I’m really going to let the cat out of the bag on my point of view in this post. Here’s the skinny: I’m a full-time employee inside and out of the home. I’m a mama to four kids – two in school, two at home. I’m married to a wonderful man, who also works full-time. And as you can imagine, our life (and schedule) is as crazy at it gets. Time? What’s that? I am the most qualified candidate – the person with the greatest number of excuses NOT to eat this way. Before I started this journey, I, too, believed feeding my family a whole foods diet would be “too hard, too expensive, too time consuming.” I’m here to tell you – it can be done. And I won’t just tell you, I’ll show you. Here’s how my family eats (mostly) paleo/whole foods on a budget through planning and preparation.
#1 Budgeting is Helpful
We’re Dave Ramsey followers. We’ve done the baby steps and still use the cash envelope system. Our weekly grocery budget for a family of 6 is $150. Not outrageous. Oh and we buy most, if not all, of our food from Aldi. Occasionally, I run to Meijer to purchase “specialty” items for recipes, but that is very minimal. If your family is on a tight budget, don’t be discouraged. This can be done. You may have to plan more inexpensive meals in your week – meatless meals are a great way to accomplish that.
#2 Meal Planning is a Must
The absolute fastest way to fail at this is to NOT plan. What’s that saying? The failure to plan is a plan to fail. Or something like that. You get my drift. If you wait to plan dinner until you’re on your way home from work, when your stomach is growling and your kids are crabby, trust me, you’re going to pop a frozen pizza in the oven and shove chips in your face. BUT, if you spend just 30 minutes on the weekend, mapping out your dinners for the week, you’ll shop smarter and have a plan for eating better after a long day of work. A tool that has helped me immensely is http://www.emeals.com. For just $5 a month, I get a complete weekly meal plan sent to my email with a shopping list. The best part is, you can choose your eating style. So, obviously, I’ve chosen to receive their paleo plan. Beef & Sausage Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Spinach and Basil Salad…Baked Thai Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Asparagus and Mushrooms. Is your mouth watering yet? Seriously, eMeals is the easiest way for you to plan ahead and therefore plan to succeed!
#3 Buy Your Meat in Bulk
The most expensive aspect of this lifestyle for us is the meat. Its the part that scared me off for several months, if not years. And I’m not gonna lie, buying the right protein can be pricey. But, there’s two ways around this. 1) Save up and buy your meat in bulk. We used our tax return last year to purchase beef and pork from a local butcher. It was more affordable that way and we had a nice stock pile to last us a few months. Find out when your local grocery store has meat on sale – look for the organic, junk-free stuff. Believe it or not, you can even find organic, grass-fed beef at Aldi. When you find a sale, load up and freeze it. 2) Eat less meat. You can accomplish this by preparing hearty, meatless meals or by reducing the portion size of your meat. Just because you’re eating a “caveman” diet, doesn’t mean you have to consume large quantities of expensive protein. In fact, you’ll probably find out very quickly that a little goes a long ways. You don’t need a 12 ounce steak. Many times, my husband and I will split a 10 ounce steak, because we just can’t eat the whole thing. Especially if you add in some mashed cauliflower or a baked sweet potato. Trust me, you’re going to be full.
#4 Plan to Go Without to Build Your Stockpile
“What? How do we do that?” Well, here’s how we do it. Occasionally, we have weeks that we don’t eat at home as much as we expect. Maybe we’ve had a few outings for work or church where dinner was provided. Or maybe we’ve been on vacation for a long weekend or had dinner at a friend’s house and the pantry and fridge are still fairly stocked. Those are the weeks that I go on a “grocery shopping fast.” I tell the family we’re eating what we have – which usually requires a bit of meal planning creativity and a lot of groans – and we save our grocery money for the week. I then make a plan for that extra cash to build our whole eating stockpile. It might go toward a bulk meat purchase. Or I may use it to buy supplies for a freezer meal cooking day (more on that in an upcoming post). Bottom line: I love to find ways for us to go without. Why? Because I think it reminds us that we can’t have whatever we want, whenever we want it. I think it forces us to think creatively and to be grateful for what we do have. And, at the end of the week, the added benefit of having some extra cash for special purchases is nice too. Especially when it doesn’t break the bank.
I promise I’m not pulling your chain. Feeding your family whole, nourishing foods is not too hard, expensive or time consuming. It does take resolve, discipline and planning. But it can be done.
Stay tuned for my next post highlighting our favorite (budget friendly) meals!
Peace out paleo pals.