Right now I’m so close to the end of the challenge, I’m feeling pumped! Except for one tiny thing.
My accountability partner is also a saboteur!
I can’t tell you the number of times he has sneakily said to me, “Would you like me to pick up a pizza?” or “What do you need? Some ice cream?”
My response is a death stare and a firm, “I am going to finish this challenge, with or without you!”
I think he’s looking for permission from me to break it, because he won’t break it unless I do, and I have no intention of breaking it. We’re both too stubborn to give in. Now it’s a matter of principle.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced, and something I get asked quite a bit, is how to afford completing a Whole 30. When people think of Whole 30, they see the dollar signs. I’m sure they imagine it’s nothing but pure organic food and bars or sauces that cost a week’s paycheck.
I’m not going to lie, buying some of those marketed “whole 30” items is expensive, and I have tried a few. But overall, you don’t actually NEED those things for a successful Whole 30.
So how can you feed a family, complete a Whole 30, and not spend a ton of money on groceries? Some things I have already shared, like meal planning, or prepping snacks and such. But over the years, I have learned to make a dollar stretch.
My husband and I don’t make a ton of money. He’s a pastor and I teach (in a parochial school) part time. Neither of those occupations is known for their large incomes. One thing we have discovered that has helped us win with money is Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step plan. Through his guidance, we’ve avoided debt, and therefore don’t have payments on things like furniture, cars, TVs, or student loans. This allows for more of our income to be used for saving, investing, and, yes, spending on things like groceries. (I’m not affiliated with Dave Ramsey; I just really believe in his principles.)
I have lived most of my adult life on a very limited budget, (my first job out of college I made $26,000/year), and I know how difficult is can be to try and live well and embrace a healthy lifestyle when money is tight. But having years of practice with a small income has forced me to budget, be creative, know where to look for and find deals, and prioritize.
No one likes this word. I get it. I never did either, but now it’s such a part of our life that I don’t think I could live without one. Every other week my husband and I sit down and hash out our spending plan. Right after our giving line, we have food. Food is one of the first things we budget, because food is a necessity. You need to eat, there’s no getting around that fact. Making food a priority in the budget keeps the rest of the spending in line and gives us a plan for our dollars.
You’d be amazed at what you can do when you just stop and think outside the box. Most people think that a Whole 30 meal needs to have a lovely portion of organic/grass fed/ free range/ no antibiotic piece of protein, with an arrayed of beautiful sauteed/steamed/ roasted organic vegetables all cooked in some Epic brand cooking fat, or organic ghee (a jar of ghee can cost you $6-7!)
Not true! With a little know-how, you can make it work!
- Step One: Make it yourself. One of the biggest tricks you can do is to make things yourself: mayo, chicken bone broth, Larabars, ghee, ketchup, salad dressings… There are so many thing that you can create yourself! There’s no need to drop a ton of money when, with a little time, you can make it yourself.
- Step Two: Pull double duty. Make use of everything you have. One of my favorite double duty tricks is my Crock pot rotisserie chicken. With that recipe, not only do I get several meals out of one whole organic chicken, I also get the delicious broth that comes from it! Start thinking of meals that can become double duty: pork roast can turn into pork lettuce wraps! Mix last night’s veggie stir fry with eggs for an omelette or egg bake! (See next point.)
- Step Three: Brinner, Baby! In my humble opinion, nothing beats breakfast for dinner, and when you’re completing a Whole 30, eggs are a great, inexpensive go-to. Full of protein and nutrients, eggs are a fantastic, budget-savvy meal. We do an egg bake at least once a week. I have a great recipe for a compliant Egg bake; email me if you’d like me to share!
Know Where the Deals Are
Over the years, I’ve discovered several different tricks to keep costs down while still buying quality food. (I have a post that explains what organic is and things you should consider.)
- Buy Local: This is my best trick. Search your area for things like CSA’s, farmers’ markets, and farmers who sell beef, pork, eggs or chickens. The bonus of participating in this kind of “shopping”? A lot of insurance companies will reimburse you! Many insurance companies will offer discounts or reimburse you for participating in a CSA, since it’s a part of a healthy lifestyle. And honestly? Nothing beats local. I actually know the people I get my pork from. I know what they fed their pigs. The veggies I received in last fall’s CSA came from a farm maybe 20 miles from my house! Fresh vegetables that weren’t sitting in a warehouse or on the back of a truck for days? Sign me up!
- Know the stores: Always be on the lookout at your regular store, but I have my favorite stores that I regularly shop at:
- Aldi: A gem. Once you shop there, you’ll never go back to your old ways. Sure, it’s not fancy, but they carry organic food, fresh fruits and veg, even grass fed beef! Just remember to bring your grocery bags and a quarter.
- Woodman’s: If you don’t have a Woodman’s by you, I’m sorry. It’s a huge store with so much available AND excellent deals!
- Costco: Just to warn you, big box stores aren’t my favorite; there’s a lot in there you don’t need and can be easily tempted to buy. However, my family goes through sweet potatoes, peppers and eggs like crazy so it makes sense for us. (I just bought 8 dozen organic eggs the last time I went. I’m not kidding.) Just make a list and stick to it, otherwise you may walk out with a big screen TV and a new dining room table.
- Walmart: I actually REALLY don’t like Walmart, but I can’t deny I have found deals there. Again, just stay focused and use a list.
- Take advantage of discounts: Watch sales! One of the reasons I list Walmart is because I can often find decent or organic meat discounted. I will walk by the meat section telling my children to, “Look for the yellow stickers!” Woodman’s has a discounted meat section where I often find great deals. Organic chicken drumsticks for $2.99 down from $7.49? Done! Just be sure to check dates and use or freeze immediately.
- Use coupons shrewdly: I’m sure you’ve seen the show, Extreme Couponing, right? I love coupons! What mom doesn’t? But what I always notice about the show, is everything is usually a processed or packaged food. It’s easy to justify purchasing something that maybe isn’t healthy because we have a coupon for it. I use coupons and I think you should too, but only use the coupons toward food you would be purchasing anyway, not to buy something you don’t need.
Long ago, my husband and I decided that our health was important enough to us that we’d be willing to sacrifice other things in order to make sure we fed our family well. I’m not trying to sound self-righteous or anything, but bottom line, how you spend your money is a reflection of where your priorities lie.
We decided to give up certain luxuries, and to be honest, I don’t even notice that they’re gone or feel like I don’t lead a good life. (In fact, I think I have a pretty good life!)
Some of the areas that we adjusted were
- Cars: We have two used cars that are totally paid for, and neither of us is looking to purchase a newer one anytime soon. I’m totally fine with that. I’m not a car person, so this is an easy sacrifice for me to make. For someone else, it might really hard to want to switch to an older car, or work to pay off a car. But this is what my husband and I decided was important to us.
- Cable: Honestly, I don’t miss it. I’m not really into TV anyway; most of the time I get bored with it. Again, this was an easy sacrifice for me. (Although I do miss HGTV and Food Network sometimes.) We do have Netflix and Amazon prime so we’re not totally destitute….
- Restaurants: We rarely go out to eat, and when doing Whole 30, why would you? That’s just asking for trouble. So for the month, pack your lunch, eat at home, and forgo all restaurants. You might discover you can do without eating out.
- Buy used: From kids’ clothing to my treadmill, I’m a big fan of buying used. I have found so many great deals at thrift stores, consignment shops like Style Encore, and ThredUp! (You can get a $10 gift card to ThredUp by clicking here!) And it’s good stuff! I have found brands like J. Crew and Banana Republic for a fraction of the price.
If my family can do it, almost anyone can! I’m not saying that it’s easy, but I think it’s totally worth it! The biggest thing is to make it work for your family and lifestyle.
Implementing a few of theses tactics can help you have a successful Whole 30, or just a healthy diet, without breaking the bank.