You may have some crunchy friends who’ve been raving about the Whole30 Program.

Maybe your Instagram is full of yummy looking meals with hashtags like: #Whole30 #healthyeating #delicious.

Maybe you’ve heard of the mythical dragon’s blood that happens about halfway through, giving you a serious energy boost.

Maybe you’re just sick of having an upset stomach most of the time and you’ve heard this can help.

Developed by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the Whole 30 is a Paleo based diet that eliminates a lot of foods that have negative impacts on your health

. Some foods that many people consider “healthy” can also impact your energy levels and gut health, so for 30 days, those are stripped from your diet too. By removing all these foods from your diet, you’re able to reset your body over 30 days and feel the real effects of how the food you eat controls your metabolism, energy levels, sleep cycles, and more.

Whole 30 rules:

  • Do not consume sugar of any kind, real or artificial (ex: Splenda, Equal, honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar, etc.)
  • Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking
  • Do not eat grains (ex: rye, barley, corn, rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • Do not eat legumes (ex: beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, etc.)
  • Do not eat dairy, with the exception of clarified butter or ghee (including cow, goat, sheep or the milk of any other animal)
  • Do not consume carrageen, MSG or sulfates
  • Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk food, or treats with “approved” ingredients
  • You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program

And here’s the small list of exceptions that you can have:

  • Clarified Butter or Ghee
  • Fruit juice can be used as sweetener
  • Certain legumes that are more pod than bean (ex: snap peas, snow peas, green beans).
  • Vinegar that doesn’t contain gluten
  • Salt

Once all these restrictions are in place, you may start to wonder what on earth you can eat. Something about the Whole 30 makes folks jump right into thinking about Whole Foods and suddenly all you can see are dollar bills, making the program seem too expensive to be worth it.

In truth, you can Whole 30 with a pretty tight budget and still get it done.

Getting started

There are a few staples you’re going to want in your kitchen to make this month more bearable. The best piece of advice for making the Whole 30 budget friendly is to do 90% of your shopping at a Walmart or regular grocery store and then swing by a Whole Foods or an organic grocery store for just a few key items that are harder to find elsewhere.

It’s worth noting that for some specialty items, Whole Foods actually does have the best price despite it being an item you can find in multiple stores. Also, Thrive Market often has larger sizes that break down to less per ounce or pound. Despite that, we’ve selected the cheapest option that will get you through 30 days, not necessarily the cheapest option if you were likely to use the entire product up continuing beyond 30 days.

Cooking oils

You can splurge on all three or pick any two and it will probably get you through the month. Coconut oil is a little sweeter than the olive oil or ghee.

Coconut oil

  • Walmart: $3.68 (LouAna 100% Pure Coconut Oil—14 oz. jar)
  • Whole Foods: $6.99 (365 Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil—14 oz. jar)
  • Thrive Market: $8.45 (Organic Virgin Coconut Oil by Nutiva—15 oz. jar)

Olive oil

  • Whole Foods: $6.99 (365 Mediterranean Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil—one liter)
  • Walmart: $7.74** (Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil—25.5 fl. oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $9.95 (California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

**Note that if you plan to make homemade mayo during your Whole 30, Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil is generally considered one of the best brands to make it with. Heavier olive oils make the mayo taste wrong.

Ghee

  • Whole Foods: $7.99 (Organic Valley Purity Farms Ghee Clarified Butter—7.5 oz. jar)
  • Walmart: $8.23 (Organic Valley Purity Farms Ghee Clarified Butter—7.5 oz. jar)
  • Thrive Market: $9.95 (Thrive Market Ghee—14 oz. jar)

Cooking oils total (if you buy all three): $19.41 or $.65 per day

Spices

Spices are how you stay sane during the Whole 30. As long as the spice doesn’t include sugar, you can put whatever you want on your food. There’s a good chance you’ve already got these items in your kitchen, but if you don’t, here are a few highly recommended spices.

Salt

  • Walmart: $1.96 (Hain Pure Foods Iodized Sea Salt—26 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $2.05 (Hain Pure Foods Iodized Sea Salt—26 oz.)
  • Whole Foods: $3.19 (Hain Pure Foods Iodized Sea Salt—26 oz.)

Pepper

  • Walmart: $2.44 (McCormick Pure Ground Black Pepper—1.5 oz.)
  • Whole Foods: $2.99 (365 Ground Black Pepper—1.8 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $4.65 (Simply Organic Ground Black Pepper—4 oz.)

Ginger

  • Whole Foods: $2.99 (365 Ground Ginger—1.34 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $3.95 (Simply Organic Ground Ginger Root—1.64 oz.)
  • Walmart: $5.77 (Simply Organic Ground Ginger Root—1.64 oz.)

Paprika

  • Walmart: $0.98 5th Season Paprika (2.5 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $2.95 (Thrive Market Organic Paprika—2.24 oz.)
  • Whole Foods: $2.99 (365 Paprika—1.41 oz.)

Cayenne pepper

  • Whole Foods: $1.99 (365 Organic Cayenne Pepper—.53 oz.)
  • Walmart: $3.34 (Zatarain’s Cayenne Pepper—3.75 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $3.95 (Simply Organic Cayenne Pepper—2.89 oz.)

Garlic powder

  • Walmart: $2.44 (Great Value Powder Garlic—3.12 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $2.95 (Thrive Market Organic Garlic Powder—2.24 oz.)
  • Whole Foods: $2.99 (365 Garlic Powder—2.01 oz.)

Cinnamon

  • Walmart: $2.44 (Great Value Ground Cinnamon—2.37 oz.)
  • Walmart: $2.99 (365 Ground Cinnamon—1.23 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $3.75 (Simply Organic Ground Cinnamon—2.45 oz.)

Spices total: $15.24 or $.51 per day

Breakfast

Breakfast is actually the easiest meal of the day. What should you eat? Eggs. Then some more eggs. Then yet another egg. By day 15, you’ll feel that if you eat another egg, you might murder someone—but you’ll eat another egg.

The fact is that eggs are a powerhouse food. They’re full of protein and they keep you full. That bad cholesterol rap they get is way overstated and in the context of a healthy diet, totally unwarranted.

The good thing about eggs is that there are a ton of ways you can cook them. The easiest and cheapest way to start your day though is with two eggs and a heaping bowl of veggies. You can change up the veggies throughout the 30 days and alter your spices each morning.

Don’t forget that it’s best to buy your main groceries at a Walmart or regular grocery store. These numbers are taken from Walmart.

  • Eggs (12 large eggs): $0.98
  • Broccoli (week one): $2.24
  • Mushrooms (week one): $1.98
  • Peppers (week two): $1.99
  • Onions (week two): $2.94
  • Zucchini (week three): $1.99
  • Carrots (week three): $1.79
  • Spinach (week four): $2.98

Breakfast total: $20.81 or $0.70 per day

The trick to lunch during the Whole 30 is to just make extra dinner and eat it again for lunch. As a matter of fact, if you completely hit the wall with eating eggs for breakfast, you can add a little extra to your dinner recipes and eat some leftovers for breakfast too. If you’re cooking just for yourself, you’ll find nearly every Whole 30 recipe makes a minimum of two servings.

For our example here, I used chicken. For a small price increase, you can use recipes with beef or pork and for a slightly larger increase, seafood. However, if you’re trying to get through the Whole 30 cheaply, with easy recipes, here’s a good start for a week of meals.

Smoked Paprika Chicken and Vegetable Side (four servings)

  • Chicken (two lbs.): $6.36
  • Broccoli: $2.24

Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings (two servings) and Salad (six servings)

  • Chicken Wings: $5.82
  • Lemon: $0.99
  • Garlic Cloves: $2.00
  • Spinach: $2.98
  • Cucumber: $0.75
  • Carrots: $1.79
  • Onion: $2.94

Chicken Broccoli Casserole (six servings)

  • Broccoli: $2.24
  • Onion: $2.94
  • Mushrooms: $1.98
  • Whole Chicken: $6.00—you will have leftover chicken and you can make the broth out of it too
  • Coconut Milk: $1.16

You should have enough leftovers to make your last two meals from the unused parts of the whole chicken and all the vegetables.

Weekly lunch/dinner Total: $40.19 or $2.88 per meal

These items aren’t necessities, so if you’re on a real tight budget, feel free to skip. That being said, they definitely make the Whole 30 a little more palatable.

Coconut Aminos (essentially Whole 30 soy sauce)

  • Thrive Market: $4.65 (Coconut Secret Organic Coconut Aminos—8 oz.)
  • Whole Foods: $6.69 (Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Aminos—8 oz.)
  • Walmart: $8.68 (Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos Organic Soy-Free Seasoning Sauce—16.9 oz.)

Seltzer water

  • Walmart: $3.18 La Croix Flavored Sparkling Water (8 X 12 oz.)
  • Whole Foods: $4.99 (Adirondack Flavored Sparkling Seltzer Water—12 X 12 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: None available.

Vinegar

  • Walmart: $3.24 (Pompeian Balsamic Imported Vinegar—16 oz.)
  • Whole Foods: $5.99 (365 Organic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena—16.9 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $7.95 (O Olive Oil California Fig Balsamic Vinegar—6.8 oz.)

Apples

  • Walmart: $0.45 (Golden Delicious Apple)
  • Whole Foods: $0.87 (Organic Golden Delicious Apple)
  • Thrive Market: Not available.

Miscellaneous total (assuming two cases of Seltzer water and an apple a day): $27.75 or $0.93 per day

Splurges

This category includes a few items that are really easy to skip, but can make the Whole 30 a lot more fun. A store-roasted chicken (check out that no sugar is in the rub) can save you on a crazy night. Sometimes life just doesn’t go according to plan and it’s nearly as easy to swing by a grocery store and pick up a pre cooked chicken as it is to hit a drive through.

Kombucha is for when the soda/beer craving just gets too intense (though part of the Whole 30 is learning to fight those cravings) or for when you just can’t stand the thought of another water. It’s also a great way to keep people off your back at parties—poured into a glass, it looks a lot like a cocktail (and you can make delicious spritzers out of them mixed with seltzer water). Just be aware that some brands add sugar, so be sure to read the labels!

Tessemae’s Salad Dressing’s include several that are Whole 30 complaint and can give you a break from oil and vinegar on your salads every night, just make sure you grab one of the Whole 30 approved dressings.

Finally, nuts can be pretty pricey, but they’re easy to keep around for when you’re on the go or you get held up at work. While the Whole 30 discourages snacking, sometimes you just need an energy boost and nuts are a great way to get it.

Store roasted whole chicken

  • Whole Foods: $8.99 (Whole Foods Market Hot Whole Roasted Classic Rotisserie Chicken)
  • Walmart: Not available.
  • Thrive Market: Not available.

Kombucha

  • Whole Foods: $3.79 (GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha Flavored—16 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: Not available.
  • Walmart: Only available in bulk.

Tessemae’s salad dressing

  • Whole Foods: $5.99 (Tessemae’s All Natural Organic Flavored Dressing—10 oz.)
  • Walmart: Not available.
  • Thrive Market: Not available.

Almonds (or a similarly priced nut of your choice)

  • Walmart: $5.98 (Great Value Whole Natural Almonds—14 oz.)
  • Whole Foods: $7.99 (365 Roasted Salted Almonds—16 oz.)
  • Thrive Market: $8.95 (Woodstock Organic Raw Almonds—7.5 oz.)

Splurge total (assuming 2 bottles of kombucha): $28.54 or $0.95 per day

Summary

Assuming you had none of these ingredients already in your cabinets and you decided to fully splurge on the items above, your grand total for the Whole 30 would come out to $9.50 per day. It would be very easy to manipulate those numbers and swap out some spices for different ones or upgrade on some meats and skip some splurges.

Or course, if you’re not worried about your budget, there’s a world of other foods you could eat in the Whole 30 spectrum including items like the $70 Epic Whole 30 Starter Kit full of different kinds of jerky, Naked Bacon for $9.99 a pop, or even a subscription to Pre-Made Paleo for the full 30 days that comes in at a whopping $995.00.

However not everyone can afford to shell out nearly $1,000 to feed themselves for the month, and this article proves that you don’t have to—for $9.50 a day you can reap all the health benefits of the Whole 30.

Read More:

  • 6 Ways To Lower Your Food Bill
  • Meals By Mail: Blue Apron vs Plated, Freshly, Hello Fresh, And Home Chef