One of the hesitations that many families have before beginning the GAPS Diet™ is how to pay for it without their food budget getting completely out of control.
If you’ve been buying organic, eating out, or preparing packaged foods, it won’t be too much more, or it may even be less. If you’ve been carefully budgeting for your family by including a lot of rice, potatoes, spaghetti, and dried beans purchased in bulk, there’s no way around it, GAPS will be more expensive than the way you’ve been eating.
If you need the results GAPS offers and you’re serious about bettering your health, it’s an investment in feeling better and living a freer life in the future.
Whatever your budget, here are 7 ways to save money on the GAPS Diet:
- Make all your own fermented foods. Many of us are so lucky to live in areas where we can buy fermented foods like sauerkraut or the White Mountain brand yogurt. Making your own fermented foods doesn’t take a lot of effort and the cost savings are great. A quart of sauerkraut that I can buy locally costs about $12, but you can buy a head of cabbage for $3-4 and make 2 quarts of your own kraut. Beet kvass is even more economical, and there are tons of fermented veggie recipes on the Internet for when you get bored with what you’ve been making.
- Purchase meat directly from a rancher. Buying a whole, or portion of an, animal takes a little advance planning because you’ll need to have an extra freezer to store a greater quantity of meat. It also requires coming up with a larger chunk of cash at once. When you can manage those two things, you can find a good deal on any kind of meat. The best part about this is that you’ll get all sorts of cuts. You may pay $6-9 a pound for beef, but you’ll get steaks, roasts, etc., as well as ground meat. Poultry isn’t necessarily cheaper by the pound when you purchase a whole bird, but you get all the bones so you can make more meals and broth out of one chicken.
- Eat more organ meats. Organ meats are some of the most nutrient dense and economical foods you’ll ever find. They’re usually cheaper per pound, or sometimes even free. If you’re able to get a meat share, always ask if you can get extra organ meats because many people won’t want them. The simplest way to incorporate organ meats is to grind them up into the rest of your ground meats. If you use about 10% organs to 90% ground meat you won’t even taste the difference.
- Shop farmers markets at the end of the day. You won’t find the best selection, but if shop during the last hour of the farmers market, you’ll be able to find deals on both meats and produce. Nobody wants to truck home food they brought to sell that day. If you’re interested in purchasing in bulk, don’t be shy about making an offer or negotiating with the farmer. Buying what’s in season is also a great way to save money because food costs less when there’s a bounty of it.
- Volunteer at a farmer’s market or food co-op. There are often many opportunities and it’s a great way to get to know farmers, find out about good deals, and get a discount. I’m lucky to volunteer at a local food co-op and it saves us a significant amount on produce and other foods.
- Look for bulk discounts on supplements. Green Pasture gives a discount on orders of six or more of their fermented cod liver oil products. Other supplement companies offer discounts or free shipping if you’re part of a frequent buyer club. If you purchase things like herbs, salts, or kelp powder from a place like Mountain Rose Herbs, there are often discounted prices for larger quantities. Even just putting in an order with a few local friends can save on shipping.
- Focus on eating a lot of fat. Fat is satiating and nutrient dense. It’s also a co-factor in mineral absorption. You’ll find that as you increase the fat in your meals your overall portions of foods will shrink.
The GAPS Diet is never going to be the cheapest way to eat, but I consider it an investment in healing and feeling great both now and in the future. Most of us have expenses that we can juggle in order to add more to our food budget. It’s just about prioritizing what’s most important right now. When you’re making wholesome foods at home you’ll be satisfied and feel better, and you won’t have those little expenditures for things like chips, candy bars, and other junk that many of us buy as nearly unconscious purchases.
Are you a GAPS Diet™ veteran? How do you save money on GAPS? Please share any ideas or special tips you’ve come up with on your journey in the comments below.