Author Topic: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet  (Read 5505 times)

cbgg

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Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« on: March 20, 2014, 05:11:54 PM »
Every since going paleo(ish) a few years ago, my grocery bills have been through the roof.  I live alone and spend about $325 on groceries each MONTH!

Yes, I know that is insane and shameful.  (For years prior my grocery bills were in the $135/month range, which I think is normal and not embarrassing?)

Does anyone have tips on how to keep the grocery bill under control when eating this way?  For reference I buy:
 - Lots of fresh produce (mostly non-organic, although I'd love to change this
 - Lots of eggs (high quality is a must for me on this one)
 - Some meat & fish (usually pasture raise/no hormones/you know - fancy)
 - Some cheese
  - occasional pantry good: nuts, nut butters, dried fruits, canned coconut milk, broth, the occasional condiment or spice
 - Occasionally restock on fats (butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil)
 - Some beer & wine

I'm not interested in changing the way that I eat (this diet has been beneficial beyond the $ premium) and I know that food waste is not a part of the problem - I rarely have things go to waste.

Any tips to help bring bills for these sorts of groceries down to earth?

Stacheintraining

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2014, 05:31:08 PM »
Couple tips...

1. Buy in bulk, check out stores like Costco & BJ's
2. Can you substitute beans for meat?
3. Look in to buying your meat in bulk. You can often buy 100% grass-fed beef for 4-5 a pound right from the farmer if you buy 100lbs of it. This assumes you have some sort of chest freezer.

ch12

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2014, 05:42:48 PM »
Every since going paleo(ish) a few years ago, my grocery bills have been through the roof.  I live alone and spend about $325 on groceries each MONTH!

Yes, I know that is insane and shameful.  (For years prior my grocery bills were in the $135/month range, which I think is normal and not embarrassing?)

Does anyone have tips on how to keep the grocery bill under control when eating this way?  For reference I buy:
 - Lots of fresh produce (mostly non-organic, although I'd love to change this
 - Lots of eggs (high quality is a must for me on this one)
 - Some meat & fish (usually pasture raise/no hormones/you know - fancy)
 - Some cheese
  - occasional pantry good: nuts, nut butters, dried fruits, canned coconut milk, broth, the occasional condiment or spice
 - Occasionally restock on fats (butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil)
 - Some beer & wine

I'm not interested in changing the way that I eat (this diet has been beneficial beyond the $ premium) and I know that food waste is not a part of the problem - I rarely have things go to waste.

Any tips to help bring bills for these sorts of groceries down to earth?

I've been Paleo. There's only one thing that I can think of to make your grocery bill go down.

Legumes

Read: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/grocery-expenses-for-the-month!!

There are some Paleo people who don't like legumes (due to phytates?), but they are an essential part of the Slow Carb diet (which has different restrictions, but is  close). http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2012/07/12/how-to-lose-100-pounds/

I'm embarrassed by a grocery bill near the size of yours, but my household is two people.

Expert level: growing some of your own food. Tomatoes are really easy to grow, and they are plentiful in the summer. Same with zucchini. I reduced my grocery bill by a TON by getting pounds and pounds of free apples from my parents' tree. You may still have high grocery bills in the winter, but it might be ok to grow part of your own food in the summer.

phred

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2014, 05:50:21 PM »
join a CSA (community supported agriculture) operation.  Phone your county extension agent for leads on this
grow your own
forage wild foods; forage neighbors' trees who just throw away the tree crop
raise some chickens for eggs
make own beer & wine -- lots of websites for this

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2014, 06:00:14 PM »
Change the ratio of meat/veg to favor vegetables.
Eat less expensive cuts of meat.
Reduce beer/wine.
Buy what is on sale that week (within your range of foods)
Get more calories (proportionally) from cheaper sources (oils, eggs)
Stock up during sales.
Talk to your grocer about the best days to get deals. Our told us that chicken goes on sale every Monday, for example.





cbgg

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2014, 06:29:40 PM »
So many great tips guys, thanks! 

Very good idea about learning to carve up larger pieces of meat like whole chickens.  I don't currently do that but do actually like using all parts of the chicken.  Seems like a useful skill to have.
I'll have to give Costco another look.  I really dislike their produce (seems to go bad quickly) but never even thought about eggs!

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2014, 07:03:44 PM »
I have also found that Costco has good prices on things like coconut oil. My parents always buy their meat there (I don't buy much meat).

TomTX

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2014, 07:49:23 PM »
So many great tips guys, thanks! 

Very good idea about learning to carve up larger pieces of meat like whole chickens.  I don't currently do that but do actually like using all parts of the chicken.  Seems like a useful skill to have.
I'll have to give Costco another look.  I really dislike their produce (seems to go bad quickly) but never even thought about eggs!

I find most of their produce to be a mediocre value, but their nuts, olive oil, frozen salmon, frozen fruit and coconut oil are an excellent value. For fresh produce - berries are about the only reliably cheap item. Leafy greens are cheap, but tend not to last long enough. I don't know on eggs - I get yard eggs from a nice lady at work at a good price.

So, what are you doing with your chicken BONES? All of your veg trimmings, bones and chunks of fat (no obviously rotten stuff, of course) should be going into the stock pot. I just accumulate them in the freezer in a gallon plastic bag until I have enough.

the fixer

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2014, 11:31:28 PM »
I followed this to cook an entire chicken, it went pretty well: http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/whole-bird I've also seen people write here about buying a quarter cow and storing it in a meat freezer, or hunting and doing the same thing with venison.

For coconut oil, Trader Joes has the best price I've seen for organic virgin, about $6/pound. They also have canned wild-caught Alaskan salmon which is probably the cheapest "good" meat you can buy.
Coconut milk can be found cheapest at Asian grocery stores. I'm in Seattle's Chinatown and there's a store here that sells cans for $1.19.

Buy more organ meats, these are really cheap if you can find a store that sells them (again I'm in Chinatown so have tons of access to these). Chicken feet can be used to make stock. Sometimes pig's blood is available. Chicken livers and hearts are cheaper than the muscle meats. Break open the bigger chicken bones and eat the marrow.

Try finding a local butcher who will give you lard. I've read accounts online of people being able to get it free because no one wants it anymore.

Add some fresh ground flaxseed to your diet. The seeds are cheap, high in omega 3 fats, and I'm not aware of any problems paleo people have with them.

An easier but less purist option is to compromise on some of the quality of meat you buy. We aim for grass-fed/pasture-raised stuff but compromise when it makes sense, for instance pastured eggs around here are $8+/pound this time of year, so we go with "organic free range" instead; once the summer rolls around we'll probably switch back to pastured. If I see a really good sale on conventionally raised meat I'll buy it, figuring now and then can't be too bad for you.

Even less pure is to consider broadening your diet to include more cheap options, but experiment by gradually introducing them and tracking if the change in your diet is having negative consequences. This is what I'm doing in my diet right now. Options to consider adding:
  • Quinoa (try soaking with whey for 18 hours before cooking if unsoaked gives you problems)
  • Rye-based breads which are much lower in gluten and are totally lacking the glutenin protein. 100% rye sourdough breads have almost total elimination of phytates.
  • Black beans soaked/fermented at home, exploring traditional preparation methods including the use of epazote to prevent gas
  • If you can't tolerate milk, make yogurt from it. Yogurt has substantially reduced lactose.
  • Tempeh if you can find it cheap or figure out how to make it.
  • White rice. As long as you have enough nutrient-dense foods in your diet this will pad out your calorie requirements at minimal cost. Brown rice seems to give me digestive trouble, even when I try to ferment it.

lackofstache

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2014, 07:19:27 AM »
1: Grow your own veggies & preserve them
2: Forage local apple, pear, peach trees. Lots of people WANT you to take their fruit.
3: Go a' dumpstering. It's not for everybody, but that's how I get the bulk of my fruit & veggies.
4: Eat less meat. We go through 3-5 lbs./week for a family of four
5: Find a cheap(ish) source for eggs. Even at $3/dozen it'll cost you more to raise the chickens
6: Buy cheap wine ($3/bottle at Aldi & TJ's) & a small amount of good beer.
7: Find good deals on nuts & buy them in bulk.
8: Buy good bacon & use the fat/grease for cooking. It'll cut down on the amount of oils you purchase.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2014, 09:04:43 AM »
If you really want to get this under control, you might want to consider breaking it out for a couple of months into a spreadsheet. See what categories are actually packing the punch.

After all, it does no good to join a CSA if it turns out that vegetables and fruit aren't the budget-buster.

Plus, if it turns out to be cheese or snacks or toilet paper, you can put your money-saving energies toward cutting those specific costs.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2014, 06:38:00 PM »
If you really want to get this under control, you might want to consider breaking it out for a couple of months into a spreadsheet. See what categories are actually packing the punch.

After all, it does no good to join a CSA if it turns out that vegetables and fruit aren't the budget-buster.

Plus, if it turns out to be cheese or snacks or toilet paper, you can put your money-saving energies toward cutting those specific costs.

Very smart. I like the way you think.

Hadilly

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2014, 08:14:33 PM »
Eat more vegetables. Seriously. They are healthy and cheap.

I always have a big pot of vegetable soup and try to start most meals with soup. I also will braise a couple of cabbages with bacon and having that on the side (try with a over easy egg, drizzled with redwine vinegar). Vegetable heavy fritatta. Avocados and carrot sticks as side dishes. Coconut milk curry (again) lots of veggies and some meat.

I personally don't find CSAs to be worth it. The farmer's market is cheaper for me.

The organic chicken at costco is pretty good. I just made nomnompaleo's chicken with gravy and thought it was tasty. My costco just got in organic sweet potatoes too so I got a couple of bags.

I am going to try ordering from US Wellness Meats. If I get a chest freezer, I am definitely going to buy a half cow. I'll report back!

horsepoor

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2014, 08:55:49 PM »
If you don't have reactions to them, consider adding back in:  rice, legumes, potatoes.  These are all cheap and filling, and fit the "whole food" bill.  The research and experimentation I've done with legumes tells me that lentils are A-OK.  Kidney beans not so much, and black beans are proceed with caution (must be soaked and thoroughly rinsed).  I'll also do hummus and don't seem to have a problem with the chickpeas.  My paleo budget was also running out of control, and adding these items back into the menu a few meals per week really helped.

Also, don't be afraid of eating plenty of fat.  It is cheap by the calorie.  I keep a jar of coconut butter in the cupboard and will just eat a spoonful, maybe with a piece of fruit if I need a snack.  I also make little tart thingies that are coconut oil based and keep them in the freezer.  If you do ready-made paleo snacks, I've discovered that Kind bars are pretty easy to replicate.  Just google "copycat Kind bars" and you'll find a good article.

Also agree on the CostCo rec.  They have the best price for coconut oil, and also have good prices for nuts, olive oil and frozen berries.  The one here has recently started carrying Kerrygold cheese, if you eat dairy.

For meat, use your crock pot and buy inexpensive cuts like pork shoulder and chuck roast, and slow cook them for a multi-day supply of protein.  Buy whole salmon; it's usually cheaper and the butcher is happy to fillet it for you.  For instance, I just bought one for $4.99/lb whole, whereas fillets of the same fish were $12.99/lb.  Buying the beef quarter or a freezer lamb is also a great option if you have the space and the access to local farms.  I've gotten around 140# of grassfed beef, cut and wrapped to my specs for around $400.  That would be a lot for one person, but maybe you can ask around and split it with someone, or go for a lamb instead.

For produce, I grow quite a bit, and also use Bountiful Baskets every few weeks for a big basket of fruit and veg, plus whatever one-offs they have that week.  They do have organic baskets available, though I just go with the conventional stuff.

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2014, 06:17:14 AM »
I'm a flexitarian that trains a lot. Caloric input of 3500-4000 calories a day. I still eat lots of carbs, but mainly basmati rice, whole wheat bread (homemade), and some pasta.

Olive oil, dark fish (tuna or salmon), and eggs are your friends. I stick with conventional eggs for now, since there is no nutritional difference. Eventually I'm hoping my budget will allow for the more ethical versions of eggs.

I buy very little meat. Lentils, beans, produce of whatever is on sale, plus the aforementioned eggs/tuna are our source of protein. Plus a decent amount of yoghurt and cheese.

I feed a family of 5 on $500 including alcohol and household goods.

Joan-eh?

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Re: Taming the Grocery Bill - on a Paelo(ish) diet
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2014, 12:12:10 PM »
Real food is expensive.

I have to say this is one area that I don't care what I spend. I've eaten Paleo for years.... But I see food as the most important investment of any spending.  I also like to pay well directly to farmers or independent grocers... As my way of giving competition to the big box stores. I'd rather pay the farmer double for the fresh eggs than to the corporation of Walmart.  Buying food is a political act.

Best to everyone,