Eating grain free on a budget

For over a year my family ate grain free, and for several months out of that period of time we were also dairy free. A few months ago I tried adding grains back into my diet, and my body was like, “Um… NO!” So, my Doc wants me back on the grain free wagon. Limited dairy, for now. We shall see how that goes. Fingers crossed! When we first started eating this way I spent way too much money and time experimenting with recipes for baked goods. Not only did I use a lot of very expensive ingredients, but we were consuming too much of said baked goods. All things in moderation, right? It took a while, but I figured out how to do this whole grain free lifestyle, and I’m here to share some of the tips I learned with you.

**Disclaimer – I am not Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Primal, AIP, a woodchuck, marshmallow, ice cube, ect….. I am, at this point in my life, eating grain free, and make no claim otherwise. No Paleo police, please. Thanks! Ok, on with it….

Keep things simple.  I like to get complicated and fancy with my cooking. The problem with this, is that it uses up extra (expensive) ingredients, time, effort, and there is a lot more room for failure and frustration. Grain free baking can be tricky, and it calls for a whole new level of learning. I have found that if I have several meals that I keep in my weekly rotation, my life is easier and my bank account happier.

Meat and Veggies.  Meat and vegetables, healthy fats, and lots of salads. You can’t get much simpler than that. Plus they keep your body full and happy. This is how we eat about 5 days out of the week. The other two days I experiment with a new recipe, usually something I find on Pinterest or a Paleo blog. This keeps things from getting boring and allows me to use some creative energy, while still being conservative.

Too much exposer to nuts.  Many grain free recipes call for nuts, usually almond flour. This is a great option, but consuming too much can lead to an intolerance due to the phytic acid in the nuts. The acid can also trigger an inflammation response, and that’s one of the things we are trying to heal, right!? So, easy does it. Maybe aim for enjoying baked goods of some kind once or twice a week, and later, perhaps even less as your body becomes accustomed to this way of eating. This way you don’t feel deprived, (which can lead to cheats) without compromising your health.

Food prep. This is a big one. Anything you can prep in advance, try to do so. That way you get dinner on the table faster, and there is less chance of becoming ‘hangry” and making choices you will regret later.
For example: I like to cut up my veggies and store them in the fridge so I can quickly transfer them to the oven, stew pot, or skillet, or salad bowl. I also try to keep already baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash in the fridge. I can easily heat some up for breakfast in the skillet, or caramelize them under high heat for supper. Keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge to snack on in addition to veggies and fruit. If you forget to thaw meat out in the morning, eggs are a great source of protein to fall back on. Stock the freezer with crock pot meals to pull out of busy or especially exhausting days.

– Don’t try to replicate processed snacks.  Oh, boy. I spent way too much time and money on this when I first went grain free! That was a big mistake. Eating this way is about nourishing and healing our bodies, not trying to be like everyone else. Try setting side one day of the week to re-create something that you really miss. Eating nutrient dense foods will fill you up more than processed food, so you will find yourself snacking less, anyway, which saves a surprising amount of money.

Try not to waste anything.  Use your leftover vegetable scraps and meat bones for making bone broth. Create stir fry’s, salads, or casseroles with leftovers. Use apple cores to make apple cider vinegar. If a batch of grain free bread fails, try crumbling it and using it for breading for fried chicken, or in meatloaf. Crumble leftover meatloaf into eggs and potatoes for a breakfast hash. Believe it or not, this saves a lot of money.

Our weekly menu looks something like this: Meat and vegetables 3-4 nights a week, salad 1-2 nights a week, pizza one night with cauliflower crust or a grain free crust. 1 -2 nights a week I try something new. Sometimes we do breakfast for dinner. For lunch we often have leftovers or salad.  I try to keep the meat and veggie dishes simple, but change them up enough that we don’t get tired of them. Different soups or stews, steaks, stir fry’s, roasts, smoked meat, grilled, ect……

I know that meat is expensive, but if you are not buying all the cereal, snacks, and fancy extras, you will find that your budget opens up more. It also helps if you hunt for your meat, raise it, or go to a local farmer/rancher and buy in bulk. We hunt for elk and deer, and raise our own chickens, turkeys and ducks. We use the fat and bones from these animals as well, and that saves us a lot. We grow quite a lot of vegetables in our garden during the summer, and there are so many options for making the most out of tiny spaces if you don’t have a large piece of land. I have seen some beautiful ideas on Pinterest. We also have bees, and harvest the honey to use during the year in place of sugar. That’s also something I recommend that you consider, if at all possible. People love to buy local honey!
I’m sure you will find your own tips and tricks that help you on your journey, and there’s lots more information out there for you to discover! Have fun, relax, and enjoy this time, this journey in your life. God bless you in this time of discovery and change.

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