Affording Primal

Affording Primal

Ever since I went Primal I started doing all the grocery shopping. Prior to eating Primal we never really set a budget or cared about grocery shopping, or more or less it wasn’t a thing. We just went shopping for whatever and spent whatever. Heck, when I first started Primal we had a dual income and no kids. Now my family and I are single income and two kids! How in the heck are we still affording to eat Primal?!

I have done a lot of refining over the past few years on what our weekly meals look like and more importantly what our budget looks like. To really get Primal right and your budget right, I think we really need to understand what the main focus of Primal eating really is. Paleo and Primal both emphasize eating:

  1. Meat, Fish, Fowl & Eggs
  2. Vegetables
  3. Healthy Fats
  4. High Fat Dairy (if you tolerate it)

Now when you look at that list for what to eat when you go Primal, you see that all the cheap foods are cut out, beans, rice, breads, pastas, etc… But what makes the above list even more expensive is when you really dial down the quality of these things. We should be eating all grass fed and free range meats because of the proper Omega 3 and Omega 6 balance. We should be only eating all Organic vegetables to limit our intake of pesticides and insecticides. We should be only eating grass fed animal fats. We should be only eating raw high fat dairy.

But you see all these shoulds are at the top end of the spectrum of what is the most healthiest of the above listed points because it corrects Omega 3 and Omega 6 balance. So what are we to do? I believe each family and person needs to decide what battles they are going to fight. What end of the healthiest Primal food spectrum you want to live on. Not all of us can afford pastured meats and Organic vegetables all the time. I saw this post talking about what are the most important grass fed items to consume if you had to choose and the most helpful piece in that article was at the very bottom where he said:

Grass-fed animal foods aren’t a deal breaker for successfully going Primal. You can be incredibly healthy without ever sniffing a piece of grass-fed lamb.

Then I read this post that’s in the similar vain of what I’m writing about here and the very last sentence really gets to the core of the issue:

It’s better to start with a less optimal version of the Paleo diet than never start at all.

So…

All that is to say, if you can’t afford top quality meats, veggies and fats – still go Primal and eat the highest quality of what you can afford. That’s the guiding principal I take every time I plan meals for my family.

I’m going to be completely honest here, listed below are the ways in which I govern my grocery shopping. Our weekly budget for the regular grocery store every week is around $70-$100. My budget for Costco every month is $300. So what I do before I even decide what meals I want to make for the week is check what meats are on sale. Once I see what meats are on sale, I build my meals for the week in my notes app on my phone. From there I then list out all the items I need for said meals in the notes app and only buy those things once I get to the grocery store. I happen to work right across the street from a Costco, so I pop in there for occasional items that I need when I run out of them or if my regular grocery store doesn’t carry them and/or has a better price on them. Listed below are the guiding principals for my food purchases for my family.

  1. Meat, Fish, Fowl & Eggs: I can’t afford grass fed beef unless its on sale and ground. Otherwise, I get whatever meat is on sale at the regular grocery store (Stater Brothers). If it’s ground beef, I buy the lean ground beef and add in either Kerrygold butter or coconut oil while cooking. I always just buy whole chickens now and roast them in my skillet in the oven. I buy the rotisserie chicken when I go to the store because it saves me time when I get home from work and grocery shopping and there isn’t anything weird listed on the ingredients. I rarely buy any other meats at Costco because the regular grocery store is cheaper. The only meats I buy at Costco are bacon because it’s dirt cheap. I also did some digging on yelp and cragslist and found a really cool egg farm near us and on my way home from work that we now get our eggs from. They’re higher quality than anything at Costco and Stater Bros and cheaper. It’s a win win.
  2. Vegetables: The only produce I buy that’s Organic is the mixed salad greens. It’s not too expensive and we eat a lot of it. Other than that I don’t really focus too much on buying conventional unless the Organic counterpart isn’t that much more expensive. But once again, I really only buy whatever vegetables are on sale too. That includes the frozen veggies also. Whatever bags are on sale I just grab a bunch at either the regular grocery store or the really big bags at Costco.
  3. Healthy Fats: This is where I’m really strict about what fats we use to cook with and to eat. We’ve cut out all industrial seed oils and never use them at all. The only fats we use are Kerrygold butter, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, the occasional regular salted butter from Costco if we run out of Kerrygold, and bacon drippings. All of which I purchase from Costco.
  4. High Fat Dairy: I can’t afford raw dairy. The health food store near us sells one brand and it’s just too expensive to even consider it. Yet I still need cheese… We get Kerrygold cheese from Costco but we just use pre shredded cheddar or mozzarella for eggs. I know there is potato starch and weird stuff in them, but I just don’t have time to shred cheese every time we eat breakfast because I normally have a 2yr old yelling at me. I have yet to find a whole milk Kefir at my grocery store. We also get Daisy brand sour cream. We never buy milk, we tried to give our toddler some Organic milk, but she just spit it out so we don’t even bother.

Overall the grocery store trip is cheap and easy if you go in with a little planning and pair it with very precise Costco trips to get things like bacon and healthy fats.


This is the key takeaway here that I hope I’m not sounding like I’m just repeating the same thing. The alternative to super premium quality meats, veggies and fats shouldn’t be an unhealthy conventional non-Primal diet. If you and your family is still eating a crazy amount of veggies, some meats and good fats – regardless of quality, you’ll still be healthier than the alternative. Currently, this is where me and my family are. Maybe one day I can afford a grass fed cow share, and shop the non sale Organic items, but for now I’m trying to keep my family healthy by cutting out industrial seed oils, grains, legumes and focusing on eating meats, veggies and healthy fats. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment on how you and your family afford eating Primal.

Simplifying Paleo So it Sticks in the New Year

Simplifying Paleo So it Sticks in the New Year

It’s a new year and the internets are rampant with new diets and exercise regimes to jump into in hopes of losing weight and getting healthier. Depending on where you’re at in your health journey you can start a whole30 today, or you can start a 21 day challenge or if you’re already a veteran Paleo check out these 10 lessons learned from Russ Crandall. Whatever you do starting this new year you have to start somewhere and that’s where I think it can be overwhelming for some. There is just so much out there and it can be difficult determining where to start so here is a template for simplifying Paleo so it sticks in the new year.

So I want to propose something easy to swallow. A foundation for eating. Basically providing a template on where you can base your meals for breakfast, lunch & dinner. The reason for this is because so many people start diets and sign up for gyms at the beginning of the new year and end up falling off the wagon shortly after. So my goal is to simplify Paleo so that it sticks. I don’t want to provide specific recipes because if you’re just starting Paleo or already a veteran; recipes can be overwhelming or not needed.

Why start with food and not a template for exercise? Well, while exercise is necessary for health, all health starts first with what you eat. Weight loss and health doesn’t start with exercise. Weight loss and health starts with what we eat and put in your body. So if you’re looking to lose weight or just be overall healthier – start here with what you should eat for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Remember this is just a starting point not an end point. You can start here for your meals and expand on them for what works best for you and your family. Starting out here is great for losing weight and seeing how you do then when you reach your ideal weight you can add in more starches like white potatoes and white rice.

Though it’s already the new year maybe plan your grocery trip before the start of the week and begin this template Monday. Review the basics of Primal here if this is all new to you and you’re trying to figure out what’s Paleo/Primal. But for now let’s check out a simple and easy template for your daily meals:

Breakfast – Bacon & Eggs

 

A photo posted by Kristi Creasey (@hikristi) on

Breakfast couldn’t be easier to figure out. It’s dead simple and it’s exactly what we need for the morning – protein. Get yourself some eggs and bacon from the store. Cook the bacon first then use the bacon fat for your eggs and boom – Primal breakfast done. Note: I started out this way on Primal a few years ago but now I normally fast for breakfast throughout the week and just eat lunch around 11:30am. So depending on if you’re hungry in the morning, you can always fast and just go straight to lunch.


Lunch – Salad

 

#lunch

A photo posted by That’s So Primal (@thatssoprimal) on

Get yourself some organic mixed greens or whatever salad mix you like and throw it in a bowl with olive oil and vinegar or some Tessemae’s dressing. Add in whatever veggies, seeds or nuts you like. Then add in some protein in the form of leftovers from the night before or cans of fish i.e. tuna, sardines or salmon.


Dinner – Meat & Roasted Veggies

 

I love this Cacao-Rubbed Steak recipe by @thedomesticman. Link to it in the profile. #dinner

A photo posted by That’s So Primal (@thatssoprimal) on

Dinner doesn’t have to be hard. Throw some protein on the grill or in a crockpot and use your oven and some baking trays to roast some veggies in the fat of your choice: lard, butter, coconut oil, olive oil, duck fat, tallow, etc… You don’t even need to follow a recipe for this really. Just make sure to use seasonings and fat to make the veggies tasty. This is a good post to check out if you’ve never roasted veggies before or check out my roasted broccoli that has become a staple in our house.

Remember these meals are just a template and a base to start from. Some days may look completely different. Don’t expect perfection. Expect that some days you might eat a doughnut or nachos but know that your foundation for eating 80% of the time should be based around these types of meals listed above. Then leave the 20% of things you eat for times that planning meals may be out of your control: office parties, birthdays, Disneyland or just because you’re craving ice cream. As Michelle from Nom Nom Paleo says think of Paleo as the main highway and expect to take slight detours every so often.

Weekend Camping Trip: Keeping it Primal

Weekend Camping Trip: Keeping it Primal

Not too long ago I encouraged you to get back outside with your family. Hopefully you were able to find some ways that you could enjoy the outdoors before it gets too cold and before we all get too wrapped up in the mad dash of the holidays. If you’re still trying to figure out ways to get the family together, might I suggest you plan a weekend camping trip? Something you can easily do after work Friday with a little planning.

There are campgrounds everywhere, all you need to do is find one close to you that sounds fun. This is something you can do with just your spouse or even if you have a bunch of kids. The kids will be sure to love it and it’s a great time to get the whole family together. It also offers the a unique time where everyone’s faces aren’t plastered to the bright screen of a phone, tablet, laptop or TV. That idea, in and of itself, may freak you out. But don’t let it. Below I’ve listed a few ideas for what you should pack, what a meal plan may look like and what to do. All you have to worry about is where you want to go camping.


What to Bring

Camping Gear
This depends widely on where in the country (or outside) you may be camping. Now, you don’t have to buy everything you see at your local camping store but some basics that you don’t want to forget are:

Food

  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Pack of Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausages sliced into 1/4”
  • 3 Bell Peppers chopped (I use red, orange & yellow)
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 1 Garlic clove diced
  • 2T Coconut Oil
  • Mixed Greens
  • Oil & Vinegar
  • Cans of tuna/sardines/chicken
  • Bag of Paleonola
  • Burgers
  • Cheese
  • Organic Baby Carrots
  • Homemade Ranch
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Butter
  • Popcorn Kernals
  • Coffee

Clothes
Just keep them comfy. Maybe even go barefoot if you can take it. It’s a rare chance you can go a whole weekend without having to wear shoes at all. If you can’t bare (pun intended) the thought of that, then just stick to sandals or something like that. You don’t need $400 hiking boots. Humans have spent a long time “camping” without needing giant rubber heels attached to their God given arches and heels.

Board games/deck of cards
Forget the solar phone chargers and extra battery packs. Just make sure you have a headlamp or a bright enough fire to play some card games or a board game or two.


What to Eat

All of these meals can be cooked in your 12” Cast Iron. I suggest you do all your cutting Thursday night before the weekend. No one wants to do the cutting on some janky table at the campsite.

Friday Night
Dinner: Chicken & Apple Sausage Stir Fry
If everything is precut, this meal comes together really quick. Perfect for getting to the campground, getting the tent up and then right into dinner.

Campfire Snack: Popcorn
Popcorn isn’t paleo. But it’s a nice once in awhile snack. Especially when you cook it yourself with butter and salt. All you have to do is melt 2T of butter in a skillet, throw in 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels and cook over fire or flame with lid, shaking continuously, until you hear the kernels start to pop. Take off the lid when the kernel popping slows down. Then top off with salt and enjoy.

Saturday
Breakfast: Eggs & Bacon
Cook the bacon. Toss out some of the fat while leaving a thin layer in the skillet. Then scramble the eggs in the remaining fat.

Lunch: Salad & Sardines/Tuna/Chicken
Toss salad in bowls with oil and vinegar and top with protein and Paleonola. Or eat the protein of your choice straight from the can.

Dinner: Burgers & Carrots with Ranch
Melt some butter in the skillet and cook burgers until desired doneness. Top with cheese if you do cheese. Serve with carrots and ranch.

Campfire Snack: More Popcorn
This is too good to just have it one night. Cook up another batch of this and you won’t even be thinking of s’mores.

Sunday Morning
Breakfast: Eggs & Bacon
Same as Saturday.

Lunch: Chipotle
No one wants to have to have to prepare a lunch on your last day of camping so just pick something up from Chipotle or some other Primal option lunch spot on the way home.


What to Do

Once again this depends widely on where you’re planning on camping. But think outside the box a little bit, and by box I’m referring to your home. Take advantage of being outdoors. Maybe even ditch the tent and just sleep outside. Just do something that you don’t normally do, here are some ideas:

Beach
If you happen to be camping near a beach then this one is pretty obvious. But I point it out so that you don’t think just camping by the beach is enough. You need to go to the beach. Put a suit on and go body surf, dig some holes, eat a sand crab, do some sprints. Anything really – just go to the beach.

Hiking
This one is pretty obvious too but not everyone likes hiking (wink wink my wife). But you should really use this opportunity that you’re living outside for a couple days to explore and see what the trails around you have to offer. Remember too, don’t try to pull the excuse that you don’t have your hiking shoes. God gave you hiking shoes when you were born. If they’re good enough for the Tarahumara, then they’re good enough for you.

Skateboarding/Biking
Most state funded camping places have some paved road throughout the grounds. If they do, take advantage of the no TV and laptop and go cruise around on a skateboard. If there are no paved roads you can always use a bike to go cruise around.

Nothing
Don’t always think you have to be doing something when you’re camping. Use your time away for the weekend to do nothing. We need to relax and kick back every so often, and this is your perfect time to do so. Take a nap throughout the day. Stare off into the distance. Watch ants crawl around. Just try to do absolutely nothing.

Look for bugs
Ya know, bugs may be the future of food. How about you go checkout some of the local offerings? I’m not sure if it’s kosher to eat bugs just crawling around, but hey depending on where you’re camping they may have a better diet than the chicken pumped full of antibiotics and soy.

Rock climb
Rock climbing didn’t start in an indoor gym. It started with actual rocks. Try to see if you can find some rocks to go climb on. Doesn’t matter how big or small, just look for something to climb on. Remember to always bring a buddy so they can catch you if you fall.

Play Games
You brought all those board games and cards. Bust ‘em out and play as much as you can. Busy schedules at home don’t always lend time to play a couple rounds of Catan.

Hopefully this post urged you a little bit to even contemplate planning a family camping trip. Now your trip, if you choose to do one, may look completely different than what I have outlined above, but this was just to spark ideas. So take some ideas I’ve listed above, or make your own, but most importantly – get outside.