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Anyone here with a big family? What does your meal plan look like and how do you afford to eat Paleo?

by (85)
Updated about 10 hours ago
Created July 23, 2011 at 2:16 AM

I've been following the 30 day meal plan from 'Everyday Paleo' with my family, and the recipes are great, but gosh, it's expensive. Since going Paleo we've gone from eating meat 2-3 times a week to 2-3 times a day, and we're consuming about 5 dozen eggs a week. I've only got two children so far, but would like 1-2 more, and I'm struggling to see how I can afford to feed my family a Paleo diet. We live in Australia, and organic food is not cheap! I came home from the supermarket yesterday having spent $250 on 5 days worth of food! We're a single income family, and are going to home school our kids, so will be for a long time. We can't sustain that level of expenditure on food.

Around the parenting blogs, I've noticed quite a few comments recently from parents of larger families saying they feel much better eating Paleo, but just can't afford to feed their family. I'm trying to work out some compromises - probably eating potatoes and more dairy. We used to eat gluten-free WAPF and didn't have a problem with our budget.

So, for those with families, how do you make your budget work? Do you make compromises to cut down your budget?

We currently get nearly all our meat from friends with farms at a good prices, our eggs are from a friend, and we always eat the cheap cuts of meat, and are happy to eat organ meats.

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205 · July 15, 2012 at 7:53 PM

I am also a paleo homeschooling mom of 4, but without the 20 acres. Over on the Well Trained Mind forum there seems to be a growing number of paleo/primal homeschooling families. Happy to how found some other like minded folks.

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24538 · July 29, 2011 at 9:39 AM

When I've lived in expensive areas I've noticed that food was more expensive too. It's a bummer if you are trying to eat on a budget. I was just wondering if you could barter for the eggs if they're from a friend.

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85 · July 26, 2011 at 11:33 AM

We do eat a lot of eggs - about 5 dozen a week for 2 adults, and two small kids. We get them from a friend at $5.50 a dozen, which is a good price here. We do try to grow some food, but we're in the middle of winter and nothing much is growing! We're also renting, so can't have livestock or plant trees. I'd love to have a farm, but property prices here are crazy (I live in a town of 3700 and the average house price is $450,000 - consequences of living in the state with the most unaffordable housing in the world). Hadn't thought of fishing - maybe it's an option for us. :)

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85 · July 23, 2011 at 7:11 AM

Thanks for your comment. I think you're right in saying to go as far paleo as we can on our budget. We've been gluten-free for a few years, so we really didn't eat a lot of grains compared to the SAD before Paleo, probably one meal a day, mostly brown rice. We don't eat sugar, processed foods, etc, so there is really nowhere left to trim.

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85 · July 23, 2011 at 7:08 AM

Thanks for this info - I've noticed I haven't felt completely 'satisfied' eating so much protein compared to when I was on the WAPF diet, and I think it's because I'm not eating enough fat.

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8 Answers

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5796 · July 23, 2011 at 2:44 AM

If you can't afford to go all the way, then go paleo as far as you can afford.

I'm not advocating grain and I am not saying feed your family grain, but think of it this way; you were probably feeding your family grain at 3 meals a day plus snacks before going paleo. If you were to only eliminate grain at one meal and snacks, you're family would be much better off than before. Same with added sugar, soda, you name it.

Do the best you can and don't beat yourself up over what you can't do. It's better than before and as circumstances improve, so will your food and life.

My wife is a stay at home mom and we also home school, so like you, our income isn't going up (but then, whose is) so something has to give. Luckily, it's not food for us, but we also have to sacrifice.

This is the order I chose to go paleo: http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

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85 · July 23, 2011 at 7:11 AM

Thanks for your comment. I think you're right in saying to go as far paleo as we can on our budget. We've been gluten-free for a few years, so we really didn't eat a lot of grains compared to the SAD before Paleo, probably one meal a day, mostly brown rice. We don't eat sugar, processed foods, etc, so there is really nowhere left to trim.

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72 · July 23, 2011 at 4:08 AM

We're a single income couple with two young kids in New Zealand. Our nation relies on grassfed beef, lamb and dairy as our main export and it is very rare to find grainfed. The downside of this means that the locals supplement the industry by paying through the nose for meat at home. Paleo's saving grace for our family is that by eliminating dairy from our diets, we've removed 30 or 40 bucks from the food bill (we put it back into meat).

As veggies cost a lot here, we do our best to grow our own. We've managed to source some grain-free eggs from a dietician friend for as cheap as crap eggs.

We initially started out by removing gluten & diary, and then got bitten by the paleo bug when we saw huge health gains in both ourselves and our wee ones from this initial adjustment. It is bloody expensive, but I'm convinced we are saving money in physical & emotional health related costs!

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4400 · July 23, 2011 at 4:02 AM

Nora G ("Primal Mind, Primal Body") says her style of Paleo is actually quite cheap. She's from the camp that says meat 2-3x/day is too much, that excess protein, while firing some good pathways, isn't best for longevity. She was just interviewed by Angelo Coppola on Latest in Paleo episode 24. You might check that out and see if you're a buyer of her approach. In sum, she advocates low carb and low protein, and therefore she says to get most of your calories from paleo fats, which isn't so expensive.

B2e7d32d88eefb6c30360fef9fda4240
85 · July 23, 2011 at 7:08 AM

Thanks for this info - I've noticed I haven't felt completely 'satisfied' eating so much protein compared to when I was on the WAPF diet, and I think it's because I'm not eating enough fat.

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325 · July 23, 2011 at 2:47 AM

I have 4 kids and a husband. We also homeschool and only have one income. It is expensive! But the kids and the husband aren't as paleo as I am. The kids eat a lot more fruit. I'm in charge of what the kids eat almost all the time. The only meal I do for my husband is dinner. I still make some rice and potatoes for dinner for them. I use in-season veggies and fruits. And I have a large garden. I don't usually buy organic, because I simply can't afford it. I can't afford fancy grass-fed beef or smart chicken. We live 40 miles from a decent grocery, so even if I could afford the groceries, I couldn't afford the gas. We use the farmer's market every week and plan meals around what is available. I have 20 acres, so I'm looking into what it would take to get a couple of our own cows/beef and pigs. I'm definatley getting some chickens - before paleo I couldn't imagine what to do with all the eggs. Now I know. I've had to make compromises because of cost. It sucks. I know. And I think your food is much more expensive than ours!

Hmmm, I wonder how many homeschoolers are paleo? Seems a trend....

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205 · July 15, 2012 at 7:53 PM

I am also a paleo homeschooling mom of 4, but without the 20 acres. Over on the Well Trained Mind forum there seems to be a growing number of paleo/primal homeschooling families. Happy to how found some other like minded folks.

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24538 · July 23, 2011 at 10:18 AM

I don't know who to credit with this quote, but I love it, "You can either pay your grocer or you can pay your doctor."

You can mess around with your paleo percentages, maybe your family has noticable health benefits from 70% or even 60% compliance, then you're only having to worry about 2 out of 3 meals.

I've been surprised to find that my grocery bill is actually less than it was before having cut out a lot of dairy and packaged foods. We do a lot of direct from the farmer organ meats, and ground pork and beef. We've started getting deliveries of fruit and veggies directly from farmers too (way cheaper than the store). We're also growing our own veggies, herbs, and some fruit. Kale and collards are super easy to grow and they produce almost year round (for $3 of seed, I've gotten at least $50 of produce). Whenever I run out of condiments, coconut oil, butter, and those things that come from the store I do get some crazy sticker shock, but we don't need to do that very often.

I don't know what a dozen eggs goes for there, but here they are a really affordable protein source.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes do add a nice bulk to meals without being too expensive. If you aren't all trying to lose weight pad things out with rice too.

You don't have to buy everything organic. If it is something where the skin is discarded, you can often get away with conventional growing methods. It becomes more of a human rights for farm workers issue with things like bananas. Although I actually feel guiltier thinking of someone being poisened for a days work rather than slightly poisening myself.

If you have anywhere to go fishing or clamming, kids usually like it.

If you can front the money, and have a big freezer, buying a whole cow is usually quite a bit cheaper than buying cuts.

If you have a big yard with lots of brush to clear, you could always try keeping goats. Maybe adds some ducks, or chickens too. Sounds like a fun homeschooling project to me, and you could sell the duck eggs to pay for meat.

And...if the budget is really tight and your kids aren't allergic to peanuts or gluten eating a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches per week probably won't hurt them.

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85 · July 26, 2011 at 11:33 AM

We do eat a lot of eggs - about 5 dozen a week for 2 adults, and two small kids. We get them from a friend at $5.50 a dozen, which is a good price here. We do try to grow some food, but we're in the middle of winter and nothing much is growing! We're also renting, so can't have livestock or plant trees. I'd love to have a farm, but property prices here are crazy (I live in a town of 3700 and the average house price is $450,000 - consequences of living in the state with the most unaffordable housing in the world). Hadn't thought of fishing - maybe it's an option for us. :)

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24538 · July 29, 2011 at 9:39 AM

When I've lived in expensive areas I've noticed that food was more expensive too. It's a bummer if you are trying to eat on a budget. I was just wondering if you could barter for the eggs if they're from a friend.

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20 · July 23, 2011 at 2:30 AM

I would also like to know what some other families do to make it work. I am trying to "paleofy" my family of seven,not easy in many ways. One of which is on the pocketbook.

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295 · July 23, 2011 at 1:06 PM

I homeschool and my husband is in the Army. Im the only one in our family of 5 who eats completely Paleo. So for dinners I choose to make what I eat and they eat it. I only raised the budget by $40 for Paleo items. I get my veggies at the farmers market or in my farm box every other week. I get my eggs from someone locally and currently we are picking a farm to purchase a large amount of beef from. It's a big up front cost but it's so much cheaper in the long run. I think if my husband was on board 100% then it would be easier to get the kids to do it. My grocery bill is $800 a month. It is divided every other week. I shop at 5 different stores and coupon for all my cleaning supplies and kids snacks. We don't buy soda, sugary snacks, or boxes of any sort. They snack on tortilla chips with salsa, water, string cheese, and tons of fruit. I didn't cut back on any thing I use to buy I freeze bread, cheese and tortillas for them. I still need to compromise with my hubby he does not like the grocery bill so I try to compromise once in a while.

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1548 · July 23, 2011 at 7:36 AM

We do it by raising out own meat and buy eating lots of meat, cream and butter. That is for the adults, the children get some fruit and sweet potatoes. We buy enough veggies to flavor our food. When you compare cost per calorie meat and grain often are negligible in cost difference. It's funny that the fatty burger is cheaper too, so that kind of works out for me as I like the fat.

THe overall quantities of food consumed is so much lower than when carbs were in the diet. It really ends up being almost the same portions of the SAD just minus the starch. I eat a steak a day and some fat from cream, but the overall volume of food I consume is much lower than before so the costs are mitigated that way some as well.

I do tend to splurge on nicer meats and cheeses since my diet is so limited. But I am of the opinion that you have not really lived if you have not eaten a ribeye a night for a week. Imagine our ancestors having to eat the same thing for months at a time and realize that it is normal and that there is no shame in it. If you want to try and perfect your chili recipe there is no shame in working on it for a while. THere is a benefit to this: Buying in bulk can save you $.

The $ saved in toilet paper alone will offset any increases in food costs... ;)

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