The Whole30 challenge is exactly that—a challenge. You must mentally prepare and you have to want it. It took me two months to be able to say, “I’m doing this!” And that was because of a melanoma diagnosis. Yep, it took cancer to scare the bejeezus out of me. I’m not afraid of death, but I’ve never felt mortality so damn close like I did that day at the doctor’s. I’ve had a family member die from melanoma and, as a mom of two girls, I want to see them become strong, powerful and amazing women. The Whole30 was a way to get as healthy as possible from the inside out. What I wasn’t counting on was the (W)hole in my wallet.
This second time around, I knew I couldn’t be as careless with my budget as I had been the first. Finding Whole30 compliant items in France isn’t easy. It took me four months to find coconut aminos—and they’re expensive. But you don’t really need them. A good spice rack and an array of herbs can season up the blandest cauliflower rice.
So how can you stay on track without breaking the bank?
- To Bio or not to Bio? Luckily, we live in France, where agricultural standards are better than in some other countries. If those bio sweet potatoes are priced at 5,60€ a kilo versus conventional at 2,99€? I choose the non-organic ones. Apples are a different story. Best to buy organic if it’s on the “dirty list.”
- Freeze It. A great way to enjoy organic veggies & fruits on the cheap is to buy them frozen. If you’re going to sauté those green beans or make strawberry coulis, they don’t have to be fresh. Frozen will keep your meal as clean as possible for a lot less change.
- Rethink Eggs. I’ve heard “don’t have more than two eggs per week” for years. While on Whole30, your average egg consumption will be more like two to four a day. I kid you not. Don’t forfeit on the cage-free, free-range or organic variety. They taste so much better than conventional ones. FYI, the store’s own organic brand is cheaper than Label Rouge.
LES LOLOS Tip: The fresher your eggs, the harder they are to peel when hardboiled. Use your older eggs for hard boiling. They’ll come out less mangled.
- What’s Your Beef? Apparently, all beef in France is grass-fed. That’s the good news. The so-so news: That doesn’t mean it’s pesticide-free. So spring for the organic variety found in most supermarkets. Carrefour’s is just a slightly higher price. Or go ahead with conventionally raised, but select a leaner cut because the toxic stuff is mostly stored in the fat. Your local butcher may have higher prices but quality is guaranteed. Don’t forget, bacon is Whole30 compliant! In my experience, only your boucherie has additive- and sugar-free bacon. And it is worth it!
- Go Nuts. I didn’t know how good nuts were until the Whole30. But they can be pricey, so go bulk and shop around. I find all my nuts at a nearby Middle Eastern market. In just a ten-minute drive, I have all I need to make my own almond butter for half the price. FYI, cashews tend to be three times the price of walnuts and almonds.
- You Don’t Have To Gadget. They do make it a lot easier, though. Sprializers aren’t that expensive, but I don’t have the room for another contraption. Paris living can be tight. My regular veggie peeler gives me perfect zucchini ribbons that I enjoy with my homemade Bolognese sauce.
- Get Creative. You’ll scour the internet for Whole30 compliant recipes. Search for budget-friendly ones that use ingredients you already have. One of my favorites is Susan Joy’s The JOYful Table, created by LES LOLOS’ favorite Aussie Paleo guru. Her Asian Meatball Salad changed the way I feel about cabbage. It’s such an inexpensive green, found in abundance in the winter. If a salad isn’t quite your thing during this Deep Freeze, her Creamy Chicken Mulligatawny Soup will warm up your frostbitten extremities. Plus the leftovers will save you time and money.
Keep these budget-friendly tips in mind as you head into another week of Whole30—or if you’re just starting. And join our Whole30 France Facebook group. We keep each other motivated and honest. Strength in numbers!