Recently we have written several blog posts criticising the nutritional information being given out in the UK via the official Government guidelines – the Eatwell Guide.
You can read those posts by following these links:
- Shocking New Eatwell Guide Heavily Influenced by Processed Food Companies
- Should The British Nutrition Foundation be Giving us Nutrition Advice?
- The Brazilian Dietary Guidelines Put Ours to Shame!
In this article we want to show you that you can eat healthy, unprocessed foods even if you are on a budget, by buying simple, wholesome ingredients, readily available in all UK supermarkets.
According to the Eatwell Guide we should be basing all our meals on starchy (processed) foods, eating unsaturated (and heavily processed) oils and margarines, eating low fat (and therefore processed) dairy products and eating more meat alternatives such as beans and soy.
The Eatwell Guide suggest we should be aiming for 5 portions of fruit and veg per day, which can consist of one each from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced, despite the fact that dried fruit and juice are incredibly high in sugar and tinned fruit and veg are reasonably processed foods.
We don’t agree with these guidelines at all.
The UK are in the midst of an obesity (and diabetes) crisis, and we believe the Government need to issue far simpler guidelines to address the health problems the UK population face.
Our recommended guidelines would be more in line with what the Brazilian Government now recommend to the Brazilian population: “Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet.”
Or even more simply put: “Don’t Eat Processed Foods!”
But a big criticism of eating healthily and eating real and wholefoods is that it’s “too expensive”.
So we wanted to see if you can feed a family of 4 for a week, buying unprocessed foods from the UK supermarkets, for £50 or less.
We visited Sainsburys and LIDL, and bought similar items from both. We bought meat and fish, full-fat dairy, eggs, oats and rice and 20 different types of fruit and vegetables. The list is not strictly paleo because we wanted this to be accessible to people that want to eat unprocessed foods but not necessarily paleo, however we have included paleo alternatives on our shopping list for all items.
Not everyone wants or needs to cut out dairy, grains and pulses and if you make the right choices these foods have health benefits and count as minimally processed foods.
So – Can You Feed a Family of 4 on Natural Unprocessed Foods for £50 or Less?
Yes (just about)! Our shop from Sainsbury’s came in at £50.07 and our shop from LIDL came in at £36.01. In our upcoming book we provide all the recipes and meal plans for using these ingredients to make simple and healthy meals to feed your family.
You can see the receipts from both the shops below.
Paleo on a Budget – Best Options
Here are our 5 top tips for eating Paleo on a Budget:
- Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables. In season, vegetables and fruit are always cheaper. We have a blog post coming soon on Eating Seasonally so keep an eye out for that. Apples and bananas are always cheap, readily available and contain prebiotic fibre that is good for your gut bacteria so these are good options for your weekly shop.
- Buy frozen berries and other frozen veg. Frozen berries are a lot cheaper than fresh berries and are great for smoothies. You can get big bags of frozen broccoli and cauliflower that will do several meals and are cheaper than fresh. The vegetables are frozen when in season and soon after being picked so retain good amounts of nutrients.
- Buy frozen or tinned fish instead of fresh.
- Buy organ meats. Organ meats are highly nutritious yet very cheap. We would always recommend buying organic and free-range organ meat.
- Buy cheaper cuts of meat, they tend to be more nutritious and if you cook them slowly will make delicious stews. Buying cheaper cuts of meat means you may also be able to afford grass-fed/free-range or organic meat. See below for the cheapest cuts of meat for cheap paleo meals.
For Recipes and Meal Plans to accompany the Shopping Lists look out for our eBook coming soon! It will include cheap, easy paleo recipes, paleo budget shopping lists and a paleo menu planner.
A Note on Buying Organic Produce and Grass-Fed Meat
For these shops we didn’t buy organic produce as we wanted to try and stick to a low budget and show that it is possible to eat unprocessed whole foods even if you don’t have a huge food budget. The average weekly spend on food in the UK is £83.60 and we managed to shop in Sainsbury’s for £50.07 and LIDL for £36.02.
If you can afford it, we would always recommend buying organic produce. If you can’t justify the extra cost you should make sure you thoroughly wash and dry all your fruit and veg when you get it home from the shops to remove as much pesticide residue as possible, and peel all veg such as potatoes and carrots.
You may find that buying an organic veg box from somewhere like Abel and Cole is cheaper than buying organic from the supermarket.
We also recommend that you buy grass-fed meat if you can afford it. Go for cheaper cuts (see below). You don’t need to eat a lot of meat to get the nutritional & health benefits, and you should aim to fill at least half (but ideally three quarters) of your plates at mealtimes with vegetables.
The Cheapest Cuts of Meat to Eat Paleo on a Budget
All prices as of 20/04/16 from www.ocado.com
Waitrose/Ocado sell organic chicken livers for £6.73 per kg. Organ meats such as liver are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and are reasonably priced too.
Pork belly is one of the cheapest cuts of pork and is really delicious. Try to buy organic or at least free-range pork – Waitrose/Ocado sell free-range pork belly joints for £7.99 per kg. Pork tenderloin is also reasonably priced.
Beef for Stews and Casseroles
Shin of beef is a cheap and tasty cut for making beef stews and casseroles. Eversfield organic & grass-fed (Pasture for Life certified) shin of beef is currently £11.95 per kg whereas beef marked more generally as ‘stewing beef’ or ‘braising beef’ is more expensive at £13.60 per kg. Beef cheeks and oxtail are also cheap cuts that work well with long, slow cooking.
One of the cheapest cuts of steak is flank steak. It can be tough if you overcook it, but serve it rare and it’s delicious and flavourful.
The higher the fat percentage in the meat the cheaper it is.
Eversfield Organic sell pork, beef and lamb mince
Pork is the cheapest at £12.10 per kg.
Their grass-fed beef mince is £13.73 per kg and their grass-fed lamb mince is £14.23 per kg.
Bone marrow is extremely nutrient dense and Waitrose/Ocado sell 170g for 99p. Add to stews to make them richer or add to burgers for a delicious extra meaty flavour.
Chicken Wings are one of the cheapest ways you can buy chicken – for example Eversfield Organic Chicken Wings are currently £4.97 per kg whereas their organic chicken legs are £8.77 per kg and breasts are £20.78 per kg.
Lamb does tend to be one of the more expensive meats, but shoulder, breast and chump are the cheaper cuts to go for.
A whole turkey is expensive (especially at Christmas) but during the rest of the year you can pick up turkey mince and escalopes relatively cheaply. Turkey mince is great for meatballs & burgers.
Meat in order from cheapest to most expensive
Under £5 per kg
- Chicken Livers £2.50 per kg (not recommended, we recommend only organic/free-range livers)
- Chicken Wings £2.95 per kg
- Chicken Legs £3.00 per kg
- Chicken Drumsticks & Thighs £3.00 per kg
- 20% fat Beef Mince £4.00 per kg
- Organic Chicken Wings £4.97 per kg
Under £10 per kg
- Pork Tenderloin Fillet £5.62 per kg
- Pork Belly Joint £5.99 per kg
- Pork Loin Steaks £6.67 per kg
- Organic Chicken Livers £6.73 per kg
- Organic Chicken Drumsticks & Thighs £8.35 per kg
- Organic Chicken Legs £8.77 per kg
Under £20 per kg
- Organic Beef Mince £10.99 per kg
- British Leg of Lamb £11.00 per kg
- Organic & Grass Fed Shin of Beef (stewing beef) £11.95 per kg
- Free-Range Pork Tenderloin Fillet £12.99 per kg
- Organic & Grass Fed Beef Mince £13.73 per kg
- Organic Pork Tenderloin Fillet £14.99 per kg
More than £20 per kg
- Organic Chicken Breasts £20.78 per kg