I started eating a Paleo diet a little over a year ago. While it was hard for me to give up my regular diet of processed food and Pepsi at first I noticed great changes in my energy levels and body just a couple weeks after getting started.
Now I eat Paleo 80-90% of the time and love it. (Going out with friends and family for dinner is usually the exception!)
When I first switched my diet though, I was shocked by the cost. It seemed like I was going to pay more than $1,500 per month to eat right. Luckily, I was wrong. A year later I have my diet and budget down.
If you’re interested in switching up your eating habits on a budget here’s how to save money while eating paleo.
Stock Up on the Staples During Sales
The first month of Paleo seems to be the most expensive. This especially true if you don’t have any of the staples like good oils or meats, for example.
The best thing you can do is to find out what you like by first buying the smallest package/container of an item you want to try. When you discover what your specific staples will be you can then stock up on them during sales.
Just Say “No” to Exotic Ingredients
You don’t need exotic ingredients to go Paleo, despite what those amazing looking recipe blogs might suggest. You can get by on the basics: quality meat, oils/butter, vegetables and fruit.
You don’t need to overcomplicate the process by thinking you need to obtain fancy ingredients. If you’re working with a tight budget just stick to the basics.
Keep Your Menu Simple
When you first get started with Paleo it’s easy to get lured in with all of the paleo treats and exotic dishes. Turns out none of those are necessary (or even optimal.)
Keep your menu simple. Experiment with some recipes, find out what you like and repeat.
In case you’re wondering here’s what a typical week of meals might look like for me:
Breakfast: Eggs/Sausage/Bacon or a mixture of those items or a fruit smoothie made with frozen fruit, a banana and water.
Lunch: Salad with baked salmon/sweet potato and turkey lunch meat/leftovers from the night before.
Dinner: Grilled Chicken/Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pizza Bake/Bun-less Hamburger/Bacon and Eggs/Steak and always a vegetable side or a salad. (My kids normally eat fruit with their meal.)
There’s nothing that’s hard to make or takes a bunch of ingredients on my menu. My family is always happy with these meals and I have a handful of others that I can mix in for variety. It works beautifully!
Plan Your Menu
While we’re on the subject of menus, planning can a long way. Make sure you’re planning out your menus every week. This will not only make shopping and saving easier but it will also make sure you stick with your new eating plan.
I personally give myself a few options for breakfast and lunch (as noted above) and then plan out my dinners for each day of the week. This way I always know what needs thawed out or prepared ahead of time. It makes my evenings go much smoother.
You can also plan out your menus based on what’s on sale for the week. Grab your local grocery flier and base your menu off of your grocery budget.
Buy Meat in Bulk
One of the best ways to get high quality meat at a good price is to buy in bulk. This might mean you need to invest in a deep freezer but the savings can be well worth it.
I recently bought two pigs and got them for less than $3 per pound. The butcher we went to also had grass-fed beef for under $4 per pound. When I compare these totals to similar quality meats at the grocery (if I can even find similar quality) the price just does not compare!
Shop the Farmers Market
Shopping the farmers market is almost ALWAYS cheaper than going to the grocery store. This is kind of ironic since you get much fresher and higher quality food that is locally grown versus the stuff shipped into the grocery store.
If you have farmers markets in your area, buy in-season fruits and vegetables from them.
Keep It Simple and Don’t Get Overwhelmed
You probably have certain things that you buy over and over every week right now, right? The same will be true when you switch to a Paleo diet. You’ll learn which foods are your favorite and putting together your weekly menu plan will become as easy as it is now.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Keep your choices simple as you adjust and with time your new healthy eating habits will become second nature.
Are there any tips you’d add to the list?