Shopping the Perimeter is Expensive

After 4 months on the Bernstein diet, I finally realized (duh) in the grocery store this weekend that I only shop the perimeter to buy the items that I can eat. Of course, that’s what any nutritionist would recommend for the general public, given that the perimeter is where you find the most nutritionally-dense food. However, I also realized that my grocery bill is always very expensive, much more so than before starting the diet…I only got 3 small bags of groceries this weekend and it was $85! It’s all the veggies and meat that are so expensive and rack up the totals on my bill. Just getting philisophical here, but it seems to me that following the Bernstein diet, although wonderful for my blood sugars, hits hard financially. It certainly would be tough for those struggling financially to follow this diet successfully. I’m looking forward so much to summer when I can grow these veggies in my garden and also join my local CSA to get LOTS of these veggies for less. I’m in Vermont, though, where the growing season is, like, a day long. Seriously.

Also frustrating is that the cheap veggies seem to be the no-nos for us, e.g. potatoes, carrots.

I have a weird grocery store, because all the fruits and veggies are smack in the middle, although the meats are still on the perimeter. However, all the carby goodies are on the perimeter too. So, no, I’m not strictly shopping the perimeter, LOL!

I agree with you. Last week I paid $8.00 for 1 spaghetti squash. It make me so angry. Cabbage was very cheep during St Patricks day and now its way high again. grrrr! The only way I can deal with it is a mind game. I used to spend $10.00 on a pizza and its gone in one day. Squash will last me the week if I only eat it as a side dish, so I just deal with it.

You are obviously correct. I tend to like lean cuts of beef which are expensive, and eating vegetables out of season shipped in from who knows where isn’t cheap. But the benefits for my blood sugar are undeniable.



For now I have a good job but that could end tomorrow, and I’m facing much reduced income in a few years when I retire, so this is something I’ve contemplated.



Some ideas. Shop sales esp. meat. I got 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters last week for 69 cents a pound, that’s quite a bit of meat. Buy in bulk and freeze. I prefer fresh veggies for the moment but restaurant sized bags of frozen veggies at places like Sam’s and Costco are much more economical.



If you have access to a piece of ground to garden, it can really help. I live in Northern Arkansas so our growing season is much longer that yours but there are ways to extend it. I was a much more avid gardener in the past than I am now and we used to grow salad greens on into January in a cold frame. Arugula is a particularly cold tolerant and there are others. Collard greens can also take quite a bit of cold. Speaking of spaghetti squash it’s easy to grow and keeps for months indoors. Unfortunately those struggling financially may be stuck in an apartment.



Definitely a challenge, but I believe it can be done with a little creativity.

Good attitude! I don’t even pay attention to the prices, because I view it as investing in my health. But I also find I’m eating a lot less and not feeling hungry with reduced-carb, so maybe it balances out?

Last year I planted 3 different kinds of tomatoes, I didn’t know then that I would be going low carb. I gave away hundreds of them. This year I’ve decided to grow only spaghetti squash. I live in western NY and we still have snow on the mountains, so planting season isn’t safe until 1st week of June. I don’t need the squash in the fall because I can buy them cheap then. I need to have then late winter or spring, so how should I store them for that length of time?.

Here’s an article describing storage of winter squash. They need to be cured at a relatively high temp then stored in the 50’s. I’ve got one I bought in October that still looks good. I live in the south and don’t have central heat so it’s easy to find a cool corner. According to the article spaghetti squash will only keep 2-3 months so I’ve already exceeded that. I guess it’s another YMMV.

What kind of winter squash doesn’t raise your blood glucose levels? Butternut? Acorn? I sort of gave up on them since I assumed they’d be pretty high in carbs.

Most winter squash doesn’t work for me. But spaghetti squash which is considered a winter squash is OK for me. Doesn’t really taste like spaghetti but it adds variety.I think I could get by with a taste of butternut or acorn, like I do with beans, but it doesn’t seem worth it.

I have read some low carbers say pumpkin in the right recipe is OK but I never tried it.

I might add I limit quantities of spaghetti squash. 1 squash lasts me a week like it does Patty. Carbs in 1/2 cup are 5g with 1g fiber. Carbs in butternut squash 1 cup are 24.1g with 5.7g

I have found the same - Spaghetti Squash is a staple here about twice a week. It makes great leftovers too as it doesn’t get soggy, and I find it pares well with all meats - my favorites are steak and pork chops. I bought butternut squash at the store one day when I was a bit low (hypos make all those sugary things looks so good), bolused appropriately, but my sugar still rose way out of control. I threw the rest away and will never touch it again!
Pumpkin is good for blood sugars, but I can’t seem to make it taste very good now matter how many spices I add to it… most recipes I find call for maple syrup or something added, which I avoid.

Yellow crookneck squash works well for my sugars too - I like to throw it in the crock pot with pot roast. It does get really squishy, but I love the flavors of the onion, chicken stock, and beef with it.

I don’t know what yellow crookneck squash is is it available everywhere? Im heading out to shop now. I will ask about it. Thanks for the idea.

It’s a summer squash as is zucchini. Really a different type of vegetable from a winter squash. Should be available in most groceries. Very prolific garden crop but the squash bugs usually do them in in my neck of the woods. It’s pretty bland by itself so I usually add it to stews. I’ll bet the low carb recipe sites have some more creative ways to cook them. Carbs in 2 cups 6.0g fiber 3.0g so it’s very D friendly.



Any one have any favorite yellow crookneck recipes?

I bet crookneck squash, like zucchini, would be awesome just sliced, tossed in olive oil and italian spices and roasted at 500deg. for 15 minutes. I am roasting veggies like crazy lately…red and green peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, even cabbage! It’s so easy and it really makes me feel like I’ve made something gourmet!

Then I use the leftover roasted veggies in crustless quiches over the weekend. It’s so awesome!

type1, phd, have you tried kale chips yet? I’m becoming obsessed with them. When I do mine I just rub about a teaspoon of olive oil on my palms and then sort of massage the kale to oil it up, lightly salt, and then 375 for 8 minutes. Sometimes I sprinkle about a half packet of truvia over a bunch of kale and it’s very reminiscent of kettle corn. I also love my veggies roasted! And I find that they get crispy if I use coconut oil (must try that with the kale, I’m out). I’m going to have to try cabbage.

My favorite cheap low carb item is a pork butt roast (also called pork shoulder, I think). It’s pretty fatty, but insanely yummy and I think it’s around $2 a pound normally.

I think I am probably spending a bit less low carbing than I was before, mostly because I eat less and I’m not eating out or just picking up stuff while I’m out. I either pack stuff to bring or wait till I’m home. Sadly, though, my husband is big into the whole high carb/low fat thing and, of course, my kids love the carbs. When I cook meals, they are built for my diet and that’s what the kids eat, and then I have a bunch of carby snacks and things for them. So, having to shop for both diets is probably more pricey.

rubidoux, the kale recipe sounds GREAT! I am totally going to try that! We get inundated with kale in the summer with our CSA, and the only recipe I could stand with kale in it had raisins and cinnamon (obviously not an option anymore, the raisins anyway). The kale chips sound so great!! And if the truvia with the kale is reminiscent of kettle corn??? I’m sold!!

I love pork shoulder, too…it’s one of those foods I like to call “ridiculous”, because it’s so easy to make and so so so so good. I do just need to focus more on when the sales are for meat and go buy up larger quantities. We bought a half cow last year which has been really good from the freezer, but I find that I cook more with chicken and pork.

It’s the veggies that are killing me regarding price…I crave red pepper all the time, and yet 2 peppers set me back almost $5! Just seems so sad that the healthy foods are the most expensive.

Can’t wait to try the kale chips!!

I would love to be able to buy part of a cow like that. I have friends who split a grassfed cow every so often, but I don’t have a deep freeze or the space for one. I do more chicken and pork, too, but if I had really good beef, I might not. My hubby is actually allergic to chicken. But he still buys into all that “fat is bad for you” stuff, so when I cook, I don’t really expect him to eat it.

Do you go to costco? I couldn’t live w/o it. I get these bags of six big hydroponic red bell peppers for, I think five bucks. The costcos here also have some nice organic lettuces and spinach. And they have a huge bag of brussel sprouts that I love.

Another place I shop that is great for prices is a local vietnamese/chinese grocery. I don’t know if there’d be anything like that in Vermont, especially if you’re not near a city. But yesterday I went there and I got a lifetime supply of limes, fresh mint and thai basil, garlic, chinese broccoli (my favorite veg ever), red and green cabbage, pickling cukes, soy sauce, and fish sauce all for $14. Of course, there’s no prices on anything inside the store, so I have no idea how much things costed. But I have bought stuff to feed a meal (thai herb rolls with chicken) to 20 people there for only $30. The cooking part is a little labor intensive, though.

In San Diego, CSA boxes are way too expensive to justify. I think it was something like $40 a week when I checked into it. I think I’m going to have to start frequenting the farmers’ markets again soon. Everything tastes so much better there.

I used to raise grass fed beef so I’d like to put in a plug for that diet option. It’s better for the animals, better for the people who consume them and better for the land. Usually you are dealing with small producers who need our support, freezer space is a problem though.

I’d buy grass-fed beef if I could get it in a convenient place. If we all did that, then we could let all that land now being used to raise corn go back to prairie grass, and that would be better for the environment, and could be used to raise beef for the increased demand.

I’ve also tried bison, which tastes pretty nearly the same as beef, but I’ve heard they are hard to handle, because they are not as domesticated (read: stupid) as beef. But they appear to be nutritionally superior.

Ditto that! (except that I never raised beef). I love grass-fed beef, and we’re lucky that our PCC has been stocking it consistently, even though some farmers have come and gone. It’s definitely a tough business but I think it’s starting to catch on. We’ve tried to get some Seattle restaurants to carry it, but they seem to think it’s all about the “taste” and nothing else which is frustrating. I think it tastes fabulous anyway. Good plug, BadMoon.