Eating paleo is, for many of us, one of the best dietary choices we've ever made. Cutting out bread, legumes, dairy, and other digestively agitating foods can eliminate food allergy symptoms and other modern ailments that come from a too-modern diet. Of course, living on fresh natural foods can get fairly pricy if you're new to paleo grocery strategy.
Most of us paleo pros quickly get the hang of shopping for meat and produce from local sources and in bulk to keep the price of good food in a reasonable budget range. For those of use who are shopping on a careful budget, there are plenty of tricks you can use to build a wonderful paleo diet without inflating your limited grocery budget.
1) Know Your Local Butcher
Get your food right from the source for the best prices. The more times food is bought and sold, the higher the markup will be. If you want good cuts of meat - and a lot of meat each week - then find a local butcher to shop with. You may have a grocery store with a real butcher or you can find a local butcher shop in your region. Buy your cuts of meat directly and at bulk discounts.
You can also join in whole-animal sharing programs, pitching in for part of a whole cow or pig. The discounts on these cuts are profound compared to grocery store filets and steaks.
2) Focus on Seasonal Produce
Don't get hooked on one kind of fruit or vegetable. Routine is nice, but good prices are better. Seasonal produce is what is harvesting and available right now. There is the highest supply and the lowest demand for seasonal veggies and fruits so that is where you will find the lowest prices. Natural ingredients can get expensive, but only if you insist on buying organic and hot-house fruits that aren't naturally available during each season.
Seasonal produce is the key both to a variety in your diet and a reduction in grocery costs for a healthy paleo diet every week.
3) Meal Planning & Ingredient Sharing
Plan your meals ahead. If you're cooking from inspiration or cookbooks, there are many ingredients that might pop up or need purchasing. Instead, plan for the meals you'll cook based on the ingredients you can find bulk and affordable. You can also choose ingredients that are shared over multiple recipes so that you can always feel some freedom to choose your menu even with a limited shopping list. Consider the many meals you can make with fresh chicken and mixed chopped vegetables. From roast to stir fry, recipes that share ingredients make it easy to stock up on staples at the store and enjoy variety at home.
4) Buy Produce Directly from Farms
Direct connection to nearby farms is the key to affordable and high-quality produce. You can join a farm sharing group of people who buy a percentage of a local farm's produce or join a produce delivery service for a box of fresh produce each week. Many paleo home chefs shop at the local farmer's market. This is a gathering of local farmers and other fresh food providers to sell their product directly instead of through grocery stores. Shopping at the local farmer's market can put you in touch with your local farms and provide a great place for seasonal produce.
5) Work With Whole Animals and Parts
Want a lot of meat for a little price? Buy a portion or an entire animal carcass. You don't have to buy the whole cow, but join a cow sharing program where you and a few others might split up the large cuts of an entire cow along with the organs, bones, and connective tissue that make highly nutritious but more challenging-to-cook ingredients.
Cook whole chickens into soups and stews. Buy whole haunches of beef, pork, or lamb to work with. The more of an animal you can commit to purchasing, the more affordable each pound of meat will be. You can always freeze what doesn't get eaten this week.
6) Render Your Own Fats
Fats are a very important part of the paleo diet. They are where many of the bulk calories come from and they provide oil for most of your cooking. Buying cooking oil is hardly necessary if you know how to render fats. Keep your bacon grease in a jar. Buy well-marbled cuts of meat and keep the drippings. Use these instead of cooking oil to save money on fats and instead of butter to replace that dairy staple that no longer fits in your paleo diety.
7) Try New Cuts of Meat
Another thing you can try is unusual or unfamiliar cuts of meat. Your local grocery store likely always has a few deli cuts on sale. The reason is low demand. You might find that you like shoulder, strip, or rump roast instead of the center steak cuts we're trained to recognize and trust. There is stew meat, chuck, chops, and other cuts you may be wholly unfamiliar with.
Instead of only buying familiar meats, try these unusual cuts. Discover their flavor and find recipes that work for these less expensive cuts of meat.
8) Buy On Sale & Freeze the Extra
The paleo diet focuses on natural ingredients, but they don't have to be fresh. Thawed frozen foods are almost as good as farm fresh ingredients when it comes to cooking paleo at home. This frees you up for two options to buy in bulk and store the extra in your freezer. The first is buying large bags of frozen foods when its on sale. Things like huge sacks of chicken legs or frozen chopped vegetables can be a real investment for paleo on a budget.
The second option is buying fresh food in bulk and freezing the extra. Patty and freeze extra ground beef into single-servings ready for the pan. Make copious casserole and freeze extra portions. Anything you don't eat this week becomes frozen ingredients for future weeks of already-budgeted paleo cooking.
Going paleo on a budget doesn't have to be challenging if you know where to find fresh food at a low cost. Paleo is all about increasing your food quality by focusing only on foods your body knows how to process. Paleo on a budget is simply the challenge of hunting and gathering in the modern environment until we find the best hunting grounds and best ways to cook our findings. Contact us to further explore the potential of paleo in your life, meshed with your personal methods and lifestyle.