One of the most common question that we receive both on our site and The Paleo View is, “how do you afford to feed a family all that REAL FOOD?!?!” While we offer plenty of reassurance, strategies, and cost-efficient recipes, Ciarra from Popular Paleo, took addressing this question one step further. In her recently released book The Frugal Paleo Cookbook, Ciarra covered EVERY conceivable aspect of the ‘how to’ make paleo affordable and then shared 100 amazingly delicious recipes to help you easily trim that grocery budget!
Stacy had the chance to meet and hang with Ciarra in Seattle on her recent book tour and found her to be just as lovely and delightful as you would expect. Below are tips from Ciarra on how to make these changes today, along with a sneak peak at the recipes you will find in her new book The Frugal Paleo Cookbook.
And we will be totally honest with you, this is a MUST have book in every real food focused kitchen! Whether you are feeding a family of two or twenty, this book is helpful on so many levels!
Is Paleo too expensive?
It’s a valid question at face value. You’re a savvy shopper—you know what you’re paying for groceries nowadays. The price of organic vegetables and fruits compared to non-organic is certainly higher. The cost of grass-fed, pasture-raised meats most definitely costs more than what you’d see from industrialized meat processing businesses. These are the facts you face as you head out to load up on groceries each week.
It might seem that Paleo and affordable are paradoxical in nature given the price tag attached to these high-quality foods. I’m here to tell you that there’s light at the end of this fat-tastic tunnel. In fact, I spend way less on food now than I did before when we just ate “normal” food in our pre-Paleo days. Sounds intriguing, right? Fortunately for all of us, the answer to this mystery is painfully simple. It’s rooted in these ideas:
- What you’re not eating on a Paleo diet
- Grocery store tunnel vision
- A “good, better, best”approach to food
- Learn how to stretch ingredients and meals
- Avoid trying to “Paleo-ify”all the things!
What You’re Not Eating on a Paleo Diet
While meats, vegetables, healthy fats, fruit, nuts and seeds appear to be high-ticket items at your local store or farmer’s market, consider for a moment what boxed cereals, packaged deli meats, processed dressings and sauces, loaves of multi-grain bread, coffee shop visits and fast food cost. That ain’t pretty either.
One principle I talk about in The Frugal Paleo Cookbook is getting off the fence and picking a side. Pulling double-diet duty in the food department gets expensive! Now, I don’t mean that everyone in the house suddenly needs to keep to a food list that resembles common elimination diet perimeters. What I mean is make a choice between funding all things pre-made and investing in quality meats and vegetables. Focus on eggs, pork shoulders, beef roasts and whole chickens—these are staples that go a long way and are super flexible with how they can be flavored and cooked. Switch to kale and plantain chips in place of crackers and chips. Sweet potato fries, riced cauliflower and roasted spaghetti squash are all inexpensive ways to replace those grain-based, familiar sides and allow you to take a pass at gluten-free breads and pastas.
Grocery Store Tunnel Vision
Here’s some good news: you can totally hack foraging for Paleo foods in a modern world. There’s wiggle room to be found while still sticking to the traditional core foods of Paleo.
Because I’m a creature of habit, when I went Paleo I found it hard to switch up my normal grocery store stops. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, it was just that it rarely seemed to happen. I made time to find some local farms that raise cows and pigs right, but if I’m being honest with you, joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is still on my to-do list! Serious fail on my part. But here I am successfully doing this Paleo thing all these years later.
I learned how to shop smart in the stores I normally went to by developing a laser focus on the foods I wanted and putting on blinders when it came to the stuff I didn’t need anymore. For example, unless frozen organic mixed berries or a bag of frozen prawns is on my shopping list, the freezer section at my local wholesale retailer gets completely avoided. I know exactly which brands my stores sell that are right for me, and I head straight to them.
A Good, Better, Best Approach to Food
In my opinion, Paleo is not a rigid diet of rules, points and systems. Paleo is rooted in ancestral dietary principles, focusing on foods that existed in nature at any time in history. Then in addition to that we run everything through modern scientific analysis and voila! Paleo-friendly foods are determined. But it doesn’t stop there. Paleo can also be described as a relationship between food and your body—and you have a responsibility of facilitating the conversation! So as you identify which foods are particularly supportive—and also those that compromise health—for you and your family, you are creating your own value system. This allows natural priority foods to arise that act as your guide to define what so many of us in Paleo call the “Good, Better, Best” approach.
When it comes to budgeting, we are all going to have items on our “need” list that we really don’t want to compromise on (one of my personal items is high-quality fats). These are items that 9 times out of 10 we’re willing to buy no matter the price. Like paying $450 a ticket to see Jon Bon Jovi VIP-style. Born before 1985? Maybe. Born after 1995? Not a chance. I rock out to pasture-raised lard like it’s wanted dead or alive. But maybe that’s not your thing…
For some, the ethical treatment of animals supersedes the need for convenience foods, so they’ll go the extra mile to ensure their meat meets high standards. For others, addressing behavioral or medical issues in their children is #1 to them, so they do the best they can with organic meats in order to afford more convenience foods and snack items that are free of gluten, refined sugars, preservatives and food dyes. As a mom of two, I can tell you that snacks and foods that I can use to throw together easy lunches for my kids in the morning is a big deal, so I identify with that. (As an aside, Paleo Parents wrote an eBook recently called Paleo To Go that has some valuable materials and recipes that helped me hone in on the to-go lunch situation in my house. Since I pack lunches for my husband and two kids daily, I appreciate the help I got from that ebook).
Education about how animals are raised, how vegetables and fruits are cultivated and your own body’s personal constitution are three points you’ve gotta become familiar with. This will steer you toward making sound decisions that protect your budget, ensure good health and free your conscience.
Learn How to Stretch Ingredients and Meals
Get out of leftover reheating ruts by keeping a few tricks up your sleeve for repurposing a recipe so that it takes on a different life the second time around. The Frugal Paleo Cookbook teaches how to think Next-Meal Potential while meal planning for the week. Whether it’s rolling something into breakfast the next morning or preparing plenty of extra protein to give you a head start on tomorrow’s dinner, this saves you time and is a convenient way to take advantage of a good deal.
So if you have a bit of leftover roasted veggies or maybe some kale and bacon that wasn’t finished from dinner, roll them into a scramble or frittata the next morning for breakfast. If you made a big batch of Ultimate Taco Meat (a recipe from The Frugal Paleo Cookbook), roll that into a quick and easy taco soup in minutes.
Being next-meal minded is one way to help stretch ingredients. Another is to avoid centering meals around primary ingredients. It’s just common sense that feeding a family of four cost-efficient beef roast versus gorgeous ahi tuna is gonna run less. But it might be less obvious when it comes to items like bacon, nut flours or even just grilled steaks.
You shouldn’t have to forego enjoying those foods altogether, just be mindful about how frequently and in which ways they are being used. For example, transition away from nut-flour based bread substitution recipes as a day-to-day thing and ramp up the volume of meats and veggies. Maybe spend the time instead prepping a killer sauce, like my Spinach Guacamole Salsa recipe in The Frugal Paleo Cookbook. One, you’re adding more nutrition to the meal, which always gets brownie points in Paleo—pardon the expression. And two, that nutritious sauce takes a fraction of the time and money to prepare, and will likely stretch further for several meals.
Walk with me for a moment here… You want to “go Paleo” but visions of pasta, pastries and gooey, cheesy recipes are dancing through your mind. How will you ever part ways? Then you discover resources that show how to prepare your favorite foods using Paleo ingredients and you feel like an angel of culinary mercy has just come for a visit. Thing is, while there are some amazingly delicious and creative recipes out there that satisfy cravings, they can often be costly and time consuming to prepare. Which means you have a choice: spend the money and the time preparing them or consider eating something else and start to say goodbye to those old cravings.
You can have spaghetti squash with bolognese, a hearty soup without a roll or breadstick, and even a sweet treat that isn’t decadent. Part of the beauty of Paleo is the transformation that comes with breaking ties to old food addictions and focusing in on nutrient-dense meals that heal and fortify. So treat treats as treats. Save those special recipes that contain costly ingredients for special occasions and you’ll have money in the long run.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://paleoparents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Ciarra-Hannah-Popular-Paleo-Headshot.jpeg[/author_image] [author_info]Ciarra Hannah is the founder of the blog, Popular Paleo and author of The Frugal Paleo Cookbook. As she puts it: “I love spending hours barefoot in my kitchen creating recipes that stick to Paleo basics without breaking the bank. I hope it feeds you and your family as well as it feeds ours.”
Connect with Ciarra: Blog | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google +[/author_info] [/author]