If you are thinking about starting a Paleo diet, or are just starting this diet, you’ve probably discovered that it can cause some damage to ye’ old wallet. The fact is fresh foods and meats are usually more expensive than shelf-stable, convenience foods. If you want to stick with a Paleo diet and don’t want to deplete your bank account, use these tips to help stretch your dollar when grocery shopping.
1. Plan Your Menu Ahead of Time
Create a daily menu for the week including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Once you have figured a menu out, determine which ingredients you need for each meal and snack. This is the best way to make sure you have all ingredients you need ahead of time, instead of frantically purchasing groceries during the week, which may lead to increased spending.
Planning your menu ahead of time will also allow you to purchase exactly what you need, in the amounts you need. This means that you can utilize every penny that you spend, eating everything that you buy, and not letting food go to waste.
2. Cook from ScratchAlthough it may take longer, try cooking all your meals from scratch as much as possible. Basic staple ingredients tend to be cheaper than convenience foods. Prepackaged foods also come with the downside of preservatives, which could destroy the purpose of a clean diet.
3. Purchase Ingredients in Bulk
Generally, the cost of food is lower when you buy foods in bulk. For the foods you always eat, the staples in your diet, buy them in bulk so that you always have them on hand. Go to your local grocery store and browse the bulk aisles to see if there is anything that catches your interest. You can even visit a bulk store, like Costco, and find ingredients that suit the needs of your diet. A great veggie you can purchase in bulk at Costco, and is relatively affordable, are avocados. One thing to keep in mind is that fresh produce can spoil pretty quickly. Be careful when buying produce because the cost savings of buying things like vegetables in bulk are diminished if you can't eat them in time.
A great way to save on meat, especially when on a Paleo diet, is to purchase quarter of a cow or pig. I know, this sounds ridiculous, but think of it like this: your cost savings of buying a large amount of meat, rather than running to the grocery store every day will be huge! You can even find a group of friends or fellow Paleo dieter’s that are willing to pool together, to buy a full cow or pig. All of you can split the cost of the meat. Another way to save on the cost of meat is by purchasing lower qualities of meat. You can improve the taste of lower quality meats by slow cooking or by cooking Sous Vide (a method of slow cooking meat in water). When buying meats in bulk, you can freeze them to last a long time.
4. Buy Straight from the Source
Another great way to practice a Paleo diet on a budget is by buying your meat, eggs, dairy, fruits and vegetables straight from a farm. This will cut out the costs charged by the grocery store and save you money. If you don't have access to a farm, opt for a farmer’s market. The prices at a farmer’s market will most likely beat the prices of a grocery store.
5. Cook Seasonally
Certain vegetables and fruits are more prevalent during certain seasons. When you buy vegetables and fruits that are in season, the cost is much less than when you purchase produce that is out of season. By basing your meals on "in-season" produce, you can save a good chunk of change on your grocery bill every week.
6. Grow Your Own Produce
If you have a backyard with the space to grow produce, this is a great way to save money on your grocery bill. Usually you just have to pay the initial cost of the seeds and then maintain the garden on your own. If you decide to grow your own produce, choose seeds that can thrive in your geographic region.
7. Follow Sales and Use Coupons
Check the weekly sales flyers for good deals at the grocery store and coupons. By basing your weekly menu off of sales, you can potentially save money on every single meal.
Eating healthy can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to been unaffordable. It may take some extra time and effort on your part, but the money saved and the health benefits received will be worth it.