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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?

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.

12 Ways to Eat Paleo on a Budget primal diet ideas suggestions-min

12 Ways to Eat Paleo on a Budget

It seems to be a common belief that eating a Paleo diet is expensive.  It definitely can be costly, but there are many ways you can eat good quality Paleo foods, without spending a fortune.  There’s also the consideration of your future healthcare costs – I like to see my Paleo nutrition as an investment in my lifelong health (not to mention the cost of sick days I’ve not required). So, doing Paleo on a Budget?

These are a few ways I’ve found to keep it Paleo – and economical.

1. Buy less popular cuts of meat.

The popular cuts are expensive because everyone wants them.  White meats like chicken breast and tender meat (from the parts of the animal that do little work) such as loin and fillet are the most expensive, as they can be cooked quickly with good results.

Whilst a lot of the cheaper cuts could be tough (if you cooked them in the same way as the expensive meats), when you change how you cook you can make the meat amazingly tender and juicy.  Slow cooking is a great way to cook these types of cuts, without making them tough and dry.  It almost seems a waste to make casseroles and stews without using mutton, shoulder, brisket, chuck, blade, skirt or topside steak!  Most of the animals we eat can (and should) be eaten nose to tail – even the bones are great to make bone broths and stocks with.

Chicken Necks paleo on a budget-min

Chicken necks – a cheap option

My butcher doesn’t display the less popular cuts, but can always provide me with inexpensive cuts like forequarter chops, pork hock, beef and pork cheeks and organ meats like liver and heart.  I’ve not yet been brave enough, but brains, onglet (from inside a cows ribcage), pigs trotters and tripe are also used in recipes and have great nutritional profiles!  I get bones for next to nothing from my butcher.  I’ve also found kangaroo to be a really cheap meat here in Australia.

2.       Move away from the supermarket/ grocery store

Whilst it’s definitely quicker and easier to get everything you need from under one roof, it is rarely the cheapest option.  They are less likely to have the cheaper, more unusual cuts of meat and non-uniform vegetables – and you’re not likely to have much idea where to produce came from.  Where they may sell some items at very cheap, competitive prices – often the price reflects the quality.  Look to butchers, greengrocers, farms, health food stores, online stores and farmers markets.

3.       Research

Don’t just buy from the first place you find, ask around and find out about other local sources.  Prices vary significantly between shops/ farms/ online stores – find out which source is best for which item.  I was surprised to find a few things are actually cheaper to have shipped from America, instead of buying locally – even with the shipping fees.

4.       Buy in bulk

Big-ticket items such as coconut oil vary wildly in price, and often have sales and discounts for buying in bulk.  Look out for offers and stock up when there is a chance.  Another great saving can be had by buying large quantities of meat – such as half a cow.  If you have a freezer this will keep for a long time and you’ll have a great variety in different cuts.  You can join together with friends to save even more by sharing the meat; perhaps you can even come to an arrangement where your friends store some for you (if you don’t have a big enough freezer).  There’s also a time saving to be had as grocery trips won’t need to be so frequent with a fully stocked freezer.

5.       Buy at the end of the day

Farmers markets and stores often reduce prices significantly just before they close for the day.  If you delay your shopping you can often save a lot of money with some great bargains; just make sure you freeze or use the produce straight away before it passes its best.

6.       Buy direct

Cut out the middle man and buy directly from the farm!  There may be a CSA scheme near you, a farmers market, or a farm shop.  Not only can this be cheaper, but you’ll know exactly where your food comes from and will have a lot more confidence in the quality.

7.       Eat seasonally

If you want to eat strawberries in the middle of winter – you have to pay for it!  Keep an eye on what is in season and adjust your menus accordingly.  Not only is eating in season cheaper, the produce is likely to be local and there are many biological arguments to support only eating food that is in season.

8.       Plan your week

So much food is thrown away – a huge waste of money.  I now spend time at the weekend working out what I’m doing for the week ahead and planning what I will eat each day.  I then buy just the food I need for those meals (or plan to defrost meat from the freezer).  This has significantly reduced waste and saves a lot of time too.

9.       Be flexible

If you’d planned beef, but lamb is on special – be flexible and take advantage of the offer.  Not only will you save a lot of money, but you might also discover a great new dish you’d never have tried otherwise!

Special Offers paleo on a budget-min

10.   Make more

When I cook, I always make more than I need for one meal.  I then either eat it again for dinner the next night (or even breakfast), or freeze it ready for an instant home cooked meal in the future.

11.   Stop buying lunches and coffees

I don’t know how expensive lunches are where you live, but here in Sydney buying lunch is about $10 a day – and despite making a Paleo-friendly choice, I’m always dubious about the quality of the ingredients.  I now make lots of lunches at the weekend and bring these into work each day.  I’ve probably saved enough to buy a grass-fed cow since I’ve been doing this, as each lunch costs under $2 to make – and has far superior ingredients.

Fortunately I don’t like coffee – but I’m amazed how much people seem to spend on this each and every day, it seems like such an extravagance when they could easily make their own – or dare I suggest drink water instead (spot the non-coffee drinker)

12.   Stop eating out

Eating out is so expensive and is so often such a compromise on nutrition – particularly when you have to please non-Paleo friends.  I’ve recently been having friends over for dinner – and going to their houses for dinner.  I find this so much more enjoyable.  You get to showcase your cooking, make food that is Paleo, from great ingredients – and perhaps even demonstrate to your friends exactly what Paleo is.  Once you rotate with a few different friends you’re likely to have saved a lot of money – and probably had far more enjoyable evenings!

Do you find Paleo expensive?  What tips have you found to reduce the cost?

12 Ways to Eat Paleo on a Budget primal diet ideas suggestions-min