Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Affording the GAPS Diet Grocery Bill

Today I received this comment on my post about Sam's Autism Improvement on Video:

Anonymous said...
Hi Janice.

I have just seen this link posted on a Facebook page. I'm really curious about how this works.

My son is 6 and he has Aspergers. I have tried homeopathy but it didn't work.

He has a good diet but due to his condition I am unable to work, and we live on just my partners wage, therefore don't have money to buy organic etc foods...

I'd love some advice on how to get started xx

I figured I would just put my answer in its own blog post since it's likely to get a little lengthy!

First of all, like yours, our family is a one-income family. So, I hope that our family's experience will be useful to you.

I know this is obvious, but I'm going to point it out anyway. The first thing our family did to free up funds for increased food costs was to look at other areas of our budget. We had to figure out what areas could be decreased so that our grocery budget could increase. For instance, we do not pay for any TV service whatsoever. Doing without a cable/satellite bill and other things like trash service have freed up money that can now go towards good quality foods. So, first of all I'd look to find other areas of your budget that can be reassigned.

After analyzing and making changes to the budget, we had to go through and define our priorities. While I would love to eat only all organic fruits and vegetables and only pastured meat and only grass-fed dairy and only local raw honey get the idea. Realistically I purchase my fruits and vegetables SOME organic and SOME conventional. For our meat I purchase SOME pastured and SOME conventional. I have to make some concessions because we just can't afford to do everything perfect. So, I would suggest that your family decide what is your highest priority and make decisions accordingly.

Here's were I currently acquire our foods:

I purchase chicken in bulk once a year from a farm that raises pastured poultry. I buy one year's worth all at once because there's a huge cost savings by buying in bulk.

I purchase conventionally-raised local pork from a local butcher. I buy 1/2 a pig at a time, again for the cost savings. (Would love to have pastured pork, but it's very hard to find and also very expensive. Priorities..)

I purchase hormone/antibiotic free beef that is grass/hay fed (no grain) from a friend. I purchase 1/2 a cow at a time, again for the cost savings.

We raise our own rabbits and butcher them ourselves for meat.

My husband will be deer hunting this year and will (Lord willing) get one or two deer.

Whenever we purchase our beef and pork, I always ask to be given the fat from the animal. Then I render the fat myself in order to get a lot of good lard and tallow. The processors that I use don't charge any extra for providing the fat.

I purchase my pure olive oil and extra virgin olive oil from Sam's Club. It's not organic, but it's what we can afford. (Obviously, this is lower on my list of priorities.)

I bought my coconut oil in bulk from Nutiva. I think I purchased something like 10 or 12 gallons last time in order to get the best discounts and free shipping.

Finally, whenever I cook any meats, I always save the fats. We make burger patties and I save the fat to add to mashed cauliflower. We cook bacon and I save the fat to season green beans. We bake a pork loin roast and I save the fat to scramble eggs in the next morning. I roast a chicken and I save the fat to add into soups. Nothing gets wasted.

Fruits and Vegetables
Oh, there's so many sources for these foods. Of course we grow some of our own in our garden and orchard. However, we don't yet come anywhere near providing all of our own fruits and vegetables. I still purchase a lot.

I purchase non-organic avocados ($0.69 each), lemons ($0.25 each), and cauliflower ($1.99 each) from Aldi. They have great, low prices on their conventionally grown produce.

I purchase organic carrots from Kroger. I can get 5 pounds for $4.99 usually, but this week they were on sale for $3.99! I haven't found anyone else that beats their prices on organic carrots.

I purchase non-organic brussel sprouts ($4.97 for 2 pounds) and mushrooms ($3.98 for 24 ounces) from Sam's Club. I also get organic baby carrots ($3.98 for 3 pounds) and organic spinach ($3.97 for 1 pound) from Sam's Club.

Each month I place an order with Azure Standard. Having them deliver locally has been a huge blessing for our family. Every month I purchase all of my organic frozen green beans, broccoli, and peas in bulk. I also get organic onions and organic miniature pickling cucumbers for all the fermented pickles we consume. This next month they have a great deal on butternut squash. It's not perfect quality so it's sold at a discounted rate. I don't care if my squash looks pretty or not, so I'm stocking up by buying 40 pounds. Keeping an eye out on those good deals and stocking up then really does save our family quite a bit of money.

I also utilize our local Farmer's Market. This summer I was able to purchase a lot of organic green peppers. It's so difficult to find organic green peppers in stores, so I snatched up whatever I could find at the Farmer's Market. Then I dehydrated the green peppers. I now have enough organic green peppers to last our family until next year's growing season.

I know there are other foods that I haven't listed, but you get the idea. Basically, I make a point to keep track of food prices so I can recognize a good deal. Whenever I run across a good deal, I stock up. Yes, it costs more one time, but then you don't have to buy any more for quite a while. Also, our family has found that buying good quality food motivates us to learn to provide it for ourselves. I see how much money I spend each month on produce and it spurs me on to produce a larger, more successful garden.

It also takes time to research and find new sources for good quality foods. You may have to settle for conventionally-raised beef until you can find a source for good quality beef. Networking with other like-minded families can be beneficial. I've come across many resources this way that I wouldn't have discovered myself. It's great when friends contact me to let me know that they've found a good sale. Oftentimes, a group of friends can make a bulk purchase together in order to receive a discount and then divide everything up amongst themselves.

Ultimately, I think the best thing is just to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Small, continuous improvements will eventually get you somewhere. At least you're moving in the right direction.

Anyway...Anonymous, I hope that helps get you started. If I can help in any way, please don't hesitate to contact me.

(This post is proud to be part of Real Food Wednesday.)


  1. Thank you for posting this. My daughter is 4, my son (on the spectrum) is 2.5, and my other son (possibly on the spectrum) is 13 months. My husband is getting his PhD and is always very busy. I have been working on this diet for about 6 months, but I can't seem to get a system down. We have therapists in and out of the house about 3-4 times per week, and I feel so overwhelmed. I'm sure you have too.

    Do you have a system that works for you? A daily routine that you could share with me? I really need advice, because it breaks my heart knowing that if I could just figure this out my poor sweet son would feel so much better.

    How many quarts of broth do you make at a time? Maybe I should invest in a deep freezer?? We just have a regular little refrigerator right now. I got fish heads/bones and tails from the grocery store that they gave me for about $2, and I only got about 2 quarts of stock from that... but I guess I can add water to it to make it last longer, but then it is just diluted so I don't know.

    I would really appreciate an idea of your daily routines, because this diet requires so much planning, and I am so lost.

    Thank you so much,


  2. thanks for posting this... i think i can get a few ideas from this. we will be starting GAPS in January.

  3. Its a lot cheaper to buy direct from local farmers, instead of health food stores. Organic meat is $5.50-$7.50/lb there. And its not grass fed, either.
    From the farmer, you can buy it at $5.-6.50/lb for grass-fed, usually.

    1. How do you buy "direct from local farmers"? I've wondered. I live in Southern California and I've not a clue how to begin. Our farmers' market, well one of several close by only sells eggs and chickens. Suggestions?

    2. Michelle, I can't speak for Anonymous above, but here's how we came in contact with our local farmers.

      Our antibiotic/hormone-free, grassfed beef is purchased from the Ag Instructor at our local college. She takes the cow to the processor and we pick it up after everything's finished. We pay the farmer for the animal and the processor for the processing.

      Our raw cow's milk, goat's milk, and cream are purchased from someone that we met at our local Farmer's Market.

      We purchase locally raised pork (not pastured though) through a local Mennonite-owned butcher shop. He purchases the live animal from the farmer and processes it. Then we pay for everything through the butcher shop.

      From May through November we have a nice Farmer's Market that sells locally raised fruits, vegetables, goat meat, eggs, honey, nuts, homemade crafts and baked goods, and even live animals (chicks, rabbits). It's a wonderful resource for finding what you need. Even if what you're looking for isn't available there, usually one of the vendors will let you know if there's someone else locally to purchase it from.