Paleo Poor: Your guide to the grocery store

We’ve heard it a million times – how can I afford to eat like this?  (“Like this” meaning “Whole30®” or a general Paleo diet.)   We can’t argue the fact that it’s cheaper to eat a McDonald’s value meal than to craft your own healthy healthy dish by hand… but then again, diabetes medication is pretty expensive too.  We’re not here to argue for all of the reasons you should eat better.  If you’re reading our site, you already know that, and are trying to do something about it.  We’re also not going to get on one of our favorite soapboxes, called, “You just spent $5 on a latte, and that’s not even food.”   Ultimately, it all comes down to making healthy eating a top financial priority, but there are plenty of ways you can make your current food budget work a little harder.

Whole9’s Guide to the Gro-Sto

For those of you who are on a budget (all of us), and trying to eat better (all of you reading), let’s talk about some really specific strategies for making your healthy eating dollar stretch just a bit further.  No, we’re not just going to say, “Buy on sale, buy in bulk!”  We’re about to walk you through our specific grocery store strategy – what we do, step by step, every time we hit the Whole Foods, Liberty Heights market or our local downtown Farmer’s Market. Because while we make food our top financial priority, right behind rent and electricity… we aren’t made of money either, and need to make our Paleo pennies work as hard as possible.  One caveat, however.  If you are truly committed to eating as healthy as possible, you may have to sacrifice some of your selfish food desires. I may want grapes in March, but at $8 a pound (and coming all the way from Chile), I just can’t afford them.  The same goes for any of your food choices – we’re going to encourage you to buy for quality first and foremost, even if you have to compromise on taste and preference.

Stop One:  Meat, Fish and Eggs

The first thing we do – and where the majority of your food budget should be spent – is on high quality animal protein sources, so head straight to the meat section (and check our still-evolving Conscientious Omnivore series for tips on buying high quality protein).   Dollar for dollar, your health-money works hardest when you buy grass-fed or pastured and organic meat as often as possible. If there’s no grass-fed ground beef, but you’ve got grass-fed lamb available, buy it and find a recipe later.  If there’s plenty of pastured chicken but no beef or pork, plan on eating chicken all week.  If there’s nothing fresh in your local food market, ask for frozen – often, that’s where you’ll find the largest supply of high quality, locally farmed meat. And if you’ve got a few extra bucks this week, buy more and freeze it for later.

If you simply can’t afford “best choice” meat, then follow this strategy. First, stick to meat from ruminants (beef, lamb, elk, bison/buffalo, goat or venison), as they tend to have access to their natural diets for at least a portion of their lives, and have a better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio than either chicken or pork.  Second, buy the leanest cuts available, and trim or drain all visible fat before eating.  Our main concern with lower quality meat comes from the unhealthy things (antibiotics, hormones, environmental toxins and pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids) that “live” in the fat content.  Omit most of the fat and you mitigate some of those concerns.  Third, consume chicken only without the skin, for the same reason.  And finally, avoid ALL pork products, as commercially raised pork has the worst N6:N3 ratio of any animal protein source.  (And yes, that means no bacon.  Since when is bacon health food, anyway?)

Head to the fish counter next.  Despite the common mantra, “wild-caught” is NOT always a good option, so read our Conscientious Omnivore seafood post, and use our guide to help you make the best fish and shellfish choices. Some “best choices” are expensive (like wild-caught Pacific halibut, which usually runs upwards of $20 a pound).  Skip it and find a less expensive but similar substitute, like cod or  scallops.  Fish won’t keep for more than a day at home, so don’t over-buy here, unless you plan to freeze it for later.  And speaking of, frozen is often a good (and less expensive) option for fish and seafood.  We buy flash-frozen sea scallops for $16 a pound, compared to $20 a pound fresh.

Make one last stop at the dairy case for pastured, organic eggs.  (See our Conscientious Omnivore:  Eggs post for more guidelines.)   They’re more expensive than their “cage free” counterparts, but where else can you get four meals’  worth of protein for just $5?  Stock up and start loving eggs, because these are one of the cheapest high quality protein sources available.

Stop Two:  Produce

Now that you’ve got your protein in order, your next priorities are vegetables and fruit… in that order.  Shop with the understanding that we’d much rather you put your money into “clean” protein sources than  organic fruits and vegetables.  While pesticides aren’t delicious, eating high quality meat, fish and eggs is far more important to your health.

On to the vegetables.  First, use our Seasonal Produce Guide to help you figure out what’s fresh (or close to it) this time of year.  These choices will be the most nutritious and the least expensive.  Next, review our bolded recommendations – you’ll get more nutrition for your dollar with things like kale, spinach and cauliflower.  Finally, determine whether you can – and should – go organic.  Use the “Clean” or “Dirty” designations in our Produce Guide to help you figure out when that’s important, and when it’s not.  (Note, there are more fruits than vegetables labeled as “dirty” – yet another reason to load up on greens.)

Your most nutritious, least expensive option?  A seasonal, clean, nutrient dense choice – but ultimately, we just want you to eat your veggies, any way you can afford them.  So if you’re strapped, don’t worry about organic or local – just buy as much of the dark, leafy stuff (think “nutrient density”) as you can afford and don’t waste money on the nutritionally-sparse veggies like celery, iceberg lettuce and cucumbers.  Frozen vegetables are also a good option, and tend to be cheaper.  There are nutritional up sides and down sides to buying frozen, but in our view, the tiny amounts of nutrients lost (or gained) isn’t worth the worry – if frozen is easier or less expensive, go for it.  You can also find some vegetables canned – things like pumpkin, butternut squash or sweet potato.  These are a cheap and easy source of post-workout carbs, just make sure the only ingredient is the vegetable itself.

As for fruit, that only gets a brief mention here.  If it’s summer, buy local, buy organic when you can, buy what’s on sale and enjoy!  If not, then it’s not in season and probably comes from a far-away place, which means it’s going to be expensive, not so fresh, and less than delicious.  If it’s in your budget, use the Seasonal Produce Guide to help you make good fruit choices off-season, but remember, vegetables are always your top priority.

Stop Three:  The fats

You’ve all been told to “shop the perimeter” and stay away from the aisles, but here’s where you’re going to find a lot of your healthy fat sources, so dive on in and ignore all the brightly colored boxes.  While adequate dietary fat is an important part of your healthy eating plan, fat can also be one of the more expensive items in the grocery stores – especially if you’re relying on the CrossFit dietary prescription of “nuts and seeds”.  (We’ve been explaining in workshops for the last year why those aren’t your best option for health – never mind the price!)  Here’s where you triage the rest of your money, and buy fat in the form you can afford with what’s left in your wallet. Luckily, some of your best sources are going to be the least expensive.

Coconut milk (even the organic stuff) is about $1.50 a can, and provides a full 72 grams of fat.  Cheap, delicious and at the top of our go-to list for fats, so stock up and shake well.  Next, check out the rest of the coconut products – coconut butter is going to be wickedly expensive, but shredded coconut (sulfite-free) is more reasonably priced per serving, and totally portable.  Don’t forget to check out the avocado in the produce section – they’re a year-round item, and not important to buy organic.  (Looking to mix up your avocado?  Skip the pre-made guac – pricey! – and make your own.)  Finally, canned olives (black or green) in water and salt are cheap, portable, don’t need to be refrigerated and a delicious source of fat.

If it’s in your budget, check out the nuts and seeds last, letting health and price be your determining factors.  (Refer to your Success Guide, Gym Guide or workshop materials for guidance here.)  You may want pecans, but if almonds are on sale, that’s what you buy.  (See the theme, here?)  Beware, as cheaper nuts will be roasted in low quality oil like soybean or peanut.  Those make you less healthy, so make sure you invest in raw or dry-roasted.  And the actual nuts are probably cheaper per serving – and more satiating – than their nut butter counterparts, so put the almond butter back on the shelf if you’re tight on cash.

Finally, got some extra money left over?  When you’re a little more flush (or find a good sale), stock up on things like cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), organic, pastured butter, and unrefined coconut oil.  These are all bigger ticket items, but will last you a few months and are all excellent fat sources.  And last but not least, consider slowly adding to your herb and spice collection, with either fresh or dried (depending on the season).  Seasonings can make chicken five nights a week taste exciting and different with each meal, and while they’re expensive, we’d spend an extra $5 not to be bored with our food.

The final bill

If you’ve shopped smart, you should have a cart full of things that maximize your health and minimize your expenses.  We certainly don’t expect everyone to always buy organic this or grass-fed that, but do the best you can, keeping these guidelines in mind.  Got a Paleo Poor tip for our readers?  Share it in comments.

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  1. J.Spice says

    Such a good post. I have so many women in my bootcamp class that say it’s too expensive to eat healthy with a family. I try to show them how to save, but this post will be the best answer for them. Thanks!

  2. says

    This is great and so helpful. Sometimes I get overwhelmed looking at “well, the chicken is pastured but the veggies are conventional and there’s no local fruit and blah!” I’m trying to stick to a $350 monthly budget for 2. We’ll see how that goes, I’ll report back. We have: Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wegman’s, Reading Terminal Market (a bunch of indoor farmstands, amazing) and several conventional grocery stores near us.

  3. Meg says

    Thanks for this article–you all consistently produce high quality informative pieces. Really appreciate it:) Very helpful in knowing how to prioritize our food budget. Last fall our family purchased a quarter cow directly from farm. We live far from the likes of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods–quality grocery store meat is extremely limited. It was great to be able to ask questions about where the meat came from. It was VERY affordable on a per/lb basis, and it (barely) fit in our freezer! Also, we prepared a ton a beef broth with the bones to freeze and rendered fat (grass-fed beef tallow) for cooking.

  4. Lynn says

    Trader Joe’s for meat, Kroger for the rest. Not damaging my budget at all. Thanks for the reminders!

  5. says

    Great post!

    Just be mindful of the BPA liners in some cans. Public pressure is persuading some manufactures to switch to safer liners, but check the label! My favorite coconut milk is still not in a BPA-free labeled can.

    I have found creamed coconut in a box, a concentrate to which you add water, to be a slightly cheaper alternative (and kosher, from “Let’s Do… Organic” ) It’s great for cooking but horribly crunchy for smoothies. I don’t know about the plastic wrap around this product, though.

    Some info:

    A guide to good cans:

  6. Ashley says

    I’ve found that I have saved hundreds on my grocery budget by getting my produce through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. You pay a flat fee in advance to get pick-ups of seasonal, local and often organic produce weekly or bi-weekly directly from the farm your program is through for the duration of the growing season. Some CSA programs even offer clean farm-raised meat options.

  7. says

    @Craig: Nope. High quality animal sources like meat, fish and eggs are your best (and healthiest) sources of dense protein. In general, the amount of usable protein in vegetables is minimal.



  8. Erin H says

    I printed the Whole9 Seasonal Produce Guide at about 1/8th the size, cut it out, folded it in half, and it fits perfectly in the credit card slots in my wallet. I can easily pull it out and reference it when I am at the grocery store.

  9. says

    I’m blessed with a lot of cabinet space, so if I see a good deal on stuff that’ll keep for awhile in the pantry, like sweet potatoes or butternut squash, I stock up! Also, I use for coconut oil; I can get two jars of Nutiva for $15, whereas I was paying $12 for one jar of the same stuff at the grocery store.

    I really liked this post; it’s definitely helpful to have tips on how to better prioritize the food funds!

    • Lisa says


      Great tip about the coconut oil! That’s going to save me some serious dollars since I use it so much.

  10. Barb says

    Thank you so much for this great post! I really, really appreciate the info about what to buy and do if you have to go the conventional route – i.e. the beef, drain the fat to eliminate more of the toxins etc. The subtle, nuanced tips you provide here are super helpful!!

  11. Justin S says

    What about buying the fattier cuts of high antibody free pork and chicken? I can get well raised chicken drumsticks (~2/lb) and ground pork (~3/lb) for a reasonable price. Whole fryer chickens are generally less expensive. To make your dollar go a little further you could make make stock from the chicken bones.

    Lard and tallow are also good options for fat. You can find the grassfed variety at US Wellness Meats. I didn’t see lard or tallow in the healthy fat section, did I miss it?

    I think bacon started being known as unhealthy right around the time thatTime magazine piece came out about cholesterol. Which is around the time that whole grains became healthy.

  12. Vitaly Sender says

    Just a question. I buy rendered duck fat (for cooking, I only put a small amount in the pan) from a poultry butcher at my local market. Animal fats aren’t mentioned in your Success Guide in the fats section, so I was wondering what your position is on them?

  13. says

    @Vitaly: We are okay with you cooking with animal fats (tallow or duck fat, specifically) if it comes from the highest quality source available – that means 100% grass-fed/pastured AND organically raised. We also cook with grass-fed, organic, clarified butter when we’re not doing the Whole30 – see our “Butter Manifesto” for more details.

    Hope that helps!


  14. Vitaly Sender says

    Thanks a lot for the advice! I’ll stay away from it for my Whole30 (I’ll stick to coconut and macadamia oil) and in the mean time I’ll ask the butcher how the fat is sourced. As for the clarified butter, you mentioned in your post that ghee and clarified butter aren’t the same. I’ve got some ghee (bought from an Asian grocer) at home, is that alright for Whole9 (not Whole30) cooking?

  15. Susan R says

    I just found your site today and this article is great. I plan on using some of it to continue my educating of my 20 y.o. g/daughter. :)

    I, too, am interested in the ghee question regarding buying it at an Asian grocer.

  16. says

    @Vitaly/Susan: Ghee is just clarified butter that’s been browned, giving it a bit of a nuttier flavor and taste. As long as it’s coming from a high quality source – again, pastured and organic is your best option – then just like clarified butter, it’s A-OK for cooking when you’re not on a Whole30.



  17. Teresa Woods says

    how doe the whole 30 work for a vegetarian seems I’ll be so restricted


  18. Becky says

    If big bottles of herbs are too expensive, find the bulk section and fill up some little packets of lots of stuff. Every time I “stock up” I get about 10 kinds and usually end up paying less than $5 or $6 for the total. This way you don’t have big bottles of oregano losing freshness in your cabinet, either. My mom still has bottles of herbs from the 70s, I swear.

    Or find good spice blends that you know you’ll put on everything, and buy the whole canister. Italian blends are not bad.

  19. Katy says

    Hi, I have a questions about organic eggs. We raise our own chickens. Our chickens are cage free and chemical free (we have never medicated any of our chickens and never even had a sick one in the flock) but our feed is not organic. It is however all natural (loaded term, I realize). Meaning, I can read and understand EVERY ingredient on the list. There is nothing but grain in our feed. Our chickens are also busy eating bugs and grubs throughout the day. We don’t use any chemicals anywhere on our property so the bugs and grubs are definitely clean. Is this enough, or should we be worried about more organic grain? We have 5 kids and two grandparents living with us so we easily go thru 18 eggs each day.

    Second question is this, and I have a feeling I’ll know the answer but I thought I’d shoot it out there anyway. We have our own pasture raised beef AND our own pasture raised raw milk. I give kiddos raw milk every day and raw colostrum when we have it. We grow our family thru adoption and some of our kids have come to us from Africa, others from foster care. They have all had rough starts to life with pretty terrible nutrition. I have always thought I was doing their bodies good, and aiding in healing w/ the raw milk. We are trying, as a family, to live a paleo lifestyle but I am the only one willing to lose the milk. Should I nix the milk for the kiddos and encourage the adults to go dairy free as well?

  20. says

    Katy: So, let’s recap. You raise your own chicken. They aren’t caged, they eat bugs/grubs/actual chicken food on a daily basis, and they are 100% chemical free. And you want to know if you should be doing even better? Trust me, what you are doing is JUST FINE. Better than fine, in fact. I applaud your attention to detail and drive to feed your family as healthfully as possible – what a wonderful example your children are getting!

    As for the milk issue, while the KIND of milk (raw, organic, pastured) is about as healthy as cow’s milk gets, we do feel that cow’s milk isn’t the best source of protein, fat and carbohydrates for children or adults. Of course, that’s an often debated view in the Paleo-sphere, but we think the potential down sides of consuming lactose, casein, whey and the related growth and immune factors outweigh any up sides – even if the milk is coming from a high quality source like yours.

    One way to know how dairy may be affecting your kids – things like allergies, asthma, skin conditions, tummy issues, etc – is to remove it for a full 30 days, then reintroduce it an pay attention to how they look, feel and “perform” (as kids). You may find they feel better without it – or you may find they can tolerate small amounts fairly well, in which case you have to make the decision about whether you think it’s still a healthy thing to add to their diets.

    Hope that helps!


  21. rachel says

    Just wanted to add that you can often find grass-fed beef or pastured poultry for much cheaper directly through a local farm than grocery store prices. We stock up each year on a quarter of a grass-fed cow directly through a local farm and only pay $3.25/pound for everything from ground beef to tenderloin steaks. You can find a local farm through

  22. scott says


    One question that I can’t answer when others ask is why coconut milk is good for paleo. I have switched to using it instead of milk for smoothies and really enjoy it, but given that its high in saturated fat instead of monounsaturated (which the oils, nuts, and avocado have) what are the benefits of it? Also, is the full fat or light version better? Thanks!

  23. says


    Saturated fat is not the enemy! The medical research community has been reporting the lack of causation between dietary intake of saturated fat and cholesterol with heart attack and stroke for years now – the American public just hasn’t caught up. (See this meta-study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition for just one example:

    Coconut is this really cool form of saturated fat called a medium-chain triglyceride (often abbreviated as “MCT”). They’re shorter chain fats that are easily broken down and digested in the body – which means they’re easy on the gut, a primary factor in those recovering from damage caused by grains, dairy or other inflammatory substances in the foods we eat.. Because of their structure, they’re also more readily available as energy compared to other sources of fats.

    Finally, saturated fat from low quality (factory farmed) animal products comes with its own host of unhealthy downsides, because of the ways the animals were raised and the foods and additives they were fed. As coconut doesn’t come from an animal, however, we don’t have to worry about those potentially unhealthy factors making its way into the fat.

    Buy the full-fat version of coconut milk, as the “light” is just watered down. (You could do that yourself at home, if you like.) And make sure your coconut milk doesn’t contain any unhealthy ingredients like sulfites – the only things on the label should be coconut, water and (optionally) guar gum.



  24. Nick says

    Great post thanks for the tips.

    So I started the whole30 today and I’m wondering about a few things.

    Can I use a little garlic salt on my food?

    How about juicing fruits and veggies?

  25. Adrien says

    I am not too keen on eating foods from cans. I have done some moderate research on the BPA concerns and the FDA is spending millions to investigate whether BPA poses health concerns. Since this amount of money is being spent it warrants enough concern for me to avoid it if possible. I, for one, do not feel comfortable eating from cans. In some parts of the world the use of BPA is legally prohibited. Basically there is concern that that BPA found in the coatings of cans cause endocrine disruption. Hormones such as insulin, male and female sex hormones may be altered from BPA exposure.

    Lastly, if people are not recycling used cans properly they cause a pretty hefty toll on the environment.

  26. says


    Garlic salt is okay, but check your ingredient for preservatives like sulfites. Silicon dioxide is fine, BTW. Juicing veggies and fruit strips away most of the valuable micronutrients and fiber. Eat the real food! :)


    We’re with you. We don’t love canned food, either, and minimize it in our diets. But… it works for some people, and we’re not out to create more neurosis around food. Each person must be responsible for their own choices. If you do use cans, please make sure you recycle them!

  27. says

    Thanks for all the great info!!

    Concerning the Seasonal Produce Guide: Summer grapes are listed with no notation, but fall grapes have the (D) marker. Is there a difference between summer and fall grapes, or is this just a typo?

    Thanks again. :)

    -Laura in San Diego

  28. Vita says

    Wondering why Grape Seed Oil (particularly, expeller pressed vs. chemically stripped) is not considered a clean fat?

  29. says

    Vita, we treat grapeseed oil as we do any seed oil. (And cold-pressed, expeller-pressed grapeseed oil is hard to find.) Regardless, all seed oils are high in PUFA and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which contribute to inflammation in the body if consumed in excess. We much prefer EVOO.


  30. kate says

    for melissa regarding vita… do you feel the same about flax seed/ flax seed oil? Is it high in omega-6 as well?

  31. Chrissie says

    nice to get help like this.. BUT.. my problem as always, what keeps me away to start, is:

    where the heck do I get CLEAN meat in germany!? our supermarkets are crap, I always work long and have no car to drive to a big town to maybe find a better organized supermarket. and I don`t trust them, they always write “organic” on sth, which is not.

    my only way would be to go to a farmers market, which means a lot of driving around for me and I doubt they sell meat there, just vegetables.

    ugh.. what do I do now?!

  32. says


    You take a deep breath, relax, and do the best you can.

    First, “clean” meat, seafood and eggs are encouraged as part of our healthy eating plan, but they are not a necessity for Whole30 success. If you don’t have access to grass-finished, organic, pastured, wild-caught meat in your area, then do the best you can with the resources you have on hand.

    I can’t speak to Germany’s food system from personal experience, but you may want to research the typical farming methods used in your country. I know the EU bans many farming practices that are common in the US, so your meat may very well be automatically “cleaner” by definition. In addition, organic labels may be standardized (like they are here in the US), which means you can trust the designation, and what it stands for.

    Finally, try to reach out to your local “slow food” community – farmer’s markets, health food stores, etc. are all great resources for finding local, healthy, “clean” meat.

    Welcome to the Whole30!


  33. Chrissie says

    thx for the reply. I`ll do my best :-)

    in a normal supermarket, you don`t get any of “clean” meats. they are full of antibiotics and stuff. the only meat here I would trust is from local hunters or a farmer where I can see the animals walking around.

    vegetables claimed to be organic are often growing directly next to highways for example. that`s not organic in my opinion ;-) and sometimes the supermarkets just put the normal vegetables into the place of organics, because they had none delivered. crazy and forbidden, true.. but I don`t trust them :-(

    but okay, I will join you guys with whatever is possible :-)

    thx again :-)


  34. says

    Whole Foods conventional bacon: $7.39/lb. Compare that to hormone/antibiotic-free pastured pork bacon at $8/lb at the local farmers markets. Yes, bacon is fine and you should also be buying backfat, saltpork and lard from the same farmer.

  35. Kristen says

    My roommates and I made ghee from scratch! We clarified the butter on our own, removed the milk solids using cheese cloth, and bought a large glass storage container. The price was expensive up front for all of the items, but the cheese cloth was a large sheet that could be cut each time ghee is needed, and it definitely saved us some money in the long run (ghee runs around $7.00-$8.00). We spent about that much on the first batch, but the next batch will probably be around half the price for the same amount of ghee.

  36. Rachel says

    Why do y’all suggest unrefined coconut oil? I am having great difficulty locating the unrefined variety and after a quick Internet search found a site that claims unrefined should only be used externally (hair and skin). Not sure how reputable the site is though. Also, for coconut Aminos, where can I find that?

  37. says


    A good rule of thumb – the more you process something, the less healthy it becomes. The refining process for any oil generally contains heat and harsh chemicals. It’s not hard to find in most grocery stores and health food markets – or you can order on line. Spectrum and Tropical Traditions both make unrefined versions.

    Coconut aminos are in many health food stores and Whole Foods Markets, or you can order on line through Amazon and other retailers. (Google!)


  38. Ines says

    I do not seem to find the answer to this question anywhere but … can you use almond milk instead of coconut milk for your smoothies if you are in the Whole 30 plan? Not sure if I can or not. Needles to say, I prefer almond milk than coconut. Help anyone? Thank you in advance!

  39. says

    Ines, we’re not a fan of almond milk for a few reasons. First it’s not as healthy as coconut milk (from a fat perspective). Second, all commercially prepared almond milk contains unhealthy additives like carrageenan. In addition, most are sweetened. If you want to make almond milk yourself at home, I suppose you could, but we can’t recommend commercially produced almond milk over coconut milk from a can from a health perspective. Of course, after your Whole30 program, you are free to consume whatever you like, so the decision is entirely up to you.


  40. says

    What about the local Amish market, especially for meats and/or produce? Since the meat isn’t commercially raised, would things like the pork products be better than at the grocery and therefore more acceptable for Whole30? And what fish would you suggest for beginners who have never cooked seafood before?


  41. says

    Michelle, we didn’t mention every single option, but canned tuna, salmon, or chicken are good on-the-go, affordable sources of protein. As always, look for quality – nothing packed in soy or vegetable oil, and nothing with unhealthy additives. And wild-caught is always better, when it comes to salmon.


  42. says

    We have a priority in our family of food quality trumps quanity and low cost. It makes a huge difference for our entire family. We have better physical, mental and financial health when we eat low glycemic, more frequently and in smaller portions. This practice keeps us all feeling well, acting well and wanting to be active and adventurous. Once in a while we stray but not often. After we have a couple beers and sodium laced , large portions of food everyone always says they feel like heck the next day, too.


  43. Stephanie Oliver says

    My sister turned me on to “Starts with Food” book. It’s been great so far! I’m getting ready to purchase all the things I need to start. These post are super helpful.
    Thanks! :)

  44. says

    Carl, sounds like you are on the right track. So happy to hear you’ve established this practice as a family!

    Stephanie, so glad you’re liking the book, and our resources!


  45. says

    My husband and I have been about 80% primal/paleo diet for a couple of years now and after reading more on your website, we want to get really serious about it and do the Whole30 challenge. He has psoriatic arthritis and has come off of all but one of his medications (it’s still a very high powered one) by cutting most of the wheat and grains from our diet. We want to knock out arthritis!

    We have now grown our family and have a 9 month old daughter who I have been breastfeeding and making her “solid” food. We have a good source of local raw milk that I am contemplating giving her after she is a year old and I stop breastfeeding. I know you have mentioned milk a lot and do not recommend it. My question is, is there a need to increase consumption of something else or will she get everything she needs through meats and vegetables (and of course plenty of water)?

    Thanks so much! I have thoroughly enjoyed your site recently!

  46. says

    Hannah, in our opinion, we see no reason to continue giving a child milk from another species once he or she is weaned and is eating real food. You’ll need to make sure she’s eating enough calories in general, and using calorie-dense foods like meat, salmon, avocado, and coconut milk is a good place to start. Focusing on nutrient-dense foods, especially vegetables and fruits, ensures she is getting adequate nutrition, including the good stuff like calcium.

    Of course, we’re not doctors, and we always recommend you speak with your pediatrician when it comes to your kiddos health. (Our standard disclaimer.)

    Hope that helps,

  47. Robyn says

    This is TRULY going to be a struggle for us. I typed in my zip code in your handy little box and the nearest “organic farm” is 252 miles away from us! There is one local grocery store (about 15 miles from me) that sells a decent amount of organic veggies, but I can’t even find coconut flour and very few other organic/paleo items there. I wish I had the money to open my own place!!!

  48. says

    Sorry, Pär! The link to the PDF has been restored.

    Robyn, you don’t HAVE to buy grass-fed and organic to follow the Whole30. If you don’t have a local farmer’s market or health food store, you can always look into purchasing some of your pantry items online. Amazon has a great selection of things like Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Flour, 16-Ounce, Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos 8 Fl Oz, and Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk.


  49. karen says

    I’ve been using artisana raw coconut oil (from but my wallet is really taking a hit and I’m thinking of switching to either vitacost brand or nutiva brand. Is cold processed the same as unrefined?
    Thanks for the priority list! I’ve been paleo/primal for only about 3 months and as my wallet’s been feeling the pinch, been wondering if it’s better to eat poorer quality meats or no meat at all. This guide and ppl’s comments are a wonderful resource. Thanks!

  50. says

    Hi Melissa,

    I have a question for you about vegetable broth. I love soups -making them and eating them. I live in Northern Ontario where it’s the best thing on a cold day for lunch. Any recommendations for vegetable broth for a soup base? I was specifically looking at Juli’s Crockpot Sweet Potato Basil Soup for the first week’s lunches.

    Thanks for the awesome resources and support for the Whole30!

  51. Nora says

    Where does one find a can of coconut milk that isn’t loaded with preservatives and other crap for $1.50? In my area (CT) a can that only contains coconut milk, water and guar gum, is inorganic is typically about $2.20- over $3 depending on what store it is located in. What brand are you using and where do you get it?

  52. K says

    Nora — I am also in CT. Go to an Asian grocery store for your coconut milk. It’s usually under $2, and you have tons of choices, some of which are additive-free. Conventional coconut typically doesn’t contain tons of pesticides. Asian grocery stores are also where I buy my seaweed, mushrooms, onions, and purple sweet potatoes. If it’s on the Clean 15, I’m not terribly picky about whether or not something is organic.

  53. Danielle says

    I have a loaded question. I an brand new to Paleo. I have read a book, looked at many websites, listened to podcasts and I am attending a seminar tomorrow. I have a dilemma with 3 kids. They all are SOOO used to pop tarts (Ick!) and my oldest son drinks at least 3 huge glasses of milk a day! What can I give him in place of the milk!!!! My husband says to keep letting him drink it, but I also want to see if it is the cause of his acne. His sister and I are lactose intolerant. Also, they pack their lunch every day, What is a good source to find grab and go lunches for kids at school that don’t have to be heated. They are so used to sandwiches and brand name fruit snacks!! This is a huge change for my family and they are willing to try as long as what I am replacing everything with tastes good and is easy.

    Also, I have access to cows with out hormones and injections, but they are corn fed starting between 6-9 months and get a protein supplement. DOes this change the meat? I keep thinking since corn is genetically modified the meat is not high quality.

    Thank you soo much!

  54. Anna says

    Sorry if this is a silly question, but can you continue with the whole30 for an extended time?

  55. Heather says

    Why have you only designated some things as clean or dirty? If the rest are assumed clean, why bother labeling any as such? It seems you’ve tried to split up the lists between vegetable and fruit but I see a few fruits mixed in with the vegetables.

  56. says

    I have already tried posting 3 notes elsewhere but I am getting nowhere. I hope someone reads this because I am tired of writing. I tried to start your program today but am having problems already because I can’t eat spicy foods of any type, not even pepper. I will gag on any type of oils if I try to take them straight. I stir fry my veggies and cook my meats 3 weeks in advance, except for fish. Eggs will not cut it for bkfst every day, and no other meat sound like I could eat them for bkfst. Also, the veggies for bkfst I can’t figure out what to eat, nor the oils. I don’t mix my foods, so I’m not left with much to eat from your list. I also can’t have vinegar. What do I need to do?

  57. says

    @Linda F. Cullum, first, we apologize that we’ve not seen your message until now. I’m not sure where else you posted it, but this is the first I’ve seen it. I would say avoid the food that don’t work for you and eat the ones that do. If you can’t eat spicy food, don’t eat it. Same with vinegar. Same with mixing foods. If you don’t want to take oil straight, don’t take it (I assume you mean fish oil?) If it’s cooking oils you’re talking about, try ghee instead. For breakfast options, there are tons of posts out there (like this one: that gives egg-less options. You’ll just need to do some research and find something that works for you. If that means you don’t start the Whole30 today, or tomorrow, or next week that’s fine. Being prepared is uber important, and even more so for you.

  58. says

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  59. Chris H says

    I had a question about the no bacon? On most other paleo sites they rave about bacon and have some great recipes using bacon. I purchased applegate farms bacon which is uncured and humanely raised portk. Is this brand not good?

    I’m slowly starting to incorporate a paleo diet into my lifestyle. If one can’t always find grass fed or pastured is organic a better choice than non? I can’t find grass fed in my grocery store but they do have organic chicken and beef.

    Chris Henning

  60. Lucy says

    I started the Whole30 in late November. Since then, I’ve lost 73 pounds and I feel great. Last June (before changing my diet) I picked up staph infection when my husband was in the hospital. I went on a round of antibiotics, but it came back about a month later. Since then, I’ve had recurring staph infection every few months, and have a boil right now on my lower leg. I am 30 years old and have always been extremely healthy even though overweight (I’ve never had the flu, pneumonia, etc. in my life). I thought that changing my diet, cleaning myself up from the inside out, would solve my staph issue, but it hasn’t. Do you have any ideas? I have tried everything – antibiotics, bleach baths, antibiotic ointments, ichtamol, manuka honey, teatree oil, etc. – with no success.

  61. says


    Thanks for your query, and I’m sorry that you continue to struggle with health issues. I’ll respond in a gentle but straightforward manner: if you’ve considerably overweight and have recurring staph infections, I’m going to push back against your statement about being extremely healthy”. Individuals with robust and balanced immune systems (and balanced colonization of mucus membranes and the gut by microbes) are pretty resistant to colonization by pathogens like staph (MRSA). In my experience as a functional medicine practitioner, recurring infections like you’ve experienced are indicative of gut dysfunction, especially bacterial imbalances (dysbiosis) and pathogen colonization (H. pylori, amoebas, yeast, etc.). If you’re interested in pursuing this course of treatment, email me at Best,


  62. Chris H says

    Thank you, Erin. I appreciate your reply.
    Any suggestions for a meat alternative to bacon in the mornings? I’ve been giving my daughter an egg or two in morning with bacon and some fruit for breakfast. I recently purchased applegate farms uncured bacon thinking it was a better alternative. I don’t know of anyone in NorCal that sells US Wellness meats.
    Thanks again!

  63. Jennifer says

    One tip (especially if you live in a metro area) is that often times the regular grocery store is more expensive for organic products than the actual natural/organic grocery stores! So I always recommend that people check out both, and price compare what you buy most often…then decide where is best to buy.

  64. happy girlfriend says

    I thought of an idea that I’m sure will save me a lot of money. And that is, simply cooking with oil less often! Instead of frying or scrambling eggs, I’m going to hard boil or poach them. Veggies can be steamed, boiled, or eaten raw in salads. Since I’m already getting plenty of good fats from eggs, coconut, meats, nuts, etc I’m not worried about eating too little fat. Olive oil and coconut oil are always the most expensive items on my grocery list, so I’ll buy them less often and stretch my dollar =) There’s also big blocks of lard I can get for a pretty reasonable amount but I haven’t done that yet!

  65. Deirdra says

    Look around and see about getting involved in an Organic Co-op , if you are allowed -raise your own chickens for eggs ( non GMO feed is way less expensive than buying eggs), ask at your local farmers market and I bet you can find a farm to table source of meat – you can buy into a steer or heritage hog and also get fowl for a reasonable price if you have a freezer and a few friends willing to go in with you.

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  67. Jamee says

    Help. My husband does not believe in organic, grass-fed, pastured meat and eggs. His grandfather just celebrated his 100th birthday and is still going strong. My husbands point is that his grandfather doesn’t eat this way, and he is still healthy, why do we need to eat this way? Can you help me explain to him why I want to spend more money on better meat/eggs and fruits/veggies? Can you point me to some research that shows the difference between grass-fed and commercial meat/chicken/eggs and the short-term – long-term effects?

  68. says


    Ninety years ago, your grandfather would have just called them “meat and eggs.” Factory farming didn’t exist that long ago, which means animals that your grandparents ate were fed a healthy diet comprised of their natural foods–grass for cows, bugs and grubs for chickens, whatever they could get their snouts on for pigs. These animals were also raised in a natural environment, spending time outdoors as animals are meant to do. So yes, your grandfather is healthy because he ate the things that we are encouraging you to eat–animals raised and fed naturally!

    There is a ton of information available about the benefits of grass-fed, humanely raised meat. is a great place to start–it outlines the differences between factory farming and more natural practices as it pertains to the health of the animal, the health of our environment, and the nutritional content of the meat these animals provide.


  69. CeCe says

    I just started my first Whole30. My working theory on budget is I’m spending my “good beer” money on “good beef”. Only a letter different, no?

  70. Laura says

    Hi I’m curious if you could do paleo on 350 a month. Prior to this I spent 800 a month and on whole 30 it’s 1200-1300 a month for a family of four. Our eating out bill is down by about 200 a month though. I’d love to be back to 800 a month. Oh and the 800 included toilet paper, paper towels, dish detergent, any hygiene stuff we needed from target.


  71. Kelly says

    Ohhh boy wouldn’t I love to live in USA… weekly paleo whole 30 spend for 2 is $300 a week….our organic eggs are $12 a dozen here n 100% grass feed lamb mince is $20 per pound….our local farmers market don’t do organic and our “local” organic markets are only monthly and 3 times the price of conventional produce….and no we can’t get pumpkin, sweet potatoe etc in a can….organic coconut milk is double what you guys pay…australian paleo requires lots of money….but worth it