One concern for many people is being able to afford to eat well. It’s no secret that a lot of the foods that are inexpensive and readily available to us are pre-processed and full of sugar. To actually eat well costs more money, and in some cases, a lot more money. There are, however, things you can do to eat well without breaking the bank.
First of all, the organic vs non-organic route. I know that Paleo is big on pushing organic, grass-fed beef, free range chickens, etc. These are all good things, but for a lot of people, this prices the food out of their budget. Not everyone has the freedom to exercise preference when selecting the food to put on their tables. I have good news for those of you who need to get more cost-friendly foods: You can do Paleo on the cheap!
It’s far better to eat meats and vegetables that are whole and not in pre-processed foods than it is to eat them as part of a pre-processed meal. If you can only afford regular (non-organic) vegetables, that’s still orders of magnitude better for you than pre-processed food of any variety. Therefore, forget the organic stuff. Just buy those onions, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc with impunity. I’d rather see you eating foods made from these vegetables than foregoing vegetables because you can’t afford the organic stuff.
As for meats, again, when getting whole chicken, chicken quarters, ground beef, pork, ribs, brisket, etc, just buy what you can afford. My wife and I shop the sales and we can often find at least one meat on sale for a good price each week. The “Meat of the week” may dominate all our recipes, but that’s okay. With the variety in preparations, it doesn’t get bland.
When it comes to sausages and bacons, the only real guidance I give is to find those without sugar of any kind. Paleo recommends avoiding nitrites and nitrates as well, but if you have to choose between sugar and nitrites, I’d go with the nitrites. There is a great no-salt added bacon we get at Kroger which doesn’t cost more than regular bacon and tastes great. The best part: it just so happens that the no-added salt bacon has no sugar. Go figure. The same goes for sausage. It’s easy to find sausage that has no sugar, but you have to search it out. We have had the best luck in locating sugar-free sausage (and it’s not marketed nor sold that way, btw; you have to read the label) at HEB here in Houston. I’m sure there is a supermarket near you that has these no-sugar added sausages.
My wife and I have been able to avoid Sprout’s and Whole Foods and still find foods that are good for us and Paleo, although we do shop at Sprout’s pretty regularly, if only because of its proximity to our home.
Now on to the more esoteric ingredients: coconut oil, coconut aminos, coconut flour, etc. These can be found in many of what I call the more advanced Paleo recipes. Sherry uses these ingredients a lot in some of the more complicated recipes, and they are used to make what I call analogues. Analogues are foods that are normally non-Paleo but can be prepared with alternative ingredients to allow you to have things like pizza, bread, and cake that are otherwise off-limits. These ingredients can be not only hard to find, but expensive. Fortunately, coconut oil is gaining a rather large following, and it’s getting easier and less expensive to find in supermarkets. I saw an entire shelf of coconut oil yesterday at HEB. They even sell it by the gallon (at $19.99! What a deal!). We’ve also had great luck finding coconut oil at Sam’s Club for a good price as well as Amazon.com. As for the other ingredients, Amazon has been our best friend. The stuff isn’t cheap, but it goes a long way.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be putting together sort of a transition recipe book that is designed to take people from regular food and cooking into Paleo without breaking the bank. I will list ingredients, where to get them, and what to look for. It’s possible to cook Paleo without a single esoteric ingredient. It’s only when you incorporate those into your recipes that it opens up greater possibilities and more of those analogues you may be missing.