In today's fast-paced world, it's easy to rely on processed and convenience foods. However, a real food diet can have a significant positive impact on your health. By focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats, you can support your well-being. There is a common misconception that eating real food is expensive, and some people think it’s not a realistic option for their family given the price. We’re here to tell you that is simply not true, and buying real food can be friendly to your wallet. Even in these challenging times there are multiple ways to work within a reasonable budget, but still eat high quality, real food for every meal.
Healthy Food On A Budget:
If you have a healthy affordable meal plan for the week, you know exactly what to buy at the grocery store, waste less money on foods that may end up in the trash, and are not as tempted to throw in the towel and order in.
Use what you already have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry as a starting point. Having a well-stocked pantry can save money simply by being able to make use of what you already have on hand. Read more on stocking your pantry here
If planning and prepping entire days’ worth of meals is too much for you, focus on dinner. For lunch, all you need is leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, so no need for dedicated planning there either. Breakfasts are simple, quick and easy to prepare and many people eat something similar at the start of each day.
Planning ahead, and even prepping some elements of your meals on a specific day will often set you up for success in sticking to the dinner plan, which ultimately means sticking to the budget!
You can even prep a week’s worth of meals and freeze them ahead of time. This is ideal if you are going out of town and don’t want to be eating out for an extra week when you get back.
Buy Local & Seasonal
Produce is at its most affordable (yes, that means organic produce too) when it’s in season in the area/country you live in. Planning your meals around what in season in your area is bound to save you on your grocery bill.
There is no better way to know how your food is grown than by buying it straight from the farmer, or from a service that works with the farmer. The closer to the source, the fewer middlemen who need to be paid, so the cheaper your food should be.
You can buy directly from a farmer by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or shopping at the farmer’s market. CSAs may not look cheap at first glance, since many of them require an upfront cost (you pay for the season or year ahead of time). This initial cost more than pays off in fresh, local, often-organic produce week after week, at prices lower than what the exact same fare would cost at the store. Many CSAs will allow you to save on the delivery fees by picking up your box at the farm, a local farmer’s market, or another central location.
Read more on seasonal food and find out what’s in season in your area in this post
Frozen fruits and vegetables are typically frozen at the height of their growing season, and shortly after being picked, which translates into greater nutrient density and lower prices than buying the fresh version in the off season.
Frozen meat and fish are also cheaper than their fresh counterparts because it is easier to transport and store these foods when frozen, and there is less costly spoilage and waste.
Keep an eye out for sales, discounts, and coupons for real food items. This can significantly reduce your grocery bill while still allowing you to enjoy a nutritious diet.
Purchase pantry staples such as nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes in bulk. Buying larger quantities typically offers better value for money.
Look for store brands or discounted items to reduce costs while still getting quality ingredients.
Avoid The Package
Processed and packaged foods are definitely not on your Real Food shopping list. You will, however, be paying a MASSIVE premium pre-washed lettuce, pre-shredded carrots, or individually portioned trail mix packs.
Set aside an extra hour (you may not even need it all) when you get home from the grocery store to wash and chop veggies.
Instead of buying expensive packaged snacks, make your own using affordable ingredients like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. This way, you can control the quality and save money.
Paleo Budget Tips:
Meat and Poultry: Choose less expensive cuts of meat and poultry like chicken thighs, ground beef, and pork shoulder. These cuts can be just as nutritious and flavorful.
Farmers' Markets and Local Butchers: Explore farmers' markets and local butchers for fresh, high-quality meats and produce at competitive prices.
Root Vegetables: Opt for root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and turnips, as they are often affordable and versatile
Animal-Based Fats: Utilize cost-effective animal fats like chicken fat, duck fat, or beef tallow for cooking and flavoring.
Check out our fat guide here
Batch Cooking: Prepare meals in larger quantities and freeze them
Vegan Budget Tips:
Plant-Based Proteins: Choose cost-effective plant-based protein sources like legumes, lentils, tofu, and tempeh. These provide essential amino acids and are often more budget-friendly than animal proteins.
Gluten-Free Whole Grains and Seeds: Incorporate nutritious whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat into your meals. Additionally, utilize affordable seeds such as chia, flax, and sunflower seeds for added nutritional value.
Healthy Plant-Based Fats: Incorporate affordable healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, nuts, and seeds into your meals.
DIY Nut Milks: Instead of buying expensive pre-made nut milks, try making your own at home using affordable nuts like almonds or cashews. This allows you to control the ingredients and save money.
Keto Budget Tips:
Focus on Healthy Fats: Incorporate affordable healthy fats like tallow, butter, chicken fat, olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and nuts into your meals.
Buy in Bulk: Purchase meats, poultry, and fish in bulk, then freeze them in portion sizes. This helps you take advantage of cost savings and prevents waste.
Non-Starchy Vegetables: Include low-carb, non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini to fill your plate without breaking the bank.
AIP Budget Tips:
Focus on Local and Seasonal Produce: Opt for fruits and vegetables that are in season and locally sourced. This not only supports your budget but also ensures you consume fresh, nutrient-dense produce.
Batch Cooking and Freezing: Prepare AIP-compliant meals in large batches and freeze them for later use. This simplifies meal prep and prevents the need for costly last-minute alternatives.
Offal and Organ Meats: Consider incorporating affordable protein sources such as organ meats, which are rich in nutrients and often more economical compared to traditional cuts.
Looking for gourmet food without the hassle that won’t break the bank? Check out our weekly menus and ordering options here and order yours today >>>>>>>
Eating real food doesn't have to be expensive. Start by prioritizing whole, nutrient-dense foods and seeking out cost-effective options. Plan your meals, buy in bulk, take advantage of local and seasonal produce, and embrace batch cooking and freezing. Incorporate inexpensive protein sources like plant-based proteins, affordable cuts of meat, and organ meats. Utilize budget-friendly fats from plant and animal sources, and opt for affordable carbohydrate sources such as whole grains, root vegetables, and non-starchy vegetables.
Remember to prioritize meal prep, reduce food waste, and make your own snacks and condiments to save money and stay on track with your real food diet.
By making conscious choices and being resourceful, you can embark on a real food journey that supports your health, aligns with your dietary preferences, and fits your budget. Enjoy the delicious flavors, nourishing meals, and overall well-being that come with following a real food diet on a budget.