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Old 06-04-2007, 05:22 PM   #1
Amy Crawford
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I'm giving serious consideration to moving toward a paleo diet. It makes a lot of sense.

Problem is the $. We're a family of 4 (2 adults, a preschooler, & a toddler), and I budget about $100 per week for groceries. Some things I always buy organic (the top 10 list), we cook "healthy" meals for the most part (healthy compared to the average American family), and I make a lot of our staples and snacks (homemade whole wheat bread, granola, chex snack mix, graham crackers). Yes I know not very paleo, but good options for little ones and for a husband that drives all day long. We bought a half steer last fall, but we're almost through that.

I can't see how I can do this whole-heartedly. I mean, even if I did have the money, working AND trying to do it all at home, with a ton of help from my husband, seems so overwelming sometimes that I'm happy that we're eating something homemade and not getting take out.

Also, taking this leap seems like such a huge endeavor. Little ones can be pretty finicky, and they love their wheat, rice, potatoes, milk, and cheese. Again, it's almost all homemade things, but defnitely not paleo.

Where to start? Any suggestions for me? Or should I just gradually change things? Would IF be a good/better bet for someone in my shoes?

Thanks!
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Old 06-04-2007, 06:21 PM   #2
Jeff Evans
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My situation is a bit different from yours (23 y/o single male) but I did notice my grocery bill skyrocketing when I started Paleo. However, a few months into it I'm getting a bit smarter.

First look for alternate food sources. Farmers markets and the like are cheaper than grocery stores and usually much higher quality. There are plenty of good search engines to find such places near you. Also my understanding is that the "organic" label is kinda BS. Basically they have to pay a fee to get certified and that's why it costs more. More important than the organic label is simply knowing where something came from (a local farmer may not want to pay for this label even though his food is likely more "organic" than what they have at the supermarket).

Speaking of farmers, look for local farms in your area. In my area (Chicago burbs) there are local farms that will deliver baskets of fresh veggies/meat/eggs to your door every week at lower-than-Jewel prices. I signed up for one but unfortunately the deliveries haven't started yet but I will certainly give some impressions once they do.

Also I get the impression preserving is big with Paleo people. Get a decent size freezer and buy meat and other stuff when it's on sale. Also I got a dehydrator and I'm really enticed by the possibilities there (so far my jerky has turned out rather poorly though).

If you must shop at traditional grocery stores, I suggest looking for Trader Joe's. A lot of their stuff isn't "ideal" (watch for canola oil, added salt&sugar, etc.) but it's leaps and bounds better than large grocers (cheaper too). Whole Foods is good too but significantly more expensive. There may be some other good places depending on the region but those are the ones I know.

Good luck!
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Old 06-04-2007, 06:57 PM   #3
Amy Crawford
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Thanks Jeff. We do buy a lot from our farmers' market, although that's pretty expensive. And the nearest Trader Joe's is about 4 hours away. We do have a full size freezer, which has been a blessing. We had signed up for a fruit/veggie share, but that got cancelled due to a frigid spell (below 20) for about 5 days in early April. Yeah, I sound like I'm making excuses, and maybe I am. But I just can't blow our budget on this.
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Old 06-04-2007, 09:10 PM   #4
Jeff Evans
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Ah, well unfortunately it sounds like you'll have a harder time finding quality food sources. I would also suggest you check out international/Asian food stores. There's one by my place that has some fairly "paleo" stuff for very cheap (like curry powder, coconut milk, etc.) and plenty of cheap fresh seafood.

Also when you are evaluating your budget make sure to examine medical expenses for the family, lost time at work due to illness, etc. Many on paleo claim to have zero or close to zero medical expenses, which depending on the situation, could be a significant savings.

Finally, let me posit that your health is invaluable. I can't claim to know how difficult it is to budget for a family, but in my case I no longer worry about spending even twice as much on groceries as before. If nothing else you can try it out for a while and examine the effect it has on your budget and the overall financial picture (I would be surprised if it had much of a negative impact).
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Old 06-05-2007, 01:41 AM   #5
Brandon Oto
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I truly don't think you can feed four with $100 a week on Paleo.
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Old 06-05-2007, 05:02 AM   #6
Steve Liberati
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It can be done. Certainly not on $100/wk like Brandon said, but it can be done.

While Trader Joe's is great and my favorite supermarket of choice, I think you can do much better for the money. Quality may drop off a bit, but so what (as long as your still eating paleo).

For fresh fruits and veggies, go to a Walmart Super Center. Stopped there last night for some office supplies and picked up a bag of Red Delicious apples (clean and round looking) for 4 bucks. Apples at TJ's are about .60 each (.75 for organic).

For meats, I think your best bet will to buy some ground meat (grassfed if you can) in bulk and freeze it. I bought 25 lbs from US Wellness a few months back and loved it. For variety, get creative. Add sauces, seasonings, flavors to it whatever so the kids don't get sick of it. You can even make taco meat (while its cooking just add some taco seasoning...and top it off with some shredded cheese and sour cream. Makes for a tasty kid-friendly meal).

Also, you can buy various nuts and seeds in bulk and store to keep them in an easy accessible container on the counter as a healthy snack. This should also help to keep stomachs full throughout the day to avoid junk and large meals.

Remember the price for good health is certainly not cheap. Then again neither is the price for poor health. While you'll pay out the nose for both, good health will greatly improve the quality of your family's life.
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Old 06-05-2007, 06:36 AM   #7
Michael Tong
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I buy fryer chickens at $.79/lb from Costco. I cut out the breast for me (single, no kids) and the rest of the bird is natural dog food for my two German Shepherds. So, they get food much better than commercial kibble, and I eat chicken breast for $.79/lb. It takes all of 2 minutes to cut up a bird. You could easily find different ways to prepare chicken to be able to use 2-3 fryer chickens per week, and still not have a boring diet for the family.

In my area, there are a number of grass-fed ranchers that sell for $2.00 - $2.50/lb. in bulk.

It always seems overwhelming at first. Perhaps start Paleo eating one meal at a time. First few weeks, just do breakfast. Next, perhaps dinner - assuming lunch is the meal that is mostly eaten away from home and hardest to prepare and control.

I am not sure I would advocate strict paleo eating for kids. I think letting them eat a variety but keeping it healthy would be more important. As I mentioned, I don't have kids so cannot speak from experience but I wouldn't want them to build up intolerances to foods.

Starting somewhere, and adjusting later where money/time permits, is probably better than not starting at all. For instance, cutting sugar and salt is paleo, but will have little effect on your grocery budget.
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Old 06-05-2007, 09:37 AM   #8
Chris Honnon
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Good post Michael. I think you hit the nail on the head regarding both the Paleo and children as well as the changing whatever is possible rather than nothing at all. Progress is progress.

I can definitely relate Amy. I have recently begun a Paleo transition and my grocery bill has increased substantially. We are already a "paycheck to paycheck" household so this is something I've been paying close attention to. On the plus side though, my "dining out" expenses have started going down as my path gets narrower.

I am the only person in my house that is actively pursuing dietary changes but I am also the primary cook in the house. Therefore my changes are already trickling down to my wife and children. They are far from being interested in the same level of change that I have been working toward but they are inevitably impacted in a positive way.

Just like most children my kids are finicky so a drastic change for them is out of the question. I think this actually contributes to the elevated expenses as well since I have to continue to accomodate the needs of varying appetites. I believe this will smooth out some over time. Until then I have to keep working that delicate balancing act between convenience, cost, and health!

The way I see it is that the changes I'm making are changes in my way of life thus there will be ample opportunity for a gradual change for the rest of my household. In the meantime I will be a power of example to my children.

Buying my produce and meats at Costco has helped a great deal as I end up paying nearly half as much for what is often better quality stuff. I stock up on nuts and get all of my spices/herbs from the bulk bins at one of the local food Co-Ops. I've also just started looking into CSA farms in my area since reading another thread here recently; I've heard this can also add to the cost savings (not to mention the socio/ecological benefits).

Good luck, where there's a will there's a way!

Chris

(Message edited by chrisinvt on June 05, 2007)
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Old 06-05-2007, 09:52 AM   #9
Jordan Glasser
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Alot of great advice here. I liked what michael said, and that is one meal at a time. It is a difficult endeavor to be 100% paleo for your entire family. But, if you slowly add more and more paleo meals into your weekly menu, perharps it will make it a little easier, and a lot less stressful to find cheap ways to keep a paleo diet. If it helps some, I do consume less calories on a paleo diet, and am often less hungry.
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Old 06-05-2007, 06:23 PM   #10
Amy Crawford
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Thanks for the good advice. I think I will simply make single meal changes. I'm already planning a paleo supper tomorrow, which I'm sure everyone will love because it has all things we all like. It is discouraging that it will cost so much to eat in a healthy manner.

I just feel like I'm between a rock and a hard place on this one, partially by choice. The nearest Costco is 2+ hours away. My husband travels there for work, but I'd want to go there to scope out things. The main CSA is sold out for the season, and as I said previously, the one we joined had to be cancelled. I am opposed to Walmart, and our farmers' market is really expensive. My husband obviously travels, and he said he sees road-side markets a lot ... maybe I'll have him hit up those on his travels.

We already eat a lot of fruit and veggies. Our daughters still think "dessert" is only fruit, except for special occasions. But I really want to take that next step, know what I mean?

Anyway, thanks for the advice, and thanks for letting me vent.
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