During the #SeptemberWhole30, we are providing resources for moms in all seasons. Today we hear from Whole30 Certified Coach Amanda Alley. Amanda’s husband lost his job, and she quickly had to figure out how to sustain their healthy habits on a budget and utilizing resources such as WIC and SNAP (food stamps). Amanda answers some frequently asked questions today.

What is it like raising three boys while on a budget trying to keep healthy food on the table?

It takes a lot of commitment! I choose convenience foods a lot of times, such as Primal Kitchen mayos and dressings, to buy myself more time with my family. However, you don’t need those products to complete a successful Whole30, because you can make your own. It’s always a give and take of time vs. money, so you have to figure out what’s worth it for you!

We still have our fair share of food battles. One day, they love avocado, the next day, it’s the catalyst for the greatest tantrum ever. You never know with kids!  My best advice is to try to stay consistent and always offer them fresh fruits and vegetables, regardless of whether they have said they like it or not. Even if they don’t eat it, I want them to see it as a familiar staple on their plate. I believe that one day, when they are left to their own devices, they will come back to mom’s food and pick vegetables in my honor. A mama can dream, can’t she?!

We also came up with a weekday dinner menu. This predictability helps my budget and my mind! It has helped with mealtime meltdowns as well since the kids know what to expect. Here’s what works for our family dinners:

M: Meatballs or Meatless Mondays (a plant-based meal)
T: Taco Tuesday
W: Wacky Wednesday (leftovers!)
Th: Burgers
F: Fish or fajitas

Is it possible to do a Whole30 on a budget?

Absolutely! The Whole30 is only as expensive as you make it. I’ve been eating a Whole30-inspired diet for the past 6 months of using food stamps to feed my family, and it’s totally possible. You might have to make more of your own staples, like salad dressings and mayo. You might have to give up RX bars and EPIC bars for your snack and opt for homemade trail mix of nuts and raisins. You might have to give up your weekly coffee treat. It takes some reconfiguration and sacrifice but if you want it, it’s possible.

I remind my clients that these Whole30 convenience foods aren’t required, they are simply an option. Don’t compare, don’t covet the mayo; make it yourself and move on! Lately, I have been prioritizing organic meats. I’ve started using the Whole30 Budgeting guide again. It’s so, so helpful. Since I don’t want to buy too much food and go over our budget, I’m moving our priorities around and ensuring that the foods that we do eat give us the most bang for our buck.

As far as budget-friendly Whole30 compliant meals, I’m a huge fan of shredded meats! You can cook a whole chicken on Sunday and have several meals with it throughout the week. Tacos, chicken salad, soups—the possibilities are endless. Even if you spend $10 on meat, if it lasts you for a week, that’s money well spent.

Another great recipe tip is to add veggies to your meat to make it last. For example, I add shredded zucchini and carrots to lots of my ground meats, and it adds that extra veggie power and it makes the meat mixture last longer. It’s a nutritional bonus that my kids don’t even notice!

How do you incorporate food stamps into your Whole30-inspired lifestyle?

SNAP (previously known as food stamps) is a government nutrition program that supplies families in need with a monthly food budget based on their family size and any income they may have. Another option is WIC, which more restrictive in what you can purchase, but you can get creative in using up what you are allotted.

This has been very helpful for our family since my husband lost his job about 6 months ago. It was unexpected, and I only work part-time, so we have used our allowance to continue clean eating. We make a few adjustments as I said earlier, buying fewer or more convenience foods depending on what our budget looks like. But it’s been a true blessing to our family and we are grateful for this program.

What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing a Whole30 but feels like their Whole30 won’t be good enough if they’re unable to purchase grass-fed, organic, etc?

I’d start by giving them a big hug! Just because we are on a budget, does not mean that we are unworthy of eating healthy foods. Food oppression—the idea that healthy food is only for the elite—is a huge problem in our society. This is not true! Healthy food should be available to everybody.

You don’t need to buy grass-fed, organic, cage-free anything to have a healthy, Whole30-inspired diet. Simply making the choice to buy a pound of beef instead of 5 boxes of mac and cheese is a non-scale victory of the greatest kind. If this is you, I want to empower you to look that negativity in the face, head to the grocery store, and fill that cart with simple, fresh, whole foods. That’s it. YOU DESERVE IT!

Amanda Alley is a Whole30 certified coach serving the NH seacoast communities. She’s a 30-something wife, boy mom x3, and once-upon-a-time poet. Amanda is passionate about helping others navigate the Whole30 program and find the healthiest version of themselves.