2

votes

looking for financial advice from long-time Paleo Followers

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 26, 2012 at 3:16 PM

I have been doing Paleo for over two months now and LOVE it. I love the foods and the way i feel. I understand that eating whole foods is going to be more expensive then the cheap processed stuff, but my new shopping habits are affecting my bank account big time. I would love some advice on ways to save money while shopping or ways to cut back elsewhere so I can afford to spend more on food. Thanks everyone!

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on April 27, 2012
at 02:55 AM

I agree. I get so frustrated with the notion that if we find it more experience we must be doing something wrong. Ugh. It IS more expensive, lol.

Eea6a68f5a7190d13c60e1c72417a581

(1376)

on April 26, 2012
at 09:50 PM

We spend $450 pet month for 3 people including the annual side of beef and CSA in summer. We do not eat out. I buy coconut oil online for $20 for 54 oz. Pastured eggs cost $2-2.5 from neighbors. So much depends on where you live. We are in an area with lots of sustainable farms. My top 5 value vegtables: onions, sweet potatoes, frozen spinach, brocoli, carrots. All nutritious, and $1 per lb or less in my area.

Eea6a68f5a7190d13c60e1c72417a581

(1376)

on April 26, 2012
at 09:38 PM

This. A freezer will pay for itself many times over. In addition to what rob said, we pick berries in summer, both wild and u-pick and have been given extra venison and local pork. A freezer lets you take advantage of surpluses and stay out of the store where impulse purchases cost you. Also eggs are your friend from a budget standpoint.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on April 26, 2012
at 08:29 PM

Don't know if you are lacto-paleo or not but we find that to be quite a bit more expensive. Cut out the kerrygold butter (use bacon grease), don't buy milk, leave the cheese at the store, and that knocks off a significant portion of your grocery bill. Our Whole30 was ridiculously cheaper than our normal paleo grocery bill!

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:09 PM

Do you put 1/4 of a cow in your deep freeze? Is it cut up and packaged for you??

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:07 PM

Wow Lisa! I am impressed!

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:06 PM

Where are you Ika?

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:05 PM

Lots of people don't eat fruit and veggies regularly and they call it Very Low Carb. Would it be awful to do this when your natural environment encourages this? Seems almost more paleo to follow the seasons you're experiencing.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 26, 2012
at 08:02 PM

What foods are you eating now and how do you purchase food? It might be helpful to list it out here so that we don't give you advice on something you're already doing

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:01 PM

Great question Jessica. +1

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 26, 2012
at 08:01 PM

What foods are you eating now? It might be helpful to list it out here so that we don't give you advice on something you're already doing.

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 07:56 PM

Foreveryoung, she's looking for actual advice. Not overused platitudes. No offense, but if she's Paleo the chances are she 'gets it'.

1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:16 PM

I love frozen veggies, they don't go bad and I always have options.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on April 26, 2012
at 06:30 PM

You can pay for your health now or for your sickness later.

Fc64db6a555559762432d503a1dbad19

(1478)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:51 PM

I also forgot to add that we take walks in the evening around the neighborhood. We make friends with the neighbors and trade home grown vegetables. You can also join a free cycle group where people post things they are giving away for free. If fruit is hanging over a property it is legally fair game and there are websites that post where things are hanging over peoples yards. If you are really really broke watch the documentary Dive. He has some tips for getting food from stores that they are throwing away, but is still good.

0a14995ac154eae8242b67115c9cc6c3

(158)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:49 PM

Perfect advice.

Fc64db6a555559762432d503a1dbad19

(1478)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:31 PM

we do costco too. The bear and wolf cans of wild salmon are really cheap and are great in a bind. We also buy bulk nuts, backing soda and vinegar for cleaning.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:20 PM

If you can't get much fruit and veg, make sure to eat some liver every week. It's cheap and packed with vitamins.

1ce9661622ba354c61669ffe900a01ab

(552)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:41 PM

Costco is awesome! As for meat, I only rarely eat grassfed meat as it stands anyway (just supplement with Carlson's fish oil to keep omega 3/6 ratio in check). Sam's Club is decent too (if you have those in your area of course).

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16 Answers

8
3b33c44c826a3da4af412c0c71c55f1c

(295)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:05 PM

I'm just going to share what I have been trying to do to save money. Joined a CSA for meat. I pay 90.00/month for 4 steaks, 4 pork chops, 4lbs ground beef, and 2 whole chickens. It would be only 76.00 if I did the slow cooker CSA, which is roasts/stew meat instead of steaks. If you don't have a crock pot or Sous Vide, get one and start buying the cheaper cuts of meat. You can join a veggie CSA as well (I am growing my own veggies for the first time this year, so I am not doing a veggie CSA). If you eat dairy, try to find a local source. I belong to a CSA that supplies raw milk, butter, and cheese. I only use the butter for myself and the rest is for my family. 7.00/gallon for milk, butter the same price as Kerrygold at Trader Joes.

I'm using the envelope system for my grocery budget. If you budget, you should already know what your food budget was before paleo. Take that money out in cash use it for all groceries. That will quickly force you to think harder about what you are buying and whether it's really needed. It's much more painful to hand over cash than a credit card.

I also find it helpful to shop as little as possible. The more times you go to a store, the more times you will be tempted by stuff that isn't necessary. Try going to the store only once every two weeks and MAKE A LIST. In between those big shops, you can do one little shop for fresh produce only but try to force yourself to live without things while you get used to shopping less frequently. Go to the Farmer's Market for produce, not the grocery store! It's cheaper and better quality.

Lastly, it really helps to make a meal plan for the week (or for two weeks), make your grocery list off of that, and stick to it. Having a meal plan also makes evenings a lot less stressful and hectic. If you google meal plan template you should find some free printables to help you organize your meal plan and grocery list.

4
D290734f36a9ae03e3f60e0fa088d7ed

(1304)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:08 PM

Whole Foods is great but you're right - it is super expensive. I may get a lot of flack from the paleo community for saying this, but I LOVE Costco. They have an excellent selection of fruits and vegetables. They also have an excellent selection of meat and frozen fish. In terms of meat you can get anything from beef to pork to lamb to chicken. The down side is that it will not be pastured or grass fed so you will not get the health benefits of pastured meat like the Omega 3s and vitamin K2. For fish you can find filets of wild caught salmon that are great for whipping up weeknight meals. They have huge bags of nuts, and huge containers of every variety of cheese and eggs.

You need to be careful of preservatives with a lot of their foods, but for a lot of things (eggs, meat, fish, cheese, nuts, etc) there's an argument to be made that Costco is superior to Whole Foods in every respect other than the sustainability of their products. If you want you can just throw Costco into the mix of your other shopping - buy eggs, cheese, and nuts from Costco and save Whole Foods for your red meat needs. That's pretty much what we do.

1ce9661622ba354c61669ffe900a01ab

(552)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:41 PM

Costco is awesome! As for meat, I only rarely eat grassfed meat as it stands anyway (just supplement with Carlson's fish oil to keep omega 3/6 ratio in check). Sam's Club is decent too (if you have those in your area of course).

Fc64db6a555559762432d503a1dbad19

(1478)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:31 PM

we do costco too. The bear and wolf cans of wild salmon are really cheap and are great in a bind. We also buy bulk nuts, backing soda and vinegar for cleaning.

3
26e2364f7966432bbf8acfe930583674

(460)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:11 PM

As a perpetually broke grad student, my strategy is to stock up on the basic stuff two times a year and restock on other stuff in bulk as needed.

My biannual purchases are a 5 gallon pail of coconut oil & 1/4 a cow. (about $125 & $400-$500)

My weekly or biweekly purchases are 10 lb bags of potatoes, 10 lb bags of onions & big bags of frozen veggies & flats of 5 dozen eggs.

The qualifier is that there is a start-up cost involved ($125-$150) for the chest freezer if you can't find a used one on craigslist, and upfront costs for the coconut oil and beef.

I'll go through the beef and the better part of the pail of coconut oil in about 6 months and probably spend $20 or $30 a week to keep myself in onions, veggies, potatoes, and eggs. It works out to about $200-$250 a month, which is probably 1/2 of what I was spending buying everything piecemeal every week.

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:09 PM

Do you put 1/4 of a cow in your deep freeze? Is it cut up and packaged for you??

3
Fc64db6a555559762432d503a1dbad19

(1478)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:47 PM

We cut back a lot over the last few years due to my husband and I both loosing our jobs when the company we both worked for closed its doors. The first thing we did was to get rid of the Cable. We switched to streaming netflix and internet and thats all we have. We also got a loan modification and settled with our credit card companies for 15% of what we owed and got those all paid off. We rented out our back house as well. I started making my own cleaning supplies/ soaps to save money. There are plenty of recipes on the internet for that. We dont buy clothes, we go to thrift shops or get hand me downs from friends. For a family of 4 we live off of $400 per month in food. We only buy organic and grass fed meat and fish. Here is how we do it:

1)Buy in bulk- We buy baking soda, vinegar frozen fish, canned salmon, bulk nuts, on sale and some vegetables from costco. We also are thinking of buying 1/2 a cow it works out to about $6 a llb for grass fed organic meat.

2) Once a week we buy produce from the local farmers market. I plan the meals out ahead of time so there is no waste. We also grow some vegetables in our garden and are working on increasing this amount to save even more money.

3)Limit waste- By planning the meals I limit waste. I also dehydrate or freeze food we are not going to use before they go bad. I make all of our snacks in the dehydrator as well.

4) Avoid the expensive companies- We never shop at whole foods or expensive stores, we shop around and know where the best deals are. We also look on the internet for deals on nuts,vitamins and meat.

I hope this helps. Look at your budget and seriously think about what you can cut out. You are the only one who knows this.

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:07 PM

Wow Lisa! I am impressed!

Fc64db6a555559762432d503a1dbad19

(1478)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:51 PM

I also forgot to add that we take walks in the evening around the neighborhood. We make friends with the neighbors and trade home grown vegetables. You can also join a free cycle group where people post things they are giving away for free. If fruit is hanging over a property it is legally fair game and there are websites that post where things are hanging over peoples yards. If you are really really broke watch the documentary Dive. He has some tips for getting food from stores that they are throwing away, but is still good.

3
Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

on April 26, 2012
at 04:06 PM

I came across this post from Robb Wolf which covers this exact topic. He gives some suggestions to make it more budget friendly. Yes, it takes more work, but in the end it will save you money.

It took me about 6 months to get my system down and eventually started lowering my costs.

Enjoy!

http://robbwolf.com/2011/09/21/paleo-is-expensive/

3
01f245d6bf061316f2450ee41d19e94e

on April 26, 2012
at 03:33 PM

We joined a local CSA. This will cut down on being picky at the grocery store because veggies cost so much, instead, you get a bag of veggies every week that amounts to an overabundance. This is our cost cutting trick.

2
Fb9739a7d4da8248d42747ba1c382343

on April 26, 2012
at 07:56 PM

I don't want to be a huge downer to the whole conversation but eating a strict Paleo diet is expensive, even when be carefully frugal. I used to be a crazy couponer and spent about $200/ month on groceries and household products, not including the side of beef we'd purchase every year. Now we eat primarily meat and veggies, small amounts of berries, and small amounts of cheese. For a family of four, we easily spend $600/month, NOT INCLUDING the whole cow we purchased ($2000) or the deer my husband killed.

Even cutting back elsewhere doesn't eliminate the fact, that at least for us, eating Paleo is considerably more expensive. Yes, it is worth it.

Here are a few things we do to try and make it affordable:

  1. Only grocery shop once a week. Same day every week.
  2. Purchase sides of animals.
  3. Buy meat that is on sale and stock up during good sales.
  4. Buy the sale veggies.
  5. Don't eat nuts too often.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on April 27, 2012
at 02:55 AM

I agree. I get so frustrated with the notion that if we find it more experience we must be doing something wrong. Ugh. It IS more expensive, lol.

2
2a00b9a42e4cb6e489a0e69d20714576

on April 26, 2012
at 07:42 PM

I agree, for a family of four with two paleo pups it costs us $1500. However, its far more important to us than any piece of clothing or luxury vacation. So we just cut back elsewhere.

2
11b7b7ba720a5cd43c74a0ef99a16adb

(3448)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:53 PM

Do what you can do, and don't feel bad about what you can't do.

You should redo the math on the pre-processed packaged foods. You will probably find they were more expensive than you thought.

Pre-paleo I ate out everyday for lunch (which was $5-$6 a day). Now I bring leftovers from the night before. That worked out to be an extra $100 a month for our food budget.

Cut out the bottled drinks (including bottled water). Plain old tap water is fine. If you're worried about the quality of your tap water, then get a home water filter (which will pay for itself quickly).

I eat a lot of eggs. Super cheap, yet one of the best protein sources.

Buy frozen fruit and vegetables in bulk. You'll have less waste, because it won't go bad in the freezer. At least this gets you in the ballpark of fresh fruit and veggies.

Buy bulk packages of meat, divide it up, and freeze it. Sams sells meat pretty cheap, IF you buy the mammoth sized packages.

Buy cheaper cuts of meat, and learn how to prepare them so they taste better. A cheap cut of meat cooked all day in a crock pot for example, can taste pretty good.

I know some of this advice won't sit well with paleo purists, but remember the old line "perfect is the enemy of good."

Focus on being good, not perfect.

1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on April 26, 2012
at 07:16 PM

I love frozen veggies, they don't go bad and I always have options.

2
A72f969e98fb82fbaae341d29230b881

(195)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:18 PM

I think purchasing meat in bulk and vegetables in the form of a CSA (Community supported agriculture) really are the way to go. I purchased my second side of grass-fed beef from a local farm recently and it came out to about 190 lbs of meat at $5.35 per pound. Previously I purchased a 7 CF chest freezer for around $200. The electricity bill for it runs around $30 a year. If my fiancee and myself have a serving of about 8 oz at a meal, it runs $2.68 each. This includes all the good chops like strip steak as well as roasts and ground beef. If you have the space, I highly recommend it for both convenience and savings. From the same farm, I am doing a CSA soon which has a good sized decent basket of fruits and vegetables for about $20 a week.

Obviously, your access to such a resource varies depending upon your location. Check out www.eatwild.com Also, buy purchasing from a local farm, you are directly supporting the people who are earning a living providing quality foods.

Eea6a68f5a7190d13c60e1c72417a581

(1376)

on April 26, 2012
at 09:38 PM

This. A freezer will pay for itself many times over. In addition to what rob said, we pick berries in summer, both wild and u-pick and have been given extra venison and local pork. A freezer lets you take advantage of surpluses and stay out of the store where impulse purchases cost you. Also eggs are your friend from a budget standpoint.

0a14995ac154eae8242b67115c9cc6c3

(158)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:49 PM

Perfect advice.

1
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21430)

on April 26, 2012
at 08:13 PM

As mentioned, cow shares (also known as livestock co-op) and/or directly from ranchers will get meat costs down per pound, the downside being bulk orders.

That being said, I've still felt better by eating CAFO when I've absolutely had to (we are a two-income household, missing one income thanks to our lovely economy). I eat about 40% grassfed because I had a previously stocked freezer with game and half a bull from my co-op, but now that's running out and we are buying meat from the grocer, and clipping all the meat coupons.

It's not optimal, but it is better than going back, no?

Eggs and kerrygold are my only chiefly organic splurges right now. I'm down to my most disliked cuts (wtf am I going to do with cubed steak?) in the freezer as well.

1
C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:01 PM

Great question. I've been trying to lower my costs as well. I'm still shopping at Whole Paycheck but I'm trying to be clever about it. For one thing I've realized that even though I do love me some grassfed beef I don't need to eat it for every meal. I decided to replace ground beef with ground turkey thighs and cut my cost significantly. I personally think it tastes just as good.

Buy Cheaper Meat - Example replace grass fed ground beef with organic ground turkey thighs.

I asked if people had budget recipes to share. You can see it and their responses here: http://paleohacks.com/questions/112497/share-your-best-budget-recipes#axzz1tB6Mvbx8

1
0a14995ac154eae8242b67115c9cc6c3

(158)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:49 PM

Get yourself a chest freezer and get yourself a side of grass fed beef.

Not only is it CHEAPER than so called "organic" meats it is cheaper than the other garbage as well.

It tastes better etc.

If you'll allow me a quick plug I expand upon this on my blog:

http://bit.ly/yUYpT3

1
870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on April 26, 2012
at 03:45 PM

This doesn't answer your question regarding food, but there are two enormous lifestyle changes that you can make that are free, if you aren't doing them already.

  1. Sleep. Kurt Harris lists this change as number one on the lifestyle changes to make. Are you getting adequate, consistent, regular, restful sleep already?

  2. Exercise. Massive cardio is overrated. Walk, sprint occasionally, and lift heavy things. Bodyweight exercises are free and need essentially no equipment (finding something to hang from is helpful, but most people can find a playground. Or a heavy table).

0
Eea6a68f5a7190d13c60e1c72417a581

(1376)

on April 26, 2012
at 10:32 PM

More thoughts: shop around and buy in bulk when you find a good price. I buy coconut milk by the case when it goes on sale at the local Asian grocery. Smaller places that don't advertise will have good deals, but you have to know what the going price is to recognize it. For example a farm stand near us had local produce in season and discount commidity produce from the Philly produce auctions. Red peppers have recently been 1.50 lb as opposed to 4.99 lb at the big grocery, so I roast em and preserve em. Giant 12 lb cabbages were $2 last fall do we had lots of sauerkraut. Buy direct from the producer when you can. You save money by cutting out the middleman, the farmer gets all of the proceedes you know where your food is from.

0
E69cdc23a8d09c3bc46a16695276f42b

(123)

on April 26, 2012
at 04:08 PM

I don't have any advice for ya, but I have the same question. I know lots of people say its actually cheaper to eat paleo, but for us its not. During the (long) winter, there are no local, fresh fruits and veggies. How much do you guys consider "reasonable" to spend on groceries per month?

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:05 PM

Lots of people don't eat fruit and veggies regularly and they call it Very Low Carb. Would it be awful to do this when your natural environment encourages this? Seems almost more paleo to follow the seasons you're experiencing.

C79a5b43dfc5749200bd9dcaa6bb0858

on April 26, 2012
at 08:06 PM

Where are you Ika?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 26, 2012
at 05:20 PM

If you can't get much fruit and veg, make sure to eat some liver every week. It's cheap and packed with vitamins.

Eea6a68f5a7190d13c60e1c72417a581

(1376)

on April 26, 2012
at 09:50 PM

We spend $450 pet month for 3 people including the annual side of beef and CSA in summer. We do not eat out. I buy coconut oil online for $20 for 54 oz. Pastured eggs cost $2-2.5 from neighbors. So much depends on where you live. We are in an area with lots of sustainable farms. My top 5 value vegtables: onions, sweet potatoes, frozen spinach, brocoli, carrots. All nutritious, and $1 per lb or less in my area.

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