An article written by Anastasia Surridge (Queensland, Australia) entitled ‘Banting on a budget’ was posted on my website 21 Jan 2016. In answer to the critics who claim that Banting is too expensive for the general population, Anastasia shares her weekly shopping list and gives 10 money-saving ideas for a low carb lifestyle.
Here’s Anastasia’s advice for ‘Banting on a budget’:
Many people embarking on a new way of eating get enticed by all the delicious things they can make and, as a result, think that the program may be too costly for them. This could certainly be the case with the Banting diet, as we have so much free rein to choose from amazingly delicious foods such as fabulous cheeses (like brie, blue cheese and camembert) and meats (which are at the highest prices we’ve seen in Australia). But you don’t have to blow the bank.
You can actually embark on the Banting lifestyle, eat delicious foods along the way, and lose weight and improve your health – all whilst on the budget of someone living on unemployment benefits. I know because I’m living proof of it! Having been on a very tight food budget for many years now, I am happy to share the 10 top money-saving ideas that I’ve come up with along the way and since following the Banting lifestyle.
Top 10 Money-saving Ideas
- Breakfast: My husband’s breakfast is 2 eggs, 1 rasher of bacon, sliced cooked tomato, and a cup of coffee with pure cream. My breakfast is usually 2 eggs poached in chicken or beef bone broth, with a shallot and butter, a rasher of bacon, and a cup of coffee with cream. The bacon is cooked slowly to render out most of the fat, starting out in a cold fry pan, adding extra tallow if needed (see tip no. 7 for how to render fat). This is a cheap breakfast and is so satisfying that my husband and I can skip lunch; this alone saves us a lot of money.
- Broth – I make broth from anything that moves. I make my chicken broth from chicken frames and wings (not the tips) deboning the meat after the broth is made (using the wings gives you more meat). This meat is then used in salads or other dishes. The chicken broth can be used as the base for pumpkin or other vegetable soup or anything else you’re cooking. Beef bone broth can be made from beef knuckle (‘cheap as chips’ from the butcher). I have a BIG stock pot (sometimes I use my Ball canning kettle that is massive and will hold a medium-sized turkey – that makes a LOT of broth!). I keep the pot on the stove for about three days to make beef broth, and take the marrow out of the bones and add it to the broth. The meat gets deboned and added to casseroles etc. Save all bones from everything you eat, put them in the freezer and when you have enough, make stock out of them.
- Yoghurt – Greek yoghurt is really expensive compared to the price of making it yourself (I’m REALLY big on making everything myself – you should see my fridge!).
How to make the yoghurt: Get the cheapest milk you can – available for $1 per litre in Australia, equivalent to 11.61 ZAR (South African Rand)*. Heat it to scalding then let it cool to blood temperature before adding half a small container of Greek yoghurt (you know, the small 125ml size that are cheap). Mix it together really well, pour it into a jug and wrap it in a couple of towels and put it into an insulated shopping bag (or esky). Place a jar with boiling water beside it (inside the bag or esky) to keep up the heat and continue to replace the boiling water so it all stays warm for 24 hours – and it’s done. The longer you let it ferment, the more sour it will become; so ferment it to your taste.
- Fruit and vegetables – shop around for your fruit and vegetables. The markets, as well as fruit and veg shops, are great places for produce that is cheaper than in the supermarkets. It’s more expensive to start with a set idea of what you want to eat rather than eating what’s on special. Buy produce in season – not at the beginning of the season and not out of season, as they’re very dear at those times. If you can, grow your own! Scour the marketing circulars each week and plan your meals around the fruit and vegetables that are on special. In my town, our local supermarket (Coles) often has shallots for just $1 per bunch (11.61 ZAR), asparagus for $2 per bunch (23.22 ZAR) and so on.
- Cheese – Cheese is really expensive. Buy it only when it’s on sale and/or buy the big blocks when they’re on special for around $10 per block (116.11 ZAR) and this should last you a couple weeks. Buy the pricier cheeses (such as blue vein) when they are on sale and use them to make something like a blue cheese dressing rather than eating them in cubes. This way, you’ll get the flavour and satisfaction of eating the product, but consume less of it so you can stretch it further.
- Meat – In Australia, meat is currently the most expensive it has ever been (the butchers here say that this is because our growers are selling it overseas and don’t get enough by selling it in Australia, so they have to raise the price here – makes sense.) So, develop a taste for the inexpensive cuts and offal, and make pork crackling. The cheap mince from the supermarket has a higher fat content anyway (about 33%) which is perfect for us!. Stretch it with the addition of liver and heart; beef heart from my butcher costs just $3 (34.83 ZAR). I mix them all together in a hand-cranked mincer I bought online from China and this way you can make the mix the way you like it. I add chicken livers that I get from the butcher, and although they’re pricey at $10 per kg (116.11 ZAR), they’re very tasty and a little bit goes a long way and adds a TON of vitamin A to the meal! The heart adds CO-Q10 and a really nice sweetness. I roast it and add it to beef stock (it is really lovely in soup stock), and then add the cooked heart to the mince. I have to say that for most of my life I hated liver and the idea of any offal. However, having been persuaded that offal is so amazingly health-producing and tasting some that was made well, has allowed me to develop a taste for it (although I’m not about to buy a cookbook all about it!).
- Coconut oil and fat rendering – I know that coconut is the ‘bees knees’ of oils but frankly I can’t really afford the price currently being charged in Australia. So I order suet from the butcher (you can also order leaf fat or back fat from pigs) to render down and cook with. It’s BEAUTIFUL! It’s so easy to do but my butcher has to order it in big lots (I have to buy about 7.5kg of it).This took up the entire bottom shelf of my large fridge and took me about 4 days to render down. How did I do it? I have a large saucepan that came with my cooking set that I fill with water and put a glass slow-cooker insert into. I then fill the insert with chopped suet and put it on the smallest burner on the lowest heat, cover it, and let it cook all day. If the beef is really good quality and was pasture-raised, the tallow should smell really beautiful. If it has Brahman in it, it is still tasty although not as fragrant. Kinda’ smelly, actually! But the 7.5kg gave me about 10 litres of tallow that I canned in my Ball canning jars and store in the fridge when it’s opened. One litre will last the two of us about a month. So that’s just $2 per litre (23.22 ZAR) for home-rendered tallow compared to $20 per litre (232.22 ZAR) for coconut oil. Also tallow has the most absorbable vitamin D of any fat around (more than lard).
- Dairy – now this is a bit of a stretch (because many of the small dairies in Australia are selling up to foreign buyers, sadly) but if you can find a small, local dairy, you may be able to get fresh milk, cream and butter at lower prices than the supermarket. Seek it out if you can as the quality is ‘through the roof’ and far superior to anything you’ll ever get from the shops.
- Eggs – Seek out fresh, local eggs from small local shops, such as butchers and fruit and veg shops. You can also find fresh, local eggs at weekly markets, so find out if there are any near you. Doing so, also supports local farmers and the local economy, rather than the big, multi-national corporations. If you can keep your own chickens, I’d highly recommend it. They make wonderful pets and produce eggs that are far superior to any you can buy in the shops.
- Eat real food – aim to have old-fashioned, real and basic food, the kind our grandparents and great-grandparents ate. Go for simple dishes with the basic, less expensive vegetables (not the trendy stuff). Have a look at old recipe books for recipes you can convert to LCHF; these old books can often be found at Opportunity Shops or Bookfests (such as Lifeline’s Bookfest, held every 6-12 months).
Weekly Shopping List
Getting good prices has to do with where and how you shop. Expect to pay more for quality. Here’s an example of what our weekly shopping list looks like for two people (keeping in mind that we have backyard chickens that give us eggs). This totals just over $50 per person, per week (580.56 ZAR).
– cheese $11
– milk $10
– butter $3.00
– cream $2.50
Fruit & Vegetables
– mixed $20
– vegetables on special (mushrooms) $7.70
– various (use bones for stock) $9.00
– bacon $7.99
– salami $13
– coffee $10
– coconut oil (enough for 2 weeks) $10
Anastasia has been addicted to carbs and overweight all her life. She lost 30kg on ‘Weight Watchers’ and became a ‘Weigh Watchers Lecturer’, but couldn’t keep the weight off. She has since found low carb eating and has been hard at work restoring her health and losing weight. See her Facebook page ‘Eat Well Live Well on a Budget’ and is happy to pass on anything she knows to others.