Simple Steps to Starting Paleo On A Budget

The Paleo is a “fad” diet, short for Paleolithic. The concept, they say, is to “eat what your ancestors ate” but that could easily backfire and has been shown to be in error.

For me, I do best when I have a set of rules sat out in front of me and the Paleo diet is the best standard for all the foods I’ve been told to leave out or reduce due to medical issues.

If you’ve read many of my blogs from my other site, you know I’ve been gluten free for a while now.

The other suggestions I’ve had:

Limit foods high on the glucose scale (basically similar to the diabetic diet but since I’m not diabetic, I don’t have to take them out completely. I have had issues with eating white potatoes- they will crash my sugar.)

The foods that means to eliminate or use extremely sparingly-

  1. white sugar
  2. white flour
  3. white potatoes
  4. everything else white/enriched
  5. pop
  6. limit some fruits
  7. fruit juice

Those were the foods I was told specifically, especially since I’ll have a sugar seizure if my sugar gets too low.

For other random issues, I’ve been advised by either others with the same issues or doctors to avoid

  1. gluten
  2. dairy
  3. soy
  4. red40 (actual allergy)

and we all know processed junk food isn’t good either- it’s high in bad and a lot has hidden dairy or gluten.

Looking at the list of restrictions, my best bet is to work towards trying to go on the Paleo diet since it eliminates everything I am told to either limit or avoid. I’ve been studying it for a while but since I am also shopping and cooking for 2 kids and shopping for my husband, I have to be realistic about price and how much I spend on everything for myself. I already eat primarily whole foods, so here is how I save money while still eating healthy.

What is permitted on the Paleo Diet

  1. vegetables of near any kind
  2. Fruit of any kind
  3. Normal, (preferably grass fed, antibiotic free) meat
  4. Nuts (except peanuts)
  5. Seeds
  6. Just about any ground spice (watch out for spice mixes but any regualr ground spices are safe)
  7. All natural, normal herbs

What is not permitted on the Paleo Diet

  1. Grains- including gluten free. Even rice isn’t allowed.
  2. Peanuts
  3. Most dairy
  4. Soy/legumes
  5. Unnatural sugar (white sugar)
  6. Pretty much all over processed foods (boxed, etc)

Good rule of thumb, if you read the ingredients and can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it. There are recipes for Paleo friendly mayo, dressings and other condiments.

Ways to save at the store

Find the foods you all eat first

Just because you’re on a somewhat restrictive diet doesn’t mean you have to have a totally different shopping list. Usually the whole family eats meat- if you go to the grocery store at the right time, you should be able to find the marked down meats. You can typically also find vegetables on mark down. Meat, you can freeze and hold out the lifespan but you will need to use the vegetables quickly.

With vegetables your kids won’t eat, buy just enough for your week

Produce doesn’t have to weigh your budget down. If you’re buying for yourself only and it’s something you know your children won’t eat, make sure to just get enough for your week. If you’re just starting the Paleo, make a menu plan and write down the exact amount you’ll need. Make sure to keep the list on you and don’t deviate from the list.

When you can, buy frozen

You’ll get a full meal worth of veggies for your kids, you and your spouse and frozen typically costs between 89 and 1.00. A huge plus is that with a lot of frozen veggies, all you have to do is toss the bag in the microwave for 5-7 minutes and serve. I always make sure I’m stocked with all the veggies my kids eat and I eat.

List, list, list

A shopping list is one of the most important things I can stress. If you stick with the list, you won’t spend near as much. If you have several grocery stores within a few miles of your home, there is an app called Flipp. It gives you the sales of the week near you. Some places price match but a lot don’t anymore. If you’re lucky enough to live near a store that still does, you can usually show the app to get the lower price. Otherwise, it’s good to note the sales so you know which stores to buy. Organize the list by item and write the cheapest store beside it.

Be careful with coupons

There are places that will send you really good coupons for products but a lot of times if you look at the amount on the coupon and what the price of the generic costs, you’ll find the generic is lower than the coupon for the name brand. In most cases, it’s just the same but cheaper so coupons are not always great deals- but make sure you use any instant savings coupons or grab coupons for name brand items you love.

Skip the specialty foods

There are foods specially labeled “paleo” (similar to the “gluten free.” MOst of those foods aren’t near as healthy and will be overpriced. It’s best to find recipes for things you like that are Paleo friendly and make those instead. It will have you spending more time in the kitchen, but if you can find a few spare minutes, a lot can be frozen.

Ways to save at home

Make your own broth

There are tons of recipes online or in books for bone broth. It’s easy to make, just put several cups of water, bones from whatever meat you just cooked, garlic, onion, celery and carrots into a slow cooker. Cook between 12 hours and 2 days- then strain the broth through cheese cloth and pour in a jar. Bone broth is a nice hot drink when you’re not feeling well or good as a soup base.

If you want just regular broth, cook meat in a slow cooker, add extra water after the meat is cooked and continue cooking for a couple hours then take the meat out and strain the broth.

Make your own salad dressing

All you really need to do is mix olive oil and lemon and put it on your salad. Vinegar and olive oil can also work.

Batch cook

It saves time and can prolong life spans. Pick a day you’re off work and spend it in the kitchen. Take all the meals and freeze them in single portion size tupperwares. All you have to do is take one out, heat it up like a microwave dinner and you won’t have the waste from produce going bad. It’s also good for days you’re too tired to cook


Plan meals out by the week, 2 weeks or month

Depending on how often you go shopping. Plan the meals out in advance, write down everything you need and head to the store with a list, or use the option a lot of stores are giving now for online pickup- just order through the apps and go in to pick the food up.


What a typical shopping list looks like for me

  1. eggs
  2. Manager special steak/beef/chicken/turkey- it goes straight into the freezer when I get home
  3. Peppers (1 of each color along with 1-2 green
  4. salad mix
  5. carrots
  6. almond milk or coconut milk
  7. apples
  8. kiwi
  9. clementines
  10. Random things for the kids that they like
  11. Whatever my husband asks me to get

My normal twice a month shopping trip is between 100 and 130, depending on some things. We buy a lot of almond milk, Silk almond vanilla yogurt and I don’t waste money on dairy products any more, except a half gallon of whole milk for my husband.

That’s a general picture. My two year old loves fruit, so I make sure to buy extra fruit. She also likes to eat raw carrots and occasional raw peppers. I keep stocked on frozen broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas and occasionally corn (corn and peas aren’t permitted on the Paleo) because my kids love them and it’s a great fast side.

We do once a week for the stuff we always eat and once a week costs between 1 and 120, for the main shopping week and around 50-60 in the off weeks. I’m currently working on bringing the number down, but we have 2 growing kids and a cat.

I’ll come back and work further on more guides similar to this one later.


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