20 Creative And Easy Tips To Make The Paleo Diet Affordable
Anyone who has ever made the transition to the paleo diet has definitely felt the initial burn in the old pocketbook. The increased cost associated with this lifestyle initially even made me skeptical. Eventually I realized that high quality food gave me an energy and vitality that I had not known before. It also resolved my 15 year bout of IBS, reduced the frequency of my doctor’s visits and prevented disease. In other words, it saved me money in the long run. As the 11year old Birke Baehr said in his TED talk..
“You either pay the farmer, or you pay the hospital,”
Consuming low quality foods may be cheap, but they also require you to:
- Eat more
- Purchase energy drinks, coffee, sugary foods and other stimulants to provide artificial energy
- Invest in pain relievers and other medications to manage the slow deterioration of your health
It's truly a vicious cycle that only appears to be fiscally responsible but in reality isn't.
As Fabrizio Mancini pointed out in a recent interview, we need to transform our “sickcare” mentality to a “self care” model. In other words, for radiant health we cannot wait for the medical community to take care of us, we need to take care of ourselves. Our staggering rates of obesity and disease will only be obliterated once we stop treating symptoms and start preventing them in the first place. High quality food is our most important tool for making this happen.
Even though you may be skeptical, research has shown that our daily dietary decisions affect our health dramatically. In fact, they have even been found to influence the expression of certain genes. Do yourself a favor and do not give up on this lifestyle due to the additional cost. Instead, read these 20 tips for how to make paleo work for health seekers on a budget!
1. Invest in a crockpot
Being able to cook delicious paleo treats at your own home with very little effort will save you some headaches AND tons of cash. This brilliant innovation allows you to buy the cheaper cuts of meat, like organ meats and other bits and pieces, and turn them into culinary treasures with the addition of vegetables and spices. The best part is that if you are kitchen-challenged (like me), the crockpot does all the work. Brilliant.
2. Vitamix or other high power blender
A little investment up front goes a long way in the end. Green juice, for example, is $7 at Whole Foods. Yikes! Instead, buy local, organic produce and make your own. Make it into a meal with a high quality whey protein (like Paleovalley's 100% grass-fed whey) and you have yourself a $5 meal. If a Vitamix is currently out of your price range, check out [url=http://www.freecycle.com]http://www.freecycle.com[/url] to see if you can find one for free. Actually you can use just about any blender.
3. Buy in bulk!
Staple foods in the paleo pantry (like unrefined coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, and extra virgin olive oil) will never go out of style and can be kept safely for long periods of time. Buying them in bulk will save you money in the long run. For instance, I purchased 30 ounces of unrefined coconut oil for $17 on Amazon which costs $.57 per ounce. To buy 15 ounces (half the amount) in a health foods store, you will spend approximately $1 dollar an ounce. That’s almost half the cost! If you use coconut oil the way that I do (in my morning tea, in shakes, and to cook EVERYTHING), this can make a huge difference. Getting your hands on a Sam’s Club or Costco membership may also save you big bucks.
4. Eliminate the middle men
Shop at farmer’s market’s and online when possible. Any time you buy directly from the producer, you'll save yourself a costly markup. There’s also something very satisfying and confidence-inspiring about knowing exactly where your food comes from. If you get an Amazon Prime membership, shipping is 2 days and FREE - so convenient.
Here is a list of other websites that can help you cut out the middle men:
-To find a local butcher who sells pasture raised/grass-fed meat for cheaper visit [url=http://www.eatwild.com]http://www.eatwild.com[/url]
-To find a source of raw, grass-fed milk visit www.realmilk.com
-Find wild seafood at [url=http://www.vitalchoiceseafood.com]http://www.vitalchoiceseafood.com[/url]
-US Wellness Meats : [url=http://www.uswellnessmeats.com]http://www.uswellnessmeats.com[/url]
-Find your local Farmer’s Markets - [url=http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/]http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/[/url]
5. Cook at home
Dining out is incredibly expensive. Not only are you not only paying for the food, but also for the atmosphere, the service, the ambiance and the experience. Check out our recipe books and set a goal to try a new recipe each week. This will allow you to use high quality foods (which are usually NOT the case in restaurants), build an impressive recipe repertoire AND save money. Add a little candlelight and you’ll never know the difference.
6. Utilize community supported agriculture (CSA)
Visit [url=http://www.localharvest.org]http://www.localharvest.org[/url] and get involved in local CSA efforts. There are a variety of options, but generally you buy a share or membership and receive a box of local, seasonal and fresh vegetables each week throughout the farming season. If this isn’t an option, try visiting your local farmer's market and opt for cheaper veggies like leafy greens, carrots, celery, onions, and cabbage.
7. Cultivate kitchen skills
As discussed earlier, you can make all your favorite foods at home for far less money. Therefore, the sooner you get comfy in the kitchen, the better. This doesn't mean you have to resort to expensive cooking classes. In fact, I owe all my kitchen skills to the University of YouTube. From cutting a pineapple, leaning to chop veggies, and creating stick-free pans, there's nothing you can't learn in a 2 minute YouTube video.
8. Batch Bake
Make large amounts of foods that can be saved like soups, stews and bone broth. Store them and eat them throughout the entire week. Never throw food away! Leftovers can save you tons of money.
9. Approach shopping with a plan
Before shopping, take the time to consider:
-What food you already have
-What sounds good this week
-How much time you have to devote to meal preparation
-The number of meals and snacks you'll need
-How many mouths you are feeding
Shop with a plan and watch your dollars stretch!
10. Prioritize high quality meat
Due to its incredible nutrient density, buying grass-fed and organic meats should be a top priority. When it is possible, opt for lamb, goat, bison and or buffalo. These animals are more likely to be fed in a way that is in alignment with their natural diet. Avoid poor quality chicken and pork under all circumstances. Also, be sure to always cut the fat off of conventionally-raised animals. Toxins are stored in fat. Chemicals, antibiotics, hormones and other toxins used to raise conventional animals will be stored there.
11. Choose thriftier seafood
Seafood can be expensive. Buy strategically. Look for cost-friendly, wild, frozen fish like cod, scallops and shrimp. Save the caviar for special occasions.
12. Egg it up
High quality pasture-raised eggs can be found at farmer’s markets from $5-$7 a dozen depending on your region. One carton can be transformed into 5-6 meals or snacks at approximately $.50 each. Because eggs are one of the most nutrient dense foods on earth (and won't raise your cholesterol) there's no reason not to consume them!
13. Consult The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen
When purchasing organic produce simply isn’t possible, check out the The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen to see which produce is most likely to be contaminated with pesticides, and which varieties are not. These lists are updated annually on the EWG's website. For 2014:
The Dirty Dozen:
Apples, celery, strawberries (all berries) nectarines, spinach, peaches, sweet bell peppers, grapes, lettuce and leafy greens, corn, potatoes, bananas
The Clean 15:
Onions, avocado, cantaloupe, pineapple, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, watermelon, sweet potato, grapefruit, mushroom.
When you buy conventional (non-organic) produce be sure to use this little homemade wash from Christa Orecchio at the Whole Journey:
-1 cup of water
-1 cup of white distilled vinegar (amazing for cleaning almost anything in the house)
-Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda (add slowly because it fizzes)
-20 drops grapefruit seed extract
You can also use a saltwater solution (1 part salt, 9 parts water).
If you are unsure about whether produce is organic or not, look on the sticker label. If it starts with a “9” it is organic. If it starts with a “4” it is conventionally produced and you should steer clear.
14. Don’t be a farmer’s market snob
Don’t be completely turned off by farmers who don’t display the “100% certified organic” designation. Talk to the farmers. Certain farmers adhere to organic guidelines but don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for the “organic” certification. Find out who owns the farm, look them right in the eye and ask them whether or not they use pesticides, herbicides or fungicides in their practices. Follow your instincts. If you feel uneasy and the produce looks oversized, you may want to play it safe.
15. Buy in season
It’s the way that our ancestors ate. It optimizes nutrient density and cuts out excessive transportation and storage costs that out-of-season produce will accrue. Shopping at farmer’s markets will guarantee that you are buying seasonally. If you live in an area where this simply isn’t an option, look for frozen organic fruits and vegetables, which is the next best thing.
16. Invest in seasonings
Although organic seasonings can be expensive, springing for a new one each week is manageable and can make even the most boring meal an adventure. When the food you make at home tastes better, you will be far more inclined to stay at home and experiment which can save you big bucks. Organic spices contain a wealth of antioxidants. My favorites are turmeric (very anti-inflammatory), cinnamon (blood sugar stabilizing) and cayenne (metabolism-boosting).
17. Let the sales guide you
I know this may sound obvious, but become a coupon queen (or king), and notice sales. Let money-saving be a factor in your food-purchasing decisions. It may seem like you only save a few dollars each trip, but when you shop every week, those measly bucks add up!.
18. Make bone broth
Bone broth maximizes the nutrients you extract from meals. Ask your local grass-fed, organic butcher if he has any bones that he can sell you. Opt for the other extra parts of the animals too, as they will all provide unique nutrients that your body needs. Throw the bones in a crockpot, cover with filtered water, and pour unrefined apple cider vinegar evenly over the bones. Let it simmer on ‘low” for 24-48 hours. This slow cooking pulls incredible amounts of nutrients out of the bones and results in a mineral soup. Drink it in the morning with a spoonful of coconut oil. You can also make it into a savory meal at night by adding celery, onions, minced garlic, organic kale, coconut oil, ghee, sea salt, pepper, turmeric and nori strips. It will definitely fill you up and diminish energy used for digestion so that you can get a good night’s sleep. A wealth of nutrients for very little money.
19. Don’t get caught up in the novelty items
This used to get me every time. There is no one more distracted by a shiny package and a friendly sample than I am. Go to the farmer's market with a list and a purpose, and avoid novelty items like cinnamon-honey almonds, homemade hummus, or the exotic dried fruit. Make them at home. Adding only a few of those items to your tab does, in fact, make paleo expensive. Only purchase what you can't make at home. It not only saves money, but also encourages creativity in the kitchen.
Chocolate bars at check-out lines were always my downfall. Here is an amazing homemade chocolate bar that my husband says is better than anything he’s ever had from the store. Even though that is exactly what a good husband would say, I can vouch for it too.
Homemade Chocolate Bars:
Directions: Heat up raw cacao powder, 1 tsp. raw honey, sprouted almonds, unrefined coconut oil, goji berries (optional). Sprinkle with high quality unrefined sea salt and then freeze it on a parchment paper. Feel free to add any other superfood flare like brazil nuts, walnuts and/or cinnamon. Experiment and compare your fancy creation to the $5 bar you’d find at a health foods store. You won’t be disappointed. Also, be sure to purchase your fun little additions (goji berries and sprouted nuts) in the bulk bins so you don’t end up breaking the bank.
20. Keep it simple!
There's no reason that you have to have elaborate paleo-gourmet meals each and every night. It’s not what our ancestors did, and it’s not what a paleo pro on a budget should do either. Many nights my husband and I eat ground beef at $7 a pound and sautéed leafy greens ($3). This $10 meal for two people is also a nutrient-dense paleo dream. Some days for breakfast, I have a cup of bone broth, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and three pasture-raised eggs - simple, cheap, nutrient density at its finest.
You can't put a price on your health. Don't be tempted to forfeit the kind of health you deserve just to save a few dollars. Approach paleo strategically with the above tips and vote diligently with your dollar.