The Paleo Diet is attractive in a lot of ways. It’s healthy, unique, energizing, strengthening, and reasonable down to the genetic level. However, if there is one thing that turns away potential dieters, it’s the price tag. Nearly every Paleo Diet “pros and cons” list on the internet explains that living the Paleo lifestyle can run up a stunning grocery bill. This can be alienating, because, when they say they want to lose weight, most people aren’t talking about their wallets.

If you are one of the people who would like to start the Paleo diet, but don’t have the money to spend on choice cuts, fresh fish or organic vegetables, don’t worry. Obviously, the cavemen weren’t rolling in riches, and you shouldn’t have to be either. You just have to be smart about what you buy and how you buy it. Here are five comprehensive tips for eating Paleo on a budget.

1. Prioritizing

Glancing over your finances is key when implementing any kind of budgeting. Don’t hold back. Find out how much you spend on everything so that you can pick out the unnecessary items that you can do without. Once you have a good idea of how much money you have set aside for food, go shopping to get a general idea of the playing field. After buying your Paleo foods, revise your plan and re-budget. Chances are good that you spent more than you normally would. Still, you might find it necessary to remove luxurious purchases from your financial plan (dining out, alcohol, entertainment) and put that money towards your Paleo diet.

2. Meat

First off, buying from local ranchers is a great way to get cheap grass-fed and pasture-raised meat. Check out EatWild.com for ranchers in your area (also a good source for local eggs).

Secondly, buy less expensive cuts and, if they turn out to be too tough for your liking, make them more tender in your crock pot.

Thirdly, buy the whole bird. If you buy fowl in pieces, that’s money wasted. Chop it up yourself and stretch it over several meals throughout the week by making broth soups and stews.

Fourthly, find out when the store marks down the meat and buy it before it is due to come off the shelves. You’ll save a lot more money this way—just make sure to cook or freeze it the day that you purchase it.

Use every piece of the meat that you can. If you buy meat with bones—whether it’s fowl or beast—save them in the freezer until you have enough to simmer in a crock pot of water. After straining and adding other ingredients of your choice, this will make delicious stock to be eaten “as is,” or used as the basis for soup, gravy or sauces.

3. Fruits and Vegetables

Buying fruits and vegetables is trickier than buying meat because there is much more variety. Even so, that means there are more tricks to saving money. Do some research before going to the store and find out which fruits and vegetables are in season, and familiarize yourself with the year’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists.

For instance, in December, the cheapest fruits and veggies tend to be broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale , leeks, grapefruit, mushrooms (some people classify them as vegetables), oranges, papayas, parsnips, pears, pomegranates, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, tangelos, tangerines, and turnips. Buying out of season will not only be less healthy (the longer it’s been frozen, the more nutrients are missing), but it will be harder on your wallet. Also, being familiar with the year’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists can save you from wasting money on organic food. These lists show which fruits and veggies have the highest levels of pesticide residue, so you know which cheaper, non-organic products are okay to buy.

If this isn’t enough, keep it simple by sticking with cheaper fruit and vegetable varieties like apples, bananas, cabbage, carrots, celery, onions, etc.

Like meat, buying locally is also much less expensive. Check out LocalHarvest.com to find good rates from nearby farmers.

4. Planning Meals

Since you will be avoiding restaurants, fast food and quick purchases, planning what you are going to eat is extremely importan t when dining on a budget. While you are cooking your food, plan every supper to have enough leftovers to make tomorrow’s lunch, know how much fruit you can snack on every day, and save eggs for breakfast. If you do not schedule your meals at least one or two weeks in advance, it is likely that you will waste both food and money.

5. Shopping Smart

Along with buying from local farmers, there are many store and purchasing tricks to make the Paleo diet affordable. First, make a grocery list before leaving for the store (since aimless wandering generally turns into picking up useless items). This will keep you on track and organized.

Second, if you can, buy in bulk. This will be cheaper for you in the long run. Ferment, freeze and dry the excess food so it will last for months.

Third, keep an eye out for daily and weekly specials. Fourth, take up couponing. Fifth, take advantage of stores with price compare. And finally, don’t be afraid to shop online. Depending on where you look and where you live, there are some great deals to be found.

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy all the healthy benefits of that the Paleo Diet has to offer. Much like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, you just have to play it smart, stay alert, and keep an ear to the ground.

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