Paleo is about eating only the healthiest foods, which isn’t that easy for most people due to limited resources. Let’s face it, organic foods and grass-fed beef are a luxury not everyone can afford. But I am convinced that with the right amount of planning and selective shopping, everyone can eat paleo! Good health shouldn’t be limited to those who are privileged.
Personally, I started eating paleo while still in college. And let me tell you, back then my boyfriend and I lived paycheck to paycheck, unable to work full-time because of classes, and therefore limited to low-paying, part-time jobs. Eating real food was hard, let alone eating paleo! Our budget for groceries was usually around $60 a week… for 2 adults!
Nevertheless, we decided our health was more important to us, and that we needed to find ways to go paleo without breaking the bank. It was hard, but it worked. And now that we both have real jobs, the savings tricks we learned will stay with us forever, helping us manage our finances better today.
You will save a ton of money by planning every meal ahead of time. It seems like a daunting task, but if you just sit down and write it out, it can actually be fun. Find some easy and cheap paleo weeknight dinners, figure out a couple of healthy lunches, pick out some good snacks, make sure you’re covered for the entire week, and make a shopping list. Don’t buy anything else. You won’t have an excuse to waste money on junk food. Win-win!
Go to the Farmer’s Market
If you have one in your town, you’re basically good to go! Farmer’s markets are filled with locally-grown organic foods. Not only is everything cheaper because you’re not paying for cross-country transportation of the foods, but the food is also more nutrient-rich since it was most likely recently harvested.
Best things to get at a farmer’s market are vegetables, fruits, dairy (if your individual diet allows) and meats. You will find grass-fed meats and organs at the farmer’s market for much cheaper prices than you would at the grocery store.
When we decided to go paleo, we didn’t jump into it fully right away. We knew that grass-fed beef was a better option, but some weeks that was hard to afford. Instead, we tried to get as many organic vegetables as we could, and bought “regular” (aka grain-fed) meat. Other times, we did the opposite and got grass-fed meat, but stuck to “regular” veggies. We agreed that as long as we’re making improvements and getting as many healthy options as possible, we’re already doing much better than before. Even with 80% paleo food, we began feeling and looking better almost immediately.
Some things are good in bulk
Most paleo-approved foods are perishables and cannot be bought in bulk unless you plan on freezing/preserving them. However, those few ingredients that can be bought in bulk have the potential to save you a lot of money, while keeping you healthy. For example, you can buy pure olive oil in large canisters, and you’ll end up saving a bunch of money. Olive oil can last a long time, and you can always pour it into smaller containers for easier use. Some other great things you can buy in bulk to save money are: raw honey, pure maple syrup, vinegar, almond flour, flax seed, and more.
Make Your Own Stuff
Some things, such as natural pure vanilla extract, are simply expensive. Yet the imitation stuff, as you know, is filled with artificial ingredients that you don’t want in your food. My solution? Make it yourself! You’ll find that most condiments, sauces, and dressings from the store are filled with nasty ingredients, but are easy and inexpensive to make at home. Vanilla extract can be made by pouring some vodka over 2-4 vanilla beans in a jar, and letting them sit for 6 weeks. Salad dressing can be made with some olive oil, vinegar, and spices. Even mayonnaise can be made at home. You’ll end up with cheaper, cleaner, and healthier food if you make it yourself.
You’re Already Saving
You may not realize it when you’re thinking about all the organic, grass-fed, non-GMO foods that paleo encourages, that you’ll be saving money simply by cutting out all the bad stuff. Just think about this: you’re no longer buying cereals, pastas, breads, cookies, chips, snacks, sodas, or any of those other pre-packaged and overly-processed products. You’re probably no longer eating out very often either, because most restaurants use low-quality non-paleo ingredients. Instead, you’ll be allocating your money to fresh veggies, fruits, and meats, giving you so much more “health-bang” for the buck
Do you have any great budgeting tips? How do you find the money to keep your body healthy and happy? I’d love to know!