emilyelowe

Just Need Encouragement

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I’m currently doing my 7th Whole30 and am reading ISWF again to get motivated. It’s working in that the reminder of why we make these choices is super powerful and I can’t wait to do a proper re-introduction (I tried to Slow Roll my last few re-intros: #FAIL). However, I’m finding the recommendations on sourcing meats super overwhelming. I’m doing this W30 because we’re going to start feeding my son solid foods soon and I wanted to be in a good place nutritionally as a family, but I also started working part-time with the birth of my son, so it really doesn’t feel like we can afford to buy local, grass fed, pastured, or organic meats. So now I’m sitting here thinking my good intentions are actually going to poison my little man! I feel like a bit of a poser taking the time and effort to eat “healthy,” without being able to go all the way to sourcing my meat. :( 

We eat a lot of chicken breasts, thighs, ground beef, and ground chicken so I think it’s easy to avoid much of the fat there? I can certainly remove fat from steaks and pork roasts to avoid those toxins. I’m not sure what to do about eggs, which we eat a ton of. Ugh! 

Any recommendations on the best cuts of meat, less expensive places to buy meats, buying in bulk, etc. would be appreciated. Also, a little love and encouragement wouldn’t hurt either, LOL. 

Thank you! 

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YOU CAN DO THIS. <-- the rest is easier with a "can do" mindset! :) 

It's easy to feel like "not all the way" is simply not enough, but don't let yourself fall into that trap. Shifting into a healthier diet will be far better for all of you than the standard American fare, regardless of whether or not everything has the pretty labels saying it's free range, or grass-fed, or organic, etc. I think of it like a cup of water -- it's easy to see when it's muddy, filled with impurities; but if you add fresh water, even if it's not "perfectly pure", it will cause some of that mud to spill over and the water remaining will be clearer; continue to add fresher water, and the water in the cup will gradually begin looking cleaner and cleaner; pour it through a filter (do a cleanse) and you've got a vastly different cup of water than when it began. That's how I look at what I eat. It might not be the best I could find, but it IS the best I can afford, and that will still bring me to a healthier state than if I was downing potato chips and snack cakes all day. Less than optimal is still better than nothing at all!

And now I apologize, because this post totally got away from me while I was typing, so wound up much longer than I'd anticipated! I did go back and try to condense it a bit (not that you can tell, sorry!) but... anyway... here we go! :) 

My household normally has 7 people, 5 of them adults. I'm the primary cook (5-6 family meals each week). I thought about cooking the normal meals for them and doing my W30 stuff separately, but the idea was overwhelming. Instead, I cooked compliantly and they all either enjoyed the food or made something else for themselves. That meant I was having to shop compliantly for 4 adults (my son was at college during my W30 and reintro), plus the normal non-compliant stuff that I knew would still be needed for others (I was the only one doing W30, and my youngest has severe food texture and taste issues that makes it hard to alter her diet much). Any way around it, this was going to be more expensive than normal... even without going for the "best the earth has to offer".

Here's how I did it...

Online ads + meal planning. Everywhere I'd normally shop has an online ad, and our butcher (who sources only local meats, yay) will post specials on Facebook. Each week, I check the ads to see what was on sale, and then build my weekly meal plan around what I can get for a reasonable (or amazing) price. Some things won't be on sale and I'll still buy them, of course, but only if I already consider it to be either reasonable or necessary. When things are discounted amazingly, I buy extra if possible, giving me more to freeze for later. My rule of thumb in general is that I will buy higher quality when it's reasonably priced compared to what I'd usually pay for what I usually get (with "comparable" being within about a 30% range, typically).

Coupons. This seems like a given, but not everyone thinks of them. Expand this to include free store loyalty programs and it's better. Kroger, for instance, sends out a coupon pack that will sometimes include things like $1 off specific meats or $3 off my total if I spend $15 or more on meat (or $2 off total if $10 or more on produce). Sometimes stores will have online coupons you can load to your card also, which is helpful so you don't have to carry paper ones all the time. If your store offers pick-up or delivery, check to see if there are any coupons available specific to pick-up/delivery orders, as those can sometimes more than cover the service fee (and it cuts down on the time you have to spend in the store). Our produce market has a physical card that they punch once for each purchase you make (2 on Wednesdays), and after 10 punches you get $5 of free produce.

Bargain bins. For meat, this usually looks like a "Manager's Special" sticker on the package and means that it needs to be sold ASAP (it usually will be done within a day or two of the sell-by date, if not on that date); we buy this and either cook it right away or freeze it and mark that it should be used for meals where I can start cooking it with the meat still frozen. For produce, we get ours off a bin at a local produce market but many grocery stores have a bin somewhere near the produce department. I don't go for the stuff that's obviously on its very last breath, but we've gotten a lot of very good produce from our market that's in the bin because it's "not as pretty" as the new stock so it was removed to make the display more appealing.

Eggs. Plain large eggs, wherever I can get them cheapest without going out of my way. We go through 3-4 dozen weekly, so paying $6 per dozen would eat my budget quickly, so I do what I can. With so many mouths, the eggs honestly are part of how we keep the cost down compared to if we were doing other proteins at every meal.

Ground meat. This is a staple in our house. I honestly usually buy 73/27, but I'll get 80/20 when I can get it on sale. Our butcher runs a great deal occasionally, 10-lb bags of 80/20 for $0.99-$1.29/lb. When it's that cheap (compared to $3.99+ normally elsewhere), I snag a couple of bags and freeze it in 1-lb sections, pre-formed burgers, or pre-formed loaves. Ground turkey is probably preferred for us, so when I find it reasonably priced, I'll get some of that as well.

Roasts & Loins. Pork roast tends to run cheaper than beef around here. I love when I can get half loins for $1.59-1.89/lb (or BOGO, as that usually ends up about the same), because we'll grab 2-3 of those and cut our own chops off of them (much cheaper than buying pre-cut chops, in most cases).

Chicken. Our butcher sometimes prices 10-lb packs of boneless/skinless breasts at $0.99/lb (compared to usual $2.29+ elsewhere), so that's another opportunity we take to buy a lot and save it. I also keep my eyes open for whole chickens on sale, since those can drop down to $0.49-0.69/lb in these parts, and that's definitely worth buying 3-4 and freezing a few for later. I cook my whole chickens in my electric pressure cooker, and then use the bones and scraps to make broth.

Produce. I've already mentioned the bargain bin produce, and that's probably how we get the majority of our tomatoes, bell peppers, bananas, and even apples. The market we go to only sells locally-sourced organic produce, so getting their bargain produce is a huge way we save money and still buy organic. Sprouts also often has really good deals on produce, and that's where I usually grab things like organic greens (kale, yum), onions, green beans, etc. Kroger will sometimes have a great deal on organic salad greens. I do not let myself stress over organic, but I do try to get organic anytime it's something where we'll eat the whole thing (i.e., not bananas because we peel them, not butternut because I peel it before cooking, etc.).

Bulk. I will bulk shop, when I can. Sometimes that means buying lots because it's at a price that warrants it (so if I would've normally spent a certain amount on it, I'll still spend that or a little more but I'm walking away with a ton more of that item), and sometimes it's buying from bulk bins because it's cheaper that way (I usually hit the bins for things like raw nuts and seeds, or coconut flour). There's also the idea of looking into whether or not you've got a local CSA that could provide you with reasonably priced meat or produce, or if there's a local farmers market that meets occasionally. Also, if you know any local hunters, you might be able to get good deals on the fresh kills they make, such as venison or wild hog.

...like I said, it's a lot... so I apologize, once again, for kind of running away with this one. I can barely tell I edited to condense, but it is what it is and I need to post it before I'm here hours trying to make it shrink!

 

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This is super helpful, thank you for taking the time to do this! And your analogy is SUPER helpful and definitely lends perspective.

How did you find a butcher? I've always thought that going to a butcher would end up either being more expensive or have me buying more than I needed but perhaps not.

Do you remove fat from roasts if you don't get them from a high quality source?

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Our butcher is just kind of... here... they've been in our area (downtown in the major city right next door) for years, long before we moved here. In the past, I've always seen butchers as more expensive too, and they have been where I lived previously. This one, though, I love. They're not always cheaper for everything, but every week they run specials on several items, so I always take a look to see what they've got going on. Because they're across town, though, I will only go to them if I know I'm going to get a great price compared to what I'd see at my grocery store that's about a mile away. :)

At Lanier's (our butcher), they have the large bags but they also sell regular 1-lb and 3-lb packs of meat, and they've got the meat counter where you can pick out steaks or rashers of bacon or what have you. The smaller packs are generally priced about the same as Kroger, I think, but their sales are the draw. I really, really hope you've got someplace similar where you are because it definitely makes it worth it. I've found that fancier or more gimmicky shops tend to mean higher prices, though, so I stick to plain and simple when looking for where to buy meats and produce.

For any meat, I typically remove a good deal of the fat unless it's good quality. When cooking, I will usually supplement extra coconut oil to make up for what I took away during prep.

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Butcher Box saved me! It’s really affordable, about $6 a meal for organic/pasture raised meats. I saw a few documentaries on factory farming so I try not to support it as much as possible.

butcherbox.com

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We're a part of a CSA which is amazing for a variety of reasons--we get 25 weeks of weekly deliveries during the spring/summer/fall of a variety of amazing local, organic produce for $350 for the entire season, and the farmer also has a small number of cows and pigs and chickens and you can also purchase eggs with the weekly deliveries (I believe they're $5 per dozen) and each winter offers grass fed cow share and a pastured hog for purchase to the shareholders from the previous year--we usually buy in for 1/4 of the cow and 1/2 the hog each year, and if you can afford the initial money up front it is SUCH a better deal. This year, we got about 100 pounds of pork for around $200, and about 75 pounds of beef for about $300 and that will make a significant dent in what we need to purchase for most of the next year (we're a family of five--a 13 year old boy, 10 year old girl, young toddler boy, and my husband and myself). If you just google your city and "CSA" you should turn up some contacts for ones near you if it's something you want to explore.

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