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  • $125 a week?

    I just sent this question to Mark, then realized there are thousands of us out there with great ideas, so why not stick our heads together?

    My sister took her family of four Primal a couple of years ago, and everyone did great for a couple of months, but she kept busting her budget and eventually gave up due to cost. Too bad, because her kids did especially well, with a lot of their ADHD-type behavior going away in pretty short order. I hate seeing my niece and nephew back on the SAD diet, so I asked her what it would take for her to take the family Primal again.

    Her weekly food budget is $125 for a family of four - two adults and two kids, age 10 and 6.

    I would love to be able to put together a weeks' worth of meals for her, so she can see that this is possible. Help!

    Are you super budget-minded? How would you make this work?

    Stats as of 3/1/12:
    5'10" female, 38 y/o
    Currently 140 lbs., approx 25% body fat
    WEIGHT GOAL: lose a bit more body fat and tighten up the rear end...basically, I want to look great naked. Everywhere else is looking great, but my ass/hips/thighs are being a bit stubborn. TMI?
    DAILY MACRO TARGETS: Cal: 1,857. Protein: 100g (400cal). Carb: 75g (300cal). Fat: 128g (1156cal).
    EXERCISE GOAL: incorporate 2-3 strength training sessions and 1 sprint session per week.

  • #2
    She might find this interesting: http://civileats.com/2011/03/29/mapp...g-infographic/

    US citizens spend ridiculously little on food compared to the rest of the world. It is a matter of prioritising good food appropriately
    Last edited by peril; 05-13-2012, 01:07 AM. Reason: Forgot link
    Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.

    Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine

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    • #3
      Well, first of all I would place less emphasis on grass fed, etc. Yes, it's great and primal and all that good stuff, but if it's not cost effective, it's just not. You can't break the bank for stuff like that, you have to make it work. $125 a week is a decent amount of money for four people. Does she by any chance have a Sam's membership or a Costo membership? I buy big packs of hamburger and parcel it out into about 1/2 pound portions and freeze it (I live alone) and pull it out when I need it. I do the same thing with a big pack of chicken legs. It works out to about $1.50 a serving.

      For a family of four, she could do a big roast which would cost about $10 to $15, $20 max, and then you have that with roasted veggies and a big salad one night, and the remainder chopped up as salad topping the next day and maybe even some left over for something on the third day. Same with a big roaster chicken. The Walmart by me some times has roasters packaged up two birds for about $8. Roast them both in the oven at the same time, serve one for dinner with veggies and a salad and tear up the second one the day after and make chicken fajitas with grilled peppers and onions. Get a big turkey and cook it one night and you can eat for about 4 days for about $25. Veggies are really cheap right now since most things are coming into season.

      Eggs are ridiculously cheap and you can take a whole dozen and beat them up with some spinach and broccolli and onions that you've sauteed in a pan, and throw some cheese in with it and make a sort of fritatta that will feed everyone for a couple of days for about $7 total. I'd stay away from bacon as it does tend to be pricey (at least in my neck of the woods) and while I love it, it does have to be a special thing for me when I have a little bit of extra room in the budget. Find a farmer's market or something like that and you can get amazingly inexpensive produce that's usually really amazing. Get hamburger on sale if you don't have access to Sam's and brown it with whatever spices you like, chop up some tomatos and some lettuce and maybe some bell peppers, whatever is on hand, and put the hamburger and some cheese on it with some salsa and avocado or guacamole if you can get it and you have a pretty wicked taco salad. That's one of my favorites.

      Hope some of those ideas help.

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      • #4
        First, I would go for seasonal produce. I don't buy organic, just what is seasonal and least expensive at the time. The least expensive stuff right now is silver beet, kale, brussels sprouts, broccoli, onions, pumpkin, squash and potato (lots of varieties). Apples and pears are the least expensive seasonal fruit right now.

        I would say that this could come in around $75 (food is more expensive in NZ). I would say it should come in around $50 US particularly if you're going to a local farmers market or farm or even a place like costco.

        So, that would leave about $75 for meat and eggs, and I think this is do-able.

        We use 6 dozen eggs a week in our family which costs us about $30 per week, so I would say that in the US, this probably comes in around $20. Which takes the total up to $95.

        We spend $20 in fish (two meals) and then another $24 in chicken (two chickens which is also used to make bone broth). Then 2 kgs ground meats (venison or beef) at around $13 (four meals), and our 2 skirt steak (1kilo each) $11. so $68 NZ and I would say probably $50 or so, tops, in US prices.

        Meat, in fact, is a lot less expensive in the US, particularly if you get it on sale. I remember the chickens (whole, same size we get here) costing about $6 per instead of $14, so.. . Yeah.

        That comes in just over at $145.

        I would ask a question -- is there anywhere else where they can get money from their budget? For example, if they have cable TV or extensive cell phone programs, perhaps either of these could be shifted to provide less service that could be spent on food?

        Really, thy probably only need to find $20/30 per week to put that direction. And, i suppose if they went with canned fish (tuna, salmon, anchovies), they could probably cut out some of the other meats and do quite well and save some money.

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        • #5
          also, we spend about $350 per week on food for our family of 3, if that is of interest to her.

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          • #6
            With two growing kids, I'd add a good amount of inexpensive starchy carbs to the shopping list: potatoes, sweet potatoes, white rice, winter squash, bananas, tapioca flour, and even properly soaked lentils and black beans.

            It's not necessary to have meat at every meal or every day for that matter. Eggs and potatoes with some broccoli or spinach is a perfectly fine meal.

            Without coupons and sale items, for about $125 you can get:

            8 dozen eggs - $14
            2 quarts plain yogurt - $6
            4 cans tuna in water - $5
            4 lbs ground beef - $10
            Whole roasting chicken - $8
            4 lbs pork chops - $6
            Whole frozen salmon fillet - $10
            5 lbs white rice - $5
            10 lbs white potatoes - $6
            5 lbs sweet potatoes - $3
            1 lb dry lentils, 1 lb dry black beans - $3
            5 assorted bags frozen veggies (broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, string beans, Brussels sprouts, etc.) - $7
            10 lbs bananas - $5
            5 lbs carrots - $3
            3 lbs onions - $2
            2 heads romaine lettuce - $5
            Head of cabbage $2
            2 avocados - $3
            8 apples - $2.50
            4 canned pineapple, peaches, pears in 100 % juice - $5
            2 cans tomatoes $2
            1 can black olives - $1
            2 lbs butter - $6
            2 lbs bacon - $6

            ~$125 or so. Can probably do better with sales and such. Suggest that she check out her local grocery's store web site or circular in the mail. This is one of my local groceries stores: http://shoprite.mywebgrocer.com/Circ...cff9&uc=8EE7C1 they usually have a ton of great sale items, even grass-fed beef tenderloin from New Zealand for $1.99 a pound once in awhile!

            Luxuries like coffee, tea, sweets, chocolate, ice cream, olive and coconut oil, wine, etc. Would have to come out of other non-essential funds, like cable TV, eating out, movies, etc.

            Chili and soups with rice and potatoes can stretch pretty far, especially with frozen veggies thrown in. Save bones for stock.

            If they have land, suggest they grow a garden! Grow as much as possible and can and dehydrate the surplus. This is the cheapest, healthiest way to eat and save money. Front lawn? Gardens are gorgeous!
            Last edited by j3nn; 05-13-2012, 02:24 AM.
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            It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. - Samuel Adams

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            • #7
              I've found lots of white rice, potatoes and fruit will keep the cost down and can pretty much make the staple of the diet. Then the cheapest vegetables you can find mixed with a bit of cottage cheese and a small serve of meat. The rest can be spent on other meats, coffee, chocolate, butter, oils, fish etc.

              A huge batch of white rice mixed with olive oil, offal and a few cuts of cheaper meat and vegetables can be really cheap and last for days. Or massive stews made with cheap offal, cheap vegetables and several cups of rice to increase the mass can also be really filling and last for days as well.
              But then again, I'm not exactly a culinary wizard so my meals might seem pretty bland compared to some of the paleo recipes I see on the forums.

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              • #8
                I can't possibly compare food in Australia (OK I'm assuming you're not in Aust... I may be mistaken) and feeding two teenaged boys and the OH with what your sister needs to do but I would strongly recommend cooking big batches of bone broth/stock and using that in as many soups and slow cooker meals as she can get away with. She needs to get the most nutrition 'bang for her buck' and that may mean cooking some stuff that the family is not happy with (that's liver in my household), but she can ease them into that, she doesn't have to do it all tomorrow.

                Definitely buy seasonal produce, it will always (well it is here) be fresher and cheaper, go to farmers markets and get to know the sellers and ask them what's good and what's on special. If she can buy meat in bulk that will save some money (after that big up front cost of course).

                If they like yogurt type things they can make their own yogurt, kefir, soft cheeses etc easily and cheaply.

                I guess most of us have to work out what we are willing to compromise on and what we're not. I know for a fact that I don't spend more money feeding my family what is probably an 80% primal home menu than I did feeding them a healthy CW diet, the healthy CW diet WAS more expensive than the unhealthy one, but the eating out/alcohol bill went down correspondingly. It's about priorities.
                Lost the weight using CW. Now I just want to be healthier.
                Lisa's primal-ish when she feels like it journal.
                Feel free to read and/or comment, but don't expect me to listen.
                Distance walked 2012: 321 kms as of June 15.

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                • #9
                  With kids involved, I would ask your sister for a list of what they ate for primal meals and then go from there to reduce the budget to $125 a week. If her kids were eating primal with little to no fuss, that's golden right there and you should try to replica those meals.
                  I'm retraining and strengthening my taste buds, one primal meal at a time.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by j3nn View Post
                    With two growing kids, I'd add a good amount of inexpensive starchy carbs to the shopping list: potatoes, sweet potatoes, white rice, winter squash, bananas, tapioca flour, and even properly soaked lentils and black beans.

                    It's not necessary to have meat at every meal or every day for that matter. Eggs and potatoes with some broccoli or spinach is a perfectly fine meal.

                    Without coupons and sale items, for about $125 you can get:

                    8 dozen eggs - $14
                    2 quarts plain yogurt - $6
                    4 cans tuna in water - $5
                    4 lbs ground beef - $10
                    Whole roasting chicken - $8
                    4 lbs pork chops - $6
                    Whole frozen salmon fillet - $10
                    5 lbs white rice - $5
                    10 lbs white potatoes - $6
                    5 lbs sweet potatoes - $3
                    1 lb dry lentils, 1 lb dry black beans - $3
                    5 assorted bags frozen veggies (broccoli, spinach, kale, collard greens, string beans, Brussels sprouts, etc.) - $7
                    10 lbs bananas - $5
                    5 lbs carrots - $3
                    3 lbs onions - $2
                    2 heads romaine lettuce - $5
                    Head of cabbage $2
                    2 avocados - $3
                    8 apples - $2.50
                    4 canned pineapple, peaches, pears in 100 % juice - $5
                    2 cans tomatoes $2
                    1 can black olives - $1
                    2 lbs butter - $6
                    2 lbs bacon - $6

                    ~$125 or so. Can probably do better with sales and such.
                    This is a pretty good list.

                    In my experience based on what I see in my area,

                    -80/20 ground beef and bulk chicken breasts are the cheapest protein sources at ~$2/lb (with the beef coming out ahead in terms of value once you factor in total caloric content) Whole rotisserie chickens are also a pretty good deal.

                    -Starchy carbs are generally a good value. White and Sweet potatoes will provide a lot of caloric bang for the buck. Rice isn't strict paleo/primal, but it's fairly "clean", and can stretch a dollar even further.

                    -Bananas are hands down the cheapest fruit available on a regular basis

                    -For veggies, look for a combination of frozen, and whatever's in-season and cheap. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Spinach, and green beans can all be had for less than $1/lb, frozen - and in-season/in bulk you may be able to do fresh even cheaper, and expand your options a bit.

                    -Whole Squash are also sometimes a good option - they're not terribly expensive, and one 2-3 lb squash is quite a lot of food.

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                    • #11
                      Where does she live? Prices vary widely accross the country. The prices listed above would be impossible to find near me. The only meat we can find <$2/lb is bone-in chicken. And eggs are rarely under $1/dozen. That being said, we are making it work for ~$450/m for a family of 4 with 2 young kids (nearly 2 and 4). We eat a lot of chicken and other meat as we can afford when it's on sale. The big thing will be that she needs to shop sales and stock up when there are good sales. We shop at 3 different stores and pick the best deals at each and make out menu from there. Does she have room to garden? That could be an easy way to get organic produce without buying it. And it would be a great way to get her kids involved. We do not buy grass-fed or organic, it's just not possible. And for those that say it's about priorities, just keep your opinion to yourself. We spend >10% of our monthly budget on food. Sometimes people just really can't afford it. We figure that removing wheat, sugar, and vegetable oils is better than not, so that's where we're starting. Of course I do dream about having a larger budget to buy the better stuff some day.

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                      • #12
                        Wow, I feel like a punk for thinking that my own $125/week grocery budget isn't all that bad. I can't imagine a family of 4 on it. I'd evaluate the budget again and re-prioritize things. In my budget, Food is #4. The first 3 are lumped together and none negotiable:

                        1-3) Roof/Lights, Insurance, Gas
                        4) Food
                        5-XX) Blah Blah

                        If I do those 4 things, everything else is peaches'n creme. I have zero debt of any form though so that makes it easier for me to prioritize whole foods.

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                        • #13
                          My mom spent 150/week on a family of six, when I was still living with her; but, she isn't a Primal/Paleo, very very very FAR from it. Speaking of mothers, happy Mother's Day, to all you mothers! The day's yours, enjoy!
                          If you have a problem with what you read: 1. Get a dictionary 2. Don't read it 3. Grow up 4. After 3, go back to 1/ or 2. -- Dennis Blue. | "I don't care about your opinion, only your analysis"- Professor Calabrese. | "Life is more important than _______" - Drew | I eat animals that eat vegetables -- Matt Millen, former NFL Linebacker. | "This country is built on sugar & shit that comes in a box marinated in gluten - abc123

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                          • #14
                            I used to spend around 100/week on our family of 4 plus our veggie box which is $20/week and it seems we tripled that when we went primal, but I am reigning it in. I found a local lady that sells her eggs for about $2 less a dozen than the free range eggs at the grocery, but if it comes down to it I will buy the 2 dozen package at Costco. I check the dates on the grass fed meat and pastured pork at the store and I go back on the day they are "sell buy". This almost always scores me good quality meat at 1/2 off or more and I am building a nice little freezer supply. We ordered 1/2 a grassfed cow and are splitting it with friends. This will help tremendously. I try to not get to tied up in a specific menu and instead go to the chain store first and find what produce is a good deal and build our menus around that. Also, we do a produce box that is $20/week for local organic produce. We eat all of it before I buy anything additional. It requires some creativity! Ultimately though, I have just decided that beyond our home and health insurance, this is priority #1. I will shop thrift stores for my kids clothes ,we will drive our older cars until they no longer run, we will shut off cable if needed, etc. in order to make this work.

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                            • #15
                              If you go with the rice and potatoes, non organic, non grassfed version of primal, it's no more expensive than SAD, probably cheaper. Mark definitely emphasizes the more expensive foods but you can make it work cheaply. I could get by easily on $60 per week if I needed to, that's one hungry guy living alone in New York, the most expensive food city in the country. I have also talked to many people whose "food budget" is whatever they have left after making two car payments, Iphones for the whole family, cable tv, etc. - the last priority. Food should be right up there with shelter in your budget line.

                              Chicken rice and kale soup, meatloaf with sweet potato, that kind of thing. Lots of eggs. Seafood and nicer cuts of meat will be rare.
                              If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ and this (personal fave): http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

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