When you first decide to take the self-healing route of healing your autoimmune issue such as I did with alopecia areata, you may hear horror stories of how people spend $800 a month on groceries. Yes, you will be eating incredibly well which actually does NOT mean you have to spend your entire paycheck at Whole Paycheck aka Whole Foods. Eating AIP on a grocery budget is often debated because you want to provide yourself the highest quality ingredients but does that mean eating on a budget is impossible?
Eating AIP on a Grocery Budget Does Exist.
It is true the first ever month I started eating AIP to heal my self-induced alopecia areata, I sure did spend $800 at Whole Foods. I wish I saved the receipts so I could show you my healing madness. Granted I was traveling for work and constantly on the road, but I also didn’t care to save because I was “nurturing” myself. I did come up with some killer tips for eating healthy on the road though!
Funny, because as a budget my money, today, I realize well that was silly! Nurturing myself didn’t mean spending more money. There is a way to still eat high-quality foods AND preserve your budget.
The Only 5 Tips You’ll Need for Eating AIP on a Grocery Budget.
I’m not a fan of tips that aren’t immediately actionable and don’t make any sense for my lifestyle. I’m either on the go or slightly lazy at times and I’m okay with that current assessment of my emotional anxiety levels! As you may know, healing is a sometimes long, sometimes tough, and always layered process so if I am super “lazy” which is code for trying to work through major anxiety, well then it’s where I’m at. While I work on myself I need tips that feel doable and don’t make my healing feel hopeless, because it’s not ever!
1. Buy Frozen Organic Vegetables, Fruits, and Meats.
Frozen veggies get a bad wrap but they are a thousand times better than canned veggies because they preserve a major portion of the nutrients. If they are frozen right after they are harvested then you are preserving the nutritional quality. Frozen foods also last longer and can tend to be more cost-effective.
The new trend of nutrient preservation after frozen veggies is air dried vegetables and fruits. Air dried vegetables may be a good on the go snack but I am definitely not subbing them for my vegetables during my main meals.
2. Shop in Bulk.
Costco or other buy in bulk stores can be your best friend during this time. Shop in bulk, because you will be eating in bulk, I assure you. Costco, for example, has a really good organic selection, especially for meat and poultry. If you have a membership great, or you can always shop with a friend or family member who has one!
3. Stock Up When On Sale.
I am not a coupon cutter and I never will be. I will also not go to a store because of a sale, because I am a happy creature of habit. I also am not a coupon app person. It’s just not in me. I am however a person who upon entering a store gets the flyers, checks if things are on sale, looks around, and upon seeing my preferred sales items, STOCKS UP.
Stocking up on sales items is also a great way to keep your shopping cost down. If you don’t plan on eating everything right away, freeze them!
4. Shop Discount Grocery Stores and “Ethnic” Markets.
Don’t be a grocery snob. WholeFoods is no longer the ONLY grocery food store who sell high-quality foods. Aldi, Walmart (yes they have organic foods), Trader Joe’s, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Tony’s Fresh Market, Shop-rite, HEB, etc. will all most likely have some sort of organic or good quality produce and grocery items.
Ethnic Markets also work with local farmers, some who can’t afford the organic certification (it’s expensive), to bring really good quality foods to smaller more diverse populations. Explore the world of grocery! You may find you prefer shopping at smaller marts because they have better produce.
While you are eating on the AIP diet you will likely be consuming large amounts of plantains (my favorite!), and sometimes the only place you can find good ones are at the fresh markets which are code for ethnic markets:)
5. Don’t Become a Chef.
Yes, this is a major budgeting tactic. If you think you are going to be the best AIP chef, and create a new AIP cookbook for the masses (you may what do I know!?), you probably won’t be staying within your budget. Recipes require lots of ingredients. Lots of ingredients require multiple items. Multiple items mean more money.
Figure out what you like to eat and stick with it for a while. AIP baking is cool and all but I’m a simpleton and I really enjoyed eating foods in their most natural state. It was easier for me to know every day I would be eating some variation of a sweet potato, avocado, sauteed spinach, plantains and a meat item than it was to create a new AIP recipe for me.
Budgeting on AIP is as Easy as AIP Itself.
This is a trick heading folks because AIP is not “easy” but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it easier and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s not doable. Simplifying is the key to happiness and the key all of life. Bam! I basically just solved all your problems:)
Truly though, if you are able to simplify you are able to reduce things that may get in the way of your peace…and healing. Simplifying will be different for every person. For me it means entering somewhat into a food routine, taking the guesswork out of what I’m going to eat by knowing I’ll eat the same damn thing probably, and NOt changing my entire behavior but knowing what behaviors of mine can be adaptable.
Most people have a higher rate of “success” if they work from where they are rather than completely change everything. If you can do a bit of both, you’re high rolling over here.
Remember healing is about self-discovery so be open to the possibility that you will discover new things about yourself and ways of being that will aid you on this healing journey. And if you can do it with while spending a little less, then power to you!
Want more tips on the AIP diet?