1. Freeze what you can
Our local Aldi store produces a “Super 6” list every week of fruits and vegetables that are reduced to 49 cent. We try to stock up as much as possible especially on anything non-perishable. There is currently six months’ supply of cooked beetroot in the pantry! Just be aware that for a lot of vegetables, you need to blanch them before freezing. With almost all fruits and vegetables, I freeze them first in slices/cubes on a tray lined with parchment paper for a minimum of two hours. They can then be transferred to a freezer-safe container and they won’t all lump together. You’ll be surprised what you can freeze, believe me!
2. Make a plan for the week
If you can roughly plan ahead the meals for the week, it will lead to a lot less food waste. It might be a bit extra work at the time but saves a lot of hassle later. It can be tempting to pick up all sorts of tempting goodies at the supermarket but remember my motto: It’s only a bargain if you need it!
3. Buy online
When I first started the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), I was blown away by how expensive some of the ingredients were especially: almond flour. Initially, I used to get my poor husband to drive me to the wholesale health food store about 40 minutes drive away to buy blanched organic almonds so that I could grind my own. Even at the wholesalers, I found it to be ridiculously expensive so I began my search online. I now buy my almond flour already ground from this site: Natural Choice and I am really happy with the product and service. I usually order 3 bags. I keep one in the fridge and two in the freezer. It is so handy to have the almonds ground already so you can bake whenever you like.
4. Bring your own
There is nothing worse than spending a fortune on a salad somewhere only to find that you have to pick half of the ingredients out because you can’t eat them. I invested in some good quality, glass lunchboxes so that I can bring my own salads with me wherever I go. Don’t forget to bring your own salad dressing as you are highly unlikely to find an SCD-legal one unless it’s just extra virgin olive oil. You can also batch bake some healthy snacks with almond flour will save you time and money. Check out my recipes for almond flour flapjacks or my frozen date bliss balls. If I am meeting a friend for coffee I nearly always have a homemade treat with me.
5. Buy in bulk
Sometimes you just don’t have time for baking so keep a look out for offers on healthy snacks you can eat at your local health stores. Holland and Barrett, a chain of health stores in the UK and Ireland, often run a buy one get one free offers which extends to all of their products. They stock bars such as “Nak’d” and “Primal Pantry” which have some SCD-legal flavours. Just remember to check the ingredients carefully. My local supermarket recently did a promotion on “Mutti” tinned tomatoes. They were reduced to 1 euro so I bought them all! They are the only brand I buy because I have verified with the company that there is no sugar added. When non-perishable produce is on sale that you know you will use, my advice is to stock up!
6. Carefully select what you buy organic and what you don’t
In an ideal world we would all buy organic, all of the time. Unfortunately sometimes the cost of organic produce for a family can be just too expensive. I use the EWG’s Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen’s lists to decide which fruits and vegetables I buy organic and which I buy conventional. The Clean Fifteen shows the top fruits and vegetables which are low on pesticide list. Examples of produce that it’s ok to buy non-organic include: avocados, onions, asparagus and mangoes. The Dirty Dozen then shows the top 12 foods that we should aim to buy organic as they rate high when tested for pesticides. Examples include: strawberries, apples, celery, tomatoes and peppers. You can check the list for yourself here
7. If you have some land, use it!
We grow our own herbs and some vegetables. We also keep lambs during the winter months and this meat keeps us going for 6-8 months. You’d be surprised how much money this can save you over the course of a year. You don’t even really need much space to grow fresh herbs. A sunny window-ledge, plenty of watering and some TLC will do!
8. Sign up to newsletters
I am signed up to online newsletters for all my local health stores as that’s the best way to hear about their offers. I always take advantage of half price sales of coconut oil, nut flours, local honey and dairy free ice-creams.
9. Be a more savvy cook!
I won’t buy non-free range poultry but when the budget is tight I’ll buy cheaper cuts of meat. The local supermarket often have offers on free-range chicken wings or legs. With the right sauce or recipe, they can taste even better than chicken breasts. If you do use chicken breasts, you should butterfly them as this way the meat goes a lot further. When we first got married my husband used to eat two chicken breasts in a meal but since I started butterflying them, one is plenty!
10. Have meat free days altogether
Not only will a couple of meat-free days a week be good for your digestive system but it will also benefit your wallet. We aim to have at least two meat-free days a week in our house when we fill up on delicious vegetables. A firm favourite is my Courgette with Walnut Basil Pesto!
Starting the SCD or eating Paleo can seem really expensive at first. After a while however, you begin to see that you are saving money in some ways. As you cut out all convenience food, sometimes the shopping bill can be even lower and I find that I definitely eat out less. It’s easier and often tastier, to bring my own. One thing is for certain though: this may be an expensive way to eat overall but it’s impossible to put a price on good health.