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Paleo on a Budget

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When it comes to following a wholesome Paleo lifestyle, you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank. The Paleo Diet® is composed of meats, healthy fats and oils, vegetables, and fruits. It’s nothing “fancy.” Rather, it’s going back to basics and not relying on fads or novelty items. There are many tips and tricks that can help you keep within your budget, especially when you’re first starting out. Here’s some of our favorite Paleo-on-a-budget advice.

 

1. Buy produce that is in season

This piece of advice requires some planning and awareness on your part. Research which Paleo-friendly items are in season during different times of the year. Why? Well, seasonal produce is often at a reduced price. It can also help your local farmers and will taste fresh, too! Let’s use spring as an example. In the spring, you can find in-season kale, avocados, peaches, cauliflower, and strawberries. You can make quite a few dishes and snacks using just these fresh spring ingredients. If you find yourself in doubt as to what is currently in season, you can quickly research your area.

 

2. Try your hand at gardening

Consider taking up gardening to procure your own fresh fruits and veggies. It doesn’t need to be vast and complex. Even something small where you grow herbs can be a profitable and pleasurable activity so that you can easily add flavor to your dishes! Things that you can consider growing are lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots. You’ll want to consider the temperature and climate of where you live, but at the very least, you can grow herbs indoors.

 

3. Inexpensive meat can be ethical, too

Meat is a large portion of the Paleo Diet and provides you with much-needed protein. After all, your body uses protein to build tissue, make enzymes, and your hair and nails are composed primarily of protein. You may be wondering which cuts of meat are generally cheaper. Think bone-in and ground meat. When purchasing this meat, we recommend that you opt for buying from ethical, eco-friendly sellers where you can see how the animals were treated. If you live in an area with farms and ranches, then take advantage of this and look out for terms such as grass-fed, free-range, and hormone-free. If farms and ranches are not an option, then check your local grocery stores for specials and sales on ethical meats. Avoid fatty feedlot meat.

 

4. Consider buying in bulk

If you already know which ingredients your diet is heavy in, then consider buying bulk. When purchasing meat in bulk, like from a local farm, you’ll want to freeze it so that you can prepare it at your own pace. Some other things that can be bought in bulk are eggs, frozen fruit, vegetables, olive oil and nuts. Check out your local bulk stores, farms, and ranches for ideas.

 

5. Plan, plan, plan

Lastly, while pursuing your Paleo lifestyle, it can be helpful to plan ahead. This could mean planning the meals and snacks that you want to eat ahead of time, keeping a list of the foods that are staples in your diet, and keeping track of the amount of money that you spend, in order to stick safely to your budget. Planning takes out the hassle of trying to figure out what to eat at the last minute, which can be especially difficult with a family.

The Paleo Diet is a no-frills, budget-friendly means of eating and living your life. Keeping these tips in mind can make things easier whether you’re a beginner or have been Paleo for several years. Take your time, do your research and focus on living a healthy and fulfilling life.


5 Tips for Eating Paleo on a Budget | The Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet is sometimes dismissed as elitist and only for those who can afford daily prime mignon. This criticism stems from a wider misconception that Paleo is “meat-only” or “meat heavy.” Indeed, the Paleo diet does include appreciable amounts of animal foods, but eating Paleo doesn’t require eating the most expensive varieties of animal foods. Our ancestors were extremely efficient, eating animals and fish from nose to tail, leaving nothing wasted. We can and should emulate this approach, not only because it ensures balanced nutrition, but also because it’s more economical.

So, if you are trying to make Paleo work within the confines of a limited budget or you have several hungry children to feed and wonder whether you can afford a Paleo lifestyle, here are five key tips for minimizing food expenses while maximizing nutrition and deliciousness.

1. GET A SLOW COOKER

You might have one in your garage or closet. Market research firm NPD Group estimates that 83% of Americans own slow cookers (also known as crock pots), but only half use them regularly.1 In the UK, slow cooker sales rose 55% between 2012 –2014.2

Not only is slow cooking extremely delicious and convenient, it’s also very economical. A slow cooked stew might require six to eight hours, but its electricity costs are comparable to those of a light bulb. Electric ovens, on the other hand, are more energy intensive, averaging between 2 and 2.2 kWh. Slow cookers average around 0.09 kWh, according to the Centre for Sustainable Energy.3 What does this mean? In the US, the national average electricity cost is approximately $0.12 cents per kWh. Operating the oven for one hour, therefore, costs around $0.25, whereas operating a slow cooker for eight hours costs only $0.09.

2. SAVE WITH LESS EXPENSIVE CUTS OF MEAT

Another advantage of slow cooking is that tougher cuts of meat become naturally tenderized. You wouldn’t want to cook oxtail, skirt, flank, shin, or chuck steaks on the grill, but slow cooked for hours, these cuts are outstanding. They typically have more fat and more cartilage. Bone-in cuts also have marrow. All these elements add flavor and depth to your stews. Many cuts of lamb and pork are also incredible slow cooked, and aren’t marked up nearly as much as other cuts of meat. You can easily cut your meat costs by 50%+ compared to the more expensive, quick-cooking cuts.

3. EAT THE ORGANS

The irony of organ meat is that despite being the most nutrient dense foods by far, they are typically also the most inexpensive. Liver, for example, might cost you around $5 or $6 per pound. By including organ meats in your diet, you’ll save money while greatly boosting your nutrient intake.

4. ORGANIC VS. CONVENTIONAL

Some often balk at paying $3 for that organic avocado when the conventional one costs only $1.50. While we strongly recommend buying organic produce, if you have a limited budget, the Environmental Working Group offers their excellent Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, showing which fruits and vegetables to always buy organic and for which conventional is probably adequate.

5. SMALL, OILY FISH

Sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and other small, oily fish are relatively inexpensive, delicious, and easy to prepare. Fish is a vital component of the Paleo diet, and you can still meet nutritional requirements and enjoy fish without buying expensive wild salmon or wild sea bass. These fish are rich in omega-3 and won’t break your bank. But, buy them fresh, not preserved in cans.

Christopher James Clark, B.B.A.

@nutrigrail
Nutritional Grail
www.ChristopherJamesClark.com

Christopher James Clark | The Paleo Diet TeamChristopher James Clark, B.B.A. is an award-winning writer, consultant, and chef with specialized knowledge in nutritional science and healing cuisine. He has a Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and formerly worked as a revenue management analyst for a Fortune 100 company. For the past decade-plus, he has been designing menus, recipes, and food concepts for restaurants and spas, coaching private clients, teaching cooking workshops worldwide, and managing the kitchen for a renowned Greek yoga resort. Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning book, Nutritional Grail.

REFERENCES

[1] Carter, N. (February 25, 2009). Slow cookers have evolved over the decades. The LA Times.

[2] Weatherill, E. (October 4, 2013). Slow and pressure cookers find favour. The BBC.

[3] Christie, S. (November 22, 2013). ‘How much cheaper is a slow cooker than an oven?’ The Telegraph.

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