Whole30 is amazing. A super easy and rewarding journey filled with absolutely delicious food that you'd be happy to eat for the rest of your life.
It's really a time consuming, difficult monster that will take over your life and kitchen (and keep it in such a state of towering dirty dishes and pots, you will contemplate burning the whole thing down and moving to a different state). And that's not even counting the cost which can be enormous if you're not expecting it.
But after five (or six?) times, you start to come up with strategies. So here is the ultimate way to do whole thirty on a budget (at least in my experience), when the desire to do whole thirty is tempered by your lack of money. If you're trying to do the most inexpensive Whole30, this is the secret:
Don't be picky.
For real though, in this day and age, you can find inexpensive, cheap food for whole30 but it requires reversing the order you do things.
i.e you type in "Whole30" on Pinterest and get hundreds of pictures of beautiful, mouth-watering dishes. If you join any groups or follow any whole30'ers on Instagram you see platefuls and recipes for delicious foods.
And maybe they work for those people without spending too much money, but in order to do Whole30 cheaply, you have to completely reverse your thinking. Instead of picking what you want to eat and making a grocery list, you buy 1. Meat, 2. Veggies, 3. Fat that can be procured on sale and inexpensively.
What this might look like for a family (scale up or down accordingly)
40 lbs of chicken. $50 (business center Costco or online co-op or restaurant supply)
16 lbs Beef brisket or roast $40 (same as above)
16 lbs Pork Shoulder $16 (any store should have some cut of pork on sale for around .99/lb
4 lbs Applewood sausage $12 (Walmart)
4lbs Bacon (as healthy as you can buy...ignore the sugar if you need to) $12
10 dozen eggs $14 (Costco or Walmart currently)
24 cans coconut milk $25 (Costco or ethnic grocery store)
6 lbs frozen berries $20
6 heads of Romaine $3
20lb bag Carrots $5
50 lb bag sweet potatoes $14
7lbs frozen broccoli $8
5 butternut squash $5 (99 Cent store)
25lbs onions $4 (Costco)
Coconut oil $10 (Walmart)
Total $220 per month
That's $55 for one person per month, not week.
Cook up massive amounts of meat at once, and steam/saute/roast veggies on Sunday night if you are able. Then every night, figure out what veggie and protein you're having the next day. Sample: Squash and sausage for breakfast, broccoli, and chicken for dinner, sweet potato and roast for dinner. Simple, but effective.
You can totally eat delicious, nutritious, flavorful food that gives you an adequate amount of calories for a month with the above menu. But most people have a little more money than that...even most food stamp programs will give you $50/week per person. So fill in the edges with whatever is on sale...
Often give you the most bang for your buck as far as expanding the things you can cook.
Avocados, homemade mayo, ghee, nuts, coconut aminos, fancy oils etc are things that DO NOT give you the most bang for your buck. And while they're nice, they're also expensive and unnecessary even though they're super popular in the Whole30 world. If you really are trying to do Whole 30 on a budget, google recipes based on what ingredients you have vs just browsing, because you'll get depressed at all the super expensive food everyone else is eating.
I firmly believe anyone can afford Whole30, but you have to have a mindset of abundance. Imagine you are a wealthy medieval lord who is collecting rents from the peasants and there was a bumper crop of sweet potatoes and onions that year. Be amazed that you can have chicken and beef on the same day. Eat like royalty because it's 2017, don't feel sorry for yourself that everyone else is eating something different. In the grand scheme of the world, avocados aren't more important than coconuts, and the healthy fat from the later is cheaper. We're so sucked in by trends and doing what people around us are doing, we lose sight of the big picture which is this: There is an excess of food in the Northern Hemisphere. Find it, procure it, and eat it with a grateful attitude. Eat veggies and meat for breakfast (pretend some Viking ghost is looking down at you and nodding with satisfaction). Live above the fray.
And reap the benefits of sleeping better, having more energy, thinking more clearly and equalizing to a healthy weight. Even if you just do it once as an experiment, I think it's a bit like shaving your head or getting a tattoo (just the less permanent version). The whole world just looks sort of different. It shows you patterns in your body you may not have noticed before. And it builds healthy systems and habits.
Have fun and if you hate it, feel free to tell me so.
-If you're single or can't afford to buy in bulk like this plan requires, find a few friends who will do it too and split it with you.
-If you live in a big city, find the restaurant supply district and figure out how to get plugged in.
-If you don't have a Costco membership, find a friend who does or see above.
-This plan assumes you have a fully stocked spice cupboard, but if you don't... salt, garlic and fat cover a multitude of sins but I would recommend at least getting some vinegar (which thankfully is cheap).