A number of people I know are completely flabbergasted when contemplating sticking to a budget while eating a primarily “paleo” diet. I’m hoping to shed a little light on that issue for those of you on the fence about eating healthfully in this manner – it *can* be done – and done well – without spending all the money. All it takes is a little planning.
A little background: I live in Brooklyn, NY, and the grocery prices here are definitely not the same as what you will find in other areas of the country. If you live in say, Raleigh NC for example – you may very well be able to cut this grocery bill by a third, depending upon where you shop. For where I live, where I shop and what I buy, $100 a week is a doable budget without having to sacrifice the quality I want too much. My DH thinks $130 is probably more realistic with our morning smoothie supplies, but I want to shoot for $100. I aim to make 4-5 dinners for two and 5 lunches per week, plus two smoothies per day six days of the week with my budgetary allowance and update you all weekly on what’s going on. Let’s see if I can make it.
Last Week (Week of April 7-11)
The Plan vs. Reality
- The Plan – Some sort of big meat with a puree
- Reality – Pork shoulder was the most economical big meat at Whole Foods this week, so I went with carnitas and served with a chili powder mashed sweet potato. Yum
- The Plan – Big meat pizzas? tacos? with something
- Reality – I made carnitas tacos with my favorite paleo dough and served with some really simple sauteed green beans
- The Plan – Nom Nom Paleo’s smashed steak skewers with cherry bbq sauce
- Reality – Y-U-M. I didn’t do skewers, but this sauce is frickin delicious. I served with the brussels sprouts leftover from last week cooked in a little bacon fat
- The Plan – Harissa cauliflower rice with lemon-roasted fennel and chicken
- Reality – This turned out pretty well. It looked dreadful, but was tasty
- The Plan – The last of the big meat with broccoli in some sort of bowl
- Reality – We went out to eat again – the weather was beautiful and a walk was needed
- The Plan – Nom Nom Paleo’s Egg Foo Young (2-3 lunches)
- Reality – Still didn’t happen for me. Leftovers.
- The Plan – Some sort of salady thing with the cruciferous crunch mix I bought and the last of the rotisserie chicken
- Reality – Yum! The cruciferous crunch only stretched 2 days, as did the chicken
- The Plan – Leftovers
- Reality – The balance of this week’s lunches incorporated a hodge-podge of leftovers combined in .. interesting ways. I also had to break into the very last of my freezered Momofuku pork because I planned poorly and didn’t have enough protein to go around.
- The Plan – Nothing planned here.
- Reality – And nothing accomplished.
This Week: April 14-18
It’s another ‘source what you can as best you can’ week – luckily, I freezered half the pork I bought last week, so I have that to use. This weekend is Easter – let’s see if I can manage to squeeze some sort of lamb into the budget for this week.
This Week’s Proposed Menu
- Monday: Carolina rub pulled pork with spicy broccoli slaw
- Tuesday: Carolina rub pulled pork with Korean bbq sauced green beans and onions
- Wednesday: Carolina rub pulled pork tacos with spice-crusted carrots and harissa crema
- Thursday: Lemon thyme chicken thighs with spanish asparagus
- Friday: Indian spiced meatballs with smashed sweet potatoes
- Lunch: Nom Nom Paleo’s Egg Foo Young (2-3 lunches) – hey, maybe it will happen this week
- Lunch: Leftovers
- Holiday Dinner: A small amount of lamb rack with an herbed crust, lemony thymey smashed fingerling potatoes, peas or green beans, some version of a wine sauce, maybe rolls for the hubbs
Shopping List & Cost Breakout
Grocery Store Key: TJ = Trader Joe’s, KF = Key Food, O = Optional if budget allows
This week, I have $100 to spend for my weekly groceries, and dammit, I’m sticking to it.
A roll? – $2 est – Did not get
Kale (2 bags) – $5 est – ($2.29 x 2 @ TJ)
Spinach (1 bag) – $3 est – ($1.99 @ TJ)
Broccoli slaw – $3 est – (No broccoli slaw; I got brussels sprouts instead – $2.79 @ TJ)
Green beans – $3 est – ($2.69 @ TJ)
Carrots – $1 est – ($0.89 @ TJ)
Asparagus – $3 est – ($2.99 @ TJ)
Peas or green beans – $3 est – ($3.49 @ TJ)
Celery – $2 est – ($2.29 @ TJ)
Thyme – $2 est – ($1.69 @ TJ)
Cilantro – $2 est – Did not get – turns out, I had enough
Parsley – $2 est – ($1.79 @ TJ)
Lemons (4) – $3 est – (1 lb. bag – $1.49 @ TJ)
5 Limes – $3 est – (1 lb. bag – $2.79 @ TJ)
5 apples – $4 est – (5 lb. bag $4.49 @ TJ)
Tomatoes (3 plum) – $3 est – (1 lb. kumato browns – $3.49 @ TJ)
Onion – $1 est – ($0.89 @ TJ)
Sweet potatoes – $2 est – (2 for $0.98 @ TJ)
Fingerling potatoes – $2 est – (1 lb. bag teeny tiny potatoes – $2.29 @ TJ)
2 avocados – $3 est – ($1.39 each – $2.78 @ TJ)
Some color of pepper – $1 est – ($0.79 @ TJ)
Ginger – $2 est – ($1.39 @ TJ)
Chicken – $7 est – (1 lb. boneless skinless ‘happy chicken’ breasts – $7.64 @ KF)
Ground meat – $7 est – (1 lb. grass fed beef $6.99 @ TJ)
Lamb – $13 est – Did not buy
Coconut water – $3 est – ($3.69 @ TJ)
Butter – $3 est – (Kerrygold – $3.19 @ TJ)
Eggs – $5 est – ($2.99 @ TJ)
Pepper – $2 est – ($1.99 @ TJ)
Coconut milk (2 cans) – $3 est – ($0.99 x 2 @ TJ)
Olive oil – $5 est – O – Did not get
Coffee – $10 est – O – Purchased through another budget slot
Capers – $3 est – O – Did not get
Almonds – $6 est – ($5.99 @ TJ)
$113 estimated total with optionals purchased; $95 with no optionals
The DH had also asked for pistachios to snack on – I didn’t think they’d fit into the budget, so I didn’t put them on the list. I ended up having room for them – ($7.49 @ TJ)
I also grabbed some ground grass fed beef and sweet potatoes for Sunday dinner while at Key Foods. This usually comes out of another budget slot, but this time I had room in the grocery budget – (1 lb. grass fed ground beef $8.99 @ KF) + (2 yams $1.73 @ KF)
Total TJ: $80.88
Total KF: $18.36
Total For The Week: $99.24; $0.76 under budget. I got some things for the upcoming holiday dinner – and will pick the meat and rolls up next weekend. I forgot that Easter is still a week away. Excited that I stuck on budget this week.
Pantry/items repurposed from last week: fats, spices, pork shoulder.