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How Eating Paleo Has Affected Our Grocery Budget

We've been eating paleo for over 2 months now and feel great. While not cheap, this is what it's like to be on paleo and the positive changes we've seen.

In December of last year, my husband and I decided to improve our eating habits. We weren’t interested in going on extreme diets but we did want to be healthier and happier.

After suffering from postpartum depression last year and experiencing low energy almost every day, my doctor told me I should try eating paleo. For those of you who have never heard of the paleo diet, it’s based on what people believe the earliest humans ate (so lots of meat and veggies).

My doctor and her husband, who is also a physician, have been eating paleo for years and attribute their great health to it. She thought it would be a good fit for a variety of health reasons, namely that it would help regulate my blood sugar among other things. My husband was instantly on board.

Taking It to Extremes

 

After eating paleo in December, my husband and I took it one step further and completed a Whole30 in January. This meant going 30 days without any sugar, dairy, alcohol or gluten. It was quite challenging at first, mostly because I used to put about three spoonfuls of sugar in my coffee every morning.

Now, I basically drink it black with a dab of coconut milk. I was surprised how quickly I adapted and to be honest, after a few days of eating like that, I felt better than ever. I’m also surprised at how I continue to drink coffee like that even though the Whole30 is over and done.

The Biggest Impact

 

I wish I could say the biggest change to eating this way was losing a ton of weight or never buying alcohol again (yeah, right!) To be honest though, the place I felt it the most was in the budget. The Paleo and Whole30 diets recommend eating grass fed meat and organic food as much as possible.

They acknowledge that it’s expensive and might not be for everyone, but we followed the rules just to see what it was like and ultimately, we were okay trying it out because food is something we’re willing to spend more on.

$1,000+ a Month on paleo

 

Our grocery spending for December and January was over $1,000 each month. We acknowledged that we had to purchase a lot of starter items. For example, we tried a bunch of new recipes that included ingredients we’ve never had before.

My husband even made his own ketchup since traditional ketchup has sugar in it and we weren’t allowed to eat that.

Not Changing a Thing

 

I’ve written so much about grocery spending across multiple blogs. I’ve gone some months where I’ve eaten soup almost every day and spent only $250 for the whole month and now I’ve gone the other extreme with two months surpassing $1,000. I truly believe that although buying certain foods might not be frugal short-term, it will be frugal long-term because I’ve already seen improvements in my health which cost me quite a bit last year.

As a mom with two young children, a busy husband, and a 40+ hour a week business to run, I need all the energy I can get. Not to mention, I’d like to stay happy and content, and eating well really does help me with that. So, we’re in February now and still eating paleo. I also like to save time, but setting up a meal plan can be a challenge at times. If that describes you, check out $5 Meal Plan. They offer a free 14-day trial and set you up to plan out healthy meals and save time.

We've been eating paleo for over 2 months now and feel great. While not cheap, this is what it's like to be on paleo and the positive changes we've seen.

Incorporating it Into Your Life

 

I know spending $1,000+ on food each month will not be an option for everyone and for some, our choice will be seen as lifestyle inflation. A few years ago, I would have laughed if someone told me my spending on food would be that high without going out to eat at all. However, I do encourage you to try to eat more wholesome meals, maybe pass up some of the processed or boxed items and shop on the perimeter of the store.

You’d be surprised how great it feels to see a beautifully stocked fridge with tons of fruit, veggies, fish and meat in it and how quickly your body can adapt to such huge changes. (Try it and see and report back to me!)

I’ll be honest; for the first 10 days all I wanted was a glass of wine so badly, but after the 10 day mark, I hardly thought about it at all. It’s amazing how we can adapt, and that includes thinking about adapting your budget to include a bit more spending in the grocery category. While it might be tough now, your future self will thank you.

 

Have you ever tried the paleo diet or Whole30? Do you eat organic food? Do you think it matters in the long run?

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Catherine Alford is a professional public speaker and freelance writer who covers family, finance, and freedom. Check out her blog, BudgetBlonde, and her bio at CatherineAlford.com.

20 Comments

  • Kathy says:

    I know you are writing this article from a budget point of view but I wonder about the effect of the diet on cravings. At my doctor’s suggestion, I tried this diet. For my 60+ years before this, while I enjoyed sweets, I never craved them and other than special occasions, we seldom ever had cake or cookies etc. in the house. While on the diet, however, I developed intense cravings for these items, to the extent that I felt I’d go crazy if I didn’t get a cupcake or a donut. I’m sure doctors would say it is psychological, but they were very real.

    • Cat says:

      I found it cut some of my cravings but not all. They say if you really suffer with cravings then you might have to go longer. My wine craving lasted only 10 days but my craving for chocolate went the 30 days and I had chocolate for breakfast the first morning I could – LOL! My husband did 45 days and didn’t crave much at all. 🙂

  • Jaime says:

    Living within your means is different for every family. I don’t think lifestyle inflation is always bad.

    In some ways when people have more money coming in, don’t have debt, and they can afford to eat healthier, have better health insurance, and make choices that will help them be healthy and fulfilled then I see nothing wrong with that.

  • Latoya says:

    While I haven’t tried whole 30 or paleo, I have become a big cheerleader for low carb high fat. I’m trying to ease my way into more of a paleo lifestyle because I lose so much weight on lchf and I don’t want to get too small. Although my hiccups with paleo is the no dairy..I love my cheese and yogurt. Our grocery budget is a lot better now but we don’t buy organic; however, I’m not opposed to the idea in the future. I’m just trying to get my family used to the idea of cutting processed foods and grains – which isn’t easy at all!!

  • Good job on taking control of you health and energy. Sometimes it’s worth putting more into your food choices (which I truly to believe is medicine, but good medicine) now rather than pay hefty medical bills later on in life because you didn’t take control of your life.

  • My biggest challenge is alcohol. I like to have a drink every night. It seems like a lot, but it’s just so nice to enjoy a glass of wine while cooking dinner 🙂

  • I’ve never tried Paleo or Whole30, but I’ve been making it a point to eat a lot more vegetables lately and I can definitely see the change in our grocery bill. I’d be lying if I said the increase doesn’t bother me, but the healthy eating feels great!

  • Hannah says:

    I’ve done a whole30 a few times and I always loved how I felt afterwards, but my family has a few carb rich favorites that made it tough to maintain paleo eating on a full time basis.

    I definitely have an easier and cheaper time doing Paleo style eating in the Summer. Basically just grill meat and veggies every day, and I can make a pasta salad for those who want carbs.

  • Christina says:

    Thanks for a great article that acknowledges that it costs more to eat well. I have a family of four and keeping our costs at or below $900 a month is a success in my book. We don’t eat paleo, but we do have a real food lifestyle. So glad it’s helping you feel better, and I agree that in the long run it will be worth the extra spent now.

  • thriftyimage says:

    I completed the Whole 30 with my sister in 2014 and plan to do it again later this year! At the time, I was struggling with a growing sugar addiction and could not imagine any relief for it. 30 days with Paleo, plus the competition with my sister, truly helped to reset my taste buds and my brain buds. Helping me control what I reach for to put in my mouth. I keep costs as low as possible by buying ingredients at Aldi and growing some of my own vegetables.

  • I agree with spending a bit more than average on groceries for good, quality food. I eat about 95/5 paleo/junk, and even with that small percentage of junk…I definitely feel the difference. I find it effects my mood, my energy and the effort I put into things.

    It’s about $250-300/mo for one person (MEAT!!!)…but I think I can get that down by eating more vegetables instead.

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