Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Week of Paleo Eating (Week One: Family of 2-3. $150 Budget)

Ok, here it is! I hope that this menu plan and shopping list will be helpful in your Paleo journey. I feel so passionate about this lifestyle change and hope that my efforts will help make your transition or experience more enjoyable, more flavorful, and less stressful. 

Please consider the following:
  1. We are a family of two.
  2. We are very active, we CrossFit regularly, and eat to fuel our activity.  
  3. I am 5'8', 132lb and Scott is 6'1", 195lb...these meals should meet the needs of two people of our size and activity level, but could easily feed two average-size adults and a child or more.
  4. I visited a Farmer's Market, Costco, Whole Foods, and our local Tom Thumb (Safeway) and am providing an average price for the Organic foods that I found at each location; you will likely find less expensive non-organic options and more expensive "Free-Range" and/or "Grass-Fed" options. 
  5. With regard to meat, Tom Thumb and Costco only carried Organic chicken and Ground Beef. 
  6. I added a list of items I feel should be considered "Staples" to the bottom of the "Shopping List"; they are not included in the weekly budget, as they will last for quite a while. 
  7. This week of meals (38 Total: 14 Breakfast, 12 Lunch, 12 Dinner) cost me just under $150 (an average of $3.95/meal per person) and includes 15.75lbs of meat and 3 dozen eggs...again, please keep in mind, this menu can be stretched to feed more than two people if needed and can be adjusted to meet most budgetary needs.
  8. Most lunches will be comprised of leftovers, as I feel this is a more budget-friendly option and a better use of time and resources, than creating new food options for every meal. Feel free to mix up days, if you have a hard time eating the same meal two days in a row. 
  9. I love eggs and feel that since they are a budget-friendly, healthy food choice I use them often. If you are not into eggs, feel free to buy chicken breasts, thighs or another inexpensive meat to grill and eat for breakfast, in their place. You can also create a hash by melting coconut oil and browning a combination of veggies (yams are just one option) and meat; sprinkle with your favorite herbs or cinnamon and you're good to go.
Please feel free to provide your feedback via email or in the "Comments", as I will be providing three more weeks and would like them to be as useful as possible. Though I am not able to accommodate everyone, I would like to make these menus as approachable and achievable as possible. you go!

Day 1
Mini Frittata or Sausage* and Yam Hash (saute sausage and yams in a little coconut oil, like this)
Lettuce-Wrapped Turkey Breast w/Avocado
Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, and Olives w/Vinaigrette
Roasted Vegetable-Chicken Soup (Roasted Cauliflower, 1 Zucchini, 1 Yellow Squash, 2 Carrots, and Bell Pepper + 5 cups of Chicken Stock + Meat from 3/4 of a Whole Chicken)**
Day 2
Mini Frittata or Sausage and Yam Hash (saute sausage and yams in a little coconut oil, like this)
Roasted Vegetable-Chicken Soup
Day 3
Mini Frittata or Sausage and Yam Hash (saute sausage and yams in a little coconut oil, like this)
Lettuce-Wrapped Curried Chicken (these are not in the "plan", but can be used in place of lettuce)
Pot Roast w/Butternut Squash and Chard (1/2 this recipe and substitute butternut squash and chard for potatoes and carrots)

Day 4
Mini Frittata or Sausage and Yam Hash (saute sausage and yams in a little coconut oil, like this)
Pot Roast w/Butternut Squash and Chard
Buffalo Burgers w/Avocado and Bacon (bake 8 pieces of bacon, use 3-4 pieces for dinner and the remaining for a breakfast)
Salad (use the bacon fat to make this dressing)
Day 5

Mini Frittata or Sausage and Yam Hash (saute sausage and yams in a little coconut oil, like this)

Lettuce-Wrapped Turkey Breast w/Avocado
Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, and Olives w/Vinaigrette
Seared Salmon w/Creamed Leeks (use 12oz of Salmon and substitute coconut oil for olive oil and coconut milk for cream, in this recipe)
Day 6
Mini Frittata or Sausage and Yam Hash (saute sausage and yams in a little coconut oil, like this) or Any Leftovers
Any Remaining Leftovers or Out
Day 7
Mini Frittata or Sausage and Yam Hash (saute sausage and yams in a little coconut oil, like this) or Any Leftovers
Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin w/Yams

*You will have 1lb of sausage and 1/4lb of buffalo for use in breakfast hash or mini frittatas.
**An alternative to making your own stock would be the following:
-Buy two Rotiserie Chickens (for soup, Curried-Chicken, and Chicken Hash)
-Buy packaged Chicken Stock
-Omit Chicken, Onion, Celery, and Thyme from your Shopping List
***You will have 3/4lb of Spinach and 1/2 Head of Lettuce for salads. You will also have vinegar to make Mixed Herb Vinaigrette for your salads.


SkolVikings said...

You realize that's $1200 per month for a family of four. In many parts of the nation -- and especially in this economy -- that wouldn't really be considered eating on a "budget."

jencereghino said...

Thank you for your feedback. I was taking into consideration feedback that I had received on a previous post, when I used this budget. And, as I mentioned, this will easily feed a family of three, as my husband eats more than average.

I'm sorry that this doesn't meet your needs and hope that you will help me to better understand your budgetary needs and current eating habits, if you would like me to offer suggestions.

Thank you for checking out my blog!

Scott said...

SkolVikings....As Jen mentioned this is based on organic food choices. It's likely if you go with non-organic foods, you could save some money. Also noted is that this is based on an average price taken from 4 stores. You may be able to shave a few bucks off at your local store. I have seen whole non-organic chickens at Kroger for 59 cents a pound. Substitute as needed to fit your "budget".

Cheryl said...

I hope you and food renegade are sharing tips! they're eating on a budget too, stretching $150 to feed 4.

jencereghino said...

Hi Cheryl!

Do you mean this ( Food Renegade? I love her site, but am not seeing her food budget.

I, personally, feel very strongly about the elimination of grains, beans, and legumes, as I experience the negative side effects upon consumption. I think that a more affordable, yet still not totally ideal, option is going to be yams and potatoes as a "filler".

I think that with a little bit of tweaking (i.e. adding a bit more protein to the recipes, adding cabbage to the salads, and buying based on sale rather than the fact that it's organic) this week of eating could easily feed a family of four; though, a family of four could mean so many different things. A family of four consisting of two average-sized parents and two toddlers will consume far less than a family consisting of two teenage boys...

Also, this shopping list uses an average, so there are many food items that shoppers will be able to find at more reasonable price, if not limited by organic options.

Hopefully this menu will be helpful for those starting out or needing guidance with Paleo eating. I am working on a menu that may be more suitable for your needs, as you work with families on a more limited budget. I hope to have that posted by next Sunday.

Any feedback you have is appreciated. Thank you!

Mommy Dearest said...

Wow! What if my weekly food budget is $50 for a family of four?

jencereghino said...

Mommy Dearest~

I would need more information, to be able to appropriately respond to your question.

-What are you currently eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
-How many meals per day are you eating? Is that truly all you spend on food each week (eating in and out)?
-What are the ages and activity levels of those you are feeding?
-Is your budget actually $200/month or is it a strict $50/week (you may be able to get a little more creative my making meals in bulk and freezing)?

If you truly are interested in eating Paleo on this budget ($50/week), I would be willing and happy to provide some feedback, but would need more than the comment you've provided, above. If you are simply commenting, please disregard.

Thank you for checking out my blog!

Cheryl said...

Hi Jen,
I just sent a link about her budgeting/meal planning to someone else, now i cannot find the blog post! I believe is was sometime after June 2009. She does admit to eating more grains than do some others on a low carb plan, partially due to her personal religious practices.

When I find that link again, I will posts it here. In the meantime, I'm tweaking my own budget for a solo cook, with frequent dinner guests!

jencereghino said...

I found it!

Great tips and insight. I really love her site!

My body just feels and functions better with more protein, so good-quality meats are at the top of our list. And, my body is just not happy with grains, so I make an effort to keep them out of my diet.

Thank you, Cheryl!

Erica OBrien said...

I just found your blog and I love it! And I admit - this would be a SAVINGS for us. We believe in alot of your food choices as well - and I have to say - it is hard to fit a budget into eating healthy - but there are ways to save - like you say - the deals at Whole Foods, etc. I am big on that. and plus the leftovers from the pot roast for instance) we had that that last night - and it was FAB - thanks! - were enough for at least two days - and we are family of 3 - 2 of us eat alot!!!:) Thanks for sharing your recipes. I love them.

Anna said...

CSA produce subscriptions can be a more affordable way to budget for organic and local produce, compared to shopping at stores (the farmer's markets in coastal So Cal are great, but NOT necessarily less expensive and not necessarily local, either).

The CSA I belong to has flexible memberships - two box sizes ($25/30) and a choice of weekly or biweekly schedules. My CSA invoices quarterly, but I know some people find it easier to divide and send monthly payments, so that by the time the quarterly invoice is due, their account is paid up.

I can breeze through the produce section now, only stopping to pick up one or to extra items (extra fruit for my son, onions, celery, etc). CSA membership has made me increasingly aware of the local produce seasons, so I'm no longer tempted to buy imported out-of-season and more expensive produce. That saves money, too.

And even when I'm tired or short on time and tempted to get takeout (usually Chipotle Grill or a local rotisserie chicken), I think about the produce we already have bought and what I have on hand in the freezer or pantry, and try to come up with something simple and fast instead (tuna ni├žoise salad, egg/vegetable frittata, a simple soup with frozen homemade bone broth, sauteed sausage with salad or veggies, etc.). If I am prepared with pantry and freezer staples in quantities/forms that need little/prep or defrost easily, such as bone broth, eggs, canned skipjack tuna or salmon, or some sausage/meatballs, often that's enough to put thoughts of takeout on hold, and spurring me into action in the kitchen.

Nikki said...

This is great! Thank you so much. I love all the meal ideas and feel renewed for grocery shopping next week.

Eating organic is expensive, but I'm hoping the more we buy, the less expensive it will become. I hope people can look at it as an investment in their future...and spending less on healthcare ;) Even if you can only do 70/30. Just cut out sugar and you will save loads of cash!

Carina said...

Before Paleo, my budget was $500-600 a month for a family of three. Changing over to paleo increased my bill by about $100 per month on average. Organic veggies aren't all that much more expensive than conventional corporate farmed items. Spinach and kale, broccoli and cauliflower, all manner of squash, eggplant and peppers, none of it is all THAT expensive. Meat is the main increase in cost. But chicken thighs and ground buffalo can mitigate that cost. And as Jen says so can eggs.

Personally, I think I'm worth the extra 1200-1500 a year for groceries. I also reason that I'm saving myself the deductible on my medical insurance for serious illness. God knows what it would cost for cancer treatment.

People that show animals know that nutrition can't be ignored. Why isn't that obvious those of us with opposing thumbs? Garbage in, garbage out.

Salinger mamma said...

I feed a family of 9 on a budget of $300 dollars a week, before switching to paleo. Am trying to make it work on Paleo also, but am not able to afford the grass fed meats. We are hoping to buy 1/2 a steer soon (there is a local place opening with grass fed beef locally grown). So unfortunalty $150 seems extremely high for 2 people and not what I would consider budget at all. We have my husband and I who are crossfitters and rather large eaters along with 2 teenage boys ages 19 and 17, a teenage daughter who eats more than me, and daughters ages 8, 6 and 3, last but not least a boy who is 1 year old.
I was really hoping for ideas on how to go totally Paleo on a budget. Not semi Paleo on an increased budget (multiply $150 by 9 and you get a scary number!).
I too have the same thing, where my body requires lot's of protein and just doesn't do well on the grains.

Any useful tips would be appreciated.
Thanks for your time.

jencereghino said...

Yes, that pot roast fed us for a couple of days too. I love leftovers, so that worked perfectly! Thank you for trying the recipe and for sharing your thoughts.

Thank you for the great advice! I love the idea of CSAs and am looking into one in our area. I have recently discovered a farm in our area that raises grass-fed (and finished), pastured lambs, pigs, cows, and chickens. The quality is incredible, but the price is definitely not less, but I think totally worth it. We are going to be purchasing a full lamb and will be sharing a cow at the beginning of the year.

I agree! I try to focus on buying the organic produce that's on sale, in an attempt to hopefully drive the demand for organic foods.

I think that's just it, making substitutions within the high-quality spectrum of food choices, in an attempt to better meet your budgetary requirements. Also, I agree with your comment about food choices in relation to healthcare and quality of health. Yes, it is an investment in our health and well-being!

Salinger mamma~
Your situation is definitely unique to anyone else who I have spoken with leading up to this initial post, so I'm sorry that it didn't meet you expectations. The meals that I created were priced using all organic products and are generously portioned, so I don't feel it would be necessary to multiply the $150 budget by 9.

Do all of your kids eat all three of their meals with you and are their lunches a part of your $300/week budget? So, you feed 9 people, 21 meals per week with $300? I'm wondering how you currently do it? How much meat and eggs does your family consume on a weekly basis?

This was my first of four "Paleo on a Budget" posts; budgets are unique to each individual household, so it will be impossible for me to meet the needs of all of my readers. However, I plan to vary these budgets to hopefully meet the needs of more families in the upcoming weeks. I hope that we can all provide feedback, as we're already seeing within the comments, to help make eating Paleo a more realistic option for the masses.

In the meantime, if you are able to buy your meats in bulk, when on sale you will be able to save considerably. One of my readers mentioned that she spends a majority of her budget on her meat purchase (like your idea of purchasing half a cow) and the rest of the month purchases eggs and vegetables. I love the idea of a CSA, as mentioned above. And, I don't mind eating the same thing every morning, so I eat a lot of Omega-3 enriched eggs and ground buffalo (buy it on sale and keep it in the freezer). I also pay $100/year for a Costco membership and I feel it's totally worth it. You get 2% back on your purchases and they are always increasing their organic selection.

I created this menu for people who don't necessarily enjoy, have the time, or know how to create a shopping list/menu, but I will usually go to the store and create my meals with what looks fresh, is in season, and is on sale. So, being able or willing to create 'on the fly' can be helpful. And, having a more simplified pantry and my staples helps me to know what I have to work with.

I commend you for making this change for the health of your family and thank you for stopping by!

Salinger mamma said...

Thanks for the reply, I do realize that we are the exception. Most people are feeding about 1/2 the amount of people we are. I am a master at making my menu a week in advance (I shop once a week), making my shopping list the night before and I estimate pricing to stay under or at my budget. Well, I should say I was, before Paleo. After we read Robb's book we just new we had to make the change for all of us. Yes, under that $300 dollars I feed each of us 3+ meals a day. All the kids pack lunches for school/work. I do still let them have bread once a day in their lunches simply for the ease, although some days they bring leftovers if we have them. I am a Costco Member, and buy pretty much everything I can in bulk there. All my produce pretty much comes from there, bulk and organic. Meats are really my big issue, still buy "lunch Meat" at Costco, reg ground beef (if you ask the butcher you can buy 10 pounds in a tube for about $20), Frozen chicken breast, and I buy pork roast, tenderloin in bulk as they are cheaper that way. We eat a lot of apples and bananas for our fruit this time of year. Since Paleo, I have discovered Zuchinni, and other squash are inexpensive right now.
I ordered coconut and almond flours online in bulk to save $. Even ordered coconut oil in bulk online with free shipping to save $.
Eggs are the one thing killing me. I have been buying the free range organic omega 3 organic eggs from Costco, but they are so much more expensive than regular eggs or even the Kirkland organic ones (with out the omega). I figure the omega is important enough that I have been buying 2 packages a week. But that means not eating just eggs for breakfast. Fruit scrambles and Paleo pancakes are to the rescue.
I really appreciate what you are doing.
I am going to look into the CSA, what exactly is that and do you know how I would find one in my area? Or what the initials stand for? Thanks.
I look forward to making your stock recipe. And trying your Breakfast Hash.

jencereghino said...

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you pay in advance for vegetables and/or fruits produced by the farm(er). Each CSA is is different, but you may be asked to contribute somehow (planting seeds, pulling weeds, working on farm equipment, picking produce...) to the production. In most cases, they decide on a cap for members and then you will pay a deposit...a few months later you begin receiving your produce (usually either at the farm or at a designated pick-up point).

The positive is that for reasonable price, you have access to local, usually organic (but not always "certified" due to the expense of certification) fruits and vegetables, shared by other participants. In most cases, your amount is predetermined, but can fluctuate (i.e. you will likely get bonus goods when production is high) depending on production.

The negative is that you pay to support this particular farm(er) and if they do not produce (due to freeze, flood, drought...), you do not receive. It's a risk, but as I hear it, a worthwhile one. Each CSA is different, so you'll need to contact them individually.

Here's a link to help find one in your area:

I was also thinking that you could take advantage of the fact that you own a CF gym by requesting that you be a drop-off point. Also, you may be able to work out a deal/discount with the local farmer (the one you're buying the half cow from) by selling for him/her at your gym. See this CF site:

I think they keep a freezer on-site and allow their members to order through the farmer's site and pick up at the gym. The farmer then does drop-offs on specific days for all members. So, maybe if you were able to designate yourself as a drop-off/pick-up point, the farmer would provide you a discount. Just a thought.

The stock recipe is so easy and SO good! Definitely make it. Plus, it's nice to have all that chicken to work with afterward.

Salinger mamma said...

Thank you so much for your help! I will check into the Dallas CrossFit for sure. That is a great idea, we have been talking amongst ourselves (our partners at the gym) about splitting a cow. We are just getting started with our box and haven't even had our official opening yet. So we only have about dozen clients, we are brand, brand new. That's a great idea, I am definitely going to check into the CSA thing to. I love your site by the way, and your recipes. Thanks so much for sharing.

Paleo Mama of 3 said...

I needed to chime in and give my 2 cents:

I feed a family of 5 on a food budget of about 600-800 per month which averages out to about $175/week. That includes my monthly Costco bill which averages in the $300 range. I have been eating Paleo since Feb 2010 and in the last couple of months have slowly converted my family over (mostly). For ease as one previous comment put I still make my kids sandwiches to take to school, but they only want PB&J. They get almond butter, a little more expensive but well worth it. They survive without the jelly. I give them homemade trail mix and fresh fruit with that as well. As far as the eggs go, as a family of 5 we go through about 2 1/2 to 3dozen eggs every 2 weeks. My husband and I decided that while the Omega 3 enriched Costco eggs are more expensive in the long run they are worth the expense allowing me to cut a few corners on free range or grass fed meats which tend to be a little more expensive where I live.

I buy the Costco Foster Farms packaged chicken breasts. When I use those I generally only use 1 package at a time (containing 2 breasts). I filet them to give me 4 with 2 tenderloins. That is most always plenty to feed everyone with usually some leftovers. I feed my husband and I 2 boys 6 & 5 and girl 2 1/2. I tend to buy fruit (which my husband and I don't eat much of) and veggies weekly to limit the spoiling of them. Although my kids love fruit and eat any and all without issue. I do make a "necessity" run to Costco about midmonth to replenish eggs, bacon and anything else we might be running low on but that is all averaged into the montly costs. I buy organic from Trader Joes and Costco only. At the grocery store it seems that once that word is added to produce it doubles the price. At the grocery store I look for produce grown in the the US only although I'm well aware that those standards aren't what they should be.

I think the overall take home message need to be that you have to stick to the core message of paleo; lean meats, veggies, some fruits and nuts/seeds and making the best choices for our families.

On a side note; your blog is great keep up the good work. And your Roasted Veggie Salad from quite a few posts back was awesome. I took it to a family picnic at my husbands firehouse and there were no leftovers. Everyone loved it and couldn't believe that it was Paleo!

Misty Hosbrough said...

Hi Jen,
I am new to your blog, but I really like what I've read so far. I am on a budget of $100 a week for a family of 2... What would you suggest?

New Day said...

Great post! Thank you :-) We are also a family of two and aiming to spend no more than $150 a week so this is nice. I understand others have commented that this is high- and if we had kids we would definitely try to get our per meal cost down hahah.....but we think that's just one of the many benefits of not having non working dependents :-D (this is not a poke at those who have kids).

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