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You guys. It's not even the end of the month yet (though I think we have enough food to make it through) and we have spent over $1200 on food. We only ate out once, and it was a shared steak so the bill was $20.

I have been shopping mostly at Whole Foods and the farmer's market, sometimes Trader Joe's and Harris Teeter. I never buy fish because it's too expensive (canned tuna for us). We never eat steak. Mostly it's chicken thighs (and we buy the cheapest ones Whole Foods has so it's not even the pastured stuff), eggs, stew beef, ground beef and pork, an occasional boston butt or turkey breast.

I eat lunch mostly at work. $3-4/4x/week. That's mostly to save myself the cooking time.

We eat Larabars, which aren't cheap, but my husband used to eat a Zone Perfect bar every day for lunch and the price is very similar.

Prior to this way of eating, we were around $800/month and that was with eating out several times/month. I was hoping to drop it to $600/month by curbing the dining out and eating more cheap protein like beans.

This, plus the added cost of Crossfit ($100 more/month than my previous gym)... can't do it. Just don't have the $$ to do this month to month.

I know there are ways to eat paleo cheaply, but WHole30? And does it defeat the purpose?

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how close is your trader joe's?

Our whole foods hasn't opened yet, but we have EarthFare which is a similar price point. I found that doing the bulk of my shopping at TJ's made a huge difference. I only hit earthfare for the things that are hard to find, and even then I will check amazon first if the item is shelf stable.

Also, review the whole9 produce guide. Are you maybe wasting money on organics when you don't need to? I found that guide extremely helpful in curbing my expenses.

And are you throwing food away because it spoils? Although I do a cook up on Sundays of meats and casseroles, my extra veggies and any fruits are sporadically cooked or prepped during the week. I found popping in to the grocery a second time mid-week to refresh that sort of stuff kept me from having things go bad because they sounded good Sunday morning at the store but by Thursday did not appeal or had already gone a little limp/bad.

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Wowzers. That would definitely hurt the pocketbook.

Here's what I do to keep things reasonable:

  • No "popping in" to the store because something sounds better than what I have left in my fridge/freezer
  • Make a meal plan and a list and then ONLY buy what's on the list. No browsing the aisles (I end up with a bunch of budget busters that way)
  • Snacks and lunches come from the stuff we use for meals and usually consist of leftovers or a piece of fruit (I pack lunch for 2 kids every school day)
  • Only buy organic where it's important (and not at all if your food budget has gotten out of control)
  • I buy my produce and pantry goods at HyVee - I've found that the same items at a specialty or health food store are more expensive than at the plain ol' grocery store because they have all the other junk to make up for the lower profit on those items.
  • Watch out for larabars and other snacky foods. $1.50 x 4 (1 for every family member at my house) = a $6 snack. 4 apples = about $1.50
  • Track your grocery receipts in a spreadsheet and look for spending patterns that are throwing your budget out of control (for us it was the extra trips to the store - $20 here and $30 there)

I would definitely suggest reviewing the Success and Produce Guides for notes on what organic foods to make a priority, and honestly, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go for conventionally grown produce or meats.

I hope this helps and I'm interested to see how this plays out for you. The cost of the paleo diet is a big deterrent for some!

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No, going conventional doesn't defeat the purpose. Not every household situation is the same, not every household has the same priorities when it comes to their income. Mortgages/rent, gym memberships, private schools for kids, etc. Everybody has to figure out where their personal balance is.

When I have a family, I would LOVE to be able to afford the best private schools, all pastured/grass fed meat, eggs from happy chickens, weightlifting and gymnastic coaching for myself and the kidlets, and so on. Possible? Sure, but highly unlikely (especially in Boston, good lord does cost of living suck). Something's gotta give.

You CAN look at the additional cost as an investment in lower healthcare costs down the line, but that doesn't help the bank account in the short term.

Is 100% grassfed meat the best option? yes. Is it a requirement to doing the whole30? No. Get the highest quality protein that you can afford. I personally shopped at Costco for all my meat products in the beginning of my Paleo/Whole30 adventures.

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here are some answers:

1. the trader joe's is 25 minutes away, that's why i go there rarely.

2. haven't been buying too much organic produce. lettuce at the farmer's market is cheap, and we've been eating frozen and canned veggies a lot since they're cheaper. berries are expensive, so i might have to cut those out. outside of our normal tomatoes and cukes and lettuce, i buy what's on sale. i get a lot of free veggies because my parents have a huge garden and we're still working on last year's sweet potatoes and green beans.

3. i don't do the run to the store. we run out of protein WAY fast and i only buy what we need. always more eggs and meat, usually a veg or two, some olive oil.

4. my husband eats lunches packed from home (or doesn't at all) and i've done about half and half. i find that i am cooking CONSTANTLY if we are always eating leftovers for lunch, even when i do a sunday cook up a la Well Fed.

5. I also do the meal plan. Like I said, we haven't wasted any food, even the cod we didn't really want to eat. We've run out of pecans and mac nuts and I refuse to buy more until our massive thing of almonds is gone.

6. When I first started, I went to Wal-Mart first. I said, I bet I can find most of what I need here. I came out with some raw almonds, lemons, kale and Larabars.

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I wish I could be more helpful but all I can offer is the suggestion to make your own Lara Bars. WAY cheaper and you can cater the flavors to your own tastes. There are tons of recipes online but the basic foundation is dates and almonds, both of which can be bought in bulk at Costco for pretty cheap. I don't make them anymore because I have a problem moderating my intake of them, but it's much cheaper. :)

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We is just the two of us at my house too. And our food budget is probably close to double our house payment. But I spend that consciously and don't resent it like I did at one time. We live in rural America where there is no Trader Joe's or Whole Foods (closer ones are 3-4 hours away).

The number one money-saving way to obtain protein is to get a deep freeze and buy big quantities. You don't have to be a nut with a huge chest freezer that will store a couple dead bodies, you can get a small one at Walmart very affordably (150$). Then buy your beef a quarter at a time, buy whole chickens, not processed parts, purchase a partial pork. Depending on your location, you may have to search for these things (easy to obtain here in rural America), but nothing feels better than having a deep freezer full of protein. And if you buy whole chickens then you can boil them down after you pick all the meat off and have soup as an added bonus. It's definitely more money up front, but the savings over time are amazing.

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we used to have a deep freezer. we went with my parents on their anniversary trip to alaska and brought back 50 lbs of halibut and salmon that we caught. we had to leave it in MN. no room on the moving van.

we are lucky to live in a great area for farming, etc (NC Piedmont). i'm just going to have to do some more analysis to figure out what to do.

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Oh my gosh, I spend about $80 a week for groceries for a family of 3. But, we have one killer farmer's market here and I buy conventional on almost everything. I would love to buy all pasture-raised, organic stuff, but it is not possible for us to afford.

I buy only at sales and have learned that going to the farmer's market at the end of the day on Saturdays is the best time to get deals. That bit about the farmer's market probably doesn't apply for a lot of areas, but at ours, farmers are trying to go home and will unload cases of veggies for a few bucks, and then I get to work on batch cooking operations.

I watch grocery ads like a hawk and buy only what is on sale. One store has a "pick 5 for $25" sale on meat - I stock up on beef steak and stew meat. Another has a $10 off $50 Thursday, I stock up on salmon - then, I go back later and break the rules by doing another run. And, so forth. We eat mostly beef, fish and leaner cuts of other meats because we buy conventional meat. Occasionally, we get pastured/uncured/sugarless bacon or sausage - but that is like a treat.

Other great ways to save:

- buy meats close to expiration date that are reduced for quick sale. I get some amazing cuts of meat by doing this.

- check out your area meat markets and see if they do family bulk packages. Usually, those are cheaper by the pound.

- watch sale ads and buy stuff on sale/ in season.

- price compare on stuff like oils because sometimes you can do Amazon's subscribe and save to get things cheaper (I do this with coconut oil)

Or, if you are set on going pastured meats - buy a half cow, or split an animal with someone. That's a lot cheaper than picking up meat by the pound at Whole Foods. I think others have said it here - buying in bulk usually means savings over the long term.

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My question: if you can't buy meat free of crap, do the health benefits of eating so much meat go out the window? Yeah, it's good to eat lots of clean protein, but if your protein is full of hormones and crap, would you be better off boiling some lentils (if you can tolerate them) to go with your veggies?

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Diane, no. It's a scale of "good," "better" and "best"


Sorry, that was too simple of an answer. From a general health perspective, no it's not better to just eat lentils.

If you a) have a serious grain intolerance/health problem that conventionally raise meat triggers, or you REALLY care about the ethics of meat/agriculture, then you're kinda stuck with the added cost...but that plays into the differing priorities that i mentioned earlier

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I think the folks over at Perfect Health Diet might even address this - they've addressed other concerns (like fat balances) in conventional v.s. pastured meats. Personally, I accept that I just can't afford the best meats, so I focus on doing the best I can with the fat balances. That's why I eat mostly beef and fish (ok, mostly beef). Also, my understanding is a lot of the hormones and antibiotics wind up in the fat of the animal, which is another reason I eat leaner cuts of meat usually.

Ha, and Dervalc, it is amazing I don't get busted. I literally take my toddler through with me, go out to the car and unload, and then walk right back in and just go to a different checker. I also seem to go at the time of day a lot of elderly women shop, and let me tell you, I feel like I'm in the middle of a zombie invasion with all those old ladies coming after me so they can see my daughter. :)

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Ouch! That sounds really painful to the pocketbook.

We feed a family of 5 (kids ages 6, 10 and 12) on the Whole30 for about $1000 per month. As others have said, I think buying meat in bulk is huge--we buy ~100lbs of beef at a time, plus we hunt. Also repeating what others have said, I only buy organic the things on the dirty dozen list.

What else? It sounds like you are buying what's in season (that's likely what's on sale)... Are you buying any other individually packaged items other than the Larabars? Something in there seems really expensive.

Sorry I'm not more helpful! I can relate to the "I'm cooking all the time" feeling... I do have that, and it is frustrating. I'm trying hard to buildup frozen dinners (homemade) in my freezer to try and combat that some.

Keep us updated on your pocketbook triage! Do you live somewhere that food is really expensive?

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No, but here's what I've decided:

I'm going to Costco this weekend and buying bulk chicken breasts, ground beef and pork loin. Tuna in cans. A bag of apples, a big bag of frozen veggies, and a few fresh ones.

I'm staying out of Whole Foods, and when I finish the coconut milk, flakes and oil I have on hand, I'm not buying anymore. Just olive oil in bulk at Costco. I'll cook with it and if it kills me, we'll never know if it was the large amounts of Crisco I consumed as a child in a southern household rotating weekly through fried chicken, fried pork chops in gravy, spaghetti with meat sauce and hot dogs, or because some evoo oxidized.

What I'm trying to say is: eating this way is HUGE progress for me, even if it's only following the spirit and not the letter of the Whole30. I just drank a skim latte and I don't really feel bad about it. I stress fractured my sacrum at 18 (it's REALLY difficult to do unless you fall on your butt. i was running. slowly.) and cannot eat enough spinach to get the calcium. Huge history of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis in my family. I don't even like milk that much but before whole30 I tried to get some in daily for calcium purposes.

So I guess I made it 18 days. I am really grateful for the lessons I've learned:

  • Diet coke is funky poison and makes your palate insensitive to sweets
  • white stuff is a special occasion food, not an every day every meal food
  • i don't need sugar in my coffee, real or fake
  • protein and veggies should be the building blocks of every meal, not cheese and grains
  • if it comes in a box, it's probably not real food.
  • i can live without added sugar
  • a sweet potato is a delicious treat and doesn't need butter

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Well, after 4 days of serious off-roading, I'm back. A few changes:

  • When grocery shopping this weekend, I went to Costco. I got at least 25 lbs of lean meats and a crapload of fresh and frozen veggies and fruit. Including a few things for the kitchen and the dogs, I spent $150. That I can do.
  • When I want to off-road, I'm going to own it instead of making excuses. The answer to "I'm spending way too much money on this" is budgeting, not off-roading. It was my husband's birthday, his entire family was in town and it was our first time ever trying to eat clean. One day we'll have clean birthdays, but for now it's okay.
  • I'm going to try to focus less on cooking new recipes and making delicious stuff and just focus on cooking real food. That much cooking was making me really stressed. I CAN eat boiled eggs for dinner when I'm running out of time; I don't have to make some kind of slow simmered beef dish.

I did an endurance WOD over the weekend which was a lot of fun, but afterwards we went to a chicken and waffles joint. Hallelujah American South.

SO today:

WOD: still in foundations, struggling w/ some SI joint related limitations

3x10 push press (35#) 3x10 front squat (35#), 3x10 KB swings (30#)

3 rounds: 10 kb swings (30#), 10 burpees: 3:58

PWO: a few strawberries. Costco strawberries are GROSS.

B: 2 HB eggs, cherry tomatoes

L: turkey and butternut squash that I cooked in the crockpot

D: spaghetti squash w/ tomatoes, basil, chicken sausage, olive oil, marinara sauce

Here's a tip: Costco sells Kirkland brand marinara sauce that is totally whole30 friendly. No sugar, no funny stuff. Plan to use that stuff liberally.

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When I want to off-road, I'm going to own it instead of making excuses.

Nice! Hooray! Great job identifying what was bothering you. I hear you on the I-can't-always-make-gourmet-meals... I can't! Like you said, some nights have to be hard boiled eggs or lunch meat wraps. Some nights I just eat ingredients!

As for birthday weeks, bf and I share a birthday week, and I doubt it will ever be clean! I'm okay with that. I'm still learning what off-roading is acceptable to me, but birthdays and Thanksgiving (day) are clear ones. The gas station pastry that I passed up yesterday was not an okay one. :D

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Hey dboothsummers,

Our grocery bill is insane, too. Here are a few things we've done to get it under control:

- Fruit and veggies - Costco has some cheap frozen stuff. There's always conventional if the organic is too expensive.

- Beef - at Whole Foods in Chapel Hill they have "ground beef" in packages to the left of the meat counter for $1 or 2 less than the "ground round" they have behind the counter. If you have $700 or so, you can order a 1/4 cow directly from Baldwin Farms. They're about an hour away. It takes 6 weeks to come in and fits into 4 copier paper sized boxes.

- Pork - we've been buying conventional, but we are thinking about getting some in bulk from Brinkley Farms. Jimmy Dean "Natural" sausage is conventional but at least it is gluten free (if it had gluten, we would know!).

- Eggs, fish, other - I don't know. All I can say is, it's crazy how much it costs to eat real food.

One thing we do is fry up a several pounds of bacon, sausage, hamburger/meatballs and boil a dozen eggs on Sunday night. I also get bones from Whole Foods and make bone broth in the crock pot. That way, I can cook up some veggies in broth and re-heat meat for a quick meal any time.

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A lot of good things have been said here already, but here's an extra one : Trader Joe's makes Coconut oil for approximately 5$ for 15 fl oz, and 5$ for almond meal (1lb). If you can do one trip a month there to buy those (and buy several ones so you won't have to come back), it's great!

They also have ground beef that's really cheap and good : 80/20 beef for $2.6/lb approximately.

And frozen fruits are really cheap too!

Good luck :)

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