... my farmer's market is slightly more expensive 

 

I have to agree with you here.  I have a farmer's market about 5 blocks from my house on Saturdays from May to October and while I love pulling my little wagon up there and filling up my bags with locally grown produce, by mid way through last summer I had to stop and went back to Costco.  It's not cheap by any stretch. I suspect that the "cheaper produce" farmer's markets might be in farming areas? We have a pretty short growing season where I am which might explain it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Wow, I can totally understand your panic! Others are right - the first month is always the worst. I dread those trips when I'm out of several staples, and they always seem to run out together. #whole30problems

 

To answer your original question, for me, my boyfriend and teenage son (and let's be honest - those two guys eat as much as four guys), we spend about $230-250 per week - that's groceries and other staples combined (toilet paper, foil, paper towels, shampoo, dish soap etc). So, our actual food bill is less than that. I shop farmers' markets whenever possible, buy my beef in bulk from a rancher, and buy as much organic as possible. I got my boyfriend on board with the grass-fed and organic idea about six months ago or so, and prior to that we were spending between $160-180 per week. That was ADDING the junk that my teenager likes - sugar cereal, Pop Tarts, etc. I feel like he's old enough to make his own choices (he's almost 18) and I'm not going to gain anything by forcing him to eat the way I believe (know) is best. I digress. But 99% of the meals I cook at home are Whole30 approved.

 

I used to be single mom earning $8 an hour and in college, so I completely understand the budget restrictions. I have two suggestions. One, obviously, shop the sales. You may end up going to several stores to get your groceries for the week - so which is more important to you, time/convenience or money? When something goes on sale, buy it up and stick it in the freezer (or pantry as applicable). It'll cost more initially, but will even out in the long run. You may already be doing this! If there's a Sprouts in your area, they have killer deals - so plan your meals around their ads instead of the other way around. Buy frozen veggies and fish. Two, have you ever kept a spending journal? For a month, write down every penny you spend on everything. I tried this once and was MORTIIFIED. I was definitely able to identify some ways I could save money - money you could move to your food budget. I thought I was spread as thin as could be, but I was wrong. It sounds like you're really tight as it is, but even if you could free up $10 or $20 per month, that's something!

 

Also, you mentioned Wal-Mart... are there other stores near you? I would recommend shopping around. Wal-Mart absolutely has the best prices on some things - especially prepackaged, processed food - but not necessarily on everything. Produce and meat, from my experience, tended to be more at Wal-Mart than Sprouts or Smith's (depending on the ad, of course). Since that's primarily what you're buying on a Whole30, I'm honestly not surprised at the huge jump in your grocery bill. On top of that, again - just my experience - Wal-Mart doesn't always have the freshest produce, so you may end up spending a little more AND run the risk of it spoiling quicker. Not bashing Wal-Mart, just sharing my experience. :wub:

 

A final thought - kudos to you for taking this on with such a tight budget! I think many people would have given up. You're a rock star, my dear! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now