How can you eat Paleo on a budget?

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I’ve covered this topic once already in my Priorities for Eating Paleo on a Budget post. And Robb Wolf has a post on his site about it. And I’ve covered this in my book Practical Paleo,
in a bit more detail, but it seems we can never share enough
information and tips for making eating real, whole foods easier for as
many people as possible. So, in light of a ton of new readers hitting
the blog, I decided to share with you some more tips of my own, as well
as many user-contributed tips for eating Paleo on a budget.

Some of these tips are directly grocery-shopping money-savers, while
others are going to challenge you to rearrange your budgeting priorities
to allow for more dollars towards food each week and month. I realize
that many of you are not in a position to make those changes – and those
points are not directed at you.

Buy locally and in-season.

Food that you buy from a local farmer is fresher, and generally less
expensive since there are no additional transport charges that are
normally factored in for items like fresh produce from other countries
(kiwis from New Zealand, avocados from Mexico, etc.). Additionally, if
you can buy directly from the farmer outside of a farmers’ market,
you’ll likely get the best deal possible since there is no middle-man at
all. Farmers’ markets are often pricey to sell at, so be aware of this
when you baulk at prices of items and try to buy directly as often as
possible. I know that, for example, my favorite farmers’ market in San
Francisco (CUESA at the Ferry Building) carries a hefty fee for each
vendor, but the crowd is huge and I’m sure they all sell very well each
week. On the other hand, my tiny market here in West Caldwell, NJ likely
doesn’t cost as much for the vendors, consists of maybe 3-5 tents and
is unreliably stocked with a variety of foods. Just this week my
favorite meat vendor (and the only one there) was not present. This is a
huge bummer but know which farms normally attend to make the most of
your trip.

Click here to find out what’s seasonal in your area.

Buy larger, less popular cuts that work well when made in bulk, as roasts, or in braised/slow-cooker recipes.

This often seems to make people feel like they’re buying something
“less-than” since it’s not a steak, but the reality is that less
expensive cuts of meat that are slow-cooked are not only some of the
best tasting, but also some of the healthiest. Cooking foods at lower temperatures
generally makes them easier to digest, which is also a very good thing.
And, I’m a huge fan of meatballs and burgers, as evidenced as well by
recipes within Practical Paleo,
so go on ahead and get into some ground meat, will ya? I eat ground
meat very often myself – probably more so than any whole cuts.

Recipes: Braised Beef Shanks, Lamb Osso Buco, Greek Style Lamb Meatballs
Click here to find out which cuts are less expensive than others. 

Buy in bulk when items are on sale.

This is especially true for meats and fats like grass-fed butter and coconut oil. Whether it’s via an online merchant like Tropical Traditions or US Wellness Meats,
or in stores like Whole Foods where grass-fed ground beef often goes on
a pretty hefty sale, this tactic is a great one all around. I actually
encourage people to buy meat in bulk even if they aren’t as budget savvy
because it doesn’t take much space to store it if you invest just a
little bit of money in a good drop or chest freezer. You can often find a
freezer via a site like Craigslist
locally, but stores like Best Buy also sell new ones for pretty
reasonable prices considering how much money you’ll save on meat when
you can purchase more than a few pounds at a time. I recently bought
several pounds of grass-fed butter from Whole Foods when it was on sale
for $1 off each, then froze it for later when I was ready to clarify it.
This approach also guarantees you’ll have meat and quality fats on-hand
at all times.

Cook in bulk so that what you buy in bulk is not wasted.

Many of you with busy lives and families know how hard it can be to
cook an entire meal from scratch for a family every night of the week.
When you buy in bulk, and cook in bulk, you guarantee you’re using up
everything you purchased, rather than letting any go to waste. Be sure
to stock up on freezer and oven-safe containers that are durable and useful in reheating in the oven or toting to work.

Find a local pasture-raised animal farmer, become his/her friend, and go in on meat shares with friends and neighbors.

This is hands-down the best way to purchase meat. It’s the most
cost-effective and also yields the highest quality food. If you aren’t
going to grow it yourself, this is your next best bet! It’s also always
less expensive to buy directly than to have any sort of middle-man
involved. This approach also requires an extra freezer as you’ll not
only be getting a lot of meat at once, but often your farmer will freeze it before it even gets to you to preserve its freshness.

Check out eatwild.com for locally raised meat sourcing.

Buy and prepare organ meats.

They’re often less expensive since most people are not buying them
and are extremely nutrient dense. If you really want to get the most
nutrient-density-bang-for-your-buck, organ meats are where it’s at!
Liver, heart, kidneys, brain, sweetbreads, adrenals, etc. You name it,
they’re almost always richer in micronutrients than our old favorite:
muscle meat.

Not sure how to cook organ meats? Here are some recipes
from a few trusted Paleo chefs in the blog-o-sphere as well as one of my
own:

Chicken Liver Paté (Balanced Bites)
Beef liver and onion meatballs
(The Food Lovers Kitchen)
A variety of organ meat recipes and 6 sneaky ways to work offal into your diet (Mark’s Daily Apple)
A ton of additional resources from Mark’s Daily Apple on organ meats can be found here and here.

Make bone broth.

If you’re looking for amazing minerals in your food, broth made from
bones (or even from some veggies if that’s your taste) will extract as
many minerals from the food as possible. Minerals don’t get destroyed
when cooked but they will transfer to the water to make the broth an
extremely cost-effective, nutrient-dense food. You can cook bones until
they are gone if you want to make the absolute most of them! This is
just another part of the ultimate nose-to-tail dining experience to
enjoy alongside muscle meats and organ meats.

Here’s my slow0-cooker Mineral-Rich Bone Broth, and here’s a broth recipe using a pressure cooker from Nom Nom Paleo.

Ferment your own sauerkraut (or other food items).

Fermented foods tend to be among some of the more expensive in the
grocery store, but are some of the cheapest to make at home from very
few ingredients. You can get a huge nutritional bang-for-your-buck by
making your own sauerkraut, kombucha, or even fermented pickles.

I’ll be writing a lot more about kombucha and other fermented
goodies soon, but for now check out these at-home,
good-bacteria-growing recipes:

Raw Sauerkraut (Balanced Bites)
Fermented Dill Pickles (The Food Lovers Kitchen)
Kombucha: Scoby Do,  DIY Kombucha, Phase 2 (First Comes Health)
How to Make Kefir (Cheeseslave)

Re-prioritize how you spend your money.

The constant struggle to be able to spend more money on food may
ultimately come down to priorities. Do you have a nice car? A big home?
An extensive cable TV package? What about a fancy coffee habit? Where
are you spending your money that does not directly and positively impact
your physical and emotional health that could be otherwise directed
into it? Challenge yourself to look at your finances and see where you
spend more than is really necessary, and perhaps a few dollars each week
will reveal themselves as available for higher quality food.

And here are more tips from my readers:

  1. Use local butcher ads to make your meal plan.
  2. Buy pantry items (like nut flours) in bulk to save.
  3. Bake items using more “exotic ingredients” (like above-mentioned nut flours) less often.
  4. Grow a garden.
  5. Farmers markets!
  6. Shop at Costco.
  7. Fast.
  8. Roasted chicken = a few meals worth of meat, plus bones to make bone broth. All for around $12.
  9. Eat organic vegetables only from the list of The Dirty Dozen.
  10. Avoid convenience, pre-cut, and prepared foods.
  11. Don’t waste parts of vegetables: use stalks of broccoli to make slaw, tops of beets or carrots can be juiced or used in broths.
  12. Keep backyard chickens.
  13. Hunt your own meat.

View a complete user-generated list of Paleo budgeting tips via Facebook here.

What are your favorite money-saving tips? If you’d like to have your
family (or self) featured in an upcoming blog post on how to budget for a
family/single person/couple while eating Paleo, contact me here.

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