Prior to beginning Whole30, I looked up tons of recipes to get an idea of what kinds of meals I’d be eating. I was enamored of the perfectly plated, delicious-looking dishes with all kinds of new and exciting flavors and ingredients. I enjoy trying new recipes and playing around with different types of foods. However, I am also trying to save some money and don’t want to mess around with small $8 jars of almond butter.
So I needed to figure out how to shop on a budget without missing out on the experience of trying fun new Whole30 recipes. Here are a few things I’ve tried to save money:
Choose recipes with simple ingredients.
- What I avoided:
-Unusual (to me) ingredients: I saw so many recipes calling for ingredients I
never use such as almond butter, ghee, coconut aminos, coconut oil, and almond
flour. Some of these items can get expensive, so I decided to pass on them for
now or use a substitute.
-Lots of ingredients: I saw some recipes with a list of 20+ ingredients, some of
which I did not normally keep on hand. I also avoided these.
- What I used:
-Recipes with simple ingredients, many of which I already had. Some
examples: stuffed peppers and this chicken, apple, sweet potato and Brussels
sprouts skillet. I have a decent collection of spices, and it’s fun to try various
-Recipes with similar ingredients.
-A mix of boring recipes and exciting ones. For some meals I ate scrambled
eggs with salsa. Super boring. On the other hand, I made this delicious
crockpot chicken tikka masala, which was a lot more exciting in comparison.
It’s important to me to get the best price, but I hate going from store to store each week. So I made a list of the most expensive foods I buy, checked them at each location once and created a spreadsheet to figure out which store in the area had the best prices of each of the items. Sounds like a lot of work, but it was mostly meat prices, and I only looked at a few stores. Aldi won most of the time, so that’s where I go. I can’t always get everything I want there, so I found the next cheapest grocery store that carries a larger variety of items, and I go there on occasion.
Plan meals and stick to the grocery list.
I planned out meals for the week and made a comprehensive grocery list. I stuck to the list, but I did stray on occasion. For example, I had avocados on my list to top my egg casserole and fajita salad, but I saw they were over $1 each. I can often get them for much cheaper, so I decided I didn’t need them that week and went without. I have cheated and gone the other way before, too. For example, I had seen ground turkey on major sale, and it was not on my list for that week. I still bought it in bulk and froze it. Ground turkey is a weekly staple in my diet, and I wanted to jump on that sale. However, I didn’t buy just anything because it was on sale. It needed to have a specific place in my meal plan.
As I planned my meals for the week, I took inventory of what I already had on hand in order to use it in my meals. I bought exactly what was on my list and no more (unless I knew it had a future purpose, and I could freeze it). This helped to keep me from buying too much and having to toss out spoiled foods. If I did notice I had excess, I froze it or threw it in a soup or a casserole.
Sure, Whole30 can be expensive if you choose the most labor-intensive meals with hundreds of ingredients, disregard sales and head into the grocery store without pre-planning. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you put forth a little effort. I was happily surprised that I’ve actually been spending less on groceries per week so far!