Whole 30 On A Budget

One of the biggest complaints that I hear about Whole 30 is that it is expensive and that it might even be too expensive to maintain over the long haul.

In reality, healthy eating is not more expensive. You may see your grocery bills go up initially, but I have a pretty good feeling that your actual food costs are higher than you previously believed. Look back at your food and beverage consumption for the month before you started your Whole 30. Total up your grocery bills, restaurant and take-out orders, coffees, and going out for drinks — really any time you ate or drank something should be added up. That number is more indicative of the true amount that you spend on food than your actual grocery bill.

We are a family of four and I eat predominately Whole 30 compliant foods and follow the meal template. My two young children eat the same way, with the addition of some snack foods and full-fat dairy for my youngest. In 2017 we spent about $12,000 on groceries and averaged about $200-250 a week in spending. Almost all of our food is prepared at home and we typically only eat at a restaurant once a month. If what we spend still seems unreasonably high then keep in mind that the state we live in (Massachusetts) has a high cost of living. Depending on where you live you may be able to keep your costs even lower.

Take a look at the list below for some suggestions as to how to do Whole 30 while on a budget!

  1. Before I plan next week’s meals I scan the fridge and pantry for what I have leftover. Those carrots languishing in the crisper pin will get roasted and added to a salad and leftover herbs I chop up and put in an ice cube tray, cover with EVOO and freeze. After they’re frozen I put the cubes in a plastic baggie. Later I take them out to add to cooked veggies or into soups. I try to never throw out or waste food.

  2. I base my grocery list off the sale circular at our local discount grocery store, Market Basket. If something like canned tomatoes or coconut milk are on sale I plan to stock up. This means I always have commonly used items in my pantry and don’t have to buy them every week.

  3. I plan out every single meal and snack for the coming week because I don’t like to shop more than once.

  4. One dinner a week is egg-based to cut down on the cost of protein. I make a frittata, a Spanish tortilla, or omelets. Even if you feel like you’re sick of eggs, breakfast for dinner still feels fun.

  5. I buy things like nuts in bulk and freeze them in Ziploc bags so they don’t go rancid before we can eat them.

  6. I buy our meat on sale and in family packs and freeze in smaller portions. We have fish once a week and I serve whatever is on sale and make it work.

  7. For produce I buy what is on sale and use the delicate veggies first and save hardy ones like squash for later in the week. One of my favorite late week dinners is Aidell’s chicken and apple sausages roasted on a sheet pan with carrots, squash, and apples. Definitely buy the veggies that are in season as they are not only better tasting, but they will also cost less than out of season produce.

  8. I buy a ton of frozen veggies when they are on sale. I dress them up with my frozen cubes of herbs and ghee.

  9. I love to buy whole chickens when they are on sale and cut them up myself. When I have a few extra backbones in the freezer I thaw them and make bone broth in my pressure cooker.

  10. I avoid recipes that require out of season produce or more pantry ingredients than what I already have. My rule is only one new pantry ingredient a week. I don’t want to have to buy bottles of EVOO, vinegars, and fish paste all in the same week. When you’re first starting out, don’t try to make every elaborate recipe that sounds good. Maybe try one or two new recipes a week and the rest of your meals keep it simple with roasted protein and veggies. Add a compliant sauce, like dump ranch, red pepper mayo, or sunshine sauce (Check out our post on sauces!) will dress up a simple meal.

  11. I don’t buy beverages or processed snacks with some exceptions. I buy a quart of milk a week for my youngest and if my husband DH requests a snack food I buy it for him, but I have him take it to work. We also have a Sodastream so I make my seltzer and other than that I drink tap water, tea, or coffee.

  12. If it’s a meal you know you like, make a double batch and freeze half for another night. When I make meatballs or turkey and apple breakfast sausage, I make a ton to freeze. These things make great emergency meals when you run out of time, food, or energy. There is no excuse to eat junk if you know you have a healthy and compliant meal that will be heated and ready to eat in no time.

It takes some time and planning, but Whole 30 is absolutely doable if you’re on a budget. You can’t put a price on eating well and feeling great! If you have a great tip that I missed please comment below. We’d love to hear from our community about how Whole 30 works for your budget.