The wife and I are having to cut costs as I'm quitting my job to go back to school. I'll still have some income, but less than half of what I make right now. As such, cuts have to be made, and it looks like the "unnecessarily high" cost of my paleo diet is in the cross hairs (I've recently gone paleo, she didn't)
After more than two months of easing in, and two weeks of "strict" paleo, I feel great. But today I had my first non-paleo meal in a while: Lintels and some chicken. 15 min later I was bent over the commode revisiting my lunch. Now I feel horrible. And I'm hungry again, 1.5 hours after I ate.
Moral is at a bit of a low. Any ideas on how I can keep the cost of a paleo diet on the low end? I live in a small apartment, so buying half a cow ect is not an option. Based on my stomach’s response to lunch, neither is rice and beans. Any help yall can give me would be greatly appreciated.
I'm a single mom, who is currently laid off and going back to college. I have to drive 160 miles round trip four days a week to school. I get $260 a week from unemployment and I had to sign up for food stamps (208/month). I have a $675 mortgage and I have to sign up for energy assistance to help me pay my electric bill because my gas costs are so exorbitant. I have just now started receiving child support after 8 years of nothing.
You CAN still eat a completely paleo diet. Shop the sales and clip coupons. when you find meat at 1 or 2 bucks a pound, buy a week's worth. Eggs are fairly cheap protein as well. Dark meat chicken is dirt cheap, because everyone thinks it's unhealthy... well it's a heck of a lot better for you than chicken nuggets. You can buy a whole chicken for about 5 bucks... use the bones and stuff to make stock and make your own soup. eat livers... here's a tasty recipe for beef liver (dirt cheap). you can buy beets whole and use the greens as a dish as well. coconut oil is often dirt cheap because it's high in sat fat and most people steer clear of it. buy your produce (and eggs!) seasonally from a farmer's market (localharvest.org). You can still eat completely paleo, but you're gonna have to put effort into it.
you may not be able to afford grass fed meats or organic produce, but at least it's not the SAD. I had to make a choice between pastured meat and organic produce... i chose meat quality (because it eliminated the need to supplement fish oil) over produce quality. I just get rid of the peeling on my produce to reduce risk.
Pay now or pay later. Eating cheap food will make you sick and eventually you'll be at the doctor's office and have to find a way to pay for that. As far as cheap meals go, it's actually pretty easy on paleo: All the good stuff is the cheap stuff that no one wants. 75% lean ground beef, dark meat chicken, organ meats, etc. You can find all of that stuff at the butcher really cheaply. Cook it up, add some veggies and you're done. Nothing fancy, all healthy. (Some people will probably argue that the dark meat chicken is too high in omega-6, but I don't worry about it).
my husband has been unemployed for 15 months, so i definitely think its possible to do it on the cheap! we do get meat shares, but if you dont have storage for it, i think that you can get by really well on just the cheap-o cuts of meat from costco. costco is my BFF. we get the big bags of wild salmon frozen fillets and frozen peeled raw shrimp and eat that a few times a week. i get coconut products from vitacost, and nuts in bulk. ill get the ginormous thing of baby spinach at costco and sautee it immediately to use through the week in sauces, eggs, soups, etc. one thing i used to do and would love to do again s a meal swap with another few families. each week we make a big batch of something, divide it up and swap. obviously you would have to find another paleo or GF family to do this with. vegetable CSAs really save me a ton of cash, even if its a lot up front. dairy is pretty expensive, so i limit it as much as i can. i think that your slow cooker and mason jars might be your best friend! i do a lot of canning and though its a ton of work in the moment, i never regret it in the off season! ill edit this post as more ideas come to me.
Ethnic markets, produce stands, and other out-of-the-way food suppliers often sell for MUCH cheaper than standard grocery or specialty stores (Whole Pay-check I'm looking at you.)
Here is a post with a picture of what I was able to buy with only $20 at one such place near my parents' house in South Florida...$20 fruit stand haul
Next time try soaking and sprouting your lentils. I dont eat them myself, but I prepare them this way for hubby. I always soak them (a bag full) for the day, then drain them but leave them to sit in the bowl on the counter wet, I rewet and drain them every day/once a day, usually 2 days later they are sprouting. I then portion them and freeze them for when I need them. This way they have released the toxins that cause digestion issues, and the sprouting provides much much more protein as sprouted beans.
Test it on lentils first and see if its easier for you to digest.
Maybe you could cut on some areas by doing some things at home (homemade yogurt from milk about to expire, usually on sale; homemade fermented mayo lasts for 8 wks and can be flavored; buying all meats on sale, frozen veggies are cheaper than fresh, or buy all in season)
You can also get beef bones pretty cheap or sometimes free, to make soups, broths, etc.
the organic stuff is usually pretty expensive, so you might need to supplement vitamins if consuming regular products....you'd have to consider the cost of trade offs.
some things you can throw into the routine:
frozen mussels from walmart $3.98/ bag that more than adequately serves 2 people (it's split into two bags if you just want to eat one at a time) plus some good nutrients. I enjoy making mine in a curry cream sauce. Frozen fish like trout is often really economical too and delicious.
hard boiled eggs. a dozen good eggs, even very expensive, very nice eggs are no more than 50cents an egg (that's $6/carton - ive never seen them that expensive even at farmers markets but just saying here..) So 2 hard boiled eggs would be a dollar or less. Combine with some greens and some quality meat for a dirt cheap meal. Also omelettes, etc etc.
Offal and off cuts - miked is totally right about the best stuff often being the cheapest. all you have to do is learn to prepare it. Beef heart is outstandingly delicious when seared rare!
Meat thrift - make stocks from the bones of meat you eat. Roast a chicken, save the carcass and the leg bones (who cares if you chewed on them a bit, after all you're cooking them for like 4 hours). Keep bones in a freezer bag until you have enough to make a good stock.
Start a garden. Tis the season, even if it's a small one, with only some herbs like thyme, basil, rosemary and chives, it will save you money and add to food variety.
Buy animals in 1/4 and 1/2s - its a bit of money upfront but well worth it. Whoever said to go to the local processor who processes hunters' meats was spot on.
Consider where else you can cut costs, can you ride a bike/walk instead of driving places? Do you need extra cable channels you never watch? Can you go in on high speed internet with a neighbor you happen to get along with who might be interested? Switch your cell phone that you never use all the minutes on to prepaid etc etc.
Good luck to you, it can be hard, but it is doable. I moved because of having to take care of my Father, and we took a huge cut in our income, and we moved to a "food desert" -at least by my old standards. I was unemployed for a long time, but the circumstances demanded it and I can tell you, you CAN still eat well. Lousy food isn't cheap either! and as someone else said, pay now, or pay later.
Canned salmon is a big bargain. Add more rice and potatoes for volume.
To be honest if I lost my job I would probably end up in WAPF-diet land soaking the heck out of my oats and legumes and hoping for the best. Not ideal but I couldn't keep up the paleo without my current income.
Let me advise you on frugality: my meals are no greater in cost than $2.00 and yield approx. 750-800 kcal. You simply must be more ascetic in your eating. EG: lean ground beef($1.00/8oz.=500kcal.)+butter(10 gr.@10 cents x 5= 50 gr.=350kcal.)=1 meal for $1.50 give or take the cost of veggies. Simple.
I buy as fatty a roast beef as I can find for less than $2 a pound and I slice it into steaks and then panfry the steaks in coconut oil, butter, a little rosemary, thyme and garlic salt. They taste just like the $8.99 steaks and taste better due to the fat content.
Anytime I see yams/sweet potatoes under 50 cents per pound, I buy twenty pounds and keep in cool dark corner of house.