However, a family member of mine is on a modified Primal diet (he does eat legumes- a no no in "real" Primal diets), and because of certain circumstances that have come up, this family member will be at our house rather often in the next little while, so I'm pretty much doing what I thought impossible- feeding this grain free guest without putting us into the poorhouse (too much). (This guest eats animal products, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, minimal fruit, and that's about it. He'll eat very minimal amounts of potatoes or sweet potatoes, but will avoid those as well if possible.)
Why exactly is a grain free diet not frugal? How can you make a grain free diet as frugal as possible?
First off, in order to understand what is unfrugal about a grain free diet, you first have to understand what types of food make someone feel full, as people generally eat until satiation. Starches and carbs make a person fell full. In lieu of that, or in addition to that, fats also send the signal of satiation to the brain. I mean, if you eat enough vegetables, you might actually feel full for a little bit, but not long after that, you'll likely feel hungry yet again. If you want to eat full and stay full, you'll want to have enough carbs or enough fats. (I once tried to go on a low fat, low carb diet... I lasted 12 hours because I was STARVING!!!)
If you're rich, you can fill up on healthy fats.
If you're shorter on money, you might find healthy carbohydrates necessary to bulk up a meal without being prohibitively expensive.
If you're short on money and don't care about health, you might fill up on cheap, unhealthy fats... Or you might fill up on cheap, unhealthy carbs. Or both.
Healthy fats are expensive. Carbs are cheaper. Healthy carbs are generally more expensive than unhealthy carbs, but usually they're cheaper than healthy fats.
(Just for clarity's sake, when I am talking about healthy fats, I'm not talking about canola and soy and corn oil... I'm talking about animal fats, nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, etc...)
With the Primal diet, there's no filling up on carbs, healthy or not, as all grains are out. You can fill up on healthy fats... and that's about it.
Oh, and can I reiterate how expensive healthy fats are?
Anyhow, that's why Primal diets are expensive. Because cheap fillers are out; you can only really fill up on animal products or nuts or seeds. Expensive. Very.
So, that said, how am I planning on feeding this Primal dieting family member of ours and not break the bank? How can you follow a grain free diet as frugally as possible?
[Well... I can't promise it won't break the bank or blow the budget (because wow... its expensive to eat this way!!!), but at least this will only cause slight monetary damage instead of major...]
- Go hunting or fishing or eat roadkill if you can, because free meat is the best way you can keep this diet from being prohibitively expensive. This isn't something I am able to do, but if you are, that's one way to keep a Primal diet cheap.
- Buy cheap cuts of meat. No, I don't mean look at what is cheapest per pound- I'm talking about what is really, really cheapest per pound, once you factor in how much you're paying for bone. Use primarily this meat when serving meat.
- See what animal products you can get cheapest. Often this is eggs. Use these as your main fillers.
- Slather everything in fat. Take whatever meat you have and fry it. Save all your fat drippings and use it as bases for soups or sauces. Whatever you do, don't skin your meat, because it'll make it less fatty and filling and you'll need more to be satiated. Use fatty salad dressings, like homemade mayo, on all the vegetables you're eating. Saute as many vegetables as you can in as much butter, shmaltz, coconut oil, or other fats as possible.
- Buy your vegetables in season, and buy lots of the cheapest ones.
- Buy starchier vegetables so you can get in some filling starches so you aren't filling up just on animal products.
- Forage as much of your vegetables as humanly possible, so that you can have a ton of vegetables at your meal and only need to pay for the meat.
- If you can get fatty nuts and seeds cheaply, do so. Often though this isn't worthwhile because they cost more per pound than cheap cuts of meat.
- If there's any way you can serve legumes, do so. I know they aren't officially "primally legal", but fortunately this relative DOES eat legumes, so you can be sure I'll take full advantage of it. Legumes have carbs and are filling, and they're not too expensive.
- If you can buy meat in bulk cheaply, do so. Unfortunately I cannot, so this is out for me, but I wanted to throw it out there as an option.
Keeping these tips in mind, what are some Primal dishes I served or plan on serving to our Primal eating guest?
- Chicken soup made with wings.
- A whole chicken (cheaper) deboned, dipped in a "beer batter" (made from kombucha, egg, and tapioca starch and spices), and deep fried.
- A quiche made with foraged greens, sunflower milk, tapioca starch, and egg.
- A tomato and wild greens salad with olive oil and lemon juice.
- Cabbage salad made with oil, salt, and pepper.
- Fenugreek dip.
- Stir fry made with cabbage, carrots, peppers, and chicken gizzards.
- Vegetable frittata.
- Egg crepe (possibly with tapioca starch) filled with salad, chicken chunks, and avocado.
- Turnip and butternut squash mash.
- Roasted carrots.
- Roasted cauliflower.
- Baked cabbage quarters with gravy.
- Italian wedding soup minus the noodles. (I'll throw in gluten free noodles, he doesn't need to eat them.)
- Egg drop soup
- Egg curry.
- Eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce.
- Avgolemono soup. (Greek egg lemon soup.)
- Minestrone soup.
- Split pea soup.
- Bean chili.
No, eating a Primal or Paleo diet is NOT cheap. Starches are cheap fillers, cutting them out leaves you with only more expensive things to fill your belly. But hopefully, by following these tips, you won't break the bank too much...
Are you on a grain free diet? How much would you say you spend on groceries? How does this compare to how what you were spending before you went grain free?
What are your tips to keep meals frugal without being able to rely on cheaper fillers like grains? I'd love suggestions for frugal meal ideas...