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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Super-Cheap Paleo Meals

I've written before about cheap food options, and if you aren't particularly worried about what you're eating, you can have meals VERY cheap, most times under a dollar. They can even be very healthy by conventional standards.

One issue with that is that to accomplish this level of cheap eating you will end up eating a lot of grains and some processed foods. There are are a lot of us that are attempting to eat a more paleo/primal diet, which is meat-heavy and contains basically no grains or processed food. I'm not going to go into too many specifics of paleo/primal diets, but the benefits are extraordinary, especially for those, like me, who's bodies don't handle grains as well as others.

The problem is eating like this can be a lot mroe expensive, but there are still ways to do it without breaking the bank. You aren't going to be able to find too many meals for less than a dollar, but you can stick with a pretty strict paleo diet for $200 a month, and certainly for $250.

That doesn't seem cheap to a frugal person, but for how clean of a diet I am talking about, it is well worth the extra $50 to $100 a month.

before I get into some specific meals, I have a few tips that help me with keeping my paleo food costs down:
1. buy in bulk when meat is on sale and freeze.  This is the biggest money saver for me, as meat is the largest expense in this diet.
2. compromise and eat some canned and frozen vegetables instead of fresh every time
3. continue to use all normal shopping techniques (coupons, price-shopping, etc)
4. eat in-season fruits and vegetables, as they will be cheaper.
5. grow some of your own fruits, veggies, etc (I have some chickens for eggs).

Here are some specific meals I make that won't break the bank:

1. Eggs, bacon, and fruit

Eggs are still less than $2 a dozen most places, so even though I usually eat 3 or more at a time, that only costs 50 cents.
Bacon is more expensive, but I get it when I can get buy-2-get-1-free, which gives me 3 pounds for $13. I buy as much as I can fit in the freezer. I typically eat a quarter of a pack, which costs just over a dollar ($1.08)
Then I add some fruit (banana, fried plantains, berries, oranges, whatever) and you can easily come in under $2. Under $1.50 even much of the time, depending on prices in your area.

This is a great, go-to meal for me.

2.  Chicken and vegetables

Another go-to meal for me is chicken and vegetables. Wait until chicken is on sale and then buy a lot of it. Around here the drumsticks and leg quarters can be had for as low as $0.70 a pound when on sale! You may not be able to find prices like that, but a jumbo pack of drumsticks can usually be had for $1.80 a pound or less.

I combine 3 or so drumsticks with a vegetable source - either  a can of green beans (60 cents), some frozen broccoli florets (cooked of course, $0.75), half a bag of mixed greens ($1), or maybe an avacado ($1) or some sweet potatos ($0.50).

No matter what combo you choose, you can easily come in under $3 (usually around $2 if you shop well and get good prices) for a super healthy meal with a lot of variations. I eat some version of this meal at least once a day.

So don't think you have to break the bank to stick with a super quality paleo diet. It is slightly more expensive but totally worth it.

- The Money Monk
AKA Double E

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