Low-carb eating on a budget? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 8 Old 02-16-2013, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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I've recently made switch to a much lower carb diet, but I'm really wondering how I can possibly make it work in the long term. I was a vegetarian for many years, and I still believe in many of my vegetarian ideals.  When I stopped being a vegetarian, I still made many vegetarian meals for our family.  Ideals were one reason for this, but my food budget was a big concern, too.  Legume/grain-based meals are soooooooo cheap.  How can anything else compare?  I do make a big effort to use the heck out of the meats I buy.  We generally eat the meat itself for 2 meals, then make a broth and have 2 days of soup with the remainder.  Sometimes there's a bit more left to freeze/save, also.  But then there's still lunch and breakfast to consider, and those are the meals that I'm really struggling with.  Especially since I still feel morally queasy about eating meat at every meal.  And we're running through what feels like HORDES of veggies, which also are not that cheap. 


If anyone can give me a sense of what your weekly food consumption is like on a paleo-type diet, that would be really helpful.  I may just be getting too hung up on the protein thing, or maybe I don't have a good sense of how this will all balance out in the end.  Anyone else eating this way on a very, very tight budget? 

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#2 of 8 Old 02-17-2013, 10:31 PM
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Eggs are a good protein source and are pretty cheap per serving when compared to meat, even if you're buying organic eggs.


The money thing is tough, and that (with the amount of cooking) is why I go back and forth on paleo-ing. It is a lot cheaper to make pasta with veggies than a salad with meat, especially because we're feeding a family of seven.

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#3 of 8 Old 02-26-2013, 04:26 PM
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Eggs, canned tuna, canned salmon are all reasonably priced. I make tuna and salmon cakes and everyone loves them (just omit the flour from a traditional recipe.  My local health food store carries super healthy and delicious bacon that's expensive but the bacon ends are half priced and I buy those and use them in salads.  Perhaps a store near you has a program like that.  Buy in season fruits and veggies.  Bananas, oranges, and apples are reasonably good buys right now.  Mangoes have also been on sale so I get those sometimes, too.  Cabbage goes a long way and is fairly inexpensive it's also on the "Clean 15 list" so I don't worry as much about buying organic. Sauerkraut is crazy healthy and easy to make and definitely stretches a meal.  I also buy a decent amount of carrots, celery, and mushrooms.  Eggplants can make a meal go a lot further (and are delicious) I like to chop them into rounds and saute them and then top with an egg and sometimes sausage.  You can also do stuffed eggplant.  Almond butter with veggies or apple slices can be an excellent snack and some stores have grind your own, which can be reasonably priced (I believe Trader Joe's also carries a line that's not too expensive), you could also sub peanut butter if you do legumes. I sometimes cut a banana in half lengthwise and put almond butter and raisins in it and make it a sandwich, DD loves it.  Coconut milk is decently priced and the extra fat definitely stretches a meal (fat stimulates a hormone (I'm blanking on which one) that tells the body it's full). 


Consider what type of cuts of meat you're buying.  We do a lot of ground beef, rather than steak and lots of whole chickens instead of chicken breasts. Shop sales and stock up.  Organ meat is super cheap (even the crazy healthy grassfed, free range hormone, antibiotic-free, humanely slaughtered, and given nightly lullabies type) and is 9 times more nutrients than muscle meat.  It's also a very sustainable thing to eat since it's normally thrown away.  Lamb organ meat is supposed to be the mildest, you could try liver and try making some pate, lamb kidney is supposed to be delicious, heart and tongue are also supposed to taste excellent.  It could be  a bit of a mental leap having been a vegetarian, but truly believe it can be some of the healthiest and most sustainable food you can eat.  Bone broths definitely stretch a meal and are super nutrient dense.


Some farmers and butchers will also sell suet for super cheap and you can render your own lard and tallow for simply. 


One thing I read about recently was anytime you have a little bit of leftover tomato product (paste, sauce, etc) put it into a container in the freezer and once it gets filled make spaghetti (we would be using spaghetti squash instead of noodles). 


Those are some thoughts off the top of my head.

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#4 of 8 Old 03-03-2013, 07:12 PM
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I am now the only one in my family that is seriously low-grain/primal, but almost every meal is low carb or primal.


We do eat a lot of meat, and sometimes I feel like it is too much but I am not up for either a lot of dairy or a lot of beans so I live with it.


I also eat a lot of lunches of greens + nuts salads or greens + meat salads, and rely heavily on egg-based breakfasts.  I have eggs for breakfast 5-6 days per week.  I do always mix my eggs with bacon or sausage and onions.  Dh always adds mushrooms and spinach to his as well. I make almond flour pancakes quite regularly; I can do them from scratch or make my own ready-to-mix. The same mix makes good muffins or coffee cake--even though I don't buy much fruit I sometimes cook these with apple. (Leftover pancakes make good sandwich "bread" too!) I have sometimes made my own "granola" with mostly chopped nuts, some flax seed, a few dried fruits, and puffed rice.  I also drizzled some warmed honey or even warmed honey plus peanut butter to help it stick together and then powdered it with almond flour.  If you eat yogurt this granola can go a pretty long way for easy breakfasts or snacks.  I used to sometimes make baked apples with a cinnamon and nut topping to serve with generous whipped cream alongside breakfast sausages, though I don't buy many apples these days. 


Peanut butter and almond butter are popular in our household. My meatless meals almost always involve nuts.  Almond, cashew, walnut.  Many of our lunches are leftover dinners.  If you make those almond pancakes for bread you can come up with quite a few types of sandwiches.  I eat plain canned salmon mixed with mayo for lunch pretty often.  Hard-boiled eggs or egg salad (even without bread) can work well.


I keep these veggies on hand in quantity:  Carrots, onions, salad greens, mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage, green beans.  Anything else is optional extras.  These keep well and are used steadily, and most are inexpensive.  Baby carrots are eaten constantly by my kids with lunches and dinners and for snacks.


I buy few fruits (just a couple of the the kids' favorites) and never juices.


We eat a lot of canned fish, eggs, and nuts in addition to meat and vegetables. 


I never eat wheat and few grains but I make certain compromises that I've become comfortable with:  I will use rice as a filler or make a potato-centered meal occasionally.  It's just a lot easier to fill plates on a small budget that way.  The meals I do with rice are stir-fries or curries with meat and veggies, or a classic chicken soup with chicken, celery, carrots in broth plus the rice.  Potato centered meals can be baked potatoes with meat/dairy toppings, oven fries alongside a smallish amount of a meat plus vegetable, or a potato soup. My usual bean compromise is for chili so my chilis aren't all-meat, but overall I don't favor them.


We eat the same meals over and over.  I think food variety is overrated beyond a certain point.  I do try to make varied condiment choices to keep things fresh.


I think you are gonna be stuck with consuming lots of vegetables since that is the number one thing to replace grain carbs with.  But you can be choosy with which ones are the best value and try to shorten your list to those that seem to offer the steadiest value in nutrition.

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#5 of 8 Old 03-06-2013, 01:59 PM
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Organ meats are definitely something to try, if you haven't already. 


"Paleo at Wal-Mart" is a great way to figure out how little you can spend. For two or three shopping trips in a row, forget organic, forget sustainable, forget animal cruelty, forget ANYTHING but buying the foods that you prefer to use to make the low-carb, high-protein dishes that make Paleo work for for. Once you're in a comfortable groove with your shopping, then figure which of your Wal-Mart staples bothers you the most for reasons of health and/or ethics, and make incremental changes from there. 

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#6 of 8 Old 03-07-2013, 12:14 PM
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Hi Lizzy-


A good way to keep protein cost low is of course through plant based proteins, but also I would buy large costco size bags of frozen chicken breast and thaw them. One is enough for two meals. You have to be careful not to overcook since its breast which is naturally dry and gets tough easily, but it can be fairly juicy if cooked nice and slow eat.gif

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#7 of 8 Old 03-13-2013, 01:22 AM
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I have been reading the Perfect Health Diet book and they recommend adding in "safe starches" - exactly what littlest bird has described as "compromises" she's comfortable with: white rice and potatoes (also sweet potatoes, taro, tapioca but I am not sure how expensive those might be where you live). Rice and potatoes are cheap everywhere. If you find a good source for organic eggs, they should be a good source for whole chickens for making soup, too - someone's got to eat those hens once they are too old for laying eggs, and they are sold cheaply.

The kids aren't eating liver yet and the liver dumplings in soup weren't a hit either (it's not so easy to go gluten-free when you are trying out new recipes at the same time), but we grownups love liver, sauteed in butter with onions and apple sliced, served with potatoes.


Littlest bird, can you help out with ideas for egg-based breakfast - or do you just fry or scramble them every morning? And what is your flour mix for making pancakes? I tried equal amounts almond/coconut/buckwheat flour and the pnacakes were almost inedible.

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#8 of 8 Old 03-13-2013, 05:49 PM
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Egg-based breakfast ideas: egg muffins (scramble about a dozen eggs, add sausage, bacon, and some vegggies and put them in muffin tins and cook), frittata (you can put a bunch of different veggies and meats in these), sausage patty and egg on top of a fried eggplant, egg on top of a sweet potato latke (grate sweet potato, mix with an egg and add a t cinnamon and cook in oil), egg covered drizzled with pesto, huevos rancheros (I just cover with salsa verde), omlette, a couple of hard boiled eggs and veggies, sweet fritata (add pumpkin puree, apples, cinnamon, 2 T maple syrup, coconut milk with a dozen eggs and bake for about 45 min until hard in center), root veggie hash topped with eggs, the ideas are endless, but I'm honestly happy to just have a couple eggs fried in coconut oil with some veggies or saurkraut if I have some on hand.  It's nice to have an easy breakfast I don't have to think about too much.


We make almond pancakes using 2 cups almond meal, 2 very ripe bananas 4 eggs, 1 t vanilla, 1 T cinnamon, and frozen blueberries.  Cook on stove.  Even my very picky DD loves these.

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