I just had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Alex (pictured here), who said she eats Paleo for $6 to $7 a day. That’s only $180 to $210 a month! She’s basically made a science out of buying enough food and spending the least amount of money as possible – she’s a whiz at saving money.
Anyway, I thought a lot of people could benefit from her expertise, as I seem to have none in this area; I sometimes spend $600 a month on food for myself alone. I like expensive items like smoked wild salmon, pre-marinated pastured pork chops, and organic dates that are like $12 a pound. But it’s possible to eat well and cheaply like Alex. The thing is that you may have to skimp on quality, which sucks. For instance, the meats you buy may not be pastured or even organic, and your fruits and veggies might not be organic either. It’s debatable at that point whether you’re even eating Paleo, but in my opinion non-organic meats and produce are better than non-organic grains and pasteurized dairy any day.
Plus,there are certain fruits and veggies that are not necessarily much better when they’re organic due to their low or nonexistent pesticide residues. This list of the “Dirty Dozen and Clean 15” tells you which items are best bought organic and which are unnecessary to buy.
Here’s Alex’s grocery list. Some items come from Whole Foods and some come from King Soopers (a conventional grocery store in Colorado), where you can find some organic foods and things are often cheaper.
Alex’s Budget Grocery List
Non-organic prepared rotisserie chicken – $7/chicken
Non-organic avocados – $1 each (she doesn’t buy them if they’re more than that)
Organic sweet potatoes – $2/lb
Organic bananas – $.79/lb
Non-organic bulk pork chorizo – $5/lb
Non-organic omega 3 eggs – $3/dozen
Kale – $2.50/bunch
Lemons and limes – cheap
That’s it. She’s getting tons of protein, decent fats, enough carbs (she’s very active), and tons of nutrients in her produce choices. Kale, as we all know, is chock full of vitamins and minerals, and so are sweet potatoes. Now, a disclaimer here is that Alex is my size, meaning she’s basically a midget, so she doesn’t eat much. She probably gets about 1,400 or 1,500 calories a day, so you may be spending more than she does if you’re larger.
Here’s her daily menu.
1/5 pound chorizo
baked sweet potatoes
1/4 of a rotisserie chicken
avocado (if she has it)
More rotisserie chicken
kale salad with olive oil and lemon juice
To add calories you could just add more olive oil, more avocado, more meat, more fruit, and/or more eggs. Yes, she’s eating the same things all the time, but those foods are pretty delicious. You could mix things up by getting different meats on sale, different veggies, and other fruits on sale. You can also buy meat in bulk like I do and get a quarter of a cow for $4/lb. Alex supplements her diet with elk meat that her dad gives her, too.
This is just one person’s way of eating Paleo on a budget. Any of you have any tips for doing Paleo on the cheap?