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Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Cost of Doing a Whole30

As I am nearing the end of my Whole30 I had the feeling that we had spent less on groceries in the past 30 days than we normally do.  So when I had a few spare minutes, I went into my bank account and tallied up all my grocery bills for the 30 days I was on Whole30 and then tallied the 30 days prior.

We spent about $200 less while I was doing Whole30.  

I was pretty excited about that and since some people use cost as an excuse to not do a Whole30 or Paleo diet, I sent this tweet: "We spent $200 less on food/drink while doing #Whole30 than we did in the 30 days prior. Money is not an excuse."

I had quite a few people "favourite" and/or "retweet" this, but I had one person ask me this: "Can you send your shopping list and prices and source/quality of food please? We would like to share with others."

Ummm... I don't have that sort of detail but this comment did make me think about writing a bit of an explanation as to how/why we spent so much less money during my Whole30. 

The first thing I want to talk about is meat.  It is highly recommended that while doing Whole30 (or eating a Paleo style diet) you eat grass-fed, organic beef, pastured organic poultry, pork, eggs, wild caught, sustainable seafood.  Having done a bunch of looking around, investigating and research into the meat supply in my region, I was actually kind of surprised and how very rare and extreme priced grass-fed beef is.  So while I absolutely, fully agree with their philosophy on this - high quality food is so very important - being a family of four, with mortgage, housing, and high daycare costs, the highest quality meat options available to me locally weren't something that I felt we could reasonably afford and still keep the electric company from shutting off our lights.

For example, I was able to find a "local" (an hour drive) farm that produces grass-fed meat. And while I fully believe that they are of the highest quality and operate under the best farming practices possible, with their prices starting at over $9/lb, it was absolutely not an option for me and my family.  I also tried driving an hour into the city to see if Whole Foods might be an option.  There I found an organic pastured pork roast that may have been enough for one modest meal which cost $28. Four sticks of pepperoni would have cost $12. These items seemed to be a good representation of the rest of their meat prices as well. Therefore this was also not a reasonable option for my family. (Although I did get 18 free range eggs there for $7.)

Whole30 then suggests that while grass-fed, pastured meat is the "best" option, if it is unavailable then a  "good" option is lean cuts / skinless meat/poultry.  

I have now started doing all/most of my meat shopping at my local butcher.  He is within walking distance of my home - which is of great importance to me.  The fact that I can walk there or conveniently stop there on my way home from work is extremely valuable to a mother of two who works full time.  Driving an hour (each way) to buy very high priced meat (even if it is of the highest quality) isn't reasonable at this time (or at anytime in the foreseeable future).  The travel time, cost of fuel and environmental factors are all things I take into consideration.  My very local butcher occasionally sells grass-fed beef which I buy whenever I get the chance.  He also sells organic ground beef which I also buy whenever he has it available.  Otherwise, I buy his lean cuts of meat on a regular basis.  I have found his meat to be superior compared to grocery store meat (where I previously but no longer shop).  I trust him, he is reasonably priced (often less expensive than the grocery stores), and he is located in back of a veggie store which although is not my usual place to shop for produce, it's handy when I'm in a pinch. 

I will note that I did find a farm (that is several hours away in my little home town of Vanderhoof) who sell packages of grass-fed beef.  They happen to deliver to this region on a somewhat regular basis and so I have ordered from them a 25lb box of meat for $155. I think this is a reasonable cost and am looking forward to trying their meat and perhaps becoming a regular customer if it works out.  

As for produce, I have started buying all my veggies at the produce market.  I buy local and in season vegetables (and some fruit) whenever I can.  The produce market I go to also has great prices and very good quality.  It is also not too far from my home (although I must drive there) and the people who work there are always friendly.  I usually come home with a large box filled with veggies for the week and I always feel good about that.  

And as for the rest of it (there's not much left), I grab my coconut milk and household items from Superstore.  I try to hit that place at off times because it can get busy and hectic in there but again, the prices are good and it's close to my home.  

There are a few specialty items that are more expensive that I can only get in certain places.  Things like coconut aminos and coconut oil.  I grab those whenever I'm somewhere that sells them as they still seem to be fairly rare in these parts.  

The bulk of the savings, I believe, came from the junk food, the treats, the stuff that came in boxes/packages.  My kids get less things like Goldfish crackers and Cheerios and more meat and fruit and veggies (although they are still a work in progress).  I believe my husband and I now actually eat less.  There's much less grazing and snacking and mindless munching and so there's no longer a need to buy snacks.  And while we really didn't eat out all that much before, there was ZERO eating out in the past 30 days.  I made everything we ate. (See everything I ate on the Whole30 tab at the top of this page.) Even my husband who is partial to buying his lunches, took a lunch every day and ate breakfasts made at home.

Also, nothing, and I mean NOTHING went to waste.  If there were  2 broccoli florets and half a chicken thigh left at the end of dinner then those things got packaged up and put in the fridge to add to the next meal. (That includes salvageable uneaten food left on plates.) We ate everything we bought, I used everything.  Nothing went bad. Nothing was thrown out.  I was never afraid to combine bits of this and that to make a meal.

Admittedly, the savings also came from the liquor store.  While I am the only one who actually did the Whole30, my husband has considerably (albeit begrudgingly) cut back on his casual beer intake.  And obviously my Monday night glass(es) of wine have been eliminated. Weekends, which were often celebrated just for the mere fact that we made it through another week, have been much more quiet and much less expensive. 

7 comments:

  1. I have definitely spent more on better-quality meats but like you said, the savings on not eating (or drinking) out and not drinking alcohol has definitely made it fairly balanced! Where I have purchased not-perfect meats, they have been as close as I could get - and the same thing goes for vegetables/produce. I think your point about doing the best you can given location, financial means, etc. is well taken!

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  2. Amen. When there's a will, there's a way. Putting aside the fact that nothing is more important than investing in your health and people should just chill about spending money preventing disease etc, everyone can find a way to work a budget for this. Good for you!

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  3. I was also a little shocked at the prices of some of the places that sell grass-fed beef and pastured pork and chicken. But I liked your resolution of that problem. Yes, in a perfect world we would all be eating grass-fed, pastured meat - but alas that is not the case. At least this way you bypass most of the toxic things fed to animals. Great blog BTW!

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  4. Well we haven't officially tallied our bills, I would say that our family has cut down on the bills as well since we have gone Paleo. It's an interesting journey and boy do we feel good! I need to check out the local butcher as well...that is one area we haven't looked into much.

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  5. I totally agree with you. While I haven't done whole 30, I am eating paleo and the first month notice a significant decrease in the amount I was spending on groceries and found very little waste. Great post Tara, you're sure are right the cost is not an excuse!

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  6. We have actually seen a drastic increase in our budget for food. That has been a tough adjustment for us. There are no coupons for fresh fruits and veggies!

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  7. But it has been worth the health benefits my family has experienced.

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