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How to buy food

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  • How to buy food

    I'm sure this topic has been posted before, but I'm looking for tips to stay primal while on a very tight budget. I'm going to grad school next year and never grocery shopped for myself (had a meal plan during undergrad). While I'm excited to be a real person and buy my own food, I am on a very limited budget. I'll be living in an area with and Aldi, a Publix, and a Sweetbay Supermarket within a 30-min walk. I won't have a car so the likelihood of going to the much-further farmer's market is low.

    What do you all do when your finances are stretched?
    What are some of the cheapest primal foods out there?


  • #2
    Will you have a proper kitchen? If so get a buddy with a car to help load up on non-perishables to make your meal planning more flexible and pleasant:
    potatoes/rice*, virgin oils, vinegar, amino sauces, salt/pepper, herbs/spices, tea/coffee, butter, grated/crumbled cheese*, pickles, olives, mustard, horseradish, hot sauce, nuts, frozen berries, frozen spinach

    Then your weekly shopping should be easy to carry:
    Eggs, seafood, meat, vegetables, fruits, yogurt/cream*

    Don't skimp on eggs--they're important. Canned seafood is an excellent resource if you read the labels--some places have wild salmon for $2-3/can. For meat the best deal is often shoulders or rumps (in a crock pot) or sometimes the stew/stirfry cuts. There's always rotisserie chickens too. In my area turkey wings and thighs are very cheap.

    For produce, the precut stuff is usually overpriced. Bulk cabbage, yellow onions, carrots (not baby), and mushrooms are the cheapest fat vehicles. Citrus and bananas tend to be the cheapest fruits (fresh berries are the best nutritionally but will break your bank). Of course keep an eye on sale prices.

    *if you eat them

    My peculiar nutrition glossary and shopping list


    • #3
      A few ideas, take from the list whatever fits into your personal preferences carb-wise and whatever:

      Potatoes (sweet and regular), eggs, sardines, liver, bananas, ground beef, cheese, white rice, lean conventional meat with compound butters made with Kerrygold, organic chicken thighs.
      The Champagne of Beards


      • #4
        Originally posted by goirish View Post
        What do you all do when your finances are stretched?
        There's nothing wrong with rice and potatoes. And tins of fish.

        There are lots of things that you can make yourself rather than buy (like making ghee from butter).

        Originally posted by goirish View Post
        What are some of the cheapest primal foods out there?
        Find things that other people won't eat, like bones, organ meats, pigs head etc. Buying in bulk (things like trays of eggs) will make the cost cheaper too.

        And regarding cheapest chicken and bacon, the best *real* stuff I have found is from the local farmers market....
        Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

        Griff's cholesterol primer
        5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
        Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
        TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
        bloodorchid is always right


        • #5
          I'm currently eating primal on a grad school budget - so it's possible. Unfortunately, grass-fed beef is currently unattainable, but you have to understand that even Publix-attained meat and veggies are better than a SAD diet so don't get discouraged.

          I agree with the eggs suggestions and canned sardines (in water). I often cook dinner in large enough portions to have 2-meals worth of leftovers so that I can easily take it to my office for lunch. I've recently discovered that 3 lbs of ground chuck ($11) got me 7 meals. It may take a bit to figure out what works best for you and what the grocery situation is exactly (if you can have a friend with a car or would like to incorporate the walks to the grocery store as a regular form of slow-movement) to see what you need to buy. For me, going once a week has been working well because I end up using all of my food. When I used to try to buy for 2+ weeks, a lot of veggies would go bad and then I wouldn't have a lot to eat at the end, which would make eating out more tempting. Seasonal veggies on sale are great! I spend about $50 a week now. My cheat meals are usually on occasions where there is free food.

          My biggest piece of advice would be to ignore the dietary habits of other grad students. Make eating healthy a priority and there will be room in your budget for the necessities. From my experience, a lot of other grad students buy things because "it's cheap" which includes a whole pizza for dinner because they had a coupon. And they drink a lot of beer. However, I'm not sure how this relates to your field.

          Good luck!

          EDIT: $200 a month on food allows me to eat meat and veggies, I don't eat rice or potatoes but that's a personal choice. If you need more carbs or don't have negative reactions to the food - even better for your budget.
          "It is never too late to be what you might have been" - George Eliot

          12 week health challenge (95%, more moving)
          Start -- March 1st -- 173.4
          End -- May 24th -- 158.6


          • #6
            Go for Nutrient (when i say nutrient i mean calorie dense as well) density and also focus on one fuel, carbs or fat. I prefer carbs and would buy loads of potatoes, white rice and bananas because they are all super cheap and calorie dense. If fat is your thing then go for butter and coconut oil and get the rest from animal products. Then add in the essential animal products. Cheese is super nutrient dense and can be had for cheap, eggs as well. Shellfish, mussels and sardines are huge nutrition as well. Whatever else you like, just buy the necessities and eliminate the fluff. Vegetables and most fruits in my opinion are too expensive for what they offer. Same with most cuts of meat.


            • #7
              You might find that not buying all that krap food - leaves a greater amount in your pocket for decent food.
              "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

              ...small steps....


              • #8
                Well, this seems like a hot topic this days! If you scroll down here you can find my answer, how I did with $50 a week:

                Oh! and buy a shopping cart to carry your groceries, like this one 4-Wheel Jumbo Folding Shopping Cart, Black -
                make the 30 min. walk part of your exercise routine. plus some free vitamin D
                Last edited by Primitiva; 04-10-2013, 10:10 PM.