Grocery Shopping – The Primal Way

GROCERY SHOPPING FOR A PRIMAL LIFE

When I started this blog, I promised to be transparent. We only grow through experience and sharing with others and, that is the intent. Grocery shopping is an evolving process in our house. We are always looking for ways to improve. Below, I will explain our process for grocery shopping and meal planning each week along with some tips and tricks we use to keep from breaking the bank. My hope is that this information will aid you and your family in your journey for a primal lifestyle.

When I started writing this post, one of my key points was to stress the importance of shopping on a budget. With the primal diet, it is easy to double or even triple your weekly grocery expenses. While saving money is obviously important, groceries are a necessary expense. We may spend more than a lot of families at the grocery store, but on the daily, we eat ALL of our meals at home. Aside from our monthly date night and occasional brunch/dinner out with our son, everything that enters our mouth is prepped in our kitchen or purchased ahead of time. Also, I have worked very hard to find the most economical place to purchase specific items. I created a spreadsheet with the recurring items from our list. I keep a current cost comparison of our favorite stores to make sure I am not spending unnecessary money. The result has greatly reduced what we spend weekly. 

When we started eating a primal/paleo diet, we shopped at 3-5 stores a week to purchase all of our groceries. We have since realized that [a] we were spending way too much money [b] all of our free time was spent at grocery stores. Through cost comparisons and cost/value analysis, I have cut it down to the following three:

  1. COSTCO (weekly): meat, bulk vegetables/fruit (on weeks my husband is home), grass fed butter
  2. SPROUTS (weekly): fruits and vegetables when my husband travels, dried goods when on sale, frozen fruits/vegetables
  3. AMAZON (monthly): dried goods and bulk snacks

SHOP THE DEALS

At the beginning of the week, I receive an email blast from Costco, Sprouts, and Kroger. These emails explain what is on sale at each location that week. This will help determine if I switch it up and buy bananas from Sprouts, or even our Kroger, instead of my typical Costco purchase. I use my spreadsheet to determine if, for example, a sale on ground turkey at Sprouts is actually more cost effective than the bulk ground turkey we purchase from Costco. This is not a requirement and you can be successful without that step.

This may seem like a lot to take in but, stay with me. I promise it gets easier.

KEEP A LIST

We do all of our shopping on the same day and shop with a purpose. Having our organized list of what is purchased at each store means we are in and out of a store within 20 minutes (pending the checkout lines). NOTE: DO NOT shop at Costco at 5:00 on a Friday. You will be there until noon on Saturday waiting to check out. We do not keep a physical list anymore as it has become habit. If you are first starting out, it might be beneficial to keep notes on what to purchase and then stick to the list! It is so easy to stray and buy cool, new products. I know, this has gotten me in big time trouble in the past.

MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR

We usually shop as a family. It makes the monotony of the whole process less painful and, it provides a way for our son to get involved in what we eat for the week. He loves to help pack produce and organize items in the cart. There have been days where we get home with a few extra items that weren’t planned, but it’s worth it.

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STAY FLEXIBLE

Each week there are different fruits and vegetables on sale depending on the season. We try to shop the season. My family loves strawberries. I love it even more when they are on a 2/$5 sale. Those weeks, we may just eat strawberries for fruit. Weeks where they are $6 for a small package, we move onto the next fruit that is in season. The same goes for vegetables. While this may frustrate some, it helps us keep our eating a little more interesting so we aren’t consuming the same exact food every week. We also don’t focus on the organic label. I totally hear why organic is important and is absolutely preferred. Right now, all organic all the time is not a feasible approach. It is more important to me that I focus on feeding fresh, real food while teaching healthy eating habits to my son.

BULK UP

We eat a lot of meat, fruit, and vegetables. That is not the same for every family. What makes sense for us is to buy the big items in bulk. This lessens the chance of running out of something mid-week. There is also a chance of buying too much bulk and it going bad before you are able to eat it all. This has happened to us all too often. Due to this, we are very particular about what fruits and vegetables we buy in bulk at Costco. (Vegetables: spinach, sweet potatoes) (Fruit: berries, grapes, bananas). We have not had good luck with anything else. Your Costco/Sams Club may be different but everything else we buy fresh has gotten slimy by mid-week and we end up wasting tons of money.

BUY FROZEN

Another way to reduce the risk of produce going bad before you can complete it is to buy frozen. There are pros and cons to this method. There is a lesser risk of it going bad, but you also take up valuable freezer space with a giant bag of broccoli. Choose your battles. NOTE: If you do buy frozen, make sure it is flash frozen and contains nothing but the fruit or vegetable itself. Steam bags of vegetables tend to have extra chemicals and salt to add flavor.

IN CONCLUSION

We are not a perfect family. We make mistakes, and there are weeks that I totally blow our budget. There are other weeks where I somehow spend half the budget on food. I am learning as I go. Above all else, the most important thing is to KEEP TRYING and IMPROVING! Grocery shopping with any restrictions is difficult. It is much easier just to buy the processed chemical ridden versions and call it a day.

Eating a primal diet is a lifestyle and it is one that will help your family long term. If you are feeling discouraged, or that you will never be able to get into a routine of healthier eating, start small. This week, replace the processed potato chips with the coconut oil alternative. Next week, make apple sandwiches with almond/sunflower butter as a snack instead of cookies. There will come a day when this lifestyle comes natural to you, I promise! I am here to help. I have gone through this journey, and would argue that I am still learning new ways every day
I hope that the above has given you some tips on how to shop the Primal diet.image

PRIMAL GROCERY SHOPPING RECAP

As a recap, below are my top 7 tricks to shopping this lifestyle:

  1. Shop the deals. Get on your local grocery store’s weekly email blast
  2. Keep a List. It doesn’t have to change from week to week, but it helps keep you from purchasing splurge items that you don’t need.
  3. Shop as a family. Getting everyone on the same page makes for a more successful lifestyle change. It’s also a way to spend some extra time together.
  4. Shop the season and shop local if possible. It adds variety to your life and also saves you money.
  5. Ignore the labels. This is a personal decision you will need to make. For us, we focus more on eating fresh than eating ‘organic’. Maybe someday we will be able to make the switch, but not today.
  6. Buy the big items in bulk. Before you say this isn’t for your family, check the prices at your local bulk food store and compare them to your grocery store. It may surprise you.
  7. Buy frozen. This doesn’t always make sense but lots of grocery stores have deals on frozen options that are just as good as the fresh.

If you are in need of some additional inspiration, check out my primal resources shopping list

 

What are some of your tricks to shopping on a budget? I encourage you to include your comments below.

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