The Budget Series - Shop Around
Ancestral eating does not have to be a hassle and is NOT an all-or-nothing mandate. Ancestral-aligned foods are easily found in any grocery store, market or restaurant, if you know what to look for.
And these days, Internet resources are great for those traveling to remote areas or lacking local food options. Learning how to "shop ancestrally" can be a process of trial and error and searching for the right foods in the right places. Don't sweat the small stuff. Remember that you've made a decision that is going to alter your health in the short and long term. That's what counts!
If you haven't heard me say it before, I'll say it now: Track your dietary progress with a food, exercise, and stress-management journal! This includes noting where you've found great purchases and exceptional deals. You can find free digital ones online, or do what I do and use a composition book or cute journal to jot things down.
This really can be a fun & relaxed process. To quote the Primal Health Coach Institute (of which I'm a part): "The primary reason for switching to a primal [ancestral] diet should be enjoyment - foods that taste great, provide energy, optimize wellness, and alleviate the psychological stress of regimentation and deprivation that accompany many other diets."
ENJOY THE PROCESS & DON'T WORRY SO MUCH ABOUT THE OUTCOME!
This is key. If you spend too much time worrying about the outcome of all your efforts, you're going to totally miss the gems that appear in the process - the people you meet, amazing gustatory experiences, and the subtle (& not-so-subtle) changes your body and mind go through.
So, let's dive in!
Step 3 - Shop Around
I've been known to hit three or four different grocery stores in a week depending on the sales I find. This may sound unreasonable for some of you but hear me out for a minute, it doesn't have to be complicated.
As I stated in my last post, there was a season where I was working two jobs, juggling four kids, AND trying to get my coaching business afloat! But it was still a priority for me to get healthy, nutritious (Ancestral) meals on the table despite my time constraints.
Though there were times that I compromised and went for convenience (and a bigger bill) over my ideal, for the most part I stuck with my plan. Let me show you how this can be done without losing your mind in the process!
Know Your Stores
Get to know the stores around you if you haven’t already, or branch out to some stores that you don’t normally use. Grab their sales flyers OR look them up online and sign up for their newsletters.
I get at least two emails a week from my favorite stores and I jot down the sales on the items I need or want and when the best day & time is for me to get over there and get them. If I know I'll be in that area at a certain time, I block in 15 minutes or so to pop in and get my deals (P.S. Keep a cooler or cooler bags in your car at all times!)
I know that Natural Grocers (a local health food store that generally has higher prices) always has meat in their clearance freezer and, oftentimes, many other items I use regularly. So, I plan on going there once a week or every other week, depending on how much I find, to stock up. They also have great sales on their pastured & organic eggs, so I’ll stock up on those too and make an extra batch of hard-boiled eggs for snacks and lunches.
I also shop regularly at Aldi, a store known for their low prices AND which now offers a great selection of organic, non-GMO, & other healthy foods like avocado & organic coconut oil, to name a few!
My local store across the street and a Ma-&-Pop grocery store down the road both have great deals on local produce and marked down meats. So, I keep an eye on their newsletters and store shelves when I’m in there picking up an item.
Basically, I try to build my meal plan for the week around the deals that I find. If I can’t find great deals, I just choose a couple proteins and a few veggies to focus on for the week.
Also, check around local farms for CSA programs or COOPs, which offer local & seasonal produce for a discount price. Farmers’ Markets are great as well! Seasonal produce is always cheaper & better tasting than what you’ll find at most stores.
I buy my eggs from a local farmer who sells them at $3 a pop! That’s an amazing price for pasture-raised eggs! In the past, I have also found a friend (or two) who want to go in together to purchase a whole cow. It’s a great way to get some local, grass-fed meat for an amazing price! (I’m in Oklahoma where there are tons of pasture-raised, grass-fed cattle.)
Go For 80/20!
In the end, don’t sweat the small stuff! Stress is not what we want when we’re trying to heal our bodies and our minds with wholesome foods. Just do the best you can with the time and resources you have!
Stick with the 80/20 rule. Strive for good, solid food choices 80% of the time, and cut yourself some slack if you can’t do any more than that. We are human after all, and there should always be some margin & grace for error.
HOWEVER, DON'T GET STUCK IN THE 20%!!!!! Get up the next day and return to your healthier choices. Don't lose your momentum! Find a friend (or health coach, wink wink) to cheer you on and hold you accountable.
Now, if you’re the type of person that can go for more than 80% without added stress and anxiety, than go for it! Just be willing to accept the days that you don’t get everything “right”, okay?
In the end, if you hit 80%, you’re likely better off than you were AND you’re still getting 80% of the benefit, right? Get past the mentality that just because you can’t maintain perfection 90-100% of the time you’ve failed. You absolutely haven’t!!! You’ve reaped the amazing benefits of your 80%! Make sense?
Finally, if money is still an issue after you have pared down your unnecessary food items, shopped for sales, and simplified your meals – don’t give up!!! Great benefits can still be had by eating real foods.
Sometimes eating 100% (or even 80%) grass-fed meats, pastured chickens & eggs, and organic everything isn’t always realistic. Shoot for the ideal, but just do the best you can.
Choose water, herbal tea & coffee over sugary, artificially flavored beverages – Win! Choose fresh meat over processed - Win! Choose regular eggs over a McDonald’s egg biscuit – Win! Choose whatever fruits and veggies you can afford over packaged snacks – Huge Win!
Do you see my point? You can always make a better choice! It will take some planning and effort on the forefront, but once it’s second nature to you, it really won’t be as big of a sacrifice.
Life ebbs & flows, my friends, and that’s okay. Choose to keep going, even if you run into a hitch. Tomorrow is always a new day!
Be on the lookout for my next post which will break down how to shop the Spectrum of Best to Worst Foods. This will basically help you to make informed choices when you’re shopping and to know which foods you can get away with buying the less-than-ideal choice and which you should really try to avoid.
As always, I love hearing from you and wish you the best in your life journeys! Contact me if you ever need some guidance along the way.