Hey I was wondering for college people out there with a college budget what is your typical monthly budget for food, for those keeping paleo/primal. Also what is it that you find most challenging about paleo/primal diet as a college student. Just doing a bit of a survey so I can advise my cousin and make up a plan for her. THANKS everyone.
Me and my boyfriend are at about the $80-100 a week as well I'm pretty sure. Which is a lot on the budget of two full-time college students who work pretty part time. We eat a lot of food though, which I'm hoping might decrease as our appetites get under control. (Haven't been straight paleo for very long at this point). We spend some extra on stuff like grass-fed butter, and organic coconut oil. We buy grain-fed meat (grass-fed is hard to find locally and what there is is EXPENSIVE). When we really shop we essentially have to go to 2 or 3 different stores to put everything together. One of them carries the grass-fed butter and organic coconut oil at good prices, and has an excellent selection of organic produce at really low prices (this store is Sprouts), then we go to another store for meat (MarketStreet United) since it is less expensive and they often have good sales that we can take advantage of, and then if we feel up to it we might also go to Wal-Mart for some stuff to get it cheaper. Yes, it's a pain in the a** but once it's all home and put away we eat pretty well.
I think buying the food (as long as the $ is there to buy it) is the easy part. Buy enough meat and veggies to get you through the week. Buy some staple fat sources and seasonings to start out and restock as needed. Buy a little fruit for the week. The hard part when you are a student is the preparation. Going through the drive-thru at McDonalds or picking up a tray in the dining hall are way different than cooking every meal you eat yourself. If there is space I would highly recommend your cousin investing in a good-sized slow cooker. You can cook a large amount of food (such as whole chickens as mentioned above, which are also an excellent budget option, I bought mine at a little over 50 cents a pound) that will provide a few meals and all you have to do is throw everything in there, set it and forget it! I have started throwing stuff in there at night before I go to bed and letting it cook overnight and then having it for lunch/dinner the next day. Got a roast and tons of veggies we are going to have for lunch in there right now.
The slow-cooker is also a useful tool for getting the most of your meat. The broth left over can be used for other things, for example, I made chicken broth with the bones and liquid left after cooking our whole chicken and I'm going to use it to make soup.
I think making the microwave your friend is helpful also. Nomnompaleo.com I believe has some cook microwave cooking tips for recipes, and I'm sure there are others as well. There are also a lot of paleo specific slow cooker recipes out there. Also, freezer space is great to have. Buy meat on sale in bulk and all you have to do is freeze it. Our freezer is full of pork ribs that were on sale last time we went.
It is not the easiest thing to be a student and eat paleo, but it is doable and there are lots of ways to make it easier and more convenient. As far as having to be away from home for hours at a time and not able to cook a meal, if your brain can take it, (which it may very well be able to after a while on paleo), consider it some intermittent fasting. I typically don't eat breakfast on school days and don't eat until I get home hours later. So really, I'm IFing (not on purpose). I used to not be able to do this (hypoglycemia) and I still sometimes can't quite make it without feeling woozy before I get home. (I suspect this will improve the longer I eat paleo) A sandwich bag filled with trail mix sort of mix is usually what I do. Nuts, coconut flakes, dehydrated fruits, stuff like that. Protein/fat/carbs are all in there and it makes a tasty snack that you can carry along with you. Look for the bulk bins in local grocery stores and you could probably put something tasty together for not too much money. Just make sure dehydrated fruits don't have added sugars and stuff like that.
Paleo can be really difficult as a student because you are so busy and there are a lot of temptations that may not be as present at later times in life. My biggest challenge has been being on campus for 8-10 hours and needing to take multiple meals/snacks. It's really just about planning/cooking ahead and also knowing where you can find a microwave! Lately I've been buying a whole chicken, baking it, and cutting it up into lunch size portions. I add a vegetable to it, and it's fairly quick to prepare.
A huge temptation that I have struggled with is living with roommates. My roommates couldn't care less about their health and are fairly overweight. I'm surrounded by oreo's, macaroni and cheese, and millions of other things I can't have. It's not that you really want those things, but the fact that you know you shouldn't have them. Also, there seems to be a constant disgust with a young person caring so much about their health. Hopefully they have more supportive roommates (or not roommates haha) than I do. Lastly, it seems that alcohol is everywhere I go! This is obviously not paleo, and something you gotta deal with. I drink tequila from time to time because Robb Wolf says it's okay, but it's easiest to just not drink any of it. You absolutely can tell a difference. Hope this helps!
My fiancee and I were able to eat Paleo for about $80-100 a week, and that fed us both. Granted, we didn't drink much, so that cut down cost, and we lived in West Michigan when we went to school, so our groceries were a bit cheaper than they might be elsewhere.
One of the most challenging things we faced early on was that our friends didn't quite understand, which is true with almost any person who goes paleo. However, I'd imagine it's a bit more difficult at college.
Also, it you dont have a kitchen, and you're eating from a dinning hall, that can be quite difficult, but doable.
Time was also a bit of a factor. Since Paleo requires more time than just throwing ramon noodles in a pot etc, we had to be fairly diligent about our time to make sure that it didn't intrude on our studies.
Everything in college is food-related. Every event has pizza and sweets, everyone always wants to go out for fro-yo or ice cream or whatever, and that can definitely be isolating. If you can handle the temptation, I find eating Paleo at college really easy, whether it's in the dining hall or cooking for yourself. Dining halls are easy to navigate: salad bar with meat from the burger/sandwich station, omelets, fruit and veggies... I'm also not much of a partier, so the lack of alcohol was never an issue for me.
I'm doing a term abroad, and I'm actually cooking here (I had a dining plan back home)-- I spent about £20 ($30) on food a week (so about $120ish a month), and usually make a ton of chili or something and live on the leftovers. Eggs are also really cheap, and omelets/scrambles require very little time to cook.
I normally don't self-promote, but here's a link to my blog, which covers doing Paleo at college... and I have a bunch of relatively cheap/easy recipes too. http://www.paleoatpenn.blogspot.com
I live in Sweden, so this might not be applicable for your cousin. Anyways:
~$1200 Student support (one part loan+ one part paid by government, studying is free)
~$135 Housing benefit (government paid)
= ~$1335 to spend
~$450 Food (yes, that's only for me)
~$435 (i.e. the rest) goes to public transport, concerts, clothes, alcohol/coffee (maybe it counts as food), random stuff
To food i include:
- Supplements like high vitamin butter oil and fermented cod liver oil
- Organic and/or locally produced vegetables/fruits/meat/cheese made from raw milk/butter/eggs/coconut oil/spices/raw goat milk/kimchi/sauerkraut
I ferment the milk (usually goat) with kefir grains and I make ghee with the butter. I prefer cheaper meat pieces that have lots of fat/bones and I eat liver once a week (really cheap). Carbs (if your not into the low-carb stuff) are usually consisted of either rice or potatoes. I'm not making the kimchi/sauerkraut myself yet, but that would cut down the price a little bit.
The most challenging would probably be the constant decision-making: should i spend this and that on food or should I save for other stuff i love like traveling. If I had the money, I could easily double my food expenses, so buying food today is always a question of restraining myself. Another thing that can be troublesome is the time it takes to make food everyday, if you don't want to store cooked food in the fridge from time to time (which i prefer not to do). Other than that I feel absolutely awesome.-----
I normally spend about €45,- per week on food (no alcohol whatsoever). I have about 2-3 cheatmeals per week. IF-ing turned out to be very useful on college-days for me, no hassle in the morning cooking lunch/diner for when you're at the university.
I usually have one or two egg-centered meals a day and either a vegetarian (curry or a stew mostly) or meat/fish meal in the evening. Making vegetarian curries with lentils/chickpeas (I know, not 100% paleo, shush :p) and a good load of coconutmilk and coconutoil helps keeping the costs down.
One can easily make a lot of inexpensive meals centered around organ meats, fattier cuts of meat, potato, rice and eggs.
By using those as a base, your cousin can get a lot more "bang for the buck" and still have some extra cash to treat his/herself to more fun Paleo fare if inclined.
I get 270 euros every week. As grass-fed meat is really expensive, and organic produce too, it's just enough to buy my food. I have to work a lot to get money for supplements, gelatin, coconut oil, ... Replacing muscle meat with bones, gelatin, organs and shellfish helps.
I am required to be on a meal plan at my college, about $1750 a semester for the cheaper option (approx 16 weeks). I am really unhappy with the quality and options so I am going to pursue getting off the plan next semester.
Doing the math, that is over $100 a week for one person! I eat two meals a day typically. I certainly do not eat that much here and have to spend additional money to supplement (Coconut/sardines/paleo non-perishable stables).
I think it all depends on where you're located too. I'm in a borough outside NYC, there are plenty of health food store options but prices can get high occasionally.
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