Buy frozen fruits and vegetables
When you have no other choice than buying your produce at the grocery store, frozen produce is a good choice. It’s cheaper, it’s often on sale and can often be much fresher since it was frozen shortly after it was picked. The other added bonus is that it’s likely that they where picked ripe instead of unripe, which makes for a more nutritious produce.
Participate in farm shares and CSA programs
This way of encouraging local farmers and getting fresh produce has become very popular over the last few years. The way it works is that you buy a share of the farm’s production before the season starts and you then get a steady flow of very fresh, seasonal and natural produce as the farming season progresses. This is either delivered in a box right at your door or at a nearby pick-up location. This is a very good way to get close to the farm and to get fresh, local and seasonal produce for a fraction of the regular price. Like with buying your meat in bulk, you pay a higher fee up-front, but save a lot down the road. If you do both, you’ll end up with almost zero weekly expenses once the initial investment is made.
Have you read our First Five Ways to Eat Paleo on a Budget ?
Grow and pick your own produce
Growing your own small garden can be a very therapeutic and rewarding experience. You get to spend time outdoors, exercise, get fresh air and sunshine and get really close to the earth all at the same time. You’ll also learn a lot about food by growing it yourself. Some vegetables are so easy to grow that you won’t even have to think about them.
If those two options are off limits for you, something you can almost always do is grow your own fresh herbs indoors. Some of them are really easy to grow given some sunlight and will be a perfect addition to make your meals taste fantastic. Growing your own herbs can also be a great experience for kids. It’s very enjoyable for them to see a plant grow from the fruit of their labor and they learn skills that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Another thing you should consider doing is pick your own fruits when in season. You can of course enjoy them right away, but you can also preserve and freeze them, which leads to my next tip.
Preserve, ferment and freeze
When we get cheap access to produce, our instinct is to eat more of it during that time, but preserving and freezing are great ways to benefit all year long from the delicious fruits and vegetables.
Berries, for example, are easy to freeze and enjoy at any time. Another example is when you get so much tomatoes that you don’t know what to do with them. I recommend you make huge batches of Paleo spaghetti sauce and freeze it. This way, every time you need a quick meal fix, you only have to get a jar of sauce out of the freezer.
Pesto, when fresh basil is plentiful, is also very easy to prepare, freeze and enjoy later.
Another great way to preserve produce is to ferment it. It’s a process called lacto-fermentation and almost any fruit or vegetable can be fermented that way. The most well-known version is fermented cabbage, or sauerkraut. Cabbage is also very cheap, by the way.
Make your own dressings
A lot of people on the Paleo diet will stop buying commercial dressings because of the bad polyunsaturated fats used to make them. Another good reason to stop buying the commercial stuff is to save big dollars. All it takes is olive oil or some other good oil, a vinegar like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar and your favorite blend of herbs and spices. About 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, whisk, taste, adjust, enjoy!
Much better and much cheaper.
Bacon ‘n eggs
The famous bacon and eggs is a great way to start the day and both bacon and eggs can be bought for relatively cheap, even the good kind. If you buy your eggs direct from the farmer you could save even more and remember that even at $5 a dozen you can still make 4 meals out of them if you eat three per meal.