I’m pretty sure that friends have always suspected I was a little bit crazy. Now I have given them even more reason to want to put me in the looney bin. This month, I read the book “It Starts with Food” because I wanted to become better informed about the food I was eating and it’s effect on my body.
After reading the effect that too much sugar and processed food can have on the body, I was freaked out and immediately convinced to cut every bit of unhealthy food out of my diet for 30 days. I wasn’t motivated by weight loss, but by the hope of a long and healthy life. This dietary shift is called the “Whole30” and it comes with a whole host of rules and LIST of things that I cannot eat.
See? Told ya people think I’m crazy.
I’m not one to care of people think I’m a little bit off my rocker. I’m actually used to it. You don’t get to air your $180,000 in debt financial dirty laundry on the internet (for the whole WORLD to see) without a lot of people thinking that you are a little nutty. Dave Ramsey calls us weirdos and Rob and I wear that title like a badge of honor. So it’s not the crazy thing that bothers me.
As I was reading up on the Whole30 and trying to figure out what the heck I would eat for the next 30 days, I began to think about all of my favorite foods that I was preparing to give up. Cheese. Coffee creamer. Bread. Black beans. Wine. I was trying desperately to come to terms with the fact that every cup of coffee I would consume during my Whole30 was going to be black coffee.
Then I went grocery shopping and I REALLY started to freak out.
Why, you ask?
Because in addition to the long list of foods that I need to say goodbye to during my 30 day healthfest, I also need to start saying HELLO to some really important foods. Like cage free eggs, pasture raised beef, and organic fruits and vegetables. The program recommends eating the highest quality foods that you can find (and afford). Meats and eggs are especially important, but the authors also suggest consuming as much organic produce as possible because the pesticides that non-organic produce is treated with can really do a number on your health as well.
I purchased my first round of food and nearly fainted in line at the checkout counter. I always knew that organic food was more expensive, but I was still so surprised at how quickly it added up. As it turns out, the best way to forget about all of the food can’t eat for a month is to run out to the grocery store and start buying the healthy stuff. Suddenly, all of that junk food became the least of my concerns!
These are my grocery receipts from the first half of January.
So what does all of this mean for my budget? It means some serious rearranging!
When I created my January budget, I was already aware that I would be spending more money than usual at the grocery store. I also didn’t plan on going out to eat at all during the month (there’s no rule against dining out while on the Whole30 but I’m too nervous that I will accidentally eat something I’m not supposed to and have to start all over again). So I took the money I would usually spend at restaurants and added that to my “grocery” envelope.
I also allocated less money than usual for some of my sinking funds to give myself a little more grocery money. Notably: gifts, car savings and entertainment money.
I usually allocate about $260 for food each month (groceries and restaurants combined). When Rob and I sat down to work on our January budgets, I placed $442 in my grocery budget for the month. I crossed my fingers and hoped that would be enough to get me through my Whole30.
As it turns out, I may still need extra grocery money. Even with the changes, $106 is all that remains of my January grocery budget. Some items I purchased early on are still in my freezer (organic chicken breasts and frozen spinach) or pantry (coconut oil, almond butter, vinegar and extra light olive oil) so my envelope isn’t likely to take as big of a hit during the second half of the month, but it’s hard to say. This is literally all the cash that remains. If it runs out, I will have to pull money from other areas of my budget. One thing is certain, I will not spend more than I make.
The key to succeeding at any budget is to have a plan. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. If I need extra cash for groceries this month, I am already looking at my budget and trying to figure out where I can cut back. Thankfully, gas prices are still down and I am fairly certain I will have a surplus in that category this month. I had also set aside $50 in my clothing budget for a new pair of pants. I will probably wait to buy the pants in February and put my clothing fund towards food this month.
Trying to find extra money in your monthly budget is always a challenge and often involves sacrificing other things you want. It’s important to set your budget before the first of the month and devise a plan. As unexpected expenses arise (such as overspending on groceries during the month), it’s ok to go back and revise your budget. Dave Ramsey calls these moments “Emergency Budget Meetings.” Doing the Whole30 is certainly going to alter my January budget but it’s not the end of the world. With a little rearranging, my budget and I are back on track.
Sara J says
I can totally relate. It is a big adjustment to add organic food to your groceries. I already spend a lot for my family of 4 to eat every month but now it is even more. I read 100 Days of Real Food and follow her blog…similar to Whole30 except you can have dairy, alcohol and grains. It is more about cutting out the sugar and processed foods. If I have learned anything from it, it is to read labels. So many foods are disguised as healthy but are processed. Now since I am reading labels better, I am actually finding lots of healthy options at Meijer and Costco. I thought I would have to shop at Whole Foods all the time (so scary after my first bill there for just a few things) but a lot of other stores are carrying organic food for a reasonable price. Good luck!!
Maria Manore says
I don’t have a Costco membership but I went with my friend one day this month and I agree… they have SO many organic options. I’m pretty sure a Costco card is in my future.
We switched over to mostly organic a little over a year ago and it really is a lot more expensive. For our family of 4 we at least spend $1500 a month on food. Costco is a must! It’s worth it though the to know what you’re putting in your family’s bodies!
Maria Manore says
I completely agree, Nicole! It’s scary to think about what is in our food.
Great book and great info! I know many people (including me) who benefit when we eat that way. The cost is tough and really hard to find extra funds when the money is super tight. They do encourage the highest quality food you can find and afford, but its okay if you can’t. They have info on what cuts of meat are best to buy if you can’t get pastured and what produce is most important to get organic. The Paleo Mom blog has some good info about the best meat choices on a budget, etc., too. You won’t realize how badly your food was affecting you until you do your Whole30 and start adding things back in. It’s amazing. I wish you well!
Maria Manore says
Thank you, April for the very helpful advice! I am so excited to see what happens after the 30 days. I’m seriously craving a few foods (mostly ones with lots of sugar and dairy) and I’m a little nervous about what’s going to happen to my stomach when I try them again.
Paula Reid says
We do Whole 30 most of the time; Costco is a huge moneysaver even though there are only 2 of us. Wild caught fish and a decent selection of organic produce is what I get there. Also, if you have Trader Joe’s — best prices for grass fed meat, eggs and other good organic things. I found that by cutting out the junk, I spent less, but that was just my experience. Also, I don’t buy organic anything where we don’t eat the peel; you’re going to throw away the contaminated part anyway.
Maria Manore says
Hi Paula! Thank you for the tips. I will definitely have to check out trader Joe’s and remember that things like bananas and limes don’t have to be organic!
I love that you’re a big fan of Stitch Fix and Paleo, two of my favorite things. But I agree, eating this way is expensive, and it’s also hard on the planet. I like to temper my meat eating paleo ways with a lot of veggies and a medium amount of fruit when I can, which can cut costs vs. organic meat and dairy. I look forward to reading more about your Paleo journey.
I could do this. But no legumes? Why? Healthier cultures around the world are sustained by rice and beans. I’m almost sold, but that one part makes me question it.
Maria Manore says
Hi Jill, that was my question too! The book goes into great detail but there have been studies that link legumes to inflammation in the body.
Hello! I was researching whole 30 and meijer and your blog came up. I saw the picture of your receipt and you must live in the metro Detroit area. I like finding other people who have done whole 30 and live by me so they can give me tips. What is your go to store?
Maria Manore says
Hi Nicole, Yes! I live in the Detroit area. I have several stores that I shop at for specific things. Here’s a quick list:
Nino Salvaggio or Target: Aidells Chicken Apple Sausage and Applegate Naturals hot dogs
Meijer or Kroger: miscellaneous organic veggies
Costco: VEGGIES! Organic or not, I buy them in bulk and save a fortune. All of my cage-free eggs are from Costco too
I’m not sure which part of Detroit you’re from, but there’s an AMAZING Amish market in Mt. Clemens called Hefflings. I buy all of my meat from there. It’s organic, antibiotic free, and has the best prices around.
I hope this helps!
Hi, Maria!! I love reading your blog – it’s so inspirational and has so many great things to say about finances, diet, etc.
I’m married with two children under two. I’ve been thinking about trying the Whole 30 myself, to get healthier for the sake of our kids, but it seems so hard when you’re nursing a newborn and chasing a toddler (right now, my diet includes a lot of Halloween candy).
Any words of advice to get me jump-started?
Maria Manore says
Hi Katie, goodness it sounds like your hands are full! The hardest part of the Whole30 is the planning and meal prep. Maybe it would help if you worked out a plan ahead of time. Start pinning recipes, make some foods that you can freeze ahead of time and order non-perishable items ahead of time too. Then plan out your month of meals and formulate a plan. Best of luck!