Paleo diet but it's natural nature food products label labelling

But it’s natural!

If you’ve strayed from the perimeter of your local grocery store, you can’t have missed the endless products screaming at you that they are “natural”. The labels often heavily feature the colour green, which we associate with nature, and may even show images of endless fields in perfect sunsets. Often the packaging will be brown and have a recycled feel – it’s natural after all. Buy it! Buy it!

But what does natural actually mean? If something is natural, it has to be good for you, right? My view of “natural” is something that hasn’t been altered at all and is entirely in its natural state, like an organic banana. A survey last year by the Consumer Reports National Research Centre found that 60% of respondents actively looked out for “natural” labels, with 66% of those people believing it meant the product contained no artificial ingredients, no pesticides and no genetically modified organisms. Surely that’s a pretty reasonable understanding of a “natural” food?
Paleo diet but it's natural nature food products label labelling
Alarmingly there are no official definitions about what “natural” means on food labels, nor are there any Australian food standards governing how and when the term may be used.

Looking in my local Coles supermarket, I found a Jalna Fat Free Natural Yoghurt, in which the first two ingredients are “Pasteurised Skim Milk and Non-fat milk solids”. I also found a Natural Muesli by The Muesli Company, which contains Preservative 220, rolled oats and dried fruits (processes which surely take the raw ingredients away from their original, natural state?).

Another favourite, is Water Thins Natural Mini Crispbread. The ingredients… Wheat Flour, Cheese Powder [Milk Solids, Cheese Solids (Milk, Salt, Starter Culture, Enzymes), Mineral Salts (339, 331), Salt, Food Acid (330)], Salt, Vegetable Oil, Raising Agents (500), Rye Flavour. Salt? Perhaps the salt is natural? And how about Natural Glace Cherries? Guess what they contain? Cherries (60%), Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Food Acid (330), Natural Flavour, Natural Colour (163), Preservatives [202, 211, 220 (contains sulphites)]. So, I suppose they’re 60% natural…

None of the products I’d found mentioned being organic (which is what I’d consider natural) – and as for processed ingredients, additives, flavourings and preservatives, “natural” seems to be a total farce.

So what’s the answer? Well – as I’ve spoken about before – if it has a label, it’s far less likely to be natural and healthy than something with no label. And if the label makes health claims, you should probably not buy it.

What would you expect a “natural” food label to mean? Do you think there should be more rules about the labels food manufacturers are allowed to put on their products?

Can you eat paleo healthily on a budget finances-min

Can you eat healthily on a budget?

I wrote the other day about my $50 weekly food budget – and how hyper aware I’ve become about how much food costs.  I’m only shopping for one, I work from home, love cooking and have time to shop around. How hard must if be for families on tight budgets to eat well?

Can you eat paleo healthily on a budget finances-min

I really struck me how difficult it must be for families when I saw this in my local Aldi store:

Aldi-cheap-pizza-paleo-network-food
That’s just $3 for a big pizza. Assuming you’d need two to feed a family of four that’s $1.50 per person for dinner. Preparation time is zero and cooking time less than 20 minutes.

Contrast this with a healthy paleo meal? Let’s say a large free range chicken: $12, some steamed kale $5 and spinach $3 and some $4 cauliflower made into rice. That’s $24 – so $6 a head. For families living on tight budgets there’s a huge difference between spending $6 on dinner and spending $24.

And how about lunch? You can buy an entire loaf of bread for about 85 cents and some cheap processed meat for about $3. That’s a cheap lunch, well under a dollar a head. Contrast that with a typical paleo lunch – that wouldn’t even cover a decent cut of meat, never mind salad or veggies.

As for breakfast I doubt anyone could make an free-range egg and veggie omelette for less than the $2.2o an entire box of cornflakes costs.

So what’s the answer?

Wouldn’t it be good if fresh whole food could be subsidised? Unfortunately I can’t see how that could ever be implemented, since everyone has such wildly different ideas about exactly what is healthy and what isn’t.

Do you think families struggling to make ends meet are priced out of eating healthily? What do you think the answer is?

Is your butcher keeping a secret from you

Is your butcher keeping a secret from you?

If your local butcher is anything like mine, they might have a big secret…

Is your butcher keeping a secret from you

Since I moved out of Sydney last year, I’ve struggled to find a good butcher. I used to have an amazing organic butcher just a short walk from my house. My butcher would make me up paleo sausages to my exact requirements (pork and apple were my favourites), order fresh turkey for me (something I find surprisingly difficult to find in Australia) and always had super cheap grass-fed bones I could use for making bone broths.

I’ve not seen words like “grass-fed”, “pasture-raised” or even “gluten-free” at all in my new local shops. It’s not really practical to buy meat in the city and travel back home with it – and I don’t yet have a big enough freezer to buy half a cow from a local farmer. So what’s girl to do?

I’m ashamed to say I’ve been walking past my local butcher for quite a few months without stopping. I glanced at the display and made a lot of assumptions.

Well yesterday, I stopped.

I’ve taken to roasting a piece of pork rind in the oven and filling the tray with veggies to roast in the delicious fat (try it!). Pork rind is really cheap (in keeping with my $50 budget challenge) and using good quality pork it’s a great fat source. Anyway, I couldn’t find any pork rind, so stopped to have a chat with the butcher.

I asked her if they ever get in any grass-fed meat, or can order some – she told me that all of their meat is grass-fed! She pointed to an old black and white photo behind the counter, and explained that her grandfather was in the photo – and that they’ve been buying all their meat from the same local farm for the last three generations. It’s all naturally raised. Could she make me some gluten-free sausages? All of her sausages are gluten-free – she just never uses words like gluten-free or grass-fed because she’s found those words put people off!

What a revelation!

I bought two giant pieces of pork rind for just $3 and am so pleased to finally have a local butcher again.

So if you’ve not found anywhere locally, my advice is this – speak to your butcher. Chances are they too don’t realise how much of a good marketing feature their naturally raised, organic, grass-fed meat is!

Would love to know if you’ve had a similar experience with your butcher too?

My $50 paleo budget challenge

My $50 weekly paleo budget challenge

When I returned from my trip overseas, I went to my local Coles grocery store to get a few essentials to keep me going. I came out with one bag and $52 worse off. All I bought was a few veggies and some meat.

Now I’m working for myself (more on this soon) something has to change! It’s important to me to continue eating well, but I’ve got to cut my food costs. I’ve therefore spent the last few weeks doing a $50 weekly food challenge. Where I live in Australia, this is quite a challenge. Food is expensive here. Before I started this challenge I’m ashamed to say I had no idea how much different vegetables and cuts of meat cost.

My $50 paleo budget challenge

It’s not been easy, but I’ve managed to stick $50 a week – and I’ve kept it paleo. Here’s what I’ve been doing:

Shopping around

I’m lucky to live near an independent greengrocers, a butcher, an Aldi and a Coles supermarket. When I worked in the corporate world I would do almost all of my shopping in Coles because it was quick and easy. Now I incorporate all three in my daily morning walk, so I can check out the prices and see what’s in season and on special offer. As I walk, I don’t buy much each time I go and I make sure I’m always getting the best price. It’s amazed me how much prices differ for the exact same vegetables – perhaps even from the same farm! For example I can get a whole cauliflower for $2 from the greengrocer. Or spend $3.98 on a cauliflower at Coles.

Look for specials

I’ve noticed every few days there are different specials in my local Coles. This week for example, Broccoli is on sale for $1.oo a kilo (2.2 pounds). It would normally be about $3 a kilo – so this is incredibly cheap. I therefore have a fridge full of broccoli at the moment – and am on the look out for broccoli recipes to use it all in! I always keep my meal plans flexible enough to take advantage of good deals like this.

Broccoli-50-dollar-paleo-diet-budget-challenge

Buy reduced to clear

I’ve also noticed everywhere I shop has reduced produce every day. I’ve got some great deals on packets of vegetables on their “use by” date and significant reductions on meat too.  I cook fresh everyday, so it makes no difference whatsoever if it’s close to the use by date.

Buy different cuts of meat

I used to buy (what I now realise are) premium cuts of meat and poultry. I’d spend $10 buying two chicken breasts – I now buy a whole chicken for about the same. Not only do I get two chicken breasts, but I get the rest of the bird – and a couple of extra meals out of it for free. It’s so easy to roast a chicken.

Buy nutrient dense

With $50 to spend I don’t bother buying things like lettuce, which I don’t consider very nutrient dense or filling. Instead I’d rather buy veggies like kale and spinach that give far more nutrients per cent.

Buy seasonal

I used to buy avocados all the time. I didn’t really look at the price. They’re $2.98 EACH! I don’t buy avocados at the moment. As soon as they are in season and the prices become more sensible, I’ll add them back into my diet.

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Try a different way

I’ve also started doing a few things differently. Instead of buying expensive dark chocolate, I buy a few grapes when they’re on special and freeze them (if you’ve not tried frozen grapes – do this!). Instead of using coconut oil to roast veggies in or cook a stir fry with, I use the fat I get from the meat I cook.

Don’t compromise

I’d save so much money if I bought barn eggs and cheap ground mince meat. But there are some things I won’t compromise on – I won’t buy ground meat or non free-range chicken or eggs. I’d love to buy all of my vegetables organic, but I just couldn’t do that for under $50 a week unfortunately.

Stretch everything

Everything I buy, I try to stretch as far as I can. The chicken I roast will do several meals, then the bones will make a stock. I add yesterdays stir fry leftovers to some eggs to make a frittata for breakfast. I make my extra veggies into a soup and freeze it in batches for later.

I’d love to hear any tips you have for getting more out of my $50 weekly food budget. How much do you spend on food each week? I’d love to hear your views in the comments below.

your paleo wishlist $200 gift vouchers

If you had $2000 to spend on paleo things – what would you buy?

What would you buy if you were given $2000 to spend on your paleo lifestyle?

Purely hypothetical, but let’s say you were given $2000 to spend on Amazon. On yourself. You’ve got half an hour to choose, before the offer expires. All those gadgets and books you’d love, but could never justify.

Instead of buying the entry model food processor, you could get the top of the range model. Instead of buying one good knife, you could buy the whole set.

your paleo wishlist $200 gift vouchers

What’s on my list?

Cooking Equipment:

A Vitamix Blender

So I’ve got a big standard food processor, but wouldn’t you just love your very own vitamix blender?

Paleo-wishlist-vitamix-blender

An Ice Cream Maker

I’d use this once in a blue moon, so I’d never be so extravagant as to buy one. But imagine the paleo ice cream you could make in one of these?

Global Knives

I’ve heard good things about these knives, so I’d make sure I invested in a good set. I’m sure they’d last a lot longer than the cheap knives I have in my kitchen!

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Slow Cooker/ CrockPot

When I bought mine, I didn’t give any thought to the size – and I’ve always been so disappointed with how small mine is. If I’m going to use it, why not make enough for the freezer, instead of just that night’s dinner?! So high on my list would be a much bigger model.

Fitness

Pull Up Bars

I really want to be able to master pull ups. If I had a pull up bar attached to my ceiling, I like to think I’d practice every time I walked by!

Pull up bar paleo wishlist

Kettlebells

Likewise I’d love my own set of kettlebells

Lifestyle

Grounding Mat

Now this might sound a little odd, but I’d also buy a grounding mat/ earthing sheet to make sure I always had a connection to the earth, even inside my house. Got to be a good thing for days when you’re stuck indoors

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

This might seem a little odd too, but I’m trying hared to reduce my exposure to blue light after sunset. This should really help to regulate circadian rhythm and improve sleep. As much as I try, it’s so hard to minimise all blue light – especially living in a built up area. Special orange lenses glasses like this could make a big difference.

Blue light blocking glasses

Books

There are so many paleo related books on the market at the moment (compared to only two or three a few years ago!), so I’d definitely order a few I’ve not yet read.

You can see the rest of my wishlist here

I’d love to see what you’d buy if you were given a $2000 Amazon voucher. So tell me in the comments – what would you buy?!

Paleo diet aldi shopping list-min

My Aldi paleo shopping list

I have a confession… I don’t grow all of my own food or shop exclusively from farmers markets, organic butchers and fishmongers. With a long commute and long hours, I often just don’t have the time to source my food in the way I’d like. Believe it or not, I’ve found Aldi can be a fairly good place to buy Paleo friendly food. Whilst it’s clearly not the same as knowing the farm(er) your food came from, I think it can be a good compromise. It also tends to be far cheaper than my other local supermarket options (i.e. Coles and Woolworths).

I thought I’d share with you my Aldi paleo picks…

Meat & Poultry

Aldi sell “Highland Park” beef – it’s grass-fed! We like grass-fed! As you know, I don’t buy mince/ ground beef, but I have tried the Highland Park Steaks ($17.99 – $25.99/kg depending on the cut)

They also stock Willowton free range chicken  (thighs, breast and drumsticks)

Butter

Butter is another good buy (but is it paleo?) as Aldi have an organic butter for under $3 a pack

Aldi organic salted butter paleo

Nuts

Nuts are another staple that I use just for a snack, in a no-oatmeal or occasionally for a bit of paleo baking. I’ve seen the Forresters brand of natural almonds and also raw walnuts in my local Aldi.

Eggs

I’ve not actually tried Aldi’s eggs yet, but they do sell free range eggs.

Oil

Whilst I’ve never seen coconut oil in Aldi, they do have an Australian olive oil that seems quite good for just under $5.

Aldi Australian organic olive oil paleo

Berries

My final paleo in a pinch purchase at Aldi is frozen berries (Sweet Haven brand), which are handy to keep in the freezer for smoothies or even a quick ice cream.

Have you tried any paleo friendly foods from Aldi? What did you think?

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iherb paleo supplies discount coupon

Where Do You Get Your Paleo Supplies From?

Whilst the main elements of a Paleo diet are fresh, local and seasonal – such as meat and vegetables, there are a few important ingredients and supplies that aren’t so easy to find. I used to get these items from health food shops, but I found they could be really expensive, there wasn’t much choice – and they were heavy to carry home!

I now do the non-fresh part of my Paleo shopping almost all online. My favourite supplier is iherb, as I’ve found them to be the cheapest, they have a large range – and they deliver Worldwide (even to Australia!) quickly and cheaply.

Iherb have just reduced their delivery charge to Australia – it’s now only $10 on orders over $60. They also offer $10 off your first order over $40 – or $5 discount on smaller orders. Definitely the cheapest way to stock up on Coconut Oil and fill your Paleo pantry!

These are the items on my non-fresh Paleo shopping list

Coconut Oil

No Paleo kitchen is complete without Coconut Oil! I go straight for the largest containers as it doesn’t last long. I really like this huge container of Nutiva Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I also have a smaller jar of Artisana Organic Extra Virgin Raw Coconut Oil in my pantry.

Coconut Aminos

I love Coconut Aminos and use it regularly, exactly as you might use Soy Sauce, for instance in sauces and to marinade meat.

Coconut Butter/ Manna

I first read about these products on US websites; but couldn’t find them in Australian stores.

Paleo Baking

I’ve just got a new Paleo recipe book “Paleo Indulgences”, with lots of recipes for occasional treats and special occasions. Quite a few of the ingredients I didn’t have, so I have just ordered from iherb.

Coconut Crystals

I’ve just ordered these Coconut Crystals as a few of the recipes call for them.

Coconut Nectar

Similarly a few recipes call for Coconut Nectar, so I’m eagerly awaiting delivery of these too

Arrowroot Starch

Coconut Flour

Almond Flour

Shredded Coconut

Coconut Flakes

Flax Meal

Hazelnut Flour

Sunflower Seed Butter

Almond Butter

Yeast

Salt

I tend alternate between Celtic sea salt and pink Himalayan sea salt.

Herbs and Spices

I also have to stock up on the herbs and spices that I use regularly in my cooking. I generally use a lot of turmericParsleyGingerNutmeggarlic powdercurry powderoreganocuminbasil and cinnamon

Kelp Noodles

A recent addition to my cooking is kelp noodles as a great pasta alternative.

Supplements

Depending on time of the year and nutrition, there are a few supplements I sometimes take.

Vitamin D

Many of the Vitamin D3 capsules sold are in very small doses – instead of taking several, I prefer to take one capsule at a higher IU

Omega 3

Treats

After reading on so many American Paleo sites about Larabars, I’ve also tried some from iherb, for an occasional treat!

Toiletries

Other than food, I also order paraben-free shampoo online as many of the brands I find in shops locally have lots of undesirable ingredients.

Which non-fresh Paleo supplies do you regularly buy? Where do you source your Paleo supplies from? Are there any items you have trouble finding locally?

Butter guilt trip paleo diet-min

Butter Guilt Trip

Here in Australia a commercial that I find particularly irritating, is for a brand of Margarine, MeadowLea.  Their advert is centred on concerned mothers promising to switch from butter to margarine.  If the product was pixelated out and the words replaced, you could easily think the mothers were pledging to give up hard drugs for the sake of their families – such is butter vilified in the advert.

The MeadowLea website explains how Saturated Fats are bad fats which increase cholesterol in the blood and should be limited.  They list fatty meats, butter, chicken skin, cream, full cream milk, cheese, coconut oil and palm oil in the danger category.  (I wonder how much longer until the lipid hypothesis is finally laid to rest?)

The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated categories – which they say can be included in “everyday healthy eating”, include margarine spreads, canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil.  So basically they pretty much recommend the complete reverse to Paleo, as you’d expect from a company making money from selling margarine.

Think of the Children!

Their new campaign is to encourage Australian families to improve their diet by swapping butter for (their brand of) margarine – and once enough people make the pledge* they will plant seed gardens in children’s hospitals in Australia.

From a corporate perspective, it’s actually a pretty smart campaign.  They know mothers tend to procure the families groceries and therefore control the family diet.  They also know mothers are concerned about their families’ health.  Tying the campaign in with children’s hospital almost puts an extra pressure on mothers; it almost feels as though if families don’t stop eating butter, they won’t be helping out children’s hospitals – how selfish.  I also think tying the campaign in with hospitals will make people subconsciously associate their choice of butter or margarine, with ill health – particularly the ill health of children.  “Swap butter for margarine and we’ll build an animal rescue centre” just wouldn’t have the same emotional pull, would it?

Imagine the outcry if a cigarette company promised to build hospital wards, if enough people converted their families from non-smokers to smokers?  Surely there is enough information in the public domain now, for substantial objection to the health claims of a margarine manufacturer?  Yet they are allowed to guilt-trip mothers into making ill-informed decisions into the nutrition of their families.

Butter guilt trip paleo diet-min

 Mainly Natural Sources

In case you wondered, the ingredients for MeadlowLea are:

Vegetable Oils 65% (containing 52% Canola & Sunflower Oil), water, salt, <1% (emulsifiers (soy lecithin, 471), preservative (202), food acid (lactic)), milk solids, maltodextrin, natural colour (beta-carotene), vitamins A & D, flavour.

I’m very curious as to what the mysterious 13% of vegetable oils is, that isn’t listed?  Their site and labelling seem very coy on this.  But hey, “99% of the ingredients in MeadowLea are from natural sources” – so it must be good!  Using that logic, it must be positively healthy to add Petroleum to lunch, given that it’s a natural product from natural sources.

The typical ingredients in butter:

Cream, water.

People only seem to eat margarine because they buy into the health claims – I’m yet to hear of anyone who actually prefers the taste.  Once the mainstream come to accept they’ve been mislead on fats, I can’t see how companies making products like margarine will be able to survive.  Campaigns like this are perhaps an inevitable part of the companies’ frantic journey through the unwinding of the lipid hypothesis.

Have you seen the advert yet?  Did you feel similarly irritated by it?

*If you happen to look at their website and see the number of people who have made the promise, reduce the number by one.  I accidently clicked the promise button – and they don’t have a button for un-promise’s.  As much as I don’t like breaking promises, this is one I will take pride in breaking – starting with lots of animal fat for dinner.
Is this paleo friendly ingredients-min

Is It Paleo?

I’m sure, like me, you’ve seen lots of question on Paleo forums, asking if a particular processed food is Paleo.  Perhaps friends, inspired by your positive changes, are making similar nutritional moves themselves –asking for your guidance on what is and isn’t “Paleo” along the way.

Is this paleo friendly ingredients-min

A Return to SAD Foods?

The food raising the question generally seems to be some kind of snack or sauce, perhaps a nod towards the person’s previous SAD diet.  Often the first ingredient is arguably “Paleo”, perhaps some kind of meat, vegetable – or as it often the case in processed foods – water.  But the further down the list you go, the ingredients become less and less agreeable.  There is often some form of sugar or sweeteners, preservatives, stabilisers, my favourite “natural flavours” – which really could mean just about anything  – and perhaps the catch all “spices”.  So maybe there isn’t a lot of wheat; but not a lot is still some wheat!  Things like gluten seem to linger in the body for a long time, so complete abstinence makes a lot of sense – there’s no such thing as low-gluten.

The other issue is that nutritional information panels don’t display the quality of the ingredients.  If they don’t specify that the beef is organic and grass-fed – I think we can assume it almost certainly is not.  Would you have bought the ingredients yourself – and if not, why are they suddenly acceptable just because they’re in a packet or bottle?

Unless you’ve made something, from ingredients you’ve sourced and understand; can you ever really know what you’re eating?

No Time?

Processed foods are, no doubt, easier, quicker and cheaper.  That’s surely part of the reason we’re in this nutritional mess in the first place.  As with lots of things in life, the best things generally aren’t the easiest things!  Yes, you can buy mayonnaise for a few dollars and use it instantly – or you can invest time and make your own Paleo Mayonnaise knowing exactly what you’re eating – and what you’re not.  I know which I’d rather.

I often wonder whether the person asking the question is hoping to gain approval to revert, at least in part, to their old pre-Paleo ways.  Whilst some processed foods are clearly a lot more Paleo-friendly than others, I do wonder where to draw the line.  If you “allow” a mass-produced tomato sauce with a few dubious ingredients – perhaps that canned chicken soup doesn’t look so bad?

So, is it Paleo?

Almost everything I buy doesn’t have a nutritional label.  Meat from the butcher, eggs and vegetables generally don’t come in packets with nutritional information – and if they do, they are the only ingredient – or I don’t buy it.  The only exceptions in my supermarket trolley that I can think of are coconut milk (if I could grow my own, I would!) and nut butters, which I very rarely use.

As a general rule, I think it’s fair to say; if you have to ask, it isn’t Paleo!

Are there some border-line foods that you consider Paleo?  What do you buy that has an ingredients list?

Trolley spying Supermarket shopping groceries coles woolworths aldi paleo diet-min

Trolley Spying

When I go food shopping, I’m always really interested the see what other people have in their trolleys.  Likewise, I get some funny looks, especially when I buy lots of red meat, eggs and coconut milk.  I can just see the people wondering what I’m going to do with it all.  Surely she can’t be going to eat all those foods we’re constantly told are bad, by herself?

People are generally quick to say how healthily they eat, but when you see their trolley, surely you are seeing what they actually eat, rather than what they’d like you to think they eat.

Trolleys full of processed junk food bother me far less; at least the people pushing those trolleys, on some level, know they have a bad diet.  What bothers me more is the trolleys I see full of “healthy” foods.  The type of “healthy foods” I wouldn’t go near.

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A very sad, un-Primal grocery trolley

I see so many trolleys full of low fat, highly processed products (I can’t bring myself to call them food).  Trolleys full of whole grains, as they are good for us, right?  Diet drinks with ingredients I can’t pronounce.  Spray on “vegetable” oils, to make sure as little fat as possible contributes to dinner.  Processed low fat sauces to smother wholegrain pasta with.  “Healthy” reduced fat chips, presumably to deal with the blood sugar crash that comes after eating the pasta.  Huge bottles of orange juice.  Skim milk to pour over the healthy low fat breakfast cereal.  Margarine instead of butter, Weight Watchers low fat processed sweets to ensure there is never any need to go over three hours without eating.

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Pasta Sauce and Processed Sauce, yum yum.

I wonder, do people really think these “healthy” low fat processed products taste nice?  I strongly suspect they are eaten for the perceived health benefits, not because they taste nice.  My Paleo diet not only tastes amazing, but it is super healthy too.

This is my recent trolley.  I generally buy all of my meat from my wonderful local organic butcher, so I usually just buy some veggies, fruit for my house-mate to take to work (I’m only eating fruit once or twice a week at the moment), coconut milk, almond butter (for use in an occasional NoOatmeal) and I sometimes buy nuts depending on which recipes are on my menu plan that week.

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My recent paleo groceries

Are you guilty of trolley spying too?  Are you frequently shocked by what some other shoppers fill their trolleys with?  Do you get disapproving looks at your Paleo trolley too?

Trolley spying Supermarket shopping groceries coles woolworths aldi paleo diet-min