Published on May 29th, 2014 | by Grinds4Gamers0
This article was born out of necessity and request. A gaming enthusiast and veteran podcaster, Zach Brown (Mos Eisley Radio) hit me up on Twitter about how to eat Paleo on a budget. Truth be told, I’ve been a fan of Zach for many years now and he’s one of the reasons I got into podcasting myself. So of course, I wasn’t going to let him down. Here you go, Zach!
Eating like our caveman ancestors is truly a proven way to stay lean and healthy. One of the issues that I tackle when coaching gamers or athletes on living a Paleolithic lifestyle is the difference in cost from a more traditional diet. True, if you stick to every single detail that I preach here at G4G, such as buying the leanest cuts of meat, going grass-fed, wild-caught, free-range, etc, it can indeed get expensive. But don’t worry! There are ways to eat primal without dipping into your kid’s inheritance. Here are some tips to keep you in the black while eating clean.
Tip #1: You don’t have to buy grass-fed, free range, wild-caught or organic!
Most of the reason for buying these premium meats is to maximize the health benefits of your meat consumption. Of course we’d all feel better knowing that the food we ingest is the highest possible quality. But even I don’t buy these high quality meats every time I visit the grocer. Many times, I just focus on buying the leanest cuts of meat and I remove the excess myself at home. The quality of the meat is usually the same and my body still gets the benefits of a natural protein source.
Tip #2: Learn to love your crockpot.
Your slow-cooker is probably one of the most under-utilized pieces of culinary equipment in your kitchen! These wonderful gadgets allow you to drop ingredients into the pot and set-it-and-forget-it.
It’s a perfect way to budget your time! However, another benefit of using your crock-pot for eating clean is that you can buy less expensive cuts of meat such as tri-tips, roasts and shoulders. The fat melts off the meat, so all you have to do is drain it! The cost is much, much less for these cuts of meat and the net result from a crock pot meal is outstanding (and easy!). Did I mention leftovers?
Tip #3: Buy in bulk.
Buying meat and vegetables in bulk can mean huge savings on your overall costs. Membership stores, Co-ops and farmer’s markets are great for buying fresh meats, eggs and vegetables in bulk. Also, staples like clarified butter, coconut and olive oils are much less expensive when bought in bulk.
Tip #4: Buy frozen fruits and veggies.
Many folks think there is a big difference in the freshness of frozen fruits and vegetables and fresh produce. Believe it or not, there really isn’t much difference from a nutritional standpoint, based on research. The truth is, most frozen fruits and vegetables are flash-frozen at the peak of ripeness, locking in a majority of their nutrients, whereas fresh produce can sit for days past their peak of nutritional value. So choosing to go frozen is a much less expensive alternative. Frozen fruits are also outstanding to drop into your morning or post-workout smoothie!
Tip #5: Look for sales and consider what is in season.
By watching the sale items at your local grocer and knowing what produce is in season, you can eliminate buying items at top dollar. For example, buying fruits out of season is likely to cost you more money due to the cost of getting that fruit to your local stand. Sales on meats can be mutually beneficial to you and your butcher as you can buy it in bulk and rid him of excess product while saving money in the process.
Tip #6: Consider going meatless for some meals.
A little trick I’ve been getting the hang of the past couple of years is to have a vegetarian meal every once in a while. My wife is an 80/20 vegetarian, so when I’m the chef for the day at home, she sometimes just doesn’t want meat. Guess what? That means neither do I (married dudes will get that one). Eliminating meat from a meal will certainly lighten the monetary requirement for the meal!
Tip #7: Shop at a local farmer’s market if possible.
Some of the best deals on meat and produce are found at your local farmer’s markets! Also, some of the very best cuts of meat can be found here, as well! Not only will you save a buck by purchasing from a local market, but you’ll also be supporting your local businesses! It’s a win/win scenario!
Tip #8: Join your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).
Buying seasonal foods straight from the farmer is another option to keep your costs down. Much like buying from the local farmer’s market, some of the best produce and cuts of meat can come from your local farmer. By joining your local CSA Chapter, you will have access to buying directly from the farmers in your area!
Tip #9: Don’t buy expensive seasonings.
Instead, buy the ingredients in bulk and make your own mixes and rubs. Although the primitive caveman didn’t have access to Lowry’s seasonings line, we modern folks like to actually taste our foods. But you don’t have to break the bank on rubs and seasonings. Go simple. Make your own! A pinch of paprika, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, chili powder and garlic powder will go a long way.
Tip #10: Keep it simple, don’t get too fancy with ingredients.
Even though some great paleolithic recipes use ingredients like coconut aminos, almond and coconut meals, they can get pricey. So just keep it simple and stick to meats, veggies, a bit of fruit and healthy fats for your meals. Save the expensive ingredients and use them sparingly.
Tip #11: Find a friend to split large portions of meat.
Even though I live in the city, I found a way to split a cow from a local farmer with a buddy of mine. The price was much less expensive than the price per pound at my local grocery store and the cuts of meat were much higher quality. The only downside to this tactic is that you’ll need a large freezer because meat is usually sold in big bulk portions.
Tip #12: Don’t forget the 80/20 Rule!
Remember, you don’t have to eat paleo every single day! I usually use the 80/20 or 90/10 Rule. 80 or 90% of the time I eat clean. The other 10-20% can be fudged a bit. This will certainly save you money, but remember to get back on the wagon if you cheat!
Tip #13: Consider Intermittent Fasting.
No, I’m not trying to starve you. If you’re aiming to lose weight, check out my article on Intermittent Fasting. I have become a believer of this controversial topic. Some people will think you’re nuts for eliminating an entire meal from your day, but IT DOES WORK. Not only does it work, it lessens the amount of food you’ll need to purchase, therefore it’s cheaper! But you’ll have to read up on this topic and decide for yourself if it is something you’d like to pursue.
All-in-all, having a tight wallet does not mean you cannot follow a Paleolithic lifestyle. These are definitely NOT the only options you have to lessen the money you spend at the grocery store, either. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something! The most important thing is that you give it a shot. I’m confident you’ll find that even if there weren’t ways to decrease costs while eating paleo, the health benefit you’ll receive from eating clean is well worth it!
As always, feel free to hit me up if you have questions or if you just want to tell me I’m full of it!