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  • Going Primal on a budget?

    My struggle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has made me willing to try anything that might help. I cut gluten out of my diet recently and I have felt a slight increase in energy levels (even though I only started buying gluten-free cereal, bread, pasta and flour, so I'm still eating grains), so am curious to see how much better I can get. My only worry is how much it's going to cost. I'm a student and my partner works at a couple of pennies above minimum wage. We spend £180 per month on food and that's all we can afford with our income. I just don't see any way we can possibly buy that much meat and vegetables and eggs and things (especially if it's all to be free-range and not fed on corn) for only £180 per month for 2 people.

    Can someone convince me it's possible?

    Also, I'm not convinced I can give up cake. I'm known for my love of cake, to the point where I received 2 big cakes, a big tub of brownies and 12 cupcakes when I invited 7 people to my birthday party. There's also one week out of every month where it's more than your life's worth to tell me not to eat chocolate...

  • #2
    I would stop buying the gluten free items, and go cold turkey for NO GRAINS. Grit it out for a couple of weeks, and you may find your desire for them has vanished. That gluten-free stuff is EXPENSIVE. Also, eating all those starches, sets you up for a vicious cycle of wanting more of them.

    Don't worry about grass-fed/organic until you have the basics down. Meat, eggs, vegetables, a little fruit, a little nuts, a little cheese.

    You CAN give up cake. You don't need to give up chocolate.

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    • #3
      Frozen section for organic veggies.
      Canned/frozen fish, watch the additives. Big Lots and Dollar stores, Prospector Liquidation and Grocery Outlet.
      Boxed coconut milk from Asian and Russian markets (aroy-d is my favorite).
      Whole foods has cheap beef that's at least pasture-centered if not truly grass-fed perfectly.
      Trader Joe's has free-range chicken legs for something like $3.00 a pound.
      Make your own tallow. Can't beat something like 20,000 healthy calories for $5.00.
      Ideas abound, people will keep chiming in for you!
      Crohn's, doing SCD

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sabine View Post
        I would stop buying the gluten free items, and go cold turkey for NO GRAINS. Grit it out for a couple of weeks, and you may find your desire for them has vanished. That gluten-free stuff is EXPENSIVE. Also, eating all those starches, sets you up for a vicious cycle of wanting more of them.

        Don't worry about grass-fed/organic until you have the basics down. Meat, eggs, vegetables, a little fruit, a little nuts, a little cheese.

        You CAN give up cake. You don't need to give up chocolate.
        It's not the desire for them I'm worried about, it's the cost of eating meat and vegetables instead of them. Gluten free stuff isn't all that expensive. Gluten free cereal is about the same price as most branded breakfast cereals, gluten free pasta only increased our monthly food spend by about £3, and I make my own gluten-free bread and the flour isn't that expensive when you buy it in bulk. However, meat, nuts and cheese all cost a fortune compared to cereal, bread and pasta. As are eggs and vegetables when bought in such quantities. I'm just not convinced we can afford it.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Knifegill View Post
          Frozen section for organic veggies.
          Canned/frozen fish, watch the additives. Big Lots and Dollar stores, Prospector Liquidation and Grocery Outlet.
          Boxed coconut milk from Asian and Russian markets (aroy-d is my favorite).
          Whole foods has cheap beef that's at least pasture-centered if not truly grass-fed perfectly.
          Trader Joe's has free-range chicken legs for something like $3.00 a pound.
          Make your own tallow. Can't beat something like 20,000 healthy calories for $5.00.
          Ideas abound, people will keep chiming in for you!
          Our freezer is tiny, unfortunately. We can barely fit what we already have in there.
          I hate coconut milk.
          There are no whole foods around here.
          I don't think Trader Joe's exists in the UK.
          I don't even know that tallow is.
          *headdesk*
          Thanks for the ideas guys but I think food prices are just too high, that's why I shop in Lidl, only buying what I can't get in Lidl in Asda.

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          • #6
            Tallow is like lard, You chop and simmer the hard fat from the heart and kidneys to get a sort of hard butter to cook with. Isn't Scotland teeming with animals fed properly? It should be easy to buy a cheap whole chicken and throw it in the stew pot. Liver is always affordable, and beef heart makes a fine staple meat. It's more nutritious and less expensive than other muscle meats and has coenzyme Q10, copper, zinc and more. Find a local source of beef heart. That cuts your meat costs down to about 1/4 what they were already. This is easy. You just have to be willing to make a few phone calls and find local animal food sources.
            Crohn's, doing SCD

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            • #7
              Not sure what else you've been eating, but with kids at home it seemed my grocery cart was loaded up on bars (granola, meal, fruit&grain, etc), pop, juice, gatorade, pop tarts, etc. I can by four dozen eggs for the cost of 1 case of pop. I can save $5 a week by not getting an afternoon candy bar from the machine --> that about covers my weekly baby spinach costs. A box of snack cakes and a bag cookies might total $6/week, which could get us a good amount of cheese to snack on.

              I personally haven't made a transition to organic, grass-fed, free-range food. It's not that I don't see the health benefit, but I think nutrition gain in switching to real food from junk food is bigger than the gain in switching from production farmed food to more natural food. I'm sure plenty would argue with me, but as a newbie starting out I only give myself as much change as I can handle at one time.

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              • #8
                Do you live near any farms that produce and sell grass-fed and pastured products or produce?
                I called one up and offered my gardening skills in barter for meat and eggs with some produce thrown in when in available.
                I now "work" on average between 3 and 5 hours a week and come home with 3 dozen eggs and about 6lbs ground beef,
                sometimes a chicken and sometimes produce. I get my exercise in and as a bonus I get to spend the morning outside breathing in the clean air and have a freezer/frig stocked with good food. I consider myself very blessed and hope you may be able to work something like this out. Gardening may not be your thing but you may have another skill to offer.
                I understand the CFS symptoms and wish you the best.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JustSteph View Post
                  I'm just not convinced we can afford it.
                  Well, you can try. If you are happy with your current weight, you can eat more carbs (potatoes, rice) than many of us, although it would be much better if you tried an elimination diet like Whole 30 (http://whole9life.com/2012/08/the-whole30-program/) in your first month. It would help you figure out what causes your health problems.

                  Do you eat offal? It is amazingly nutritious and quite cheap in many countries. For veggies, you need to respect the season and buy what is good and cheap. These days, I eat mostly carrots, squashes and pumpkins, beets, cabbage, parsnips etc. I stopped buying tomatoes (I use canned ones if needed for a recipe) because they are getting ridiculously expensive and aren't as tasty as in August.

                  Get bones (quite inexpensive in most places), make bone broth and use it for thick soups (with a lot of vegetables). Make stews from vegetables and meat - the less expensive cuts are perfect for this purpose. Even tough cuts will melt in the mouth after a couple of hours in the crockpot (if you don't have one, I wholeheartedly recommend getting it). If you cannot afford a lot of meat, eat eggs for protein. What really keeps you satiated on this diet is fat, which is another inexpensive item.

                  To put it short, I am sure you will manage if you really want to. Quit buying grains and any processed food. Start cooking from scratch. Search the forum for advice - people often ask about how to do this on a tight budget. http://onepoundmeals.blog.com/ - this guy even posts his recipes of cheap meals.

                  I will keep my fingers crossed you. If you succeed, it will probably be a life-changing experience, like for many people here.

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                  • #10
                    Boxed cereal is pretty expensive if you compare it oz for oz to some cuts of meat. If you then compare nutritive value, you'll find that cereal is very expensive.

                    If you approach Primal from a mindset of making small changes over time, you'll do it. If you approach it from, "no way, too expensive, too different, I want my cake," you might not.
                    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

                    B*tch-lite

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

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                    • #11
                      Hi Steph, where in Scotland are you? There's 2 of us and we manage on a lot less then that (perhaps 2/3 your budget).
                      Avoid grains, avoid starches, avoid boxed or pre-made things. A head of brocolli 75p, a tin of mackerel £1.50 will do a meal for 2. Poached egg and kale for breakfast. You get the idea.
                      Buy butter, olive oil, avocados; Tescos are good for frozen wild salmon. Eggs are much cheaper from the farmers market or health food shop. Veg is cheap at Lidl or Aldi, and their nuts are good value too, look for their ground or flaked almonds.

                      No need to go mad on beef etc. That is the thing that wil blow your budget, that and eating out or buying manufactured boxed items.

                      It's not only possible, it is easy, but you have to get 'into' it to find the bargains and the mix of items that suits you.

                      I think the sugars and carbs really are addictive though!

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                      • #12
                        I eat 2 eggs each morning for breakfast with some bulletproof coffee. A dozen eggs is way cheaper than special cereal. If you try to cut out grains and processed foods you might find you can actually save money. I do not do organic or grassfed because it is not readily available, but that's one thing that makes primal so awesome. My blueprint I made for myself says that since its convenient and still better than processed foods that regular meat is fine for now.

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                        • #13
                          zucchini, carrots, onions, broccoli, sweet potatoes, potatoes, apples, spinach, and bananas are always dirt cheap

                          proteins: pork loin & shoulder, ground beef and pork, canned tuna & salmon, eggs, milk, whey

                          white rice, black beans, and lentils if you're really hard up for cash
                          “The whole concept of a macronutrient, like that of a calorie, is determining our language game in such a way that the conversation is not making sense." - Dr. Kurt Harris

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                          • #14
                            I think we spend about the same as your budget to feed two men.

                            I often go without breakfast, preferring to wait and have some nuts or an apple mid morning. My housemate tends to eat 2 or 3 eggs, but he's a woodland manager/bladesmith so needs a lot of food.

                            Lunch is generally leftovers, I make sure to make extra, or at least extra veg that I can add some tinned fish or baked chicken to.

                            Dinner is meat and veg. At the moment the budget is extra tight so I'm being careful. I get frozen white fish from sainsburys for about £3.50/kg which we might have once or twice a week. A whole chicken will do a roast dinner, lunch the next day and the leftover carcass will make chicken soup - so three meals for a few quid. If you can't get to a sainsburys then lidls have white fish for £4/kg, beef mince and pork shoulder steaks for good prices, plus "free-range" eggs for about £1/half dozen. Plus they often have deals on things like steak and turkey steaks, not to mention the deals in the freezer section. If you buy meat frozen it will be safe in the fridge for a few days before you eat it. I buy the big bags of onions, the bags of onions, stock up when things are on offer (did a bit of a stock up on butternut squash and sweet potato recently as they're good safe starches and on offer were cheaper than most veg). I usually buy a bag of their nuts royal because I will have a few each day as a snack when I get home from work or a mid morning snack. But honestly every week they have veg on offer. Things like carrots are cheaper than pasta, even regular pasta. I can go into tesco and buy frozen broccoli for something like 75p/kg. Even cheap pasta tends to be more expensive than that. When there is a good offer on meat I will stock up. If the meat comes in a tray I rebag the meat (labelling it up before I freeze it) so that it takes up less space. I have a couple of freezer drawers in a fridge/freezer and a small chest freezer, but I also raw feed a big dog and buy in bulk so his food takes up a lot of space.

                            Eating primal on the budget you describe is completely do-able for two people. It's better to eat conventionally raised meat and non-organic veg on a primal diet than to not eat any kind of primal diet. Maybe I'm not as healthy as I would be if I could eat exclusively naturally raised meat and organic veg, but I KNOW I am healthier than I was before I went primal.

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                            • #15
                              And don't forget that delicious BLOOD. I get it by half the liter for about the same money as I would pay for a chocolate bar, even the grass fed, free range stuff. Blood pudding will last in your fridge for days, and you can use it as a filler in sausage(which is another great thing to do on a budget, especially if you have one of those stuffing machines at hand, but it's not necessary). There's black soup, sauce base, spice for a lot of things... it might be a bit difficult to get used to the idea of eating blood, but om nom nom I say.

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