One of the complaints I hear most from people thinking about adopting a Primal or Paleo lifestyle is that it’s too expensive. Meat costs money. Coconut flour is expensive and hard to find. Organic fruits and vegetables cost more than their conventional counterparts. How do you make this type of lifestyle work on a restricted budget?
I believe that if anyone can answer this question, I can. We are a single income family with two kids. Technically, we’re below the poverty line, since my husband is enlisted in the Air Force. However, we own our own 4000 sq ft home and have two beautiful (working) cars in the driveway. I have enough handbags and shoes to wear different ones every day for six months and we eat grass fed beef, pastured eggs, organic produce, coconut oil, pastured butter and bacon on a daily basis. I shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Sprouts. We have savings accounts with money in them and while the balance on our credit card is a little higher than I’d like it to be, we don’t have any debt that isn’t manageable.
How am I making it work? It seems like an impossible task, doesn’t it? I’ll tell you my secret: I’m damn good with money. And I don’t waste anything.
I received a request for a guest post from someone who wanted to share some money saving tips with you for a Paleo lifestyle (which I’ve included below) but I thought it would be fair if I shared my tips with you as well, as they’re completely different.
1. I’m realistic. Although I know the benefits of grass fed pastured meat, it’s not always available to me at a price I can afford. When my local grocery store has a “buy one get TWO free” special on meat, I buy it and put it in our deep freezer. I buy my pastured (grass fed) meat in bulk from a local farmer, and also store it in the freezer. I figure that if we eat grass fed meat some of the time and regular meat some of the time, we’re not going to up and die. Having a selection of both in the freezer means that I can rotate the good stuff with the regular stuff and still feel good about what we’re eating.
2. I get all my fat for free from my local farmer, in exchange for writing reviews on how awesome their farm and products are. (You can check out their website here, shameless promotion, cough, cough.) I get A LOT of it at one time. I render the fat down myself, strain it and put it in mason jars, which I store in the freezer. I use this fat for everything from cooking to homemade sausages to hand lotion in a pinch. You’d be amazed how many people are willing to give the fat away for free, as no one else seems to want it. (And you’d be amazed at how well it moisturizes, although it’s a bit smelly lol.)
3. I save my bacon fat. I just leave it in the pan, even overnight. It doesn’t spoil. It’s just there, deliciously waiting for me to fry my eggs in it the next morning. Organic, pastured eggs, which I’ve gotten from my farmer for about the same price as the crap conventional ones in the grocery store. If this grosses you out, think back to how your Grandma used to cook. She had a can next to the stove for her drippings and fat, didn’t she? It never went in the fridge. My dad’s family used to use these drippings to spread on bread when butter was scarce. I am too lazy to wash my cast iron pan every day, so I don’t bother with the can.
4. Any produce that has a thick skin that we’re not going to eat, I don’t bother buying organic. This includes bananas, avocados, oranges and sweet potatoes. (We don’t eat the peels of anything anymore, by the way, but that is another post for another day.)
5. I make everything myself from whole real ingredients. We don’t buy any packaged food, except for the occasional package of gluten-free rice pasta and gluten-free tamari. I make chicken broth and even make my own coconut and almond milk. Why in the hell would I pay $2.99 for a can of coconut milk that has stabilizers, artificial vitamins and preservatives in it, when I can make the same amount of coconut milk for about 35 cents? It tastes better, it’s organic, I use filtered water and I know exactly what’s in it: coconut and water. It’s not rocket science. Neither is making your own coconut butter. If you buy a jar, it’ll set you back 10 bucks. Making it yourself costs…about $2. I make my own beef jerky, because I just can’t find any gluten-free, preservative-free jerky in the store that isn’t $45. I also make my own mayonnaise. It takes less than 1 minute, thanks to an awesome tip from Orleatha Smith, which we will be sharing with you via video sometime in the next month. I can use that mayonnaise for salad dressings and sauces and I even use it to cook with (it’s just oil, vinegar and eggs after all — if your recipe calls for those ingredients, why not use mayonnaise?) It’s amazing how expensive packaged food is. Don’t pay for flashy packaging and marketing campaigns. Stop spending money to have someone else (a machine, let’s face it) make your food for you. Take back your power and save yourself some cash.
6. I don’t waste anything. When I only have a little bit of mayonnaise left in the jar, instead of washing it out I add a bit of vinegar to it and voila! Instant salad dressing. I squeeze out every. last. bit. of toothpaste from the tube before I toss it. I add water to the dish soap bottle to get the remnants out. You know those neat soap dispensers that give you foam? The ones that are ridiculously expensive? Did you know that the first ingredient in that soap is water? I buy the original bottle so I can have the aerator-thingy and when the soap is gone, I refill it with about 5 cents worth of dish soap and fill the rest up with water. I learned these tips from my mom, who really needed to stretch the budget. She learned them from her mom. We’re so wasteful as a society it makes me sick sometimes. We only need to put our garbage cans out about once a month, while our neighbor’s cans are overflowing each and every week.
7. We don’t eat out. A meal for a family of four at McDonald’s costs over $20. For $20, I can make a meal that includes things like bacon wrapped scallops, grass fed steak, organic vegetables AND fruit. We mostly drink water. I don’t spend money on juice or soda or milk or coconut water or whatever you trendy kids are drinking these days. I make my coffee myself, with pastured cream, and take it in a reusable to-go cup. I refuse to spend $5 on a cup of coffee.
8. We do things that are free. Guess how much it costs to go hiking in the mountains? Or camping? Or to the park? When they grow up, our children won’t remember the ridiculously expensive vacations we went on, or the expensive flashy toys we bought them. They will remember the time they spent with us, not the money we spent on them.
I have more tips, but I’ll save them for another day. In the meantime, Zara Blake, a financial blogger from the UK has some money-saving tips for you:
Dressings and salads: Make your own dressings and salads at home. Don’t spend $15 to have someone else make it for you.
Buy local foods: Always go for locally grown and seasonal foods. Exotic ones are more expensive and your body is not built to digest them regularly.
Bulk meat: Buy a whole lamb or goat with a friend. Try meat-shares for larger animals. It will come already cut up and packaged so you can store it in the freezer. Try to buy grass-fed meats rather than the grain fed ones.
Plenty of eggs: These are the best source of protein after meat and are also pretty cheap. Include plenty of eggs in your diet.
Sales: Watch out for clearance sales in different grocery and online stores. Grab them while you can and stock up.
Do some gardening: Grow all the vegetables you need and save money. Use your kitchen waste as manure and practice rain-water harvesting. If you are running tight on living space, try roof-top gardens or potted plants.
Soups: If you find your veggies becoming dry, prepare soup with them. Using homemade bone broth is a great addition to this.
Fishing: Go fishing on weekends and catch as many fish you can. Clean and fillet them and store them in the freezer.
Nuts: Buy nuts in bulk quantities as they are cheaper than prepackaged nuts in small bags. Package them yourself and store them in the freezer.
Home-food: Eat at home and don’t eat out at restaurants too much.
No wastage: When you buy meat, don’t waste what can be eaten. If you dislike a certain part, learn to cook it in a new way. Don’t buy unnecessary prepackaged items as it will make your grocery bill go up very fast.
These money saving tips were contributed by Zara Blake, a financial blogger from UK. She has written many articles on health, nutrition and finance. Catch her on Twitter: @financeport