How To Shop, Paleo Style!

what when wine paleo shopping tips

Example of how to NOT shop Paleo style

People often think shopping Paleo style will be inherently difficult. How does one navigate the packaged supermarket world unscathed? But it’s really not that hard. Really. Nor does it have to be crazily expensive.  While brightly colored packaged goodies may beckon with seemingly great value, consider the nutritional breakdown of whole foods. If you look at food as a source of nutrients and energy, rather than glutinous indulgences, you’ll soon realize you get a lot more bang for your buck, nutrition wise, when embracing Paleo.

Here are some tips to help you save money and navigate the store, Paleo-Style!

1. Walk Around The Perimeter 
When shopping Paleo style, you’ll mostly be circling the perimeter of the store, since that’s where all the meats, fruits, and veggies tend to be. (I never really considered this until going Paleo.) Venture into the aisles only for things like spices, coconut oil, and of course a glass of wine! Plus you get a little extra exercise walking around the perimeter – who needs aisle shortcuts?

2. Buy In Bulk, Wholesale & Online
Shop at places like Costco to buy wholesale – you can always freeze meat for months in the freezer. (See #3.) Products like oils can be cheaper in the long run if you buy larger portions up front. You can also buy stuff like oils and supplements online, often with free shipping if you have Amazon Prime! Amazon also has a “Subscribe and Save” option for slightly cheaper grocery-type items.

3. Shop, Frozen-Style!

Frozen meat and veggies can save you lots of $. Just make sure you check the ingredients for additives. Unlike canned vegetables, which often lose some of their nutrients in the canning process, frozen vegetables can, ironically, be quite “fresh.” They can even be “fresher” than fresh vegetables, since they’re frozen at their peak nutritional state (in theory), while the later are typically picked prematurely to allow ripening time in transport. Actual fresh vegetables are also more prone to spoilage.

Here are some applicable meat storage times:
Poultry, raw: 2 days fridge, 9 months freezer
Poultry, cooked: 4 days fridge, 4 months freezer
Beef, raw: 5 days fridge, 12 months freezer
Beef, cooked: 4 days fridge, 3 months freezer
Meat, ground: 2 days fridge, 4 months freezer
Fish, fresh: 1 day fridge, 8 months freezer
Fish, cooked: N/A fridge, 3 months freezer

4. Canned Foods
While not ideal because of potential metal toxicity, you can always stock up on canned meats and vegetables, at least in the initial transition when you’re trying to breakup with packaged foods. I find this particularly helpful with fish like salmon and tuna.

5. Use Oils
Oils provide a lot of bang for their buck, calorie wise. Think about how much energy is stored in a single jar of coconut or olive oil! You can easily make meals more tasty and satiating by adding oils to your meats and salads.

6. Use Spices
Spices are cheap and nutritious, letting you easily prepare one type of meat or veggie many different ways, especially when used in junction with oils. Many spices also boast different health benefits. Turmeric, for example, is a wonder spice with anti-inflammatory properties, as is ginger, which aids digestion.

7. Broaden Your Horizons
• When you go Paleo, you’ll soon find you may like different cuts and types of meat than before. You don’t have to stick to sirloins and chicken! Your taste buds really do change. It’s weird. You used to be a lean filet mignon type of person, and all of a sudden you’re like GIVE ME GRISTLE. Consider buying whatever cut of meat is on sale that week – you’ll quickly expand your palate, and save money. Even tougher cuts of meat, like flank, shank, and oxtail, can be tasty (and a crockpot can do wonders!) I love perusing the meat section, and picking out whatever I’m feeling at the moment.

• Consider other types of meat, such as lamb or bison. Lamb tends to be automatically grass-fed, which is nice. And nothing beats a nice buffalo steak every now and then.

• Organ meats such as liver are amazing for you, if you develop a taste for them! (However, since the liver stores both nutrients AND potential toxins, favor grass fed in this instance.) And OH HEY BONE MARROW! It’s the most luscious, buttery tasting goodness brimming with nutrients galore! One of my favorite things is using a spoon and just scooping out some marrow from the bone in a beef shank. Yummmm…….. (says the girl who used to gag at the sight of some extra beef fat.)

• Think unconventionally when it comes to meals. Who says breakfast has to be pancakes? You can totally do meat and veggies for breakfast, or even dinner leftovers! I cannot tell you how many steak and egg fests I’ve had circa 11pm.

8. Choose Stores Wisely
When it comes to Paleo, I like more “natural” stores because they typically have more choices. I also feel more “at home” and less weird about my cart contents at such locales.  Like I can fill the cart with a million steaks and cucumbers, and no one bats an eye.

$ Trader Joe’s  features natural products at awesome prices. People who work there are also chill as well – no pretentiousness. {Cough} Whole Foods {Cough}

$ Fresh & Easy is fresh yet cheap, thanks to reduced staff from self-checkouts, and produce and meats with more pressing expiration dates.

$$ Local, Mass Chains. Of course you can still shop Paleo at your local Kroger, Ralphs, Publix, or other large chain. Just be careful and read labels. Thankfully, even these stores are beginning to embrace the whole foods trend, featuring increasingly more Paleo-friendly “natural” and gluten-free foods. (Although be warned, “natural” is often a farce to just get your money. Check out Food Label Guide for more on that!)

$$$ Whole Foods basically has every Paleo item you could want (Oh hey 10 different types of raw sauerkraut!), but it can be a bit on the pricey side. Its supplement section is outstanding, however, and they also take returns on opened items! I feel like I take advantage of this a bit too much now, given how supplement obsessed I am. In fact… confession. I’ve started driving to different Whole Foods to return supplements, because I’m worried they’re gonna be like “Umm….no. You’ve reached your return limit.” (I do keep way more than I return – I just love trying supplements out for test runs before committing!)

Erewhon$$$$ Erewhon: Ok, so Erewhon is like the GOD of the health supermarket world. If people want proof that food, more than anything else, determines health and beauty, they need only step in Erewhon. Like 93% of the people who walk around this store are just… beautiful. Not in a dolled-up perfection way, but in a raw, glow type of way. This might be the best place to find a date. Now I’m on a tangent. In any case, they have everything you could want organic, with an amazing supplement section. They also sell Dave Asprey’s bulletproof products. They retweeted me on twitter one time… and I about died. So if you live in LA, check out Erewhon. And if you’re like me, put it on your goal list for “where I will only shop once I actually have money.” Since shopping there could break the bank. (Oh hey salmon that’s like $30 a pound. I’m only slightly exaggerating.)

9. Farmers Markets
You can get some pretty amazing, fresh food for good prices at local farmers markets! Don’t be scared to ask questions and barter. Consider going near the end of the day, when the farmers may be more inclined to lower prices. See the outing as a fun adventure with friends, rather than a grocery shopping trip!

10. Choose Organic Wisely
Don’t stress too much about the whole organic/grass-fed thing at the beginning. The simple switch to whole foods will be an amazing step towards health and vitality, even with conventional foods. And when you do embrace the organic route (Yey!), make smart choices.

For produce, the biggest concern is pesticides. Upgrade to organic for fruits and vegetables with a lot of edible surface area easily coated in toxins (such as leafy greens, apples, and strawberries). An avocado, for instance, probably doesn’t need to be organic since the edible portion is on the inside. Consult the Environmental Working Group for a list of produce pesticide rates. Even if you don’t intend on buying organic, still check the organic prices. They could be on sale. It happens!

For meat, toxins accumulate in fat, so favor organic and grass-fed with the fattier cuts. If you’re buying conventional chicken, consider buying it super lean, and then adding healthy fats like avocado, grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil. If you have to decide between investing in organic produce versus organic meat, choose the meat. It is the foundation of the diet, after all!


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