Thursday, July 26, 2012

Paleo on a Budget: Review of Robb Wolf's New Shopping Guide

I just read The Paleo Diet Budget Shopping Guide, which is available for $19.99 on Robb Wolf's website. Although more geared towards a family unit, this was an overall great read and had a lot of useful information, even for a bachelor like myself.

The book goes into depth about budgeting, meal planning, and grocery shopping. I didn't get much out of this section, because I've drilled most of my daily meals down to a routine. I also make a huge dinner Sunday and then just have leftovers for the rest of the week. A few months on paleo is what a person needs to figure out what is enjoyable, quick and easy, and affordable. However, if you have a spouse and / or children who want variety and different dinners each night, these sections would be useful.

Frankly, I found Wolf's spiel about budgeting a bit patronizing, but I already use and feel I have a good grasp on my finances. If you are looking to trim your budget so you can eat better, or you want to just rein in your spending in general, the section on excuses might help you find "free money."

My one main disappointment with the book is that it validates non-pastured meat, giving the OK to forgo free-range / grass-fed meat if you really can't afford it. I feel strongly that if you can't afford high-quality meat most of the time, then you ought to relax the strictness of the paleo diet before turning to factory-farmed animals. Wolf, Mr. Paleo Guru, won't compromise on the paleo side, so he needs to compromise on the humanitarian / environmental side. I get it. That said, Wolf does provide the best money-saving options I've seen for keeping everything organic, with detailed instructions for all tips, giving you few excuses to resort to food from a factory farm.

The Paleo Diet Budget Shopping Guide

My favorite parts of the book include:

1) A chart on what produce is the most and least contaminated, so you know where you really need to stay organic and where you can cheat. And a guide to the various labels and certifications that encompass the "green lingo," which is helpful in spotting the scams. 

2) An interactive section on using pressure cookers and slow cookers. This is an area where I need to improve, so I can cook delicious stews with cheaper cuts of meats. I still haven't decided whether to go the pressure cooker or slow cooker route, but I'll share my research along with pros and cons in a future post.

3) A no-excuses, step-by-step guide on buying in bulk, direct from a farm and locally. I'm talking an entire cow! (It involves a big freezer or a "cowpooling" group). While a freezer may not be feasible in my little apartment, this section served as a friendly nudge to remember that I have access to local, humanely pastured meat nearby at Keller's, at the lowest prices in town. I don't take advantage of this nearly enough.

4) Tips on how to freeze and defrost the meals you make, an area of culinary arts that has always made me nervous. The book links to great resources on storing foods properly, which is great for a neurotic like myself. For instance, I made an awesome lavender-rosemary-thyme beef stew the other night and, armed with knowledge and confidence, I separated the leftovers into tupperware for freezing.

Remedial Frozen Food 101

Go ahead and laugh at me, but this is the first time I've ever frozen a meal. I'm excited, because now, come Thursday, I won't have to stuff myself all day long in order to finish my leftovers before they spoil. Eureka.

By the way, this beef stew was off the chain. Here is the recipe from Paleo Diet Lifestyle. I added a few pinches of Mia Maes' lavender spice mix, which I bought at the Los Ranchos Farmers' Market last week. If you live in ABQ, definitely go get some for yourself. If you don't, contact me and I'll give you her email.

So all in all, Robb Wolf's ebook was a useful package of information, with plenty of interactive links to resources I hadn't seen before. Even if you're not paleo, you'd get a lot out of it.

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