All of our tips about saving money while on Whole30. Our family of 5 tried to eat an all paleo, Whole30 diet while keeping our grocery budget under the national average. Here’s what happened.
After our initial panic, the next 10 days of #CheapskateWhole30 made us more strategic, more creative, and more realistic.
Here’s what I learned on the rest of our Whole30:
All of the #CheapskateWhole30 Tips
If you’re like me and want to find all of the tips about saving money while on Whole30, here is everything I wrote during our experiment:
Cheapskate Whole30: Our Goals & Plan
Surprising Challenges When You Begin Whole30
What to Serve Guests When You’re on Whole30
How to Save the MOST Money on Whole30 (all of our frugal tips and ideas)
All of the #CheapskateCook posts on Instagram (pictures of meals, menu plans, recipes, etc.)
All of the frugal paleo recipes here on the blog (not all of them are Whole30 compliant)
Menu plan: #cheapskatewhole30 Week 3: This week I’m making more stews that use veggies, potatoes, and a little bit of meat. Lunches focus on using up leftovers, and almost every dinner incorporates leftovers as well. •••• Baked home fries recipe coming on the blog this week! •••• Menu plan printable from the brilliant @humoroushomemaking . •••• Are you a menu planner or no?
How We Made Frugal Whole 30 Meals
We started Whole30 in order to baby step into gut healing for one of our kids. If we were doing this for weight loss, or were not feeding children on Whole 30, we would probably build our meals differently.
Nearly Every Meal Had:
*3-4 ounces of protein – Chicken, ground beef, eggs, canned tuna, canned salmon
Sometimes we had soup made with bone broth instead, or I let the kids choose their own food for lunch and they opted to skip the meat.
*1-2 cups vegetables – Steamed veggies, salad, whatever was on sale (asparagus, broccoli pearls, etc.)
*1-2 cups potato or squash – Since we did Whole30 in the spring, there wasn’t a lot of winter squash on sale. So we focused on sweet potatoes and potatoes. Since my family doesn’t really like potatoes, I made them try them for a week before I just made them the way they like it – Crispy Baked Home Fries. When we make deeply flavorful baked sweet potatoes using this method, they don’t need butter or brown sugar to taste good!
- Celery, almond butter, raisins
- Frozen fruit (cheaper and easier than buying all fresh and needing to chop it up)
- Basic inexpensive fruit (if one was on sale, we bought more of that one for the week): Bananas, Apples, Oranges
We ate so much food. I baked 6 pounds of potatoes nearly every day on Whole30 – 3 pounds of Deeply Flavorful Baked Sweet Potatoes and 3 pounds of Crispy Baked Home Fries. We almost never had leftovers the next day.
If you’re thinking of trying Whole30, and you or your family has a fast metabolism, expect it to get faster. This may affect your budget, so plan accordingly.
Clean Meat Makes a HUGE Cost Difference
Since Whole30 requires eating more meat, and we started Whole30 for healing, not weight loss, we decided to only eat “clean” meat – mostly organic, local, grassfed, etc.
This is very hard to do on a tight budget.
We used every method we know in shaving the price of good meat, but the reality is that 3-4 ounces of meat per person, per meal, for 5 people, add up. We found this frugal meal plan, which was helpful!
If you’re starting Whole30 on a budget, I recommend several things:
- Who needs it? If you’re doing Whole30 for you, you’ll save a lot more money than trying to put the whole family through it. Consider making more meatless or almost-meatless meals for the rest of the family in order to balance the cost.
- WHY are you doing it? Are you trying to lose weight or begin gut healing? Decided carefully what you should prioritize based on your budget.
- You’ll want to eat more meat because you’re hungry, but try drinking water before the meal and filling up with lots of leafy salads first. This is a good strategy for losing weight in general, but it’ll help your meat go further!
- Make rich, “meatless” bone broth soups – Not everyone will like them, so do what works for your family. However, I personally have been making a big pot of soup a couple times a week and eating that just for myself.
Making #whole30 more fun for the kids – they got to choose 1 kind of fruit and 1 kind of vegetable. They could either keep it all for themselves or share it as part of a meal. This is one kid’s fruit and veggie of choice. So far the fruit has been hoarded and the veggies are for everyone. Go figure. Since we bought them at #aldiusa , it cost $9 total to make everyone feel like they were getting a treat. Feels like a win. •••• What do you do to make kids more excited about healthy meals? #cheapskatewhole30
Making Whole30 Fun
Eating fruits, vegetables, and protein gets boring. I started daydreaming about baking Chocolate Chip Mookies and 5-Minute Homemade Bread.
In order to make Whole30 more fun, we tried something new:
Every week, we let the kids choose one fruit and vegetable of their choice. It had to cost less than $2, and they could choose to share it or keep it for themselves. The kids got really excited about this and planned their produce choices days in advance.
Here’s what they chose:
- frozen peaches
Naturally, they were more excited about the fruit than the vegetable. But the whole experience helped make Whole30 more positive.
Did we Stick to the Budget?!?
We wanted to do Whole30 without breaking the bank. So we called it the #CheapskateWhole30 Experiment.
Normally, my family lives off of the same amount of grocery money we would receive if we were on food stamps. This isn’t the cheapest we could live on, but it’s not excessive either, considering we eat a lot of organic, local, sustainable, real food. Our goal is always to save money while we try to eat healthy.
While we were prepared for Whole30 to increase our current budget, we were determined to use every method possible to keep our budget within the average US grocery budget.
We had no idea if we could do it.
WE DID IT!
In the end, we spent more than we usually do on groceries, but we still fell SIGNIFICANTLY under the national average for a family of 5 on a “liberal” grocery budget. (Note: this article I linked to is several years old, so even if their numbers aren’t 100% accurate, we may have fallen even further under a “liberal” food plan.)
I’m not going to claim that it was cheap. It wasn’t. But we reached our goal and finished it armed with new recipes, a new appreciation for sweet foods, and more money in the bank.
While we won’t keep eating a full paleo diet (see my full disclosure on how it didn’t go exactly the way we wanted it to), we will continue our journey in frugal gut healing and mindful eating.
Meanwhile, you can always depend on this space for frugal, real food recipes that work with a variety of special diets or sometimes no particular diet at all – just good, real food.
What You Can Do Now:
Thinking of starting Whole30 on a budget?
- Learn everything you need to know on their website here.
- Read all of our posts on how to save money on a #CheapskateWhole30 here!