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How Do You Prioritize?

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  • How Do You Prioritize?

    There's been a bit of talk lately about how to eat healthfully on a limited budget. In a dream world we'd be subsidizing broccoli, spinach, and blackberries instead of corn and soy, but how do you prioritize your limited $$ in the real world?

    In our household, we have two major categories where we always spend more for better quality food:
    1. Healthy fats, which for us is olive oil, butter, and coconut oil. (I also use or save bacon fat, of course!)

    2. Meat. We always get grass-fed beef, and nice local uncured bacon most of the time (it's a sad day when that's out and I have to settle for Applegate). I'm very picky about seafood, opting only for good wild caught varieties from the US, Canada, or occasionally Europe, because I'm pretty sure there's no problem with Norwegian haddock. We also get all-natural chicken and pork. I'd love to get those at the farmer's market but we can't afford it all of the time, so we make do with all-natural from the grocery store.

    I'll purchase more organic/local when funds are available, and I am particularly eager to expand into only buying dairy from pastured cows as soon as affordable.

    What about you?

  • #2
    I eat HCLF paleo which is much cheaper than HFLC paleo/primal.

    I prioritize: pastured eggs (I don't need that many, so I get THE BEST), grassfed liver, gelatin (grassfed), and organic potatoes (not that expensive; $5 for 4lbs and I get at least 2-3 bags a week). I get kerrygold/coconut oil/etc. but I don't use that much of it. I find adding fat to everything counter-intuitive to paleo principles.

    I save with: non-organic bananas, regular skim milk/low fat dairy (not really necessary to get organic since the hormones are in the fat), sale fruits of all types. I also save by rarely buying snack foods (chocolate/nuts/paleo treat ingredients/ice cream/etc. which are more expensive than most grassfed meats I buy). I buy very LEAN red meat so CAFO is fine, as once again the hormones are in the fat.

    {Tangent: I also just save money from other activities... not eating out, not drinking/smoking/etc., not watching that many movies out (<10 a year), not getting haircuts that require regular costly maintenance (i.e. BANGS or highlights or coloring; or really cutting my hair at ALL lol), not getting my coffee out, thrift store/sample sale/clearance shopping, always checking, planning my day so I take the metro the least number of times, etc.

    I end up becoming a better cook and a better stylist because I didn't spend money to get fed or to look put-together. Win-win. }
    Last edited by TQP; 08-11-2014, 02:40 PM.
    Gelatin/bone broth recipes blog.
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    • #3
      First priority is eat real food. Single ingredient food. Even if the source is less than optimal, it beats chemical/manufactured/boxed food every time. Even if I had to eat terrible cheap store eggs, pink slime meat, etc...

      Quality is consideration # 2. To me, conventional dairy is not so bad, whole cuts of conventional meat are okay in between farm trips, etc... I really don't like those cheap white eggs though. I try to avoid ground meats and sausages and whatnot if the source isn't legitimate, because who knows what they're putting in there?

      In a perfect world, I'd buy everything fresh/raw/local. But if I eat a good percentage of my meat from pastured animals, and the rest at least in whole cuts, good eggs, conventional pasteurized dairy products, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, I figure I'm ahead of most people and I can do that within my budget.
      The Champagne of Beards


      • #4
        I usually make 2 grocery stops per week:
        • co-op or upscale market for animal foods and bulk spices
        • discount chain for produce

        After keeping receipts (see sig) I notice the "nice" meat, eggs, and dairy are a couple dollars more for much better flavor, but the "nice" produce is 3-4x the cost and doesn't seem all that different. In some cases the organic produce is less fresh because it has slower turnover.

        Overall I'm not convinced healthy = expensive. Good nourishment increases fasting comfort, and snacks and drinks are quite the ripoff. It's true a spartan routine of bulk pasta, beans, and ground chicken would save a little cash but I don't know anyone who actually does that. Also, many kitchen items are used in such small amounts the potential savings are too trivial to fuss over.

        My peculiar nutrition glossary and shopping list


        • #5
          I just eat real food. I don't worry that much about grassfed vs. non-grassfed - I figure that if I'm avoiding packaged garbage, I'm 90% of the way there. I buy real meat and real veggies and real fruit and real eggs. Chicken livers are pretty cheap - alas, my fiancee doesn't like them, but I do, so we do eat them sometimes. Chicken gizzards are even cheaper. Cabbage is cheap. There's plenty of other cheap veggies and meats out there.


          • #6
            Picklepete your shopping list is thorough! Talk about organized!
            Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.


            • #7
              For me, animal products should be as "clean" as possible. I'm a stickler about beef more than the others because of the hormones. For other meat/bird, I'm okay with just antibiotic-free if that's what's available, or if the "small farm" offerings get too expensive. Salmon is the fish I eat most, and it's wild. I'd pretty much skip it and buy other seafood or fish if I couldn't find it wild because what I've read about salmon farming grosses me out. I'm happy with organic chicken livers, but if I'm ordering online, I'll stock up on pastured.

              I've gotten spoiled on farm eggs, so about 19 times out of 20, that's what I buy. And CAFO eggs have gone up enough in price that for one person, the extra dollar a dozen doesn't really impact me as much as it might a larger family or someone who eats a half dozen eggs per day. I've also gotten spoiled on Kerrygold, farm, or butters from other countries, but again, for one person, and the amount I use, it's not a big deal.

              I don't eat a lot of veggies, and most of those I do eat for the last year come from small farms, even if they don't jump through the hoops required to be USDA certified organic. Fruit is primarily organic, but that doesn't mean that I wouldn't grab a piece of fruit from a corner store if it looked good and I was in the mood for it.

              Potatoes I'd rather have organic, but if not readily available, I'll either peel them before eating, or just not eat them until organic is available. Rice is my one food that I don't bother worrying about and I can't even tell you why. I just buy a big azz bag and when it's been used, I buy another.

              I avoid cans, but even though tomato is one of the worst things to buy in a can, I keep it around. I've tried some of the organic tomato pastes in glass jars, and they are a disappointment in taste and consistency.
              "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine


              Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.


              • #8
                1. Sex
                2. Sex
                3. Food
                4. Sex
                5. Sleep
                6. Sex

                Sorry....I only read the title and jumped from there.


                • #9
                  I try and grow some. (Cherry tomatoes grow like weeds)
                  I have chickens for fresh eggs.

                  I buy frozen berries that my kids eat straight out of the freezer. Mangos sometimes too.

                  I will try and buy organic for the dirty dozen. It helps when organic foods are sometimes the same price or not that much more expensive (apples were 20c dearer, pumpkin was the same price)

                  I probably concentrate more on fruit and veggies because I have growing girls that like to snack on them (some weeks I'll go through 4 pounds of carrots due to dinners and snacking)


                  • #10
                    How do I prioritize? Very poorly, 'cause I'm bad with money. Thankfully it seems like meat is the big ticket item at grocery stores, so I do alright. Most weeks I'll spend $20 for 4 dozen amazing farm fresh eggs, 2ish big things kefir (price varies, but ~$8), and then veggies themselves are usually dirt cheap (for just one person). It's rare I buy anything that isn't organic and beautifully tasty. Actually the organic Lifeway brand kefir is cheaper at Natural Grocers than the not organic Lifeway at the blah store. A $4-6 thing of kerrygold butter lasts me ~2 weeks. Only recently started buying fruit much. It's more expensive than veggies which kinda sucks but that's okay.

                    Sometimes I spend more on hot sauce for a week than the rest of the grocery bill combined. I shop exclusively at the used clothes store (just discovered that the pants I'm wearing have a big tear in the butt part haha) and spend ~$0 per month on entertainment. I get to see movies when other people decide they're feeling generous (twice so far in 2014), but other than that it's me and my 2011 11" Macbook Air.

                    Alcohol :'(

                    I never get my beer anymore. It's too expensive and "Nice 'n Legal" is my new middle name. Which means I'm poor. Very, very poor. If I can eat well, anyone in a first world country should be able to.


                    "Got any organic eggs, man?!"

                    sorry if that was in poor taste haha
                    Last edited by Nellodee; 08-11-2014, 08:10 PM.
                    Music of the day/week/month/whatever:

                    K.A.A.N. - L.T.N.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Urban Forager View Post
                      Picklepete your shopping list is thorough! Talk about organized!
                      Naw I just enter single items and it accumulates. It all started when I noticed how supermarkets love to take $/mass produce and chop it up into $/volume packages and I couldn't shake the feeling I was being ripped off. Actually reading it now it's a little horrifying how many pounds of food pass through my face in 8 months.

                      My peculiar nutrition glossary and shopping list


                      • #12
                        I prioritize by making the majority of my diet the highest quality of the generally CHEAPEST food source - for example, pastured eggs are cheaper for me than grassfed beef, so I eat more eggs than beef. I don't worry about produce, I just get what's on sale and figure out how to cook it. Organic, pastured free range pork/bacon is completely out of my price range, so I just don't eat bacon. Sometimes I will find good quality pork sausage at a reasonable price and I will buy it. I wait for WF to put coho on sale and I snap it up. A lady near me sells me her pastured chicken livers at $3 a pound so I go nuts on those. LOL.

                        Also, in an effort to round out my food intake, I'll drop a few bucks on some organic black or wild rice (occasionally lentils too) and measure it out carefully.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by picklepete View Post
                          After keeping receipts (see sig) I notice the "nice" meat, eggs, and dairy are a couple dollars more for much better flavor, but the "nice" produce is 3-4x the cost and doesn't seem all that different. In some cases the organic produce is less fresh because it has slower turnover.
                          This is an excellent point. I don't generally notice the difference between, say, an organic cucumber and a non-organic cucumber, but I will notice the difference in meat.

                          I do get organic bananas more often than not, but that's because they tend to be greener and last longer.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TQP View Post
                            I eat HCLF paleo which is much cheaper than HFLC paleo/primal.
                            The cost is one reason why I eat more carbs than the HFLCers - I'm kind of moderate carb, moderate fat. Potatoes and rice go a long way for the money.

                            Excellent points about the beauty routines, too. I'm thinking of using some super basic makeup more often because, sadly, lack of makeup is often seen as less professional, but wow, some women spend a fortune on their appearance!


                            • #15
                              I don't have much in the way of a food budget usually and it's worse right now for two people on a single income sooooo my priority is eating. I buy whatever the grocery store has and (for me) keep it to single-ingredient stuff wherever possible. I'm not even in a position to splurge on good eggs right now, so I go for the middle of the road options (if it says Cage Free and is at least less expensive than the eggs from pastured chickens).

                              HCLF doesn't work for me because I can't do dairy and don't find fruit filling. Too bad! I should really eat more potatoes though.

                              Even when we're rent-free for the next couple of months, we'll be setting aside all the extra money so maybe I'll splurge on eggs, but there won't be much other improved food quality.
                              Depression Lies