Believe it or not, you can actually save money living the Wheat Belly lifestyle.
No question: The conversion of grain-filled cupboards and refrigerators to grain-free involves an upfront cost. Tossing out breads, rolls, bagels, pasta, frozen dinners, etc. and replacing them with meats, fish, poultry, eggs, olive oil, vegetables, nuts—real foods—will cost money. It is a crucial investment in your future health and the health of your family.
But what about long-term costs? Some people balk at the prospect of following a grain-free lifestyle because they’re concerned that the increased reliance on unprocessed foods, pasture-fed meats, and organic vegetables will break their grocery budget. They worry about how costly a life without inexpensive, processed, convenience foods with cheap grain fillers like wheat flour and cornstarch will be.
There are a number of strategies that you can use to keep a lid on costs as you make your new food choices. Incorporating just a few of these can maintain your budget or even save you money.
1. Make your own snacks
Make your own healthy snacks such as grain-free cookies, scones, muffins, grainless granola, or Fat Blasters. (See the recipes in this Wheat Belly Blog or the Wheat Belly cookbooks.) The ingredients such as almond flour and natural sweeteners are more costly, but you will discover that it takes very little to be satisfied. Nobody here is going to eat an entire bag of chips or cookies as they did in past, but be satisfied with one or two grain-free chocolate chip cookies or a single blueberry muffin. With the reduced appetite typical on the Wheat Belly lifestyle, one or two Fat Blasters will often suffice for lunch, or a minute-muffin made in a mug will keep you full for many hours.
2. Cultivate your own herbs
Grow your own herbs such as basil, oregano, and rosemary. If you don’t have the luxury of an outdoor garden, grow herbs indoors in a pot you keep, for instance, on your windowsill. You will no longer have to pay for a few fresh leaves of basil or parsley, but can simply pull a few off your own plant that will regrow in just a few days. Dry what you don’t use for future use and save yourself a bundle.
3. Grow your own vegetables and fruits
You don’t need a big, fancy garden, just a simple 5’ x 5’ plot, fertilized with coffee grounds and composted organic materials. Never gardened before? Choose the vegetables that are easiest to grow, such as: cucumbers, zucchini, and squash, and save your seeds for the next year. Berry bushes yield a bounty of blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries. Fruit trees like apple and pear will yield fruit for years.
4. Preserve what is left
If you find yourself left with more produce than you can consume, freeze, can, or ferment the excess. Wheat Belly Total Health, Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox, and the Undoctored book all have starting guides on how to ferment foods. You will also provide you and your family with an important source of probiotic microorganisms.
5. Eat fatty or less costly cuts of meat
We embrace fat: It is essential for life and is good for health. It is also satiating. Buy fatty cuts of meat, such as chuck, rib eye, tongue, and fatty ground meat. Round, brisket, and shank, while not rich in fat, tend to be less costly cuts. If the cuts you choose are tough, don’t worry: pound them with a meat mallet before cooking or use a slow cooker.
6. Save oils
Save fats like bacon grease in a glass jar and set them aside to cool, stored in the refrigerator. Use the saved fats as your cooking oil, which is healthier and cheaper than buying bottles of polyunsaturated oils. When sautéing ground beef or pork or other meats, never discard the oil but leave them in your dish, as they are wonderfully satiating.
7. Eat more eggs
Eggs are a great source of protein, fat, and nutrients like vitamins A, D, and B12. Combine them with vegetables, butter and oils, olives, herbs, and other ingredients to make wonderful frittatas or grain-free quiches that can be exceptionally low-cost breakfasts or even dinners.
8. Dehydrate foods
This is one of my favorite strategies. It allows you to dehydrate leftover meats, vegetables, herbs, and fruits to convert them into delicious snacks. Spice your up meats and vegetables with turmeric, ground red pepper, sea salt, and other spices prior to dehydrating. A dehydrating device can be purchased for as little as $30 to $40 and will pay for itself after just a few uses.
9. Shop directly from the source
Purchase vegetables from your local farm or farmers’ market. Subscribe to a community supported agriculture (CSA) for vegetables, eggs, and meats. By eliminating the middleman and avoiding markups at high-end stores, you will shave off unnecessary added costs.
10. Practice intermittent fasting
There are numerous variations on intermittent fasting such as time-restricted eating times (e.g., eat within an 8-hour window every day), fast every other day, or more extended fasts such as a 24- or 48-hour fasts every week or so. Whatever the pattern, you will be surprised at how much time and money are not spent by fasting.
Throw into this mix the reduction in appetite that people experience with the Wheat Belly lifestyle. Minus gliadin-derived opioid peptides, calorie intake drops effortlessly by 400, 800, even 1500 calories per person per day. Let’s say your family of four all engage in this lifestyle and each experience a modest 400 calorie reduction; that translates to 1600 fewer calories per day, 48,000 calories per month that you don’t have to shop for—a huge cost savings. This is the primary reason why, even though you may be buying higher-quality foods, your grocery budget is typically no greater, often less, than your grain-consuming days. Add a few of these additional cost-saving maneuvers and you should not be spending any more than before. And think of all the money you save by not having to go to the doctor for acid reflux or skin rashes, not having to take prescription medications for grain-related health conditions, or not requiring injections for type 2 diabetes.