AIP Meal Planning and Shopping on a Budget
Eating well can be time-consuming and expensive, not gonna lie. There is definitely a range of diets within the AIP diet (or even just regular gluten-free, Paleo, Keto, or other specialized diets). While there is valid reason for suggesting one eat only organic, grass-fed, super-duper-premium quality ingredients, the reality is that many of us simply can't afford it. Maybe I should start an OnlyFans? Anyway, read more about they whys and hows and such at the above link if you like (there is some fantastic info), but rest assured that it's okay if you buy conventional, inexpensive meat and produce. It's still going to be a massive improvement for your body!
If you really want to be nitpicky about things, the first step is keep track of what you're spending where. Seriously, keep a spreadsheet and list the items you buy regularly and how much you pay for them - as well as how much time you spend prepping them (if it's a notable amount). Decide which things are worth buying and prepping yourself, and which will be better utilized if you buy them pre-prepped. Frozen items are your friend, if you have the storage space. You would be amazed at what you can find frozen. Speaking of which, if you've found frozen green plantains, PLEASE let me know where to buy them - because I can't find them anywhere.
Eating Healthy on a Budget
So. Let's start with the whole "budget" part. Please refer to paragraph 1, where I mention that eating well can indeed be expensive (we'll get to the time part shortly). However, it doesn't have to be.
The biggest cost-saving measure I've found is to BUY IN BULK. Sometimes that means Costco, but another fantastic and often-overlooked source is restaurant supply stores. We do a good chunk of our regular shopping there these days - in addition to getting wholesale prices on restaurant-quality food (which, even when not organic, is still pretty darned good), things are often pre-prepped there. As an example, I buy GIANT bags of pre-cut purple cabbage for a comparable price to what I would pay at our local budget/bulk grocery store (Winco), but... it's already shredded, which is a HUGE time-saver for me. The things that aren't pre-prepped but are definitely cheaper there, like fresh basil and green onions and peeled garlic, I've developed a processing/preparation system for - which helps avoid the pitfall that many time-challenged folks run into, which is that of Wasting Food. Which leads us to...
The Art of Preparing Foods Ahead of Time
Also known as "planning" or "meal prep" or "working smarter, not harder". This is where you will really make or break your diet. It takes a heck of a lot of time and effort to cook everything from scratch, and I don't know about you, but I certainly don't get paid to be a full-time chef.
Green onions? Dice those suckers up and throw them in a ziploc (or more sustainable ziploc alternative) in the freezer. Voila! Pre-chopped green onions to add to your Deconstructed Eggroll Bowls, or Singapore Noodles, or anything else you like.
Giant bag of peeled garlic? Throw it in a food processor with a little chicken or veggie stock , put it in ice cube trays or lay it out on a lined baking tray and slice it up once it's frozen. Put it in a container and SURPRISE! You now have a whole bunch of pre-minced garlic to use in anything and everything!
Fresh basil and parsley? There's a fairly amazing AIP Pesto recipe that you can also put in ice cube trays, or just store in the fridge for awhile. There are other methods of preserving fresh herbs, if you so desire, but that's my favorite way to use them! Then you can make meals like Spaghetti Squash with AIP Pesto (and your protein of choice).
This post is just an intro to the concept of buying in bulk and meal prep / batch cooking. I'll get into some recipes and nitty-gritty details soon...