Paleo Meal Planning – Cheap & Easy

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I don’t know about your family, but we have hit a financial wall after the holidays.  Actually, we may have knocked a hole in the wall and found ourselves on our rear ends outside.  We didn’t spend that much on gifts for our kids this year, but we did have some very unexpected expenses this winter that put an enormous dent on the once relatively plentiful bank account.  Combine that with the January 1 HOA fees that are now (over)due and you’ve got a family who is pinching pennies in the grocery store.

People who are hard-core Paleo or Primal may not like some of the things I’m about to admit to, but we are a middle class family and we do what we have to do to to put food on the table for our family of 5.

There was a time that we ate free-range meat and organic produce.  That time has come and gone, and we are now back to eating Industrial Meat.  No matter HOW we squeeze it, there is NO other area in our lives that we can cut money out in order to afford higher quality meat and produce.  There just isn’t.  If you can afford that stuff, I completely envy you, however; I know that many families are struggling to provide food for their families, and I would like to reach out to those people specifically right now.

Paleo Meal Planning, Free Paleo Meal Planner, Inexpensive Paleo, Paleo on a Budget, Cheap Paleo, Fast Paleo, Paleo Crock Pot,

Of course having high quality meat on the table is ideal, but unfortunately not everyone is in an ideal financial situation, and you do NOT have to be well off to eat well and be healthy.  I often hear from people that they “can’t afford Paleo”.  It’s simply NOT TRUE.  You CAN afford Paleo, you just have to do it in a way that is affordable to you until you can afford to buy higher quality foods.  It is what it is.  I think you’ll find that you are replacing your $3.50 bag of chips with a $3 bag of kale (to make into chips) and that sometimes, you can actually spend less per week on groceries.

SO, what I’m admitting to you is that I buy my meat at Walmart, Target, and the other local grocery stores when they have sales.  Is it ideal?  Nope.  But it’s the best I can do, and if that is the best you can do too, please just embrace it.

Because of the financial wall, this week’s menu is going to be as inexpensive as I can possibly get it, as I’m sure we’re not the only family struggling after the holidays.

I have also included some quick-prep meals because I know that many of us are trying to find more time this new year.  I have been spending more time in the gym the past several weeks and it really cuts into my time in the kitchen.  Time does NOT have to be against you in your quest to find health, so I’m going to do my best to keep in mind that many of us are time-crunched and work easier meals into my menus each week.

AND, by popular request, I have included a few breakfast and lunch ideas as well.  I will let you organize these on your own calendar according to your schedule.

Then of course, there’s the ever amazing shopping list ALL READY FOR YOU to print off and take to the grocery store.

Now without further ado, here is the menu for our family this week:  



I usually just have 2 scrambled eggs and a piece of fruit for breakfast but so many of you asked for breakfast ideas so I’m including a few of my other favorite morning indulgences here.  OH!  And bacon.  I forgot bacon.  Always lots of bacon.  I’ve only put three breakfast ideas below, but these recipes should feed you for a couple of days, and give you at least a little morning flexibility.

Autumn Spice No-oatmeal

One of my favorite cold weather breakfasts is OATMEAL!  Only…oats are a grain, and we don’t eat grains.  I first found a No-oatmeal recipe in Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Quick and Easy Meals Cookbook.  While it isn’t exactly like oatmeal, it is a darned good substitute.  Now No-oatmeal is my favorite cold weather breakfast, and it really doesn’t take much time at all to make.  There are also some fantastic No-oatmeal recipes online like this one from The Foodie & The Family.  (Who, by the way, is really the reason I went Paleo to begin with)  This recipe adds a nice spice to the meal and will definitely warm your palate.

Apple Bumpkin Breakfast Bake

This is a mouthwatering breakfast bake that you can make ahead of time and munch on as you run out the door, or enjoy with your coffee & coconut milk.  One reason I think we struggle with breakfast where Paleo is concerned, is that we don’t want to cook first thing in the morning.  I totally get that.  But if you think and bake ahead, you can and will find success.  Start with this yummy nom nom and you won’t regret it.

Mini Egg Pizzas

This is a favorite in our family.  We eat these little egg pies for dinner AND breakfast.  Make these ahead of time then microwave a few before you leave the house in the morning.  There are options to add your own veggies according to your tastes so keep that in mind when making your shopping list.  You won’t miss the cheese on these – it tastes like it’s in there!

Leftover Pork Scramble:

SO easy.  We’re having Pulled Pork for dinner one night this week and it’s going to make oodles of leftovers.  You can find a picture of what Paleo Pot did with their leftovers here.
Or you can simply scramble some eggs then top with reheated pulled pork & a dollop of salsa or homemade BBQ sauce for a hearty, delicious, protein-filled way to start your day.  If you’re feeling really saucy, saute some mushrooms before you scramble your egg.  Delish!




In regards to a Paleo lifestyle, I struggle most with lunch.  I used to eat sandwiches EVERY SINGLE DAY.  What the heck do I do?  I’ve found some DELICIOUS salads that will last a few days in the refrigerator.  I also eat lunch meat with some lettuce rolled up inside of it, a spoonful of nut butter, and a piece of fruit.   I also eat a TON of leftovers for lunch. You don’t need a recipe for THAT, so I’ve included just a couple of my favorite lunch salads.  Your kids may or may not eat these, but at least YOU can.  Adding these was a bit of an afterthought so I promise to spend more time putting together some lunch ideas next week.

Eggplant & Fennel Salad:

Because I am a blogger with integrity, and this recipe cannot be found on the internet, I am not including the recipe in this post.  You can purchase the cookbook from Amazon by clicking this little picture.    This cookbook has been one of the best Paleo investments I have made.  FULL of quick and easy meals that I use often.  If you are going to follow along with our Meal Planning, you might want to scoop this book up ASAP.  I HAVE included the ingredients in my shopping list.

Cauliflower Salad with Vegetables: 

This my new favorite lunch.  The lime juice and radish add just the right amount of flavor that I don’t think this salad requires any more salt or pepper.  It only goes about 3 days in my refrigerator before it becomes bitter so make sure you eat it once you make it.  It’s DELICIOUS.  Seriously.  I originally found this in Make it Paleo
but you can also find the recipe online at The Food Lovers Kitchen.  


Beef & Sweet Potato Hash: 

OK so this is less of a salad and more of a dinner-ish item, but it’s a great, hearty lunch and takes about 20 minutes to whip together.  I put some ketchup on it for the kids and they eat it then ask for seconds.  True story.  This is another fantastic Paleo recipe from The Foodie & The Family.  Tara probably doesn’t even know I still use her website for recipes all the time.   If you’re not a big fan of sweet potatoes, you can use acorn or butternut squash for a different taste.


See?  Not many lunches.  I think you will find plenty of leftovers this week, though.  If you have something in particular that you miss eating all the time, please let me know and we’ll create a substitute together!



Paleo dinner is much easier to figure out, isn’t it?  Unless you’re so used to eating pasta every night of the week that you can’t see straight.  This week is all about ease and INexpense.  I have a bunch of ground beef in my freezer that is begging to be used, and one roast so I am going to incorporate those into the menu this week.

Stuffed Acorn Squash:

OK so this recipe calls for sausage but I’m using ground beef.  I put sausage on the shopping list, adjust it accordingly if you have ground beef you can use in your refrigerator.  I personally think this stands on its own as a meal, but if you’d like to add a side item to your shopping list, go ahead and do so.


Pot Roast and Roasted Veggies: 

There is no recipe I’m sending you to for this.  It’s VERY easy.  Simply buy a pot roast 3-5 lbs and season with kosher salt & pepper.  Place in your crock pot then add about 1″ of beef stock.  Cook on low for approximately 8 hours.  When you get home from work (or about 40 minutes before you plan to eat), preheat your oven to 400*.  Chop broccoli and cauliflower into florets, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then roast in preheated oven for 35 minutes.  This is simple, flavorful, and hearty.  If you don’t already roast your vegetables, you need to start.  It really adds a new flavor profile to everything.


Taco Salad:

I LOVE and miss real tacos, but nothing gets closer than a homemade taco salad, or taco ingredients rolled in a fat Romaine leaf.  On this website, you will see arrows next to the recipe name.  Hit the arrow pointing up because I increased this recipe to feed 8 people in the shopping list.  WHY?  Because The Workaholic will eat at least 3 servings worth and I want leftovers for the next day.  I know, I’m brilliant.  ALSO PLEASE NOTE:  This recipe calls for ground Bison.  I put ground beef on the shopping list because we’re going for inexpensive this week and bison is not inexpensive.  If you want ground bison, please substitute 2lb of ground beef on the shopping list for 2lb of ground Bison.


Pulled Pork:

Here’s another Paleo crock pot meal! We’re going to make at least one other meal out of this roast so make sure you buy closer to a 6lb shoulder if you have a big family like we do.   Now see the Breakfast menu for an idea on what to do with the leftovers.


Mustard Chicken Thighs: 

Are you in need of some moist chicken in your life?  Chicken Thighs are your guy.  They’re so moist and delicious, not to mention much cheaper than those pesky, dry breasts.  Who needs breasts anyways?!  Pair this with cauliflower


Super Fast Slow Cooker Meat Loaf:

Who doesn’t love a meat loaf?!  I stinkin’ love meat loaf.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss those day-after meatloaf sandwiches too.  *drool*  Anyways, I now use some Boston Butter Lettuce to wrap a slice of meat loaf in for a delicious leftover inspired lunch.  Add that to your lunch list up there!  PaleoPot has perfected Paleo meat loaf in a crock pot.  This IS real life, folks.  It is.  Now your dinner can be ready for you when you get home from work, or from ballet, or from whatever crazy schedule thing you have going on this week.  I always serve our meat loaf with mashed cauliflower and shredded, sauteed Brussels sprouts.

Chili Cilantro Lime Crock Pot Chicken:

I have a confession:  I haven’t made this one yet so this will be my first time.  I am SO excited about it, though.  Once you see the photo of it, you’ll want to try it too.  And yes, another crock pot meal.  I hope you have lots of Tupperware, or multiple Crock Pots, because you’ll need them this week.   A whole chicken is enough for our family of 5 and we sometimes have leftovers, depending on the size of the chicken.  They are also inexpensive, delicious, and easy to make.   We are serving this Paleo Crock Pot Chicken with roasted broccoli.


Click on this link for your printable shopping list

Printable Shopping List

If you’re craving something specific, let me know and I’ll be happy to add it to next week’s menu!

And don’t forget to get these cookbooks from Amazon as soon as you possibly can.  I cook from these A LOT, and would be lost without them.

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    • Summer says

      I absolutely agree with you, Samantha! I think lots of people are turned off of Paleo because Free Range and Organic are the cornerstones of the diet. It’s unfortunate, but not everyone can afford to eat like that. I want people to understand that they CAN afford to eat Paleo, even if it means buying cheaper cuts of meat. Thank you for your comment!

  1. Kristi says

    Thanks for this. We are a family of five as well, with three athletic daughters. I do my best, but I simply cannot afford to buy all grass-fed or organic. I have to say, I feel so good about our Paleo diet no matter what. I especially love all of the cooking and baking that I do in advance. It has renewed the nurturing spirit I had when the girls were babies, and I made my own baby food. Organic or not, that has GOT to be good for them!

    • Summer says

      Hi Kristi! Thank you for visiting! And you’re welcome! I wish more people in the Paleo community were nurturing of people who can’t afford “perfect” food. It just isn’t in the cards for everyone, but everyone needs to know that it CAN be affordable, and that “imperfect Paleo” is far better than the Standard American Diet.

  2. jen says

    This is fantastic! Just what I was looking for. You mirrored so many things that I have been thinking, myself. I knew there was a way to do it, but it is so much easier when you have help like this! Now to go and thank the person who turned me on to your blog :)

    • Summer says

      Hi, Lynn! Thank you SO much for visiting and ordering the book! You will LOVE the cookbook. The recipes really are quick and easy, and delicious. Plus, there are some rub recipes that turn boring meat into instant gourmet meals on the cheap. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it!

  3. Ashley in Alaska says

    Can I just say that I LOVE your meal plan and your philosophy right now!? Living in Alaska makes it borderline impossible to get well sourced meats, and I always feel guilty about that. I shouldn’t. I should be grateful for the fresh halibut, salmon, and deer we have, and not worry so much about the rest. :)

    • Summer says

      OH Ashley how jealous I am of you that you live in my homestate! I miss Alaska desperately. I guess as a kid I didn’t realize how hard it was go get well sourced meat and produce. But you’re right, fresh game and fish are abundant. You can only work with what you have available to you and forget what everyone else says. We do the best we can, right?

      • Ashley in Alaska says

        Exactly! We can do the best that we can with what we have! I’ve only lived ink AK for4 years now but I too would miss it if I left. Despite it all, it’s a great place to live!

        • Luci says

          As another Alaskan I had to join in! I am so thankful for you. I’m just starting this Paleo journey with my family of 5 (soon to be six) and I was beginning to think that it was impossible to do here in AK. Thank you again!!!

          • Summer says

            YAY ALASKA! Congrats on starting your Paleo Journey, and it CAN be done. You’re welcome! I am excited to have you here!

    • Summer says

      Hi, Kate!!! I’ve been where you are. I was a single mom for 5 years. I worked 1 full time job, 1 part time job, and was going to college full time. It was HARD. I’m not going to lie: I qualified for and used food stamps for about 3 years during that time. I don’t know if you use them or not, but they really saved us. I was diagnosed with PCOS back then and my reproductive endocrinologist put me on a VERY STRICT diet that, looking back, is nearly identical to the Primal Diet. As a single mom, I was able to afford to eat that way, we just weren’t eating free range and organic. I lost a ton of weight, I felt amazing, and when I did get married, we conceived our daughter right away despite some pretty serious female problems. I really believe diet is responsible for so many ailments that we face and economic status should absolutely NOT hold someone back from eating well. I’m REALLY glad you’re here. Please feel free to contact me directly if you ever need more encouragement.

    • Summer says

      Family of SEVEN!!!! I can’t imagine adding another mouth to feed. My husband is always ilke, “WHAT DID YOU BUY AT THE GROCERY STORE THAT COST SO MUCH?!?!?” And I’m like, “uh, dude…I kept it under $200 for an entire week of groceries. I’m AWESOME!” HA! This week I might be able to keep it closer to $100 since we already have most of the meat we need.

  4. Yvette says

    Found your website through Paleo Parents & it looks great. I’m looking forward to going through the past blogs so see what I’ve missed. Do you have a link for the cilantro ( or coriander as I’m in Australia) chicken recipe? Hubby is keen on that one first up for dinner

    • Summer says

      Hi Yvette! I can’t believe I left the link off! I added the Coriander Chicken recipe to that part of the article. It is also on the PaleoPot website. Thank you SO much for visiting! I’m really excited to have you here and to continue bringing inexpensive, quick meals to the Paleo world!

  5. Jenny says

    Hi Summer, love your site! When I am shopping I really enjoy buying lots of yummy paleo food. It has evened out for me because I’m not spending money at the pharmacy anymore!

    • Summer says

      Jenny, that’s AMAZING! I love hearing stories like that, and that’s really the goal of Paleo – to find optimum health through smart nutrition. I’m giving you a standing ovation right now!

  6. Art says

    Thanks for posting this. Just tonight my wife was asking, “can we afford to eat paleo?” We get bags of groceries from our church’s food pantry, but it’s a lot of processed foods, bread, and pasta. I can’t eat that stuff. I have IBS and the bread and pasta give me horrible stomach pains.. so I pretty much HAVE to eat Paleo, or at least low-carb. Sent the link to this article to my wife.. how timely!

    • Summer says

      Art, I am so pleased to hear this! Of course, if you buy everything on this shopping list, it could get a little costly because of all of the spices, but once you have all of the important multi-use things, this menu should be quite inexpensive. Do you have a local farmer’s market nearby? I find that produce is often cheaper there, and our Farmer’s Market accepts Food Stamps! Nobody should have to eat poorly due to lack of money. Please let me know how I can help serve you and your wife with inexpensive meals in the future!

    • Melissa Hood says

      I went through the same thing with the food pantries and found that if I very kindly, sweetly and apologetically explained my health conditions and what I could eat they would try to accommodate me.

  7. Kim H. says

    Everything sounds great! We too have had to do what we can do, it is what it is :). Where is the recipe for the chili lime crockpot chicken from?

    • Summer says

      Hi Kim! I added the link to the Chili Lime CrockPot Chicken. Thanks SO much for letting me know I forgot it! *how embarrassing!*

  8. Stephanie says

    Thanks for posting this!!!! I was always putting off going Paleo because some of the recipes I kept finding were really stuff I would never have ate in the past; like bone marrow and liver (and not going to lie probably wont try for a very long time lol) Your Greek salad says you use Greek salad dressing; do you have a recipe for this or just buy salad dressing from the grocery store? Thank you

    • Summer says

      Hi Stephanie! I have never eaten bone marrow or liver either, and I’ve been Paleo since October 2011, and I TOTALLY don’t blame you. It makes me gag just thinking about it. There are LOTS of very normal Paleo recipes out there. We started with the book, “Make it Paleo” and I believe it really contributed to our success because it is full of recipes that are nearly identical to what we ate pre-Paleo, just made in a better way. For salad, I usually use salsa or oil and vinegar. I’ve been hard-pressed to find a store-bought salad dressing that doesn’t have sugar or corn in it. Here is a link to 8 Paleo Salad Dressings you can make at home! Thank you so much for joining!

  9. Jeni says

    I love this! Being in Guam means I can’t always get free range/grass fed meat. But I do the best I can with what I am able to find. The best choice we ever made for our family was to remove gluten and that was half the battle! Now we are weaning our kids off of corn and rice (for the most part, we live where they eat a LOT of rice and it’s not like we can avoid it 100%)

    • Summer says

      Hi Jeni! I completely understand what you mean. My kids still eat gluten-free mac and cheese at least twice a week. My youngest has a gluten allergy and I suspect that the eldest does too. They also eat gluten-free cereal for breakfast sometimes. Mark Sisson from The Primal Blueprint says if you can strive for an 80% grain-free lifestyle, you’re doing pretty darn good. Kudos to you for doing the best you can – that’s all any of us CAN do! :)

  10. Alexandra says

    I can’t see the “little picture” on the eggplant and fennel salad recipe, so I don’t know what cookbook it is! Can you help? (I’m using Chrome to visit your site)

  11. Amanda says

    I have just found your blog today thanks to Just Eat Real Food’s facebook page… I am SO glad I found you! I love every recipe you posted (and just discovered roasted cauliflower last night! OH MY!) and so appreciate a blog that identifies with working class Americans. I [was] a self-proclaimed carb-o-holic and am on my third day of a paleo diet in hopes that I can drop some baby weight (my little guy is almost 6 months old) and have more energy, clearer skin, etc. So far, so good! No ridiculous cravings (yet) but I have lots of fruit and nuts on hand and have been eating LOTS of veggies. Thanks so much for your honesty and transparency! (love the meatloaf sandwich comment) :)

    • Summer says

      Hi Amanda! Welcome!!! I was 3 days into the Paleo diet on October 25, 2011. My joint pain was disappearing and I had so much more energy and a clearer head. Congratulations for your lifestyle change – you are going to be a healthier person in the long run for it. I’m so excited you are here to share our journey and I hope you’ll come here when you need a positive sounding board or someone to talk to. :)

  12. Anna Morris says

    I just found you and I am glad I did! I have had Hashimoto’s disease for 14 years and I finally have a great doctor that told me about Paleo! I have 4 children and I’m excited about cooking healthier for all of us! We, too, cannot afford all organic and grass-fed but it is way better than what we were eating! Hopefully, this diet will prevent my children from developing autoimmune diseases or at least lessen the impact. Thanks for the inspiration!!! I work full time and appreciate the crock pot recipes!!!

  13. says

    Thank you for this post! It really validates some of the things I do to feed our family when our budget is tight. And I totally do the taco salad thing already!

    • Summer says

      Taco Salad = cheap & delicious! :) I am so glad that this post has had such a positive response. It makes me feel like I have a voice for people who don’t feel like they can afford Paleo.

  14. Tara says

    I discovered your blog today from the Just Eat Real Food facebook page. I’m so excited to read more of what you have to share! I appreciate knowing that someone is embracing the reality that not everyone can afford all of the “good” stuff. I often find myself buying meat that is on sale and that is typically not the free-range, grass-fed, organic/natural stuff only. However, I’ve seen weightloss, energy increase, and general health improvements. So, I’m trying not to stress over the fact that I simply cannot afford to by the BEST options now. Instead, I have to be content with my GOOD choices. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Summer says

      Congrats on your improved health, Tara! I too have experienced major positive health changes since starting Paleo. I don’t understand people who get all down on people who can’t afford “the best” food. Removing grains, sugar, and other processed junk and eating grain-fed beef is way better than eating all that crap and free-range, grass-fed meat. Truth. Keep up the good work and do what you can. I’m here to cheer you on!

      • says

        Oh – long story :) Okay actually the short story is that I have an Etsy store that decided to grow into this huge monster and also we moved across the state (closer to our property) and then the holidays started and I literally could not keep up with orders. People were waiting like a month for their items and I JUST YESTERDAY got caught up. And I’m grateful for that, because based on what happened, it looks like it might be a way for us to be job-independent but holy crap am I tired, my family neglected, and my heath is down the tubes. I’m now taking some time to recuperate, and next year I’ll be more prepared! An extra freezer with lots of meals, lots of stock made up ahead of time (I do coffee mugs, beer steins, pint glasses, vinyl decals, stuff like that), and pre-arranged childcare during the worktimes. Did I mention we moved into a one-room cabin with a loft? I’m thinking about doing a Kickstarter to enclose an area in the barn for a workshop – my home has been taken over by this thing. lol… been a crazy last 6 months or so!

        But I’m really enjoying what is my first non-working weekend in months.
        Bethany recently posted..How to press your own fresh vegetable oilsMy Profile

          • Summer says

            Thanks, ME TOO! Shocked the crap out of me. My last Paleo Meal Planning post didn’t get 1/10 the traffic this one has received. I feel all accomplished and stuff. :)

        • Summer says

          OH MY GOODNESS! That’s really crazy! I LOVE the one room cabin with a loft idea. It sounds so rustic! BOO for declining health but YAY for prosperity! You have to keep that thing going for sure! Let me know if you ever want me to review or give something away, or just plug your business. Do you have a button for your shop? I’ll put it in my sidebar – free advertising ‘cuz I love ya’ so much! :) Although it doesn’t sound like you NEED it! :)

          • says

            Yeah it’s WEIRD – remember I have three kids – so it’s definitely an adjustment but the savings in rent offsets the huge amount we are now spending in gas… it’s worth it. And yes – very beautiful! Like living in a cedar vacation cabin. Especially with all the snow we’ve been having in the last month :) It’s working out pretty well aside from me wishing we had an enclosed bedroom for obvious reasons! But – my entryway is full of boxes of supplies, and my kitchen island, and part of the dining area, and my recliner… and the house is only 750 sq ft so I really do need to get a dedicated area.

            And about the business – well if I do decide to do a Kickstarter to raise funds for a workshop I could definitely use the plugs I can get! Especially what with all this traffic you’re getting 😉 I knew this post would be big when I saw Paleo Parents link to it on FB. Which is weird because I rarely see your own updates on FB (thanks, stupid algorithm!) Actually – if things continue to go well on Etsy I will probably set up an online store on my website where I can do an affiliate program :)
            Bethany recently posted..How to press your own fresh vegetable oilsMy Profile

          • Summer says

            An affiliate program would be AMAZING! Yes, I got a HUGE surge in traffic from The Paleo Parents, then Just Eat Real Food posted it again yesterday afternoon and I got an even bigger surge. I had almost 10,000 views yesterday which is just ASTRONOMICAL for my blog. Today I have already more than doubled my regular average page views. I knew I’d get a few readers from the post, but had NO Idea it would go viral. I’m very excited about it. It will keep me more in-tune with the lifestyle too. I have people to please now :)

            And those “obvious reasons”? That’s what the car is for 😉 JK. I know you’re creative and can make it work.

            I think there is a way to subscribe and see all of The Dirty Floor Diary’s Facebook updates but I don’t know how to do it. I’m sure it’s easily google-able. I’m glad you’re back on the radar! And I’m totally jealous of the snow. Send some my way?

          • says

            Okay I’ll try to dig out a camera to take some pics for you to be jealous of :) If you’re ever out in the NW then you’ll have to come visit – it’s stunning out here.

            And yeah actually the funny thing (my hubs would kill me if he saw me posting this lol) is that the creativity has hit the roof, although it’s still difficult to find opportunity. Kinda like being a teenager again!

  15. kate says

    a friend sent me a link to your blog last pm about midnight. i read through bleary eyes and immediately sent her “love note”. i just re-read and want to cry. we are fam of 5 with 2 growing boys who are constantly eating. we ALL have bowel issues. i’ve recently found out that i have a gluten allergy and i am suspecting my son (who drinks milk constantly) has issues with dairy. only recently have i found out about paleo. i’ve been trying to eat clean for a few months and it is SO expensive! when i say that i see eyes glass over and the back side of doctors…. i have felt so condemned. “well if you really DON’T care about your family’s health…if you DID you’d find a way…. cut out those extra Starbucks…” like you said we’re squeezed tight and did the whole cut out non-essentials a long time ago. thank you! thank you! thank you! for all your sharing.
    $200/week for 5? does that include all food? do you all snack very much? is that your “budget” budget? My current budget is $250/2 wk do you think i get approximate where i need to be health-wise/paleo with for less than $400/2wk? i just don’t see how i can go that high. (i menu plan on paycheck schedule) You cannot imagine how much I appreciate your “discussion”.

    • Summer says

      Hi Kate! I’m so happy I could help! My husband complains that we eat a lot of ground meat and chicken and I have to remind him that it’s CHEAP. It’s what we can AFFORD. I really think that if you arm yourself with some spices, you can make even the most boring chicken breast something delicious. Truly, we shop on a $200/week budget. Weeks that we have more money we spend a little more for non-essentials like snacks. I shop Walmart, SuperTarget, Trader Joe’s, and when I can, our local farmer’s market. We don’t snack much, and when the kids want a snack, I give them a banana or apple with a dollop of peanut butter (I let them eat peanut butter but I stay away from it and eat Almond Butter). I have found really inexpensive coconut oil at Walmart, and even cheaper at Trader Joe’s if you have one near you. I make homemade grain-free granola bars when we have the extra money for nuts and seeds. They last about a week as long as I hide them in the back of the refrigerator where they’re not staring us in the face. The hard part is cutting all of the grain and gluten-filled things out of your grocery bill. If you can do that, you’re well on your way. I shop whatever produce is on sale in my area, i.e.: today I WANTED Pink Lady apples but I bought Braeburn because the difference was $1.50/lb. Sometimes when a recipe calls for a spice I don’t have, and I don’t have the extra wiggle room in my budget, I leave it out. I heard from Jason at Paleo Pot that you can find amazing spices and hot sauces at HomeGoods for CHEAP. I can’t wait to check that out this week! A staple in our household is meatloaf. WOO! I often make it into muffins so that it’s individual servings. It makes it seem “different” instead of a boring ole’ loaf. Whole chicken is also another inexpensive thing to buy. Being on a grocery budget doesn’t mean that you can’t eat well. What it DOES mean, is that we have to be creative, and that we have to suffer a lack of variety, which is fine. When you DO have extra money, or you find a rack of ribs BOGO, you really appreciate it so much more. Please feel free to email me (address is on my “about” page) or PM me on Facebook. I’d be happy to chat with you more on getting your grocery bill in line with your budget.

  16. Iuyana says

    Hi I discovered your page today! I’m really trying to change our diet and your weekly plan will hopefully make this transition a lot smoother. I do have a question. Are nuts a staple in the paleo diet? I notice a lot of foods require a nut flour or the oatmeal requires pecans and walnuts. My little one has a SEVERE NUT(all nuts) are there any substitutes or alternatives that you or anyone can recommend?

    • Summer says

      Hi Luyana! Nuts are a staple for most Paleos but you can live without them. Is your little one allergic to Coconut? If not, there are tons of GREAT recipes with coconut flour in them as opposed to nut flours. My friend, Crystal deals with the same thing. Her husband has a horrible nut allergy. The website has some great nut-free recipes. I’ll dig up a few more if you want me to!

      • Iuyana says

        Thanks and he Is not allergic to coconut! We use sunbutter as a peanut butter substitute but stay away from anything with nuts. I will take a look at the website and if you could post a few that can get me started that would be GREAT!!!

  17. Jenny says

    I heard about you from Paleo Parents and and so glad I read this! I have a 14mo old son and after learning of all the benefits if organic, grassfed meats, I changed and started to only shop at the health food store. It is killing my monthly budget though. But I really was struggling with the guilt of buying conventional meats for my son. My husband has been on my case since I’ve been blowing the budget every week, and then he found out how much I was spending on a whole organic chicken, he about flipped his lid! I really needed tower that yes, it’s ok to buy food from Walmart if you have to. But be sure you eat real food like the paleo way and you’ll still be far better off. I feel like a loads been lifted off my shoulders. Thank you so much! Btw, this is my first visit, I’ll definitely be back!!

    • Summer says

      Hi, Jenny! I did the same thing you’re doing and my husband was flipping a LID. I totally understand the peer pressure to buy the best foods but if it’s just not feasible, it’s just not feasible. The scare tactics that film makers and people who are dead-set against anything that didn’t eat grass since its delivery onto this Earth are horrible. There are two sides to every story and unfortunately, even the grass fed meat isn’t always as good as it is advertised. Better? Yes. All holy? No. If you can’t talk about it with people, just don’t! You can moonlight like you buy the best cuts of meat around other people and nobody will be the wiser.

      Welcome to our blog! I’m really excited to have you here and can’t wait to see you around here some more in the future!

    • Summer says

      Hi, Fiona! I absolutely agree with you that realism is really important in determining any ongoing lifestyle. That’s exactly why when I’m out to a restaurant, I order dessert. I’m capable of coming home and eating what is available to me without feeling completely deprived. I generally feel like crap after I eat it too, so sometimes having a gentle reminder why I eat Paleo is a good kick to the butt. Thanks for visiting! I hope we see you around here again soon!

  18. says

    Wow, it sounds like you have an awesome variety for being on a tight budget! We don’t buy a whole lot of organic, but I am trying to incorporate more fresh produce in our diet. Also, our grocery store does not put the “pink slime” in their beef, so we always buy it there, as opposed to walmart. I have never tried kale chips.
    An Ordinary Housewife recently posted..Buddy Blocks from BeginAgain ToysMy Profile

    • Summer says

      I generally just eat eggs and bacon for breakfast, and leftovers for lunch but by popular request I included some breakfast and lunch this week. Otherwise, it would have just been dinners with inexpensive cuts of meat (like ground beef, whole chicken, and chicken thighs). Our grocery store buys most of their produce local which is really cool, but it’s cheaper to go to the farmer’s market of course. s

  19. Laura G says

    Thank you so much for this post….there are times where I feel less than Paleo when I can’t afford to buy the higher priced meat. Thank you!

  20. Leanna says

    Thank you for your honest and encouraging blog! We tried the stuffed acorn squash this week (which was amazing and got rave reviews from my family, hubby, 7yr old and 15 yr old!) and the cilantro lime chicken is cooking away in the crock pot as we speak for tonight:). I am so thankful for your encouragement to do the best we can with what we can afford to get, it has been a turning point for me and my family’s Paleo journey. Thanks again!

  21. says

    Paleo diet is bit too hard for me cos I cannot without skimmed milk (no fat) and wholemeal bread (low in carbs) – so what I do next? And my finance is awful so I only need spent up to 15 pounds per week.

    Many Thanks

    James Stuart

  22. says

    Love it, love it, love it! Thank you for this post. We do what we can with what we have, right? Thank you for putting together the meal plan, my crock pot is my favorite kitchen item.
    lissa recently posted..Sourdough starterMy Profile

    • Summer says

      I love my crock pot too! Thank YOU for visiting! And yes, we make do with what we have. For some of us, that’s lots, but for most of us, it is little. We do the best we can.

  23. Melissa says

    Hello! I think all these meals look delicious and I am planning on making the this week. I had one question about the fennel salad recipe. You said you could not include the recipe here but you included the ingredients on the shopping list. How will I know which ingredients are for this salad?
    Thanks :)

    • Summer says

      Hi, Melissa! The Eggplant & Fennel salad can be found in “The Primal Blueprint, Quick & Easy” cookbook by Mark Sisson. He doesn’t offer the recipe anywhere online, so I can’t offer it on my website for free, but I can direct you where to find it! The ingredients are: eggplant, fennel bulb, paprika, salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, and olive oil; but I can’t give amounts, etc . . . The cookbook is phenomenal and I highly recommend getting it regardless. I’m so glad you found us and are using the Cheap & Easy week! It’s a great week!

      • Melissa says

        Thanks Summer :)
        That helps a lot. I can use my own measurements now that I know what goes into it – after all it is a salad! And I love that cookbook. I checked it out (and kept re-checking it out) from my local library and cooked almost all the recipes until I ran out of check-out renewals for it. I can’t use a cookbook without plenty of pictures to inspire me, so that one was just right.
        Thanks again!

  24. Rosetta says

    Hello, We’re doing the next magazine’s issue. We’re wondering if I could re- print that article ” Paleo Meal Planning ” i our magazine.

    • Summer says

      Hi, Rosetta! I would be happy to contribute to your magazine. Please feel free to email me with any questions you have. :)

  25. RJ says

    Great post! We have a 100$ per week budget and have eaten paleo/grain-free for a year! Shhh… as much as I would love to, I DON’T buy organic produce because we can’t afford it! But we ARE eating produce and not boxed junk, and we STILL feel better and have still lost weight! I base my menu on sale produce items at Aldi! I also cannot afford to buy five $5/Dozen organic cage-free eggs a week: I buy normal eggs at Aldi! We eat fresh ground peanut butter (gasp!) because almond butter doesn’t usually fit into our budget! We buy a 1/4 of grass fed beef in the fall and eat lots of chicken and turkey…ground chicken and turkey with the right spices is very delicious! (sausage spices or taco-meat spices) I buy cheap spices because I use LOTS of spices!! (dollar section of grocery store or aldi or amish country bulk spices) Even though this post is a little older, I thought I’d share with you a great resource for inexpensive spices, and even nuts and seeds. (I buy almonds and sunflower seeds in bulk and grind my own flour) I’m blessed to live in Amish country, where bulk foods are abundant. I would never be able to afford spices from the spice aisle of the grocery store! I thought surely one of them would sell online, but this is the only local one I could find that actually sold the spices online: To be honest, this isn’t where I buy them, but none of the shops I do sell the spices online, LOL! It is, however a good store that I’ve actually shopped in and the prices are still good! I also order expensive things like coconut oil and coconut flour online, NOT from the expensive health food stores! Vitacost and Amazon are my go-to suppliers. Budget paleo IS possible, but it DOES require planning, preparation,strict adherence to your grocery list when you shop and sometimes, doing without that extra, paleo-friendly “treat” on a week when your budget is stretched thin. I often change a fancier, more expensive meal I had wanted to cabbage and beef to make the week work out. We are NOT starving by any means, and I cook a variety of interesting, healthy and delicious meals! YOU CAN DO IT!

  26. says

    Great post! I’ve been trying to be paleo for a year now. I’m doing good in the dessert department so far, and it’s not as hard as people may think. I usually cook and bake with coconut flour, you can make a lot of low carb, paleo desserts with it like coconut flour pancakes and different types of breads and muffins. I usually turn to that when I have a sweet tooth craving :) However, I’ve been needing a list for the savory side of the paleo spectrum, and this list is perfect! So many great ideas, will be following your blog for more, thanks! :)
    Maria recently posted..How to Bake Paleo without Eggs, Dairy, or Sugar! Plus Other Cooking Tips!My Profile

  27. says

    Thank you for this!!! I am trying to get into a more paleo way of eating but it’s just so darn hard because I am just throwing money down the drain…I’m scared to try new things but I really want to because I know I should so I buy all the paleo ingredients and really really plan on making healthy paleo meals…but then…end up at a restaurant instead…because it’s too much work and I don’t think I will like the paleo recipes…then the ingredients go bad…or when I do end up making the paleo recipes, they turn out awful or (even worse) barely edible — and barely edible sadly means I have a sense of obligation to eat the leftovers…ugh! I really feel that I SHOULD be eating paleo (since even just cutting back a little on dairy/grains/beans has me feeling better (at least until I go through the drive thru)…sorry for the rambling but basically I am paying double (for real food ingredients then for whatever I end up ACTUALLY eating from a restaurant) and I am clearly doing this all wrong! I hope I can get it together soon.

    • says

      Again, sorry for the rambling! I don’t know why real food has to be so freaking scary and hard. I guess because I have no idea how it’ll turn out and a lot of things (i.e., vegetables that aren’t corn/potatoes/peas) I have never had before. At least with Hamburger Helper and other ‘add water, mix’ processed foods, I know how it’s supposed to turn out and if I botch it, I could add cheese to make it sorta edible.
      Brittany recently posted..The First PostMy Profile

      • Summer says

        NEVER, EVER be sorry for rambling here! I’m a rambler too. :) I totally know what you’re talking about in regards to being afraid of changing the way you cook. My first Paleo cookbook was “Make it Paleo”. I still think it’s one of the best cookbooks for Paleo newbies. It has foods that you probably already eat in it, just made in slightly different ways. They recipes are mostly simple and very delicious. If I were you, I’d splurge on the cookbook and get to work on changing your diet. It’s amazing what a few drastic, but simple changes will do for your entire life!

  28. says

    I feel guilty every day for not being able to afford organic, grass fed whole foods but it doesn’t stop me from preparing foods that are healthier than fast foods and crap. Preparing a healthy meal is a little more work but well worth the effort. I love the meal planning Summer it helps so much. I’m enjoying my new cookbook “Beyond Bacon” and I can’t wait to try some of your ideas.

    Praise the Lard!!!!

  29. Chelsea says

    Thank you so much for this post! It makes me feel better, that I can’t afford an all organic, free range, grass fed diet….I’m just a humble art teacher! I’m so excited to use these recipes and begin my new paleo lifestyle!!!! :)

  30. says

    Thanks for posting a menu like this. We are a family of ten (2 parents, 2 young adults, and six littles) right now (it changes sometimes ). I’m desperate to do something better for myself. I’ve been battling depression and have been extremely sluggish too. And I am sure I’ve gained almost all the weight back that I lost last spring . I want to do better; but it is *really* hard to eat well sometimes. I’m working on it! Thanks for your help :)

  31. Colleen says

    I’m so excited to find you! I do paleo (about 85% anyway), but don’t push it on my family so much because it’s expensive and hard to find things my kids will eat to replace the grains. 2 of my kids are gluten sensitive, so we already took out gluten. And dairy. My biggest problem is breakfast. We have crazy schedules and my kids are pretty much addicted to cereal. With the allergies its hard. Do you know of any good breakfasty recipes without eggs? I’d really appreciate it!

    • Summer says

      Hi Colleen! Welcome! Wow, yeah. An eggless breakfast isn’t easy. I often make mini crustless quiche so that we can heat them up really quickly in the microwave and chow them down before we leave. Morning Glory Muffins from Paleo Comfort Foods is another go-to. If you guys don’t eat eggs you can substitute the eggs in any of the baked goods recipes for Flax & water mixture (3T water, 1T Flax for each egg; mix together then let stand for 5 minutes before adding to recipe). There are some REALLY good Paleo Pancake recipes out there. My favorite is “Easy Peasy Pancakes” by Paleo Parents. The cookbook Primal Cravings is my new favorite and has some GREAT breakfast recipes in it that are egg-free. Please let me know if you have any other questions!


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