Whenever you think about starting a new healthy lifestyle, price is always on your mind. Sure, it might be easy for the person on the book cover to go the store for fresh produce twice a day but when you are a working mom dealing with a family and a budget it just isn’t that simple. Having a family that can take this healthy journey with you is a great way to stay motivated, but it can also wreak havoc on the wallet!
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can get around this predicament while keeping your budget, and your sanity, intact. You really can do paleo on a budget!
Even though you are on a path towards healthy eating, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by starting a new routine overnight. Believe it or not if you don’t take this transition slowly you are very likely to fail. Yes, in time you will be a pro at this and you will be planning your weekly meals with no effort at all.
But for now, the transition should be gradual. Trust me – the voice of experience speaking!
One way to ease yourself into healthy eating is to try to keep your trips to the grocery store to a minimum. Whether you are paleo or not – this is actually one of the top ways to keep the food budget under control. .
It might seem tricky at first because you will be eating healthy, unprocessed foods – foods that tend to have a shorter lifespan than what you are eating now. We seemed to be forever throwing out veggies we never got around to eating.
Try planning your meals around things that have ‘staying power’ in your fridge. For example apples tend to last longer than bananas and romaine lettuce seems to last longer than spinach. Other foods with an awesome shelf life include avocados, sweet potatoes, and celery.
We actually found slicing your food ready for meals for the week and storing in the fridge in glass airtight containers extended their shelf life as well. And to boot it makes cooking time a breeze as the veggies are already prepped.
Be a Planner
You don’t just want to plan your meals, but you also want to plan your budget. If your family is still eating processed foods, then you need to consider their grocery expenses on top of your own. If you are planning to eat out at all during your budget cycle you want to set that money aside as well so that you have it when you need it.
Planning your meals is also going to help you to cut costs. Figure out ahead of time all of the meals that you are going to eat and which ingredients you are going to need for those meals. Also, you want to plan the meals that your family will be eating as well. When you know what everyone is going to eat and when they are going to eat it you will cut down on those spur of the moment pizza delivery calls because you don’t have anything in the house.
Planning is not an easy thing to learn, it takes work. But once you break the habit of just reaching for whatever is in front of you, your life and your budget will be a whole lot happier. Taking a simple 30 minutes once a week to setup your meal plan is an easy way to stay healthy. Best of all, because you will always know what your next meal is going to be you won’t be wasting money on groceries that you don’t need.
If you know you are going to have nights with limited time to cook – have some leftovers stored in the freezer – your own microwave dinner!
Hit the Farmers Market Whenever You Can
A great way to get fresh foods is to shop at your local farmers market. Not only will you get a better idea of where your food is coming from, but you can also find a lot of organic foods at great prices. But even though it seems like a farmers market would naturally have all organic fruits and vegetables you still want to be safe and ask them before you buy, you might be surprised to find that not all vendors at the market are selling organic.
Another good idea is to carry a notebook with you when you go to the store and when you go to the farmers market. Write down the cost of the store bought organic product and how much you will get for that price and then do the same thing with the farmers market organic products. Even though you can usually get more for your money at the market there are times when going the store route might be the best option, (like if they are having a sale), and you want to be prepared for that.
Freeze, Freeze, Freeze
I love my chest freezer.. I mean LOVE it! It is stocked full of excess meals in single serve (BPA Free) plastic containers. It’s full of home made grass-fed bone broth (around $1 per litre as opposed to $10 for good quality both – another way to save money). It’s full of leftover veggies and fruit that got frozen before their use by dates – bananas and berries for smoothies and cauliflower for cauliflower rice. Did I mention I LOVE my chest freezer?
When you plan your meals, try to look for at least two or three options a week that you can freeze. Then when you make that dish you can make extra to freeze so that you have a dinner ready in a pinch. One of the great things about freezing things is that you will be able to make use of all of your ingredients and nothing will go to waste.
Next it’s time to look at the freezer aisle. Believe it or not this will become your new best friend. The produce aisle can wreak havoc on a grocery budget, it’s easy for the costs to sneak up on you once everything gets weighed. Beyond that, produce doesn’t always last as long as we would like it to, meaning more grocery expenses are right around the corner. An easy way to avoid this is to get creative with your fruits and veggies. Buying frozen things like berries and peaches ensures you don’t have to worry about your fruit going bad. Another great thing about buying frozen is that you can avoid cans, which may be convenient but are often just as unhealthy for your body as processed foods can be.
Of course buying fresh is always best, but let’s get real. It’s not always possible and I don’t think that snap frozen veggies are a bad option. Just check the labels to make sure it’s 100% veggies and no hidden nasties.
For example, the only way to buy green onions is in a bunch. But if you don’t need to make the whole bunch for your recipe than you risk the unused onions going bad before you make that recipe again. Instead, you can make a double batch of that recipe, use all of your green onions, and waste nothing.
Buy In Bulk Whenever You Can
While it might not be a good idea to get fruits or vegetables in bulk you can still save a bundle when you stock up on your other ingredients. Things like oils, nuts, and flour can be stored safely for months without going bad. Instead of buying these items every week at your health food store, do some comparison shopping. Again the chest freezer comes in handy here for items such as bulk meat – I love that freezer remember!
One of the great things about eating Paleo is that you can do it on any budget. Most of the foods are things that you can easily find in a grocery store or buy online. As long as you plan your meals and make smart choices for your wallet you can be a Paleo superstar, even on the smallest budget.
Eating healthy on a budget can be done with a little creativity. Follow these simple tips to keep your budget and health happy.