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Shopping for food on the Paleo diet doesn't have to be difficult. If you're on a budget then there is a simple plan you can follow to get the healthiest food for your money. First, prioritize animal protein, and then move on to vegetables followed by fruits and lastly fats.
Animal protein is where you want to spend the bulk of your budget. Always go for organic grass-fed or pasteurized meat. Buy it fresh and buy what is available. If you can't find organic grass fed lamb but you see organic beef, then buy the beef and change your dinner recipe for that night. If you see organic chicken on special, then buy a bunch of them and eat chicken all week, or freeze some of them.
If your budget is too tight to afford the best quality, then at least try to stick to meat from ruminants (beef, lamb, venison, goat, buffalo etc). These animals feed on their natural diet for at least a portion of their lives. Their meat also has a better ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 than meat like pork or chicken.
It's best to buy the leanest cuts and trim the fat from them. Many of the unhealthy things like environmental toxins, hormones and antibiotics reside in the fat, so it should be trimmed or drained before consumption.
Always eat non-organic chicken without the skin for the same reasons. It's best to avoid pork altogether if you can't buy organic.
The next source of animal protein is fish. Since this will only last for a day at home, don't overspend here. Buy enough for one meal unless you are planning to freeze it. Wild-caught fish is good but pricey. You can buy less expensive fish that is often just as good like cod or scallops. Look at frozen fish as well; these are often a good substitute to the pricey stuff.
The final source for animal protein is eggs. There is only one rule here; buy organic. They are more expensive than "cage free" eggs but even so, they are still one of your cheapest sources of high quality protein.
Once you have your animal protein sorted, it's time to look at fruit and vegetables. It is not always best to buy organic. It's better to spend less on fruits and vegetables and more on better quality meat. A little pesticide on your produce is tolerable if it means you get high quality protein from meat, fish and eggs.
As a general rule, always buy in season and buy what's on special. Get your vegetables sorted before you purchase fruit. You can do without fruit if necessary but you need to eat your veggies. Buy dark, leafy vegetables, as they are more nutrient-rich. Stay away from vegetables like lettuce, celery and cucumbers, as they don't have much nutrition. To save money you can also purchase frozen vegetables.
The next stop is fats. Dietary fat can be expensive so don't go crazy on things like nuts and seeds. Coconut products are good, inexpensive source of fats, especially coconut milk. In addition, avocados are a good source of fat and are available all year round. Olives preserved in salt and water are also a good choice. These are the staples for fats so go for them first. If you still have some room in your budget, you can buy nuts and seeds last.
When your budget allows, you can go for higher priced items like cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil and organic pastured butter. These are all good sources of fat and they can last for months.
The last thing you may want to consider is stocking up on herbs and spices. They can be expensive but, adding a little to your spice rack each week will make eating chicken five nights a week much more interesting.