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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.

Avocado-expensive-50-dollar-paleo-diet-budget-challenge

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.

Whole 30 paleo network sq-min

Whole 30 – Halfway Through

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen that I’m currently in the middle (day 18, to be precise) of a Whole30.

Whole 30 paleo network-min

So, what is a Whole30?

The Whole 30 is a strict 30 day Paleo program, which is designed to remove all inflammation causing foods for a 30 day period.  This is very much in line with the 30-day trial Robb Wolf suggests.  At the end of the 30-days the idea is to evaluate how you look, feel and perform – compared to how you looked, felt and performed on day -1.  You can then slowly start to reintroduce other foods, if you wish to do so, to gain a better understanding of how your body reacts to specific foods.  In the 30-day program you eat good quality, lean meat, fish, eggs, seasonal fruit & vegetables as well as fat sources such as coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.  Strictly off limits are dairy, grains, legumes – and of course all processed foods and alcohol.

How to go about it?

The weekend before I started my 30-days, I got organised.  I went through hundreds of recipes and gave them the Whole30 treatment.  There are differing degrees of Paleoness, meaning some recipes have dairy and sweeteners which aren’t allowed for this period.  Once I had a collection of recipes for meals and snacks selected, I then went through the ingredients, one by one and compiled a huge shopping list – right down to the herbs and spices I didn’t already have.  I assigned meals for the week ahead and bought everything I’d need.  I can’t stress enough how much easier this made it!

What is a typical day’s menu?

Take today for example.  Breakfast was (organic) bacon & (omega 3 enriched organic) eggs cooked in coconut oil.  Lunch was a small bowl of leftover chicken curry cooked in coconut milk – and dinner today will be the slow cooked lamb that I hope is currently cooking itself in my slow cooker at home!  Probably under 20 minutes of cooking & preparation time required today for three completely different meals.

The verdict so far?

I’d been about 90% Paleo before this recent Whole30 for a long time, so the biggest change for me has been cutting out dairy.  Not having to make huge dietary changes has meant I haven’t had “carb flu” which a lot of people seem to go through.  It has made me realise I just don’t need the dairy!  Before starting, I’d been convinced I’d go back onto dairy once the 30-days were up.  Now however, I just can’t see why I’d do that.  Dairy gave me no nutritional benefit that I don’t get elsewhere in my diet, and I’m become increasingly convinced that dairy and I might not be so compatible.  I’m always in a happy mood, but this has definitely been turned up a notch in the last 18 days.  I’m also feeling a lot less tired – and for the first time since I can remember I’ve started to wake up before my alarm clock!  This seems to have kick started my sleeping patterns too, as I’m now actually tired at bedtime.  Win win!  I’ll report back on my progress at the end of the 30 days, but more interestingly my housemate who has been doing this Whole30 with me, from a completely different way of eating!

Are you doing a Whole30 too?  I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences below