“Your health is a long-range investment that will pay-off when you need it most.”
― Bryant McGill
One of the questions I get asked most frequently is:
How much does it cost to eat the AIP-way?
And, it’s a good question.
The short answer is, there’s no simple answer.
Or, if I can put it another way…
I don’t know how much it will cost for you.
I can tell you that it doesn’t cost us anymore here at JFC HQ. If anything, our food bill has gone down.
And, I can give you some pointers on how to make it more cost effective at your place, too.
Let’s start with the easy stuff…
What you stop buying/paying for…
You know that the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is an anti-inflammatory diet designed to heal the gut and mitigate autoimmune symptoms, right?
That means there are things you remove from your diet. Potentially expensive things.
Things like alcohol
Alcohol doesn’t feature in the elimination phase of the protocol*. And, even if alcohol is successfully reintroduced, it’s pretty likely that your consumption levels will be significantly lower. Unless you’re a non-drinker, of course!
Things like takeaways and fast food
There’s no easy way to say this, but takeaways are pretty much guaranteed to become a memory. Even after reintroductions. Convenience foods like takeaways are the ones highest in transfats, gluten, soy, additives and preservatives. All things seasoned AIPers steer well clear of. Sorry.
Things like dining out
That’s not to say that you can’t dine out. You can. But – there’s always a but! – it certainly can be a little challenging. And when you remove all the add-ons; things like bread, wine, cocktails, dessert – well, suddenly it’s a lot cheaper!
AIP-Approved ‘Special’ Ingredients
There are a few specialist ingredients that feature on the Autoimmune Protocol. And, they are on the expensive side.
Gelatin falls into this camp. But, it’s worth it. And, a little goes a long way.
Specialist AIP-approved flours also feature. Otto’s Cassava Flour (available from here if you’re in Australia) and tiger nut flour (not yet available in Australia) are two such flours, popular for creating AIP ‘treats’.
So far, we’ve been talking about the direct cost of AIP. The amount that has to be paid or spent.
What about the indirect cost?
Honestly? To be successful following the Autoimmune Protocol, this is where the real cost is realised.
And most of this indirect cost falls into under the umbrella of time…
Time to plan ahead
Planning ahead is the single biggest learning curve for most people new to the protocol to come to terms with. We live in a time of immediacy and convenience. And, AIP takes planning.
- Making bone broth takes time (between 3 and 72 hours depending on your cooking method)
- Fermenting vegetables takes time (between 1 and 3 weeks depending on the time of year)
- Refrigerating coconut cream or gelatin gummies takes time (3 hours minimum)
Time to cook
To succeed on the protocol, you must cook. It’s so important, I’m going to say that again.
To succeed on AIP you must cook
If you are not a cook now, you will become one. It’s simply not negotiable.
You don’t have to cook ‘fancy’. You don’t have to be a cordon bleu chef. But, you must learn to cook.
And cooking takes time. Especially the long, slow cooking that is favoured for maximum health benefit.
Time to factor in the other elements of the protocol
The final indirect cost is the one that is easy to overlook.
And that is all the work that takes place outside of the food purchasing, preparation and consumption.
I’m talking specifically about the lifestyle factors of the protocol – getting outside in the sun, moving, sleeping, managing your stress, laughing and connecting.
Have you got any tips for managing cost on the Autoimmune Protocol?
*with the exception of where it is used as an ingredient in cooked food and the alcohol is cooked off.
Nice article Jo!
I’d say while my grocery bill has edged up a little, my other expenses such as spending money on alcohol at a bar, or my restaurant spends have gone way done. So much so, I’d say that overall I’m in the black 🙂
Yep, we’re definitely in the same boat, PI.
And, my cooking has improved, too! 🙂
Our food bill has definitely gone up, and that is even with not eating out anymore. But I think that is because we have switched to organic veg. If we didn’t buy organic we would probably be spending less than previously.
But I think food has become more expensive in Australia over the last 10 years – as a percentage of household spending, and as a percentage of income. I know that the price of meat went up a few months ago, and apparently that is because it is being bought up by the American market – the farmers say they can get more money by selling to Americans! Another example of how global markets impact on local people.
Definitely more time consuming, but the pay off is much tastier food. I think batch cooking, having a deep freeze and buying seasonally is the only way to make that work. I’ll let you know if I come up with any juicy handy hints! Actually, I think I mentioned this at the last sydney picnic, but maybe batch cooking in a group, like make it a social event – makes it fun as well as achieving those necessary extra meals.
Melanie – the whole ‘buying seasonally and locally’, has been a big shift for us. I have turned the way I cook on it’s head. Rather than finding a recipe I want to try and buying the ingredients, I now cook according to what’s available locally in any given season. It’s an interesting shift, isn’t it?
…and, count me in for a batch cooking session!
I love this post, Joanna. A ‘before AIP’ and ‘after AIP’ shot of a supermarket trolley is a great idea~! It would be like an archeological dig into two different worlds~! Though our food bill is higher (kids are expensive), our priorities have shifted. We’re truly satiated, so we don’t buy any superfluous non-food crap. In fact, we just don’t buy that much anymore, except food and clothes and books. So overall, the AIP is cheaper! Also, we don’t throw any food away. We used to have all this stale food made in factories that we’d have to dispose of. And now, people in our house don’t overeat, because the food in our house is real. There aren’t flats of crispy crunchy things to dive into at midnight. Just some leftover pot roast. And broccoli. And bone broth. So the food we are buying is actually nourishing us and not causing a whole host of other problems. Our spending is in line with our values~.
Petra – this is so true! Our priorities have also shifted – we have definitely reduced our footprint in terms of what we discard. It’s a great way of looking at it – a real paradigm shift that is about so much more than just the food.
Plus, you know how much that values reference resonates for me 🙂
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