Something that has been on my mind as we do the GAPS Introduction diet is our food budget. When we began our real/whole/traditional foods journey we made slow and deliberate changes which really helped us to keep our food spending very close to what it had been when we were eating a Standard American Diet (SAD). Some of the ways we did that was through decreasing dining out and putting that money toward real food plus eating a considerable amount of soaked or sprouted legumes and soaked, sprouted or soured grains (for the most part). We did eat grass fed beef, home raised chickens and wild game several times a week but not at every meal.
GAPS Introduction focuses on homemade meat or fish stocks and meats along with vegetables. No grains, no legumes. I’m sure that we all know grass fed beef can be a huge budget buster. Especially if that is the main food one is eating. I suspect that I am not the only one considering this since Cara at Health, Home and Happy did a post last week discussing the importance of Organic/Free Range/Grass Fed on GAPS. Cara’s article is great at pointing out ways to prioritize the grocery budget.
I’m finding that we need to make some compromises in order to keep our budget in line. I did expect to spend more money for the month of October on food and planned for that in our household budget. But the thing is, I don’t think that we will be going off of GAPS as soon as I had originally thought. This was supposed to be a one month endeavor to help heal my gut and put me back to feeling as good as I used to. In many ways this has happened but I think more can happen. I had a hiccup to my month when I was out of town last week and really feel I am going to need more time to accomplish my goal. Joe started Intro with me mostly as support. The surprise has been that he feels a ton better eating GAPS style and notices huge improvements. He is not ready to stop this anytime soon.
Today when I went to town, I had hoped to find marked down meat or lamb in the organic section of one of the chain stores. Unfortunately, they did not have any (I’m bummed about the lack of lamb since it is something we really enjoy). I had decided in advance that if they didn’t have the organic I would buy regular meat. Can I tell you that it has been a long time since I bought beef in the grocery store (other than the mark down organic) and I had no idea how expensive the stuff is. Yes, I do pay more for grass fed beef from my CSA, but not that much more. I was happy to see that there was some mark down meats and was able to get 13 pounds of meat for about $2.50 a pound. I’ll still use grass fed beef, chicken, duck and game for our broths but will happily use the store meats as additional items. I want to point out that my not buying meat in the grocery store for so long might make me sound a bit of a snob or elitist (isn’t that what real food people are often tagged?) but it’s really been a matter of having enough beef from our CSA and sale/mark down organics that I never look at the other meats. I’m actually okay (to a point) with grocery store beef. Chicken, however, is another story but I’ll save that for a different time 🙂
Other than the meat, my cart contained only vegetables and two pieces of tuna (another item of considerable expense). Cara points out in her article that choosing organics for some uses (ferments and juicing) is best and then avoid the Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list is something that we have used for the past couple of years when buying our produce. The lists change (somewhat) each year so I do recheck them occasionally. Until recently we did not have a ‘health food store’ that carried produce so the list was very important to me. Now that we do have a new full service natural grocery, I buy quite a bit of our produce there. The prices are very good (compared to the organics at the chain stores in my town) especially when I buy seasonal produce. Plus they have a discount area where they bag up items and mark them down to a dollar. One time I found a ton of tomatoes in the mark down bin and snatched them up. For $5 I made 2 quarts plus 1 pint of salsa and put a gallon size bag of tomatoes in the freezer.
With GAPS we are eating considerably more vegetables than previously (not much fruit yet since we are still adding that) and I’ve had to be creative in preparation. Carrots (cheap), winter squash (cheap) and onions (also cheap) tend to get a little boring every day. I do ‘splurge’ and add in a few other things but they are ‘treats’ instead of regular items.
In the interest of full disclosure, I do feel that we have a bit of an advantage that many people may not have. My husband is a hunter and we live in Wyoming. Hunting is a recreational activity for him that provides us with high quality grass fed (sage brush fed) meat for a very low cost. We are eating quite a bit of antelope right now that has a total cost around $1 a pound (as soon as I rearrange the chest freezer, we’ll be eating venison also). This is an advantage but possibly people that live in other areas have similar types of things they can take advantage of such as an area that is easy to have a home garden (gardening is a challenge for me on my windy sand dune). We also go fishing as a family as often as we can manage. A year long license in Wyoming is very reasonably priced. We enjoy fishing so much that we even went two times while on our vacation (out of state) this past summer. Fishing costs can add up when getting all of the gear/equipment needed but we also consider it recreation/family time with the bonus of a trout dinner (or three) to top off our fun.
These are some of the things that we’re doing to help manage the additional costs associated with GAPS Intro. I really enjoyed this article from Shannon at Nourishing Days ( note: this is an older article that I recently found in my internet searching) on Optimum vs. Reality (unrelated but totally interesting to me, Shannon and her family recently moved to their own land and plan to live off-grid. I look forward to following their progress) and this article from Food Renegade has long been a favorite budget/priority article.
Any suggestions/hints/comments that you would like to add?
Photo Credit: Martin Cathrae on Flickr