I shop at Whole Foods from time to time, just like everyone else. Not knocking it, just needed an appropriate image for my post!
Budgets and grocery bills are always at the top of any household’s concerns. These are just some (rather unorganized) thoughts I have on grocery shopping & food spending when it comes to transitioning or maintaining a Paleo/Primal lifestyle.
When you get into reading the Paleo blogs, you can quickly become overwhelmed with terminology (grass-fed, free-range, pastured, local, organic, non-GMO) that all equals up to much more expensive grocery bills. Very simply, do what you can, with what you have, where you are. There are compelling reasons to make those choices, but you have to look at your situation and see what is doable for you and your family. It may be a matter of cost, availability, prioritizing your family budget, finding the resources in your community. You may transition into buying more and more of these items over time, as you free up money in your budget from elsewhere. Or, you might be dead broke, living paycheck to paycheck. The good news is you can still eat by the simple Paleo guidelines & make all conventional purchases & still experience the health benefits of a Paleo diet.
Here are some ways that my family buys in bulk. If you are used to preparing a weekly shopping list and only getting a few items at a time, you are going to need to get used to saving a few bucks back each week so that every few months you have $200-$600 to make a larger purchase.
If something isn’t available to you in your geographic area, look for it online. Pay attention to shipping deals and sales! I have an Amazon Prime membership which lets me watch some shows & get free 2-day shipping on most items for @$79 bucks a year. Some of the items I order online regularly include:
Burgers and chicken legs are weekly staples around our house. Breakfast for dinner also happens at least one night a week. Roasts, pork shoulders and whole chickens are large will feed a lot of people and provide some leftovers. Plan your menu around these cheaper meal ideas!
If you are just adjusting to Paleo and have been eating pretty traditional fare you may not have regulated your hunger & broken eating habits yet. We had a couple of months where I thought “There is NO WAY we can afford to eat this way!” We were loving bacon & guacamole, having fun experimenting with Paleo baked goods & digging into 3 Paleo meals a day. With a snack for good measure. We were replacing one meal or snack time with an exceptionally nutrient dense & delicious Paleo meal/snack. This was EXPENSIVE.
After a few weeks or months, your appetite changes as your body gets used to running on fats and proteins instead of carbs and sugars. Many people find that they only eat 1 big meal a day and a couple of smaller snacks. You may cut out snacking entirely and just eat a couple of good sized meals. I can almost guarantee you that after a period of time, you will find that your appetite has changed and you are just eating less in general. It might be an expensive couple of months till you get to that point, but it WILL NOT LAST FOREVER!
If you have a bunch of active folks in your house and you cannot keep them full on sweet potatoes, squash and other starchy veggies, consider adding white rice back to your menu. Plenty of people do it and it is pretty harmless as far as grains are concerned. It is cheap & most people like rice, so go for it!
If you are doing very much Paleo baking, you have noticed that using honey, maple syrup, coconut nectar and etc… is very expensive. Well, you can bake less than you used to, which isn’t a bad idea anyways or use sugar. Yes, I said it, SUGAR! This is a Paleo DON’T, of course. (I originally read this idea on Health-Bent, but their site is down right now and I can’t link to it. Will get the link up ASAP.) If the purpose of a treat is to only have it every once in a while, and you have reduced your sugars in your diet, make some gluten free/grain free chocolate chip cookies with regular old sugar and call it a day. It shouldn’t be once a day, maybe once a week or less. Only you can judge how sugar (of any kind) affects you and your household. If it drives up sugar cravings and causes your kids to be hyperactive, don’t do it.
One of the reasons I was only Gluten-Free for a couple of months before I decided to jump in all the way Paleo, was cost. Gluten Free items are a lifesaver to many people and I am so glad that they are so widely available now. However, you can’t get a box of cookies, bag of pretzels or pasta for less than $6. It was easy to decide to just avoid grains & processed foods instead. I don’t think Paleo is expensive compared to Gluten-free, and there are so many more health benefits.
10) Make your decisions and feel good about them.
Other helpful blog posts regarding Paleo, grocery shopping & your budget:
Easy weeknight meal and paleo staple: Spaghetti Squash. If it is something you haven’t cooked before, start doing it. It is a great source of veggies and healthy carbs that can substitute for noodles pretty easily. And it is really good. The hardest thing about it is getting to the insides.
Can be baked, grilled or microwaved. The last is quick and easy. Poke a bunch of holes in it with a fork or something sharp. Microwave for about 5 minutes depending on size. Let cool a bit. Cut in 1/2 with sharp knife. Scoop out seeds, and use a fork to shred the flesh into perfect noodles. My kids like to help with that part.
Just to give some ideas on the versatility of spaghetti squash, here are the two versions I made tonight. Italian style & Greek style. It is a really long story that I might get around to telling sometime, but I seem to feel better the less I eat tomatoes, so I didn’t want to make “Spaghetti and Meat Sauce” for me, but that is what the hubby and the kids like. The possiblities are maybe not endless, but you can get a variety of meals out of this stuff. Give it a try with you favorite pasta recipe. I am really excited to getting around to trying PaleOMG’s Carbonara using spaghetti squash. http://paleomg.com/spinach-and-artichoke-chicken-carbonara-paleo-pasta/ Why have I not made this yet? Yum.
Italian/Greek Spaghetti Squash (You choose)
1. Cook spaghetti squash in microwave, cool and shred. Set aside.
2. Brown ground beef with salt, pepper, oregano and garlic or garlic salt.
3. This is where you can choose to take it a different direction:
If you like Italian, top squash and ground beef with your favorite “clean” red sauce & parmesan.
If you like Greek, add lemon juice, olive oil, Greek Seasoning, feta and kalamata olives to the spaghetti squash and ground beef. Stir and serve.
BTW, I LOVE Penzey’s Greek Seasonings and most of their other stuff, too. As much as I blog about using their products you would think I would score some free samples.
*Note* 3/13/2012 After more experimenting, these muffins are not the ones I would want you to try if you are just going paleo/primal.
A better recipe can be found on my blog under Shelby’s Blueberry Muffins or here: http://simplyshelbyinseattle.wordpress.com/
Sometimes things don’t turn out as beautifully as you would like. These blueberry muffins are a great example. I am a little bummed that some of my favorite blogs have gotten far too good at their photography and stylist skills. I realize they are getting cookbook deals so they can’t take terrible pictures, but perfection is intimidating. I like some blurryness, mismatched plates and a lack of garnish. I think people like to see mistakes. Especially moms. We love to see other people’s bad days, we feel better about locking ourselves in the bathroom for 15 minutes a day for some peace and quiet. It doesn’t even usually work. My kids stick their fingers underneath the door and wave them at me if I am hiding out too long.
Paleo or not, I think my blueberry muffins always turn out with that greenish tint from the blueberry juice mixing with the yellow of the batter. These muffins went the extra shade of blue, as I used my freeze dried blueberries that I rehydrated. They were kind of at the bottom of the can, so they had a little extra blueberry powder on them.
What we ended up with were some very blue, but tasty muffins. The kids and I named them “Smurfberry Muffins” and happily ate away. Although they aren’t much too look at.
So, typical breakfast. Muffins (made the night before), bacon and coffee/juice.
I used a recipe from Elana’s Pantry. She is the queen of all kinds of baking recipes with coconut/almond flour. These turned out pretty good, although I did sprinkle a little cinnamon/sugar mixture across the top. Just a little does the trick to make the kids think they are getting a bakery style muffin. They love it.
I substituted maple syrup for the agave nectar. Otherwise followed the recipe. Cinnamon or nutmeg mixed in would be delicious I think. Oh, and them not turning blue.
Expensive? I get a lot of questions about the expense of paleo. This recipe called for 1/2 cup of coconut flour. That is not very much. 6 eggs. That is a big hit, so I would work on sourcing some good, affordable eggs. The nice thing is, 12 muffins in a recipe with 6 eggs means that your kid is eating 1/2 of an egg in each muffin. That means I got a whole egg’s worth of protein and fat into my little girl this morning without her knowing. Protein keeps a kid full. So, you aren’t just sending your kid to school with blueberry cake in their stomach. This is some quality food.