the grain-free kitchen and pantry

navigating a new lifestyle
If you’re new to grain-free, get ready to completely overhaul your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Save your all-purpose flour for making play dough and your white sugar for plant food, because they will no longer be of any other use to you. Instead, you will be stocking up on protein-rich almond flour, fiber-rich coconut flour, and immune-boosting honey.

The cost of grain-free ingredients may not be a pleasant surprise if you’re just starting out. It is unfortunate that real foods are more expensive than the processed and factory-farmed alternatives, but there’s nothing more valuable than your health. Here are a few tips to make your dollar go further.

shop in bulk and online when possible
If you have the space to store excess goods, be it in the garage or an additional closet, buy in bulk. Ingredients like almond flour, coconut milk, coconut flour, and nuts can be found cheaper online, especially when purchased in large quantities. Store half in the freezer or go in on a large order with friends. A lot of sites also offer promotions like discounts or free shipping. Keep an eye out for them, and stock up when you see one.

buy local
How my food is grown and where it comes from is important to me. Fresh and organic produce is not only better for our bodies and the environment, but it also amplifies the flavors of a finished dish. I prefer to use fresh citrus juices and will always choose fresh herbs over dried if the season is right. In fact, if you have the space, planting an herb garden is an inexpensive way to ensure fresh, organic herbs whenever you need them.

Farmers’ markets are a great place to purchase local produce, pastured-raised meats, and eggs for many reasons. The produce at these markets is left in the field until it reaches maximum ripeness, then picked at its peak nutrient and flavor state and transported directly to the stands. Most foods in supermarkets are picked when they are under-ripe, travel an average of 1,500 miles, and are then sprayed with gasses to expedite ripening before being placed on the store shelves.

Aside from avoiding chemicals and pesticides, purchasing directly from your local farmers is a great way to give back to your community. Most local farmers are trying to make a living from their crops, and receive a much better return selling it directly than if they were to try to compete with the big-business agriculture monopolies. Because of this, they price their goods closer to wholesale cost. For even deeper discounts, try hitting your market at the end of the day and asking for discounts on mildly bruised or slightly damaged fruits and vegetables. These minimal blemishes will make them look less appealing, but ultimately don’t change the quality of the food. The vendor’s goal is to sell all of their goods that day and would prefer to not have to pack up or waste any, so they may oblige.

is the paleo diet healthy??

pick and choose
I believe that purchasing grass-fed meat and organic produce is essential, but I know it can add up. To save money on produce, follow the “dirty dozen” rule, always buying organic for the 12 fruits and vegetables that are on the left side of the chart. You can offset the overall cost by occasionally buying conventionally-grown produce as long as it is one that is listed as a lower pesticide food on the right side of the chart.

When it comes to meat, avoid purchasing precut pieces if you can. A beef or pork roast will be cheaper than a steak because butchers charge for the labor of slicing and trimming. Cook the whole roast and then slice it, or learn how to butcher your meat online. Purchasing whole animals is always the most economical choice, but most of us do not have the storage space, let alone the know-how, for this. If grass-fed is important to you, but is out of your budget, go for inexpensive cuts of meat. The more expensive cuts tend to be naturally tender and cook quickly.

with little preparation, but you can purchase less-expensive cuts such as chuck roasts or shanks that still make an exquisite meal. This is especially true if you marinate, braise, or slow cook the meat to tenderize it.

If that is daunting, buying an entire chicken and dividing it up at home is much less intimidating than dealing with an entire cow. Many butchers will segment it for you if asked but will generally not skin or bone it for you. You can learn to do this yourself fairly easily, or opt to work with the whole chicken for better flavor. The feet, head, and neck can be used to make a nutrient-dense bone broth or stock so no part goes unused.

Keep your eyes peeled for sales and stock up when you can. If properly packaged, most meat can be frozen for a year.