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The AIP and Paleo diets can be expensive! Here are 5 ways that effectively lower your monthly grocery bill while still allowing you to get healthy and feel better.
If you're on a healing diet like Paleo or AIP for a short amount of time, spending more money than you're used to might not be that big of an issue.
After all, it's your health you're trying to better, and the savings from not having to pay doctors, medical bills, medications, etc are probably well worth it.
But if you do it longer term, like how we personally eat a Paleo-style diet most of the time, things can add up.
Eating Paleo or AIP is definitely more expensive than eating the Standard American Diet
There's no doubt that filling half your plate with a cheap grain or processed food, with no regards to quality or ingredients is cheaper than eating a grain-free, real food diet.
Well, unless you grow all of your own organic food and hunt for your own food – that's a whole different ballgame though.
For the majority of us, obtaining food from grocery stores is the norm, and that's what we'll be focusing on for the most part in this post.
So what do you do to decrease that seemingly ever-expanding grocery budget while eating a Paleo or AIP (or Whole30) diet?
How to Save Money on AIP and Paleo:
Here are 5 tips I've personally found really help decrease the amount of money we spend on food each month while still maintaining our health, energy, and enjoyment from food.
Note: There are plenty of other ways, I just think these are some of the biggies for us.
Rather watch this instead of read? Watch the video on YouTube!
Tip # 1 – Eat Meat as a Condiment
You may have been brought up on the whole “meat and potatoes” style of eating, where half of your plate consisted of some sort of meat, and the other half was potatoes or some starch like rice or pasta. Maybe a veggie snuck in there too.
I think when a lot of us switch from that to Paleo, we just replace the starch with some veggies and call it good.
But typically, pound for pound, most higher quality (organic and/or grass-fed, pastured, etc) is going to be more expensive than veggies.
So it makes more sense to replace some of that meat with more veggies . It's better for you nutritionally anyway as you'll get in a wider variety of nutrients when you have a wider variety of foods on your plate.
I find this to be easiest with things like bowls, where you can make up a plate full of veggies, some starches like sweet potatoes and plantains, and some fat like avocado, and then add in some meat.
So instead of 4-6 oz of meat you might have 2-3 oz of meat. Stretch that meat further through several meals or buy less!
Here are some bowl examples:
Green Goddess Bowl (Paleo, Whole30, AIP)
Steak Bowl (Paleo, Whole30, AIP)
Nourishing Breakfast Bowl (Paleo, Whole30, AIP)
You can also make things like tacos or lettuce wraps, which also tend to use less meat as well.
Pork Lettuce Wraps (Paleo, Whole30, AIP-variation)
Tip # 2 – Make All of Your Own Food
It's SOOO easy to be drawn into the new Paleo and AIP products on the market. I mean, there's a lot these days and it's a fun and exciting time as when I first did AIP there was NOTHING.
And as much as I absolutely love to support these small companies, sometimes it just doesn't make sense to buy these products when you can either do without them or make them on your own.
Because let's face it, these products are usually expensive – and rightfully so. They aren't using cheap ingredients and they've got to make a living too.
But if money is a concern for you, choose to only buy pre-made products that will truly save you time or ones that are out of your skill-level for making.
Like for me, that's things like Wild Zora meat bars and soups and Chomps snack sticks because I really am not going to take the time or effort to make them. Sheesh! No thanks, lol! 100% worth it to buy those.
But buying Paleo muffins? Pancakes? Waffles? No thanks. They're too easy to make on my own for a lot less money.
Tip # 3 – Skip the Baked Goods
Speaking of baked goods like muffins, waffles, pancakes, cookies, etc – if you can focus more on eating high quality meats, veggies, and fruits and less on treats, you'll not only save money but also be healthier in the long run.
That's because Paleo & AIP flours aren't cheap.
I don't think you should totally abstain from these treats – after all, you should enjoy what you eat and if it brings you pleasure to eat them, do it.
But maybe more on a few times a month basis rather than a few times a week.
This should really be a rule for anyone, whether trying to save money or not, as while there is some nutritional value in the flours, you'll get a lot more nutrient density eating some fruit or veggies than from a muffin.
Tip # 4 – Prep Freezer Meals from Meats on Sale
Ok, how many times have you found a meat on sale, bought it, threw it in your freezer and then promptly forgot about it until 3 years later when you find its freezer-burned remains in the back of your freezer?
Or maybe you remembered it, but just didn't know what to do with it?
That's why I love making dump-and-go freezer meals with meats I find on sale.
These types of freezer meals don't require cooking before you freeze, rather you just dump a bunch of ingredients into a bag or freezer-safe container and then throw into your freezer. And when you're ready to make it, just thaw and throw into a slow cooker, Instant Pot, stove, or oven.
Here are some freezer meal examples:
If you find beef chuck roast on sale, make this Cherry Balsamic Pot Roast (Paleo, Whole30, AIP) (It's one of our favorite go-to meals in the fall and winter!)
Or if you find chicken thighs or breasts on sale, make this Thai Chicken Soup (Paleo, AIP, Whole30-variation)
To see more Paleo, Whole30, and AIP freezer meal ideas, check out this post: Paleo & AIP Freezer Meals.
Tip # 5 – Prioritize Quality
So let's talk about the quality of the meats, seafoods, veggies, and fruits you eat.
It's commonly stated that to do a Paleo or AIP style diet that you should eat the highest quality you can – grass-fed pastured meats, wild caught seafood, and organically grown fruits and veggies.
Unfortunately I find all too often that this leads to a LOT of stress and anxiety with people, like it's an all-or-nothing deal. Either you eat all pastured and organic or don't do Paleo/AIP at all.
But that shouldn't be the case – you CAN successfully and effectively do Paleo, Whole30, AIP, etc by not eating these higher quality meats.
It's still a bazillion times healthier to eat these ways with conventional meats and veggies than it is to eat a processed food-laden Standard American diet.
So do NOT – please please do not – stress over it if you can't afford the higher quality meats, seafoods, fruits, and veggies, and do what you can.
Some tools to help you prioritize:
- use something like EWG's Dirty Dozen Clean 15 list to find out the best fruits and veggies to get organic if possible, and then ones that it's ok to be a little less strict with
- check out Seafood Watch's list of the best and worst seafoods to consume
- Eatwild or Local Harvest can also be great sources to find nearby organic and grass-fed meats and veggies. Often working directly with a farmer can be less expensive as you take out the middleman
If you're only doing something like Whole30 or AIP for a month or two, it may be worth it to spend the extra money to get the highest quality you can.
However, if you're turning a real food diet into your long term lifestyle, it can get really expensive, really fast to maintain that.
Using a few tips like these should help you keep your grocery budget down though – which in turn will reduce stress and make it sustainable!
More Helpful AIP Resources in the Freebie Library
If you find this recipe helpful, you may really enjoy the resources in my Paleo & AIP Freebie Library! There's a “dump” freezer meal plan, a list of AIP-compliant breakfast toppings, and so much more. Plus, you'll get even more ideas sent to your inbox! Get the password here.
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