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By the author of The Flat Broke Cookbook and The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living
Folks have all sorts of reasons for turning to special diets. Sometimes it’s for weight loss, sometimes it’s for overall health, and sometimes it’s to target a specific health issue. The Paleo diet has been popular for years for its potential benefits.
But to pick up a standard Paleo cookbook, it seems like you require all sorts of fancy (expensive) ingredients and hours of time to stick to the plan. Read on, because that doesn’t have to be true. With careful planning, you can eat Paleo for pennies.
What is the Paleo diet?
If you aren’t familiar with it, the Paleo diet focuses on the meats, vegetables, nuts, and fruits common to the diets of our early hunter-gatherer ancestors. According to the Mayo Clinic:
A paleo diet is an eating plan based on foods humans might have eaten during the Paleolithic Era. The Paleolithic Era dates from around 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago.
A modern paleo diet includes fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds. These are foods that in the past people could get by hunting and gathering. It doesn’t include foods that became more common when small-scale farming began about 10,000 years ago. These foods include grains, legumes and dairy products.
Other names for a paleo diet include Paleolithic diet, Stone Age diet, hunter-gatherer diet and cave man diet.
The purpose of a paleo diet is to eat foods likely eaten by early humans. The diet is based on the idea that our genes are not well adjusted for modern diets that grew out of farming.
Farming made foods such as grains and legumes more easily available. And it introduced dairy. Also, farming changed the diets of animals that people ate. The paleo diet idea is that these changes in diet outpaced the human body’s ability to change, or adapt. This mismatch is believed to contribute to obesity, diabetes and heart disease today.
Regardless of your thoughts about the benefits of a diet without grains or dairy, it’s hard to deny that high-quality protein and veggies are great for the human body.
This article isn’t meant to persuade you to follow any specific diet. It’s only meant to provide budgetary ideas if this is the diet you choose.
The Paleo philosophy and your budget
How much you spend to eat Paleo depends on how much of a purist you intend to be. If you plan to eat nothing but grass-fed meat, wild game, and organic vegetables, you’ll be spending a pretty penny.
But if you’re willing to flex a little bit, you can nail the basic premises and eat Paleo for pennies.
- Instead of grass-fed beef, go with standard 90/10 ground beef.
- Instead of organic only, refer to the Dirty Dozen list and choose conventional produce that is less likely to be drenched in pesticides.
These two changes alone will drop the price dramatically.
Purists may argue that it defeats the purpose of the diet to eat lower-quality foods. I would argue that it’s better to focus on the highly nutritious basic concepts than it is to say, “Well dang, I can’t afford it, so I’m gonna go eat nothing pizza.” However, this is just my opinion – you have to choose for yourself.
How to eat Paleo for pennies
Okay – so you’ve decided to dive in and get this show on the road for pennies. What now?
First, let’s talk about the stuff you WON’T be buying:
- Nothing processed
- No fancy “Paleo” snacks or mixes
- No grains
- No beans
- No white potatoes
- No dairy products
Just cutting dairy, grains, and processed foods will save you some moolah.
And forget about those ridiculous processed Paleo snacks and cooking mixes. We’re not here to eat just like we have been, but then process the snot out of some good ingredients and pretend we’re having bread or cheese. Just stop it.
Here’s what you should be buying:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Sweet potatoes (the official starch of the paleo diet)
- Healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and walnut oil
Basic, wholesome foods are where it’s at to eat Paleo on a budget.
Some Paleo for pennies meal ideas
Here are some ideas for paleo meals you can assemble for a reasonable price.
- Sheet pan with chicken, sweet potato, cauliflower, and broccoli – drizzle it all with olive oil, then season it with garlic and a homemade spice blend (hold the sugar)
- Stir fry on a bed of cauli rice
- Sausage and veggie skillet with Brussels sprouts, carrots, and peppers
- A breakfast frittata with turnip hash
- Roasted chicken with root veggies
- Garden salad with chicken and homemade dressing
- Crockpot beef stew served over mashed garlic cauliflower
- Chili without beans
- Meatballs with marinara
- Taco bowl
What about snacks? We’ve got you!
- Deviled eggs
- Carrot sticks with homemade dip
- Nuts with dried fruit
- Egg (or chicken) salad with veggie sticks
- Tuna salad on pickle slices
- Nut butter with fruit
- Veggie sticks and guacamole
Obviously, these lists aren’t comprehensive. But hopefully, they’ll get your wheels turning if you decide this diet is for you.
Do you eat Paleo?
Do you follow this diet? If so, do you have any tips for folks who want to eat Paleo for pennies? What are your favorite paleo meals and snacks?
Let’s discuss it in the comments!
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
3 thoughts on “How to Eat Paleo for Pennies”
Interesting article! I really enjoy Paleo eating but have moved away from it due to expense and the fact that my spouse has major issues if we eat absolutely no grains. I do want to share a thought – 90/10 is not standard anymore for ground beef, the cheapest option is 70 percent lean and 80/20 is more standard. Greasy stuff!
Eating high nutrition food can also save you if you need less of it. Some people have reduced hunger on Paleo so they don’t need to eat large meals and that can make your supplies stretch farther.
I’m almost paleo but potatoes are a must for me however I do like sweet potatoes. Truth be told, the more red meat the better for me but any protein will do. However I can tell when I do not consume enough red meat.
IMHO, any type of whole foods, including breads (be it rolls, biscuits, loaf which are not technically paleo) will have you eating less. The added sugar and salt of fast foods a) usually require you to eat faster without time to realize if you are full and b) do not provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Some experience digestive “disturbances” after consuming fast food.
There is a lot of truth to you are what you eat. And I realize some folks don’t have a lot of options but sadly, it can be detrimental to their health.
My daughter is on a paleo diet now, the plan is in Fed and Fit by Cassy Joy Garcia. I looked up the recipes in your article and found most of them at The Paleo Walking Momma. My daughter made the chicken thigh, sweet potato, broccoli on a sheet pan recipe and we both liked it. Could you do a similar article on Keto?