Im only 18 and i work at winn-dixie, i pay for my own college tuition at uwf, and i'm saving for a car. O.x help.
Whole9 has a good overall guide: Paleo Poor, Your guide to the grocery store. It gives a good description of where to spend your budget in a grocery store and what alternatives to look for to save money. That being said, where you shop can matter just as much. You don't want to end up spending $80 for 6 things at Whole Foods.
The biggest part of your budget is going to be protein. Ethnic grocery stores will make your life much easier if you can't afford primo grass-fed beef. Halal and kosher butchers are a good source for beef, goat, and poultry (halal and kosher both require proper raising, feeding, humane slaughter, and no freezing of meat or poultry). Mexican and Vietnamese grocery stores can be decent sources of pork and other pig parts. Asian grocery stores are the best place for cheap fresh fish and seafood (it's still swimming).
For produce, Asian grocery stores, local farmers markets (and some flea markets) are great sources. The farmers markets also mean seasonal and fresh ingredients.
For coconut oil and non-grain flours, kimchis, and natto (if you can stomach it) definitely start out at an Asian grocery store. Indian grocery stores for spices (and spice mixes) and ghee.
Other pantry staples, you should be just fine at your local supermarket, just remember to read the labels! Preservatives, thickeners, sodium, and random items seem to make it into every packaged item imaginable ...
For me, being paleo on a budget means living on a lot of offal that, despite being grass-fed, is actually cheaper than most CAFO meat in my area. I'm lucky enough to have a nearby butcher shop that I can walk into and be guaranteed grass-fed/pastured everything. But before I tried that place, I would call up meat vendors at farmer's markets in my area to check on prices for their less popular parts, and then ask them to make sure to be in stock for the weekend market. A lot of butchers/vendors will not list these items on their boards/websites/whatever because they are unpopular, but if you poke around you can be sure to find some cheap goodies.
Mark's Daily Apple has a few articles pertaining to cheapness that might be helpful: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/organ-meats/#axzz1kElusW8p
Other than that, I second what's already been said. Good luck!
I live on a very limited budget. I do give food a bigger slice of my total funds than you might expect because I'd rather invest in health than medicine.
I don't use much myself, but if you are young, active and lean there's no reason not to use a little white rice and other low-price starches (rutabagas, sweet potatoes) as "cheap filler" to make your meat, vegetables and fruit more filling.
You didn't describe your living arrangement. Do you have a slow cooker, and can you use it where you live? I scrounge the meat dept. and buy packages of bones and low-price packages and then make magic in the slow cooker. I look for fresh vegetables and fruits that are in season or in good supply and therefore reasonably priced and the vegetables go in the slow-cooker in increments. I add new veggies every few days so they don't get too over-cooked. Eggs are relatively cheap even if you spend the money for organic.
If you watch for specials, you can stock up on things like sardines in olive oil and wild salmon, etc., then eat them in between fresh meals and stews.
I save a lot of money by not buying soft drinks or snacks other than pork rinds (and those I buy minimally processed in large chunks.) I then spend that money on fresh vegetables and fruits. I also save by not buying a lot of cleaning, laundry and hygiene products. I bought some soap nuts, which I use for most of that. For heavy duty cleaning I use vinegar. My exception is dishes, but I buy the cheapest brand I can find and use as little as possible.
Consider getting a farm share. You get what's in season--which is usually the most delicious anyways! A lot of CSAs now have meat and eggs as options now too.
If you have freezer space, a lot of people save on meat by buying 1/2 a cow. Otherwise, learn to like the "less desirable" parts like organ meat. Of course, eggs are the cheapest protein source!
Wake up early, head off to your local butcher, make a friend, and grab lots of beef bones. Add the gelatinous broth to everything you cook; great way to sneak in micronutrients. Cost: Free to pretty dang cheap.
Stew meat is pretty cheap. Cost: 3-5 dollars per pound.
Canned Sardines, avoid BPA as much as possible. Cost: ~1 dollar per can.
Eggs. Cost: 2-3 dollars for a dozen.
Vegetables. Whatever's cheap in the grocery store that day/week. Cost: 4-5 dollars for a couple bunches of whatever.
Russet Potatoes (if you roll that way). Cost: 1-3 dollars for a pretty large amount.
Beans (if you roll that way). Properly prepared, (soaked + vinegar). Cost: 2-3 dollars per bag.
Think nutrient dense. Produce, unadulterated meats + canned fish, main. Potatoes, beans, and rice if you're really tight.
I've never been in such a tight situation. I admire how you're keeping it up though. It's definitely possible though.
Here are some good tips for following a paleo diet on a budget:
Plan your meals & don't waste food! Now that I am spending a bit more $$ on food, I make sure to eat every.last.bit. Nothing goes to waste in my house! Save chicken carcasses for homemade stock, shop in the reduced produce section (if you are planning on eating the veggies right away), cook lean-CAFO meats in good quality sources of fat (coconut oil, kerry gold), buy foods in season (they'll be a lot cheaper and taste better!), maybe go in on a cow share with someone, buy lots and lots of canned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel...great sources of omega-3s), etc. etc. I am a grad student as well, so I don't have a lot of money either. But I do a lot of the things mentioned above and its working for me!
Step 1. Read the Paleo Poor guide listed above.
Step 2. You work at Winn-Dixie. So, you know when the ultra lean beef goes 'on sale'. Don't do anything illegal or against company policy, buts its always good to know the meat man.
Step 3. You work at Winn-Dixie. There has to be some massive upside to working at the grocery store. What happens to the veggies/fruits that don't get sold?
See if you can befriend some vendors too.
In my town there is a meat 'truck' that comes around now and then and is selling stuff that normally goes to restaurants ultra cheap.
Don't get lunch from the salad bar at Whole Foods. Instead make a salad with fresh stuff from the produce department and get some smoked salmon. The price of one salad at the salad bar is enough to make a few days of salad.
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