I had a comment the other day asking for some paleo/clean eating budget friendly foods.
I’m going to be honest here and tell you that I make the choice to spend a large part of my monthly income on food. I buy organic, natural and local whenever possible and these things aren’t cheap. I also don’t buy the cheap filler foods like grains very often, so the food I am eating is on average more expensive per calorie than most.
However, I do look for less expensive alternatives!
Well first let’s start with the wallet killer than is meat… and I mean the good quality stuff. Organic, grass-fed and lean cuts of meat are pricey in the extreme; running anywhere from $5-$20 per pound. I eat probably 4-6 oz of meat 3-4 times per day. So how can you trim that cost? There are a couple of options:
- Eat other, less expensive protein options like eggs, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, tempeh, or protein powders. I usually have one of these protein options for the other 2-3 meals I eat per day.
- Buy less expensive cuts of meat like lean ground meat, stewing cuts, tougher cuts etc. I make a lot of stew this time of year and the meat that goes in there is pretty good quality, just not the “pretty” cuts.
- Buy direct from the farmer. Did you know you can get frozen meat delivered right to your door? Well you can… just run some searches for organic or naturally raised meats in your area and something will pop up… in Toronto Brooker’s Meats, is a great option.
- Eat less red meat. Let’s face it… chicken just costs less.
- Eat non-organic/non-natural. I don’t recommend this because I think that the quality of the food you put into your body is paramount, but sometimes (especially with chicken for some reason) organic costs like 4 times the price and it’s just not reasonable.
Ok, so what about veggies? Well if you pop over to Mark’s Daily Apple here he tells you which veggies and produce are the least likely to have pesticides and chemicals and therefore are the ones you can save money on and not buy organic. Some tips I use:
- Use canned tomatoes and chopped up onions (both VERY cheap ingredients) to add bulk to recipes.
- Go to farmers markets. I frequently find that farmers markets are actually cheaper than grocery stores for fruit and veg because you cut out the middle man.
- Buy frozen and in bulk. Costco is your friend if you aren’t worried about organic. You can buy huge bags of berries, fruits, asparagus and mixed veg at extremely low prices.
Grains, beans and dairy are pretty low price items, but I don’t typically consume a lot of these. I consider these foods that add a lot of carbs and calories to meals without a lot of nutritional benefit. So I would spend my money elsewhere if I were you… but I’m not, so those might be some good options. Just choose things like sprouted grains, soak your beans and try to find organic milk. Those options are more expensive so I basically just failed utterly on that recommendation.
Then it’s just a matter of throwing things together. Check out this post of my standard formula for meals. Once you know what ingredients cost a little less it’s just a matter of using them in interesting ways.