Over the past few years, I’ve tried many different ways to reduce my grocery bills. There were times in my life, even recently, where I would try to spend only $250.00 a month on groceries.
I wrote posts on how to spend $50 a week on groceries. It was hard, but at that time, I was trying to be extremely frugal and to put it bluntly, just trying to survive while dealing with variable business income.
Unfortunately, the past year hasn’t been great for my health. While I’ve always been tall and thin and outwardly look healthy, I suffered from poor sleep, stress, and depression last year.
Although I spent the majority of the past few months improving my health and making it a priority, the one glaring thing that was missing was better nutrition.
Knowing I Needed to Make a Change
My husband tried so many times to get me to eat better. I’d put several spoonfuls of sugar in my tea and coffee in the morning and then by 3:00 would do it again.
I never got fat (I know, you can hate me) so I thought the way I was eating was fine. I was still struggling with poor sleep though and my stress continued to be very high. My depression improved dramatically but there were still some days where I slipped back into those feelings of despair and had a hard time getting out.
I knew I could do better and be better, but I just wasn’t sure how.
I was able to finally complete this puzzle when I went to a doctor’s appointment in December of last year, and after talking to my doctor about everything that happened in the last year, she took a long, hard look at me and advised me to change the way I ate.
More specifically, she advised me to eat the way she and her husband have been eating for years: low carb, high fat, high protein. Meat and veggies. No sugar. No bread. No pasta. She said it would change my life, and that I would drastically improve my health not only today or this year but for the rest of my life. I’ve had so many doctors tell me in the past to exercise more or to try to get more sleep, but her tips were so actionable and only required discipline…oh, and money.
The Cost of The Highest Quality Food In the World
You see, eating the highest quality food in the world definitely comes with a cost. I actually sat down with my husband to find a way to afford it. We looked at our budget and found some more things to cut out. We decided not to eat out at all in order to allocate $1,000 to groceries.
We started the first month of January with a Whole 30, which is taking paleo to the extreme. 30 days of no sugar, no alcohol, no dairy, and no gluten. It was very challenging at first, but after a while, it became easy.
Because we weren’t eating gluten, we got all grass fed meat as well. We needed lots of supplies to do this since pretty much everything we had had sugar in it. My husband even made our own ketchup. We found soy sauce that didn’t have any sugar in it. We followed every rule. And we actually ended up spending $1,500 in January to do this, not the $1,000 we projected.
Was the Cost Worth It?
$1,500 for groceries in January might seem shocking especially coming from someone who has written extensively about budgeting in the past. However, it was worth every penny, and I’ll tell you why.
In 30 days, my husband lost 15 pounds and I lost 5. But, that was actually the smallest change we saw and since we didn’t weigh ourselves one time until the end we were able to really notice the other things that improved.
The very first thing I noticed was that my skin started to look amazing.
I’d tried three different face washes in the past to try to improve my skin, but none of them really worked. All of a sudden, there were no blackheads or any issues with the skin on my face at all. It started to look radiant. I even got an e-mail from my friend who asked me how my skin looked so good in a recent YouTube video.
Then, there was the energy. I was eating so much protein and good food that I wasn’t having 3:00 slumps. I started drinking my coffee black with a little bit of coconut milk. I didn’t have any blood sugar spikes or drops, and my mood was better. I snapped at my husband less. I felt like I could play with my kids more.
I started sleeping sounder because I wasn’t drinking wine before bed (which I learned helps you fall asleep but actually doesn’t make you sleep that well.)
A lot of these changes were really slow, and when my 30 days was over, I went on a bit of a crazy streak and ate a lot of chocolate and ordered pizza. (So sue me. I’m human.)
Well, guess what happened? My skin immediately deteriorated. I had one of the worst stomach aches of my life after the pizza that lasted two days. I felt horrible, like death really, and I wanted nothing more than to eat a heaping amount of vegetables and meat to get me back on track.
It’s More About Value Than Cost
I never thought I’d be the person to spend $1,500 on groceries. All those times my husband tried to get me to eat better, I told him we couldn’t afford it. Now, I really believe I couldn’t afford to go without it. I had no idea how much better I’d feel or how much it would improve my life once I started eating better. I know not everyone will be able to spend over $1,000 a month on groceries and believe me, it took me a long time to get to this place too.
What I do know is that many people spend $100+ on eating out every month. Many people also spend a considerable amount of money on packaged foods and soda within their grocery budgets. I know, because budgeting is one of the things I’ve been doing for years, and there’s always more wiggle room than you think. There is always something you can shift, take away, or add if you really take the time to look at the numbers.
For example, you can always spend less on going out to eat so you can spend more to get organic eggs instead of the cheap ones. If you have little kids, going out to eat is a nightmare anyway and ordering in food, while far easier, is bound to make you feel more sluggish and tired than a high-quality meal.
To be honest, I don’t even want to focus on the cost difference between all of this but more of the value difference. I’m not here to convince people to eat all organic, but rather to show through my example what a difference higher quality nutrition could make in your life.
Like I said, my medical student hubby has been trying to get me to do this for a long time, and now I finally understand.
A few months ago, my husband and I were trying to challenge ourselves to only spend a few hundred dollars at the grocery store. We were constantly eating soup and red beans and rice and neither of us felt very great. So, I’m glad that our focus stopped being about trying to save money and trying to squeeze the grocery budget as tight as we could and instead became an overall shift where we gave up other things (like eating out) to be able to afford better food.
As stated, because of this value shift, we noticed other benefits, like both us losing weight and my skin somehow becoming amazingly clear and my energy becoming so high. Although it’s expensive month to month, I can’t even quantify what this will save me in the long term. Being healthy (and not just outwardly looking healthy) will save significant healthcare costs over the course of my life not to mention allow me to be mentally healthy, well rested, and an overall a happier person.
I know it’s a lot to attribute to the type of food I eat, but I’ve experienced firsthand how good nutrition can positively influence your life, and that’s why I’ll spend $1,500 time and time again – even if it means giving up a few things in the meantime.
How much do you spend on groceries each month? Have you ever tried a Whole30 or eating paleo?