S3 E5 – Buying Clubs + Online Markets

Welcome to The Autoimmune Wellness Podcast Season 3: Real Food on a Budget. We’re dedicating this season to discussing an aspect of natural healing that often gets left out of the conversation: affordability. We’ll be chatting with experts and peers from the AIP community about how to best balance money with your health priorities.

This season is brought to you by our title sponsor, The Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA), a holistic nutrition school that trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners and consultants with an emphasis on bioindividual nutrition. Learn more about them by visiting NutritionalTherapy.com, or read about our experiences going through their NTP and NTC programs in our comparison article.

Season 3 Episode 5 is all about buying clubs and online markets that will help you strategically stretch your budget and adopt the AIP sustainably for the long term. We discuss the pros and cons of local buying clubs, co-ops, membership programs, and bulk meat sources, as well as our favorite online shopping portals.

Our hope is that this episode will help you best leverage all of these resources so you can stretch your budget as far as it will go. Scroll down for the full episode transcript!

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Full Transcript:

Mickey Trescott: Welcome to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast, a resource for those seeking to live well with chronic illness. I’m Mickey Trescott, a nutritional therapy practitioner living well with autoimmune disease in Oregon. I’m the author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, and I’m using diet and lifestyle to best manage both Hashimoto’s and Celiac disease.

Angie Alt: And I’m Angie Alt. I’m a certified health coach and nutritional therapy consultant, also living well with autoimmune disease in Maryland. I’m the author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook, and I’m using diet and lifestyle to best manage my endometriosis, lichen sclerosis, and Celiac disease.

After recovering our health by combining the best of conventional medicine with effective and natural dietary and lifestyle interventions, Mickey and I started blogging at www.AutoimmuneWellness.com, where our collective mission is seeking wellness and building community.

We also wrote a book called The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook together that serves as a do-it-yourself guidebook to living well with chronic illness.

Mickey Trescott: If you’re looking for more information about the autoimmune protocol, make sure to sign up for our newsletter at autoimmunewellness.com, so we can send you our free quick start guide. It contains printable AIP food lists, a 2-week food plan, a 90-minute batch cooking video, a mindset video, and food reintroduction guides.

This season of the podcast, real food on a budget is brought to you by our title sponsor, The Nutritional Therapy Association.

Angie Alt: A quick disclaimer: The content in this podcast is intended as general information only, and is not to be substituted for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Onto the podcast!


1. Local buying clubs and food co-ops [2:45]
2. A hybrid option [7:04]
3. Bulk membership stores [11:39]
4. Online buying options [16:34]
5. Buying meat online [31:32]

Mickey Trescott: Hey, everybody! Mickey here. Welcome back to the Autoimmune Wellness podcast, season 3. How’s it going over there in DC, Angie?

Angie Alt: It’s going pretty well. I’m sad to report that it’s still winter. But we seem to be getting closer to spring, so that is making me a little bit happier.

Mickey Trescott: Yay for sunshine coming!

Angie Alt: Yay for sunshine! Vitamin D please.

Mickey Trescott: I know. Today we are continuing our discussion related to the topic this season. If you guys haven’t been paying attention, we are talking about real food on a budget. Which is really an important concept to a lot of us, if we want to be able to be eating this way long-term, right?

This episode is going to be about buying clubs and online markets. And how we can best leverage these resources to strategically help out with our sourcing needs and stretching our budgets. It can be super easy to overdo it with either of these options; I mean, hello. Amazon Prime, we’re looking at you!

But we hope that this episode will give you guys some great ideas about how you can use online shopping to your advantage.

1. Local buying clubs and food co-ops [2:45]

Angie Alt: So, maybe we can start with buying clubs. Mick, do you want to talk about that first?

Mickey Trescott: So a buying club is just any time you band together with either community members, or a company, and you get bulk pricing on foods and home goods. So when you go to a grocery store and you buy one unit of something. Like one apple, or one little six-ounce applesauce or something. You’re getting actually the highest price for that, because you’re buying it in the smallest quantity.

So the grocery store, obviously they have a wholesale account. They’re able to buy food from distributors or farmers at a really good price. And their service is that they’re bringing it in, sorting it, putting it out for you, and you’re able to buy it in a really small quantity.

If you kind of reverse that, and you figure out how to band with other people in order to buy the biggest quantity of something, you can get a really good deal. So this might take the form of, say, a local Facebook group. So I’m the member of a local real food buying club on Facebook in my local area. It has over a couple of thousand members. And there are certain people in the community that will coordinate with local farmers to engage in bulk buys. So this might look like, you know, maybe they’re buying a cow and they want to split it with a few families. That would be kind of like a small share.

Sometimes they’ll even go to a honey vender, and they’ll get 100 jars of honey and everyone will split it. They do charge $20 a year to be a member. I know there are some groups out there that are nonprofits or free. Sometimes it’s just collections of neighbors. But this is definitely something to look into, especially if you live somewhere like I do. Where there’s a lot of food production locally. It’s hard for me to actually get that high-quality food in the store.

I think some of you guys in rural area will understand that disconnect. You think that living in an area where all the food is produced, you have great access to it. But it’s actually the other way around. My local grocery store is the equivalent of a Walmart. So these local food buying clubs can really help get that high-quality food at a better cost.

Angie Alt: I don’t belong to a formal group like Mickey does, through Facebook. But I have informally joined groups in the past where, for instance, I got maple syrup that was bought in bulk from the producer. And sometimes I do this with fish. I’ve done it to get salmon from Alaska.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. Banding together, guys, can definitely save you some money. And honestly it doesn’t have to be a formal Facebook group. It can even be your family. So, something that I do because I live on property with my mom, her sister and her partner. We all actually band together to buy meat. And my brother actually lives a few hours away in Seattle. So between the four different families, we’ll buy a whole cow every year, and then split it into quarters. If we were just buying a quarter of a cow, the price is higher than if you buy the whole thing. So even your family can work like a buying club.

Angie Alt: Right. What about co-ops? Let’s explain and talk about co-ops.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, co-ops are an awesome business model for like a grocery store. There can also be more informal co-ops that don’t have a storefront. But basically, they function differently from a corporation because they are member or employee owned. So this means if you have a local food co-op, they might ask you to pay a member fee. It might be a one-time fee up front.

I think when I lived in California, I paid $75 once to be a member, and that gets you a share. So you can actually vote on leadership, and then you get discounts on all the food they buy. Sometimes they have you pay per year. Sometimes you don’t even have to pay, but it just means that the store is actually owned by the employees and the people that run it.

So there’s a few different models. But really, the point of a co-op is to get the highest quality food at a price that is lower than normal. So by paying into the co-op system, you know that that money, that profit that the store is making, isn’t actually going to some shareholder’s pockets. It’s actually going to reinvest in the business and keep the price down for the people that shop there. So co-ops can be a really fun option, also.

2. A hybrid option [7:04]

Angie Alt: Yeah. It’s a great way to really get engaged with your community and good quality food providers. Here’s an interesting set up. And I actually don’t do this as an adult. But when I was a kid, my mom and aunt and grandmother belonged to Azure Standard. Can you tell us about Azure Standard?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah; actually, I didn’t know that about your family, Angie, but I actually used them a lot about 5 or 6 years ago when I first started getting into real food. Especially with the online buying. So they’re a little bit of a hybrid.

They are a major real food distributor in the United States. They have an online store. But instead of shipping directly to you; which I think they do now. But they didn’t in the past, 5 or 6 years ago. What you had to do, was it was a buying club. They had no fee to join. You sign up, you join what’s called a drop.

Which is, basically someone in your community who has arranged an area where a semi can come drop off some orders. So everyone that is a member of that drop; they order all their food online. I think each drop has like a $500 minimum from the company. And then a truck shows up at, usually a church parking lot or some area that’s easily accessible to a lot of people.

Our drop in Seattle had about 20 or 30 families that would then show up, meet the truck. It would be the same time every couple of weeks or every month. And they would just get their order that literally came straight off a palate. And you can get some amazing bulk goods for crazy, crazy low prices.

So I would get things like gallons of coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, some of the flours. And actually, Azure standard has an organic farm here in Oregon, and they grow a lot of herbs, and spices. And they even have pastured meat and lamb. So I was ordering a lot of frozen meat from them.

Angie Alt: You know, Azure Standard has been around for a really long time. I mean, way back when my family was doing when I was a kid, they didn’t even offer non-GMO products, because there wasn’t GMO yet.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah.

Angie Alt: They were always kind of the number one place to go if you wanted really high quality, organic food that was really inexpensive. And you know, my aunt and my mom and my grandma would band together and get these big orders. My family and my aunt and uncle’s family both had four kids, so they were trying to feed 8 kids on really good quality food. We would use the food we got there to supplement the hunting and fishing that my dad and uncle were doing. And the garden that we grew.

My grandma was really into herbal and medicinal teas, and she could get big bulk orders of that from Azure Standard. It was really great.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, it’s like Christmas. Meeting the truck, and having all your bulk groceries.

Angie Alt: Yeah!

Mickey Trescott: And they actually have a lot of stuff that, if anyone lives rurally, maybe you’re on a farm or you have some animals. They have a lot of goods that are really good for animals. So back when I lived in Seattle and had chickens, they had the only non-GMO soy-free chicken feed at a price that I could afford. So I ordered our chicken feed from them, and all that kind of stuff.

They even sold like root vegetables, and pantry storage foods. So I would get a lot of onions. Things that we’ve talked about this before; not really worrying too much if there’s a blemish on your veggies. It’s totally normal, and especially with those root veggies. It does not matter. So you can get an amazing price on that stuff from them.

Angie Alt: Right. And it’s a really good chance to meet your kind of local real food advocate community. I remember when we would go to the semi to pick up the foods. There would be all these other people that were kind of into that same health conscious lifestyle.

Mickey Trescott: You’re kind of like; “What did you get?” {laughs}

Angie Alt: Right.

Mickey Trescott: Like swapping stories of what they’re getting and what they’re doing with it. It’s really fun.

Angie Alt: Right. I remember I used to love; even when I was a kid, I used to love to browse their catalog. Which I don’t even know if they put out a catalog, anymore. Maybe you just order everything on their online site. But yeah; great resource, you guys.

Mickey Trescott: And it’s pretty cool that it’s been around so long. So www.AzureStandard.com is their website if you guys want to check it out. And they have some videos online. Trust us; it’s not scary to join a drop. I remember the first time I did it, I was like; who are these people, and how does this work? They explain everything on the website. And the prices are probably in line with the cheapest you can get for some of these high-quality foods. So they do a really great service for our community.

3. Bulk membership stores [11:39]

Angie Alt: Ok, so another possibility, which is kind of the opposite of Azure Standards in terms of everybody knowing about it, is Costco. Costco is a members-only, big box, discount retailer. You have to pay a membership fee every year. But there is quite a bit of benefit to having that Costco membership.

The standard membership is just $60 per year. It let’s you purchase products for your home and family at Costco locations and on their website. And the prices are greatly reduced, because again they’re buying these such huge bulk quantities. And then you can get an executive membership for $120 per year. And that membership gives you a 2% reward, up to $1000. So you can kind of earn money a little bit, as your spending money.

The Paleo Mom has a guide on her website to AIP Costco shopping that is a very helpful resource.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah; are you a Costco shopper, Angie? What’s been your experience with them?

Angie Alt: Well, so this is interesting. We used to be Costco members, but my husband is kind of a Costco fanatic. {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: {laughs}

Angie Alt: So, it didn’t really work that well for us. Because he’d be like; “Oh, look at this, a 2-gallon jar of pickled eggs!”

Mickey Trescott: Oh my gosh.

Angie Alt: And I would be like; “We do not need this.” So we have a small family, and we don’t live close to our extended family. So sharing all of that with other people didn’t really make sense for us in the long-term. But I know that for families that are a little bit bigger, or have an extended family around them, Costco can be an enormous win. How about you?

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, we don’t have a Costco membership. But both my mom and my dad have Costco memberships, and I will kind of tag along with them when they go. Maybe once or twice a year just to pick up a few things.

I’ve actually been really impressed, as the years have gone on, at their selection of more real food options. So things that I see really frequently are some high-quality cooking oil. So things like gallons of coconut oil, avocado oil. Sometimes they have good olive oil, but you know, you’ve got to kind of do your research on the supplier there.

As far as meat, I’ve heard that they have a lot more grass-fed meat. It’s pretty reliable to find there. Pasture raised chicken, and some frozen, wild-caught salmon. So those are all things that you would be eating on AIP, and by buying in bulk and having a deep freezer you could definitely save there.

During the summer, they have amazing prices on organic berries. So they’ll have organic strawberries, raspberries. Sometimes even blueberries, which is really fun if you’re going to do any kind of making gummies, or freezing for the winter. That can be a really great source there.

And then they have some great home goods. They have a nice stainless pot and pan set that I bought. They have a Vitamix that they occasionally will sell for a really great price. Magic Bullet, some of those sorts of things. So if you’re kind of outfitting your kitchen, too, Costco can be a great place to think about. Maybe picking up some of those home goods, too.

Angie Alt: Right. Right. The avocado oil is the one that stands out. When we did have a membership, I don’t think there’s a better price on avocado oil than what Costco offers.

Mickey Trescott: Yep.

Angie Alt: Yep. I think people should definitely check it out if they can really benefit from those big bulk orders of stuff.

Mickey Trescott: Next we’re going to chat about some of the different online options. This can be really huge for any of you that have limited access to shopping due to where you live. And when used carefully, some of them can actually equal a really big savings. So we’ll be talking about that next.

Angie Alt: A quick word from our title sponsor this season; The Nutritional Therapy Association. How you plan and purchase food can significantly affect your health; both in body and budget. Well-informed, proactive planning makes a big difference. Our sponsor, the Nutritional Therapy Association, launched a new, fully online, nutritional therapy consultant course that emphasizes a wide-range of integrated nutrition and lifestyle strategies to transform health.

The new curriculum includes culinary healing modules that empower NTCs with practical knowledge and skills necessary to source, prep, and plan meals for themselves and their nutrition clients. Covering everything from shopping practices to knife skills, from meal prep to fermentation.

It also trains NTCs to address the wider context of health and healing with lifestyle strategies. I completed my NTC training in 2016, and it has been enormously positive for my practice and my ability to help others achieve their wellness goals. If you guys want to learn more about how to become an NTC, and check out their free, Nutritional Therapy 101 course, go to www.NutritionalTherapy.com.

4. Online buying options [16:34]

Angie Alt: OK, you guys. So now that we’ve covered some of the in-person buying club options, we wanted to continue the discussion and talk about some of the options out there for buying food online. Mickey, when did buying food and supplements online not seem weird to you anymore?

Mickey Trescott: It’s weird. Because since getting into the whole real food movement, we also, around that 2012 time, there was a really big shift in the concept that you could actually be buying food and supplements online. And I definitely remember that. It was kind of like; go back to eating real foods that are not packaged and not processed. But also, there’s this other whole source that is on the internet that seemed a little bit strange.

So, I actually started ordering supplements on Amazon when I was going through my illness. I think that’s around 2013. And back then, when we started AIP, there really weren’t any snacky, shelf-stable options out there.

Angie Alt: No. Nothing.

Mickey Trescott: There was no cassava flour. There were no Power Balls. There was nothing like that. So those kind of fun snacky options were not an option. And supplements are actually really expensive in the store, so I figured that out pretty quick and I started saving money there pretty early on.

I’d say around 2015 was the year that I really started buying food online. I had gone to PaleoFx, and I was introduced to Thrive Market through them. And I kind of went online. I definitely didn’t jump on the bandwagon right away. I think it took me another whole year to really come around to the concept that I could actually be saving money by ordering a bunch of stuff online. But then I was getting epic bars and things on Amazon, so it was kind of a slow roll.

But I’m at the point now where I do a lot of my shopping, especially for things that are not shelf stable and household goods, online. What about you, Angie?

Angie Alt: I think I started in about 2012 with Tropical Traditions. And then not very long after that, I started buying some fat from FatWorks, too, online. At the time, sourcing the high-quality fat, especially, still wasn’t that easy in my local grocery stores and through my farmers. Like getting palm shortening, or coconut oil. Especially in bulk, because I was using so much of that kind of stuff at that time. Being able to find really high-quality olive oil that I trusted. And then animal fats like lard, or tallow. That just really wasn’t available quite yet.

I also started used Tropical Traditions later when I was trying to figure out egg reintroductions. I realized that I might have a soy issue, and not really an egg issue. A lot of you will know that chickens are often fed a diet that has some soy in it, and that can come through in the egg itself and cause issues when you’re trying to reintroduce. And Tropical Traditions was the only source out there that I could find with 100% soy-free eggs.

It was a little too expensive to maintain over the long-term, but I did it a few times. Ordered eggs from them, so I could test out my theory and figure out if it was soy or eggs. It turned out to be soy, guys.

And then in 2015, I started using other online retailers. There were just more options. And in the past year, we started expanding a lot, my husband and I, in an effort to not only save money, but also we both have very committed passionate full-time careers in our home. So we were trying to save time. Being able to order things online really made a big difference. I think I’ve mentioned it before; shopping in my neck of the woods is very time intensive because of the population density. So ordering online has been a lifesaver.

Mickey Trescott: I actually forgot about Tropical Traditions, but I definitely ordered a lot of coconut oil from them. Actually, I still order coconut oil from them, because I think it has the best flavor and it’s the cleanest. And that era of the soy-free eggs; that’s when I was ordering the feed from Azure Standard. Because I was in the same boat, trying to re-intro eggs and figure out; is this because my chickens are eating soy feed, or because I’m allergic to the eggs?

Angie Alt: Right.

Mickey Trescott: And, same deal. It was the soy.

Angie Alt: Yep.

Mickey Trescott: Really funny.

Angie Alt: Ok, so what are some options for people to use to buy food online?

Mickey Trescott: Thrive Market is something that I love. It’s an online store. It’s kind of like a Costco. So there’s a $60 membership, but they do have a 30-day free trial. So you can go on and you can make as many orders as you want. And I think if you hit $50, it’s free shipping. So it’s very affordable to try. When you buy a membership, your membership actually sponsors one for a low-income family. So we love that charity component that they have.

Their prices are about 25-50% off the list price for natural products. So I would say if you live in an urban area and you have a variety of stores that have competitive pricing, their prices might not be mind-blowing for you. But for me, I live in a rural area. So any of the stores around here, I don’t have a specialty grocer that puts things on sale at all. So all of those natural products in my local stores are like the exact highest price they could possibly be. So I save a lot of money by shopping with Thrive Market.

And I actually get every pantry item I possibly can from them. Spices, nuts, alternative flours like cassava flour. I get a lot of oils from them. They have a great olive oil that I love. I get vinegars there. Chocolate, of course.

And then, actually, I think the area where I save the most money using their service is by getting all of my personal care products and my natural cleaning products. So this is things like the 7th generation dish soap that I use, and the laundry soap, and Dr. Bronner’s, and that kind of thing. A bottle of Dr. Bronner’s at my local store is $16 for one of those big bottles. And on thrive, they’re usually like $11 or $12. So that’s a big savings.

And then the convenience, for me. Just the regular grocery store is a half-hour away. Specialty grocer is an hour away. So in addition to that cost savings, I get a big savings just in having that stuff delivered to my house.

The biggest downside in the beginning with Thrive was actually their shipping was very slow. So it used to take a week to 10 days to get an order from them. Which, when you’re used to working with Amazon, which we’re going to talk about in a minute, is a little frustrating. But I’ve actually noticed, I think their warehouses have expanded. Because I’ve been getting my orders in three to four days, recently.

Angie Alt: That’s nice. So I think your point about whether or not you live in an urban area with a lot of different grocery store options and competitive pricing was a really good one. I don’t use Thrive as much as you. I don’t have it dialed in like Mickey does; in part because some of the prices are actually better in my stores. Dr. Bronner’s is a really good example. I can usually find it for $11 or $12 on sale somewhere, for one of those big bottles.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, like Trader Joe’s is where I used to buy it. And I don’t have a Trader Joe’s by me. So, I actually added up all of my savings. I’ve been ordering roughly once a month for all of 2017, and I saved $900 by shopping with them.

Angie Alt: That’s awesome.

Mickey Trescott: So definitely worth that $60 membership. But I think it matters if you use it, and what you get from them. Because I’ve definitely heard from other people like you, Angie, if you’re in an urban area and you have some areas with good prices, it might not work out to be that cheap. And also, it depends what you buy from them, too.

Angie Alt: Yeah. I do still order some of my personal care products through them, from time to time. Because it is a great option.

Ok, let’s talk about the infamous Amazon. Of course.

Mickey Trescott: I have to be honest; I’ve always been a little weirded out by ordering food on Amazon. I haven’t totally gotten into it. But if there’s ever something I can’t get anywhere else, I get it on Amazon.

Angie Alt: Right. It’s like; if you’ve scoured every other option and you just can’t find it, it’s probably on Amazon.

Mickey Trescott: It’s free to shop. If you pay $100 a year for Amazon Prime, which most of us do, you get free 2-day shipping. Which is really convenient. I’ll run my supplements until literally I have two days left, and then reorder. {laughs}

Angie Alt: I do the same thing.

Mickey Trescott: I don’t know. You’re maximizing your warehouse space in your kitchen.

Angie Alt: Right.

Mickey Trescott: And then if you live in an area where they have Amazon Fresh, a Prime membership gets you some mileage there. I definitely don’t live anywhere near somewhere where anyone would deliver groceries to me.

Angie Alt: So, we do have the option for Amazon Fresh in our area, and we recently tried it out. And I have to say, there were some bumps, for sure. Because it’s a new service. They’re just doing this as they kind of team up with Whole Foods. So it wasn’t completely accident free, getting our order. But we did give it a shot. I think they’ll probably improve as they roll out the service. And it was handy.

The things that I usually rely on more, for Amazon, are the shelf-stable stuff that I want to have. Things like KC Natural’s barbecue sauces; AIP barbecue sauces. I order them every couple of months, and have a little pack in my cupboard. Things like that.

Also, I tend to order a lot of my cooking tools off of Amazon.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, they have some really great prices. Especially during their sales season. So like Prime Day and Black Friday, you guys can be on the lookout for things like crazy deals on Instant Pots, stuff like that, if whatever you’re looking for happens to be on sale. You can get super lucky with an Amazon super sale.

Angie Alt: And they have hundreds of really cute gummy molds. I got all of my gummy molds from Amazon. {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. You’ll never find a selection of really specific cookware anywhere like Amazon. It just blows stores out of the water.

Angie Alt: Yeah. OK, how about Tropical Traditions? Let’s tell everybody about them. We kind of alluded to them earlier.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. So Tropical Traditions is a company that; what I love about them is they kind of narrowed their focus. They’re not trying to be a purveyor of every food. But they just have really high-quality source of tropical oils. So they have great coconut oils and coconut products. This is how I first got introduced to them. I use their gold label coconut oil, which is the least heat processed, the least refined. It’s really creamy, and it has a really good flavor. They also have varying grades, so depending on what you’re going to use it for. And they also have other coconut products. Like coconut butter, coconut flakes. I absolutely love their stuff.

They also have some high-quality meat and fish and soy free eggs. I haven’t purchased their meat. Actually, I’ve purchased turkeys from them. One thanksgiving I tried out their turkeys. They had pasture raised, completely free-range turkey. Super delicious. I find the prices of their meat and fish to be a lot higher than what I can find locally. So that doesn’t work as a source for me. But if you’re in an area that it’s kind of hard to find, and you’re willing to pay what they’re asking, I think they’re a good source there.

And they do have those soy free eggs. Which if you’re doing reintroductions, that can really be a great source for people that are worried about maybe the soy and the eggs. To test that out.

Angie Alt: And they do have; they offer discounted products and coupons really often. So what I do is I usually, once a year, order a big bulk order of palm shortening and coconut oil. I kind of wait and watch for when they run great discounts or have coupons.

One of the discounts they run is free shipping on those big gallon-sized containers of palm shortening and coconut oil. Which is really great, because they’re huge. So the shipping can be kind of pricey on them. But I’ll do that. At the beginning of the year, I ordered palm shortening. You could buy three gallons for free shipping. It was really inexpensive to do that, and then I shared with a friend.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, another thing to know about them is they run tons of sales all the time. So I will never go to their website and just buy everything list price without free shipping. I wait and if you follow them on Facebook or you get their newsletter. I find their newsletter a little bit overwhelming, because they send it a lot. But they always have a deal going on.

Like their coconut oil, I actually wait until they have the two for one. So they’ll do the gallon of gold coconut oil, and then they’ll throw in a second one for free.

Angie Alt: Yep. I do the same thing.

Mickey Trescott: And then if you find a coupon for free shipping, you’re kind of in super luck. I only order from them once or twice a year. But again, it’s that bulk. And the quality; I’ve never had a coconut oil that tastes as great as theirs. So I love it.

Angie Alt: Yeah, and I’ve kind of got it timed now. Like, a gallon of each of those. A gallon of the palm shortening definitely lasts me a full year. A gallon of the coconut oil probably lasts me around 6 to 7 months, I guess. I usually go through about two a year. So a really good option there.

Angie Alt: Ok. So there’s also a few online specialty stores. They don’t really have a membership. Usually have free shipping over a certain amount. Let’s talk about a few of those.

Mickey Trescott: Yeah, we just wanted to mention some of these. They’re not all the same, but they have the same idea where they’re trying to create a nice, online store that’s curated with really high-quality products. The first one we’re going to mention is ShopAIP. They are the first ever, 100% AIP compliant online shop. They donate 5% of their products annually to autoimmune related causes. So obviously they’re kind of in this community with us. They’re offering a lot of products that are of interest to people that are on AIP, and if you guys want to have a shopping experience that is 100% AIP, it’s definitely the place to go.

Similarly, there are a couple of other companies. One is Barefoot Provisions. And another is called Wild Mountain Paleo Market. So these places both have online stores. You guys can Google them and look them up. They both offer more wider paleo type options. They all have different offerings from each other. So if you’re kind of like an Epic person, you might find one of these stores has more of the goods that you’re looking for. But they all have really well curated stuff. And some of those hardest to find specialty items that you might not find on Thrive or Amazon.

I know Wild Mountain Paleo Market has their own AIP compliant pemmican bar, that’s kind of similar to an Epic bar that is super tasty. I actually prefer the flavor of it over the Epic bars. So they have some things like that that are a little bit unusual that you’ll only find there.

5. Buying meat online [31:32]

Angie Alt: OK, last but not least. Let’s talk about buying meat online. Which can be a little crazy. In the beginning, it seems a little crazy. But there are some really great options out there.

Mickey Trescott: You know, I love all of these new companies that are trying to think about how we buy meat. Because that’s one of the hardest things about transitioning to this lifestyle, is just finding a really good source of meat. And not everyone has a farmer in their backyard.

So Butcher Box is the first company we’re going to talk about. They have a monthly subscription box with a variety of meats that are great for people that don’t have a freezer. So how it works is you pick out the size of box. It’s almost like a CSA. Like an online meat CSA. They source a variety of proteins from really great farms in the US. So they might send you a couple of pork chops. Maybe a chicken. Maybe some ground beef. Depending on the size of the box that you’re getting. And they’ll mail it to you in a cooler box once a month. So that’s really great for people that don’t have a lot of space to store things.

I know Angie and I have both tried their service. I’m like a bulk meat hoarder, so I don’t need a service like that. But I thought that the quality of the meat was really top notch.

Angie Alt: Yeah, I thought the quality of the meat was really great too. And I used it for a short time back in; hmm, I don’t remember if that 2017 or 2016. All the years are blurring together, Mick.

Mickey Trescott: I know. We’ve been at this for a while.

Angie Alt: We’ve been at this for a while. But anyway. I tried it out for a while while I was kind of waiting for my farmer, who was getting together a meat CSA for herself. And then once she got that together, I of course wanted to support somebody local. And you know, a farm that I could see and I could see those animals and how they were living and everything. It turned out to be an option that I didn’t need in the long term. But in that interim piece, it was great. It was really helpful.

Mickey Trescott: Awesome. So also, there’s a company called Crowd Cow. This is a really interesting startup that allows people to purchase a portion of a cow online. So they’ll put on their website that a farm has a certain amount of shares. And then you can purchase as much of the cow that works for you. And they kind of crowd source the selling of all of the cow so that everyone gets a really great price. It’s almost like an online cow-buying club.

Angie Alt: Yeah. And I love the name. Crowd Cow. It’s so cute and fun. {laughs}

Mickey Trescott: Yeah. It really is.

Angie Alt: Ok, so the old standby that a lot of us know about in the community, because they’ve kind of been around with us all for quite a while is US Wellness Meats. They sell meat by the cut online. I think pretty much everybody in the AIP community knows that they’re a great source of sugar-free bacon, and they also have a lot of pastured organ meats.

Mickey Trescott: Yep. They sell meat by the cut. So they have more of a traditional store. When you go to US Wellness; I think it’s actually grasslandbeef.com. You’ll see the meat being sold by the cut. Which, for me, when I’m doing recipe development, a lot of times I run out of organ meats because I buy the whole animals and I actually always buy from US Wellness when that happens. Because they have a really great, clean source. Their poultry is all pastured. And everything is a great high quality. And I think their prices on the organ meats are really good.

They also have a great sugar-free uncured bacon ends, which are kind of like the random pieces left over from when they slice and package the regular bacon. And when I make pate, it doesn’t matter, I can just chop that up, fry it up, and use that fat to make that recipe. It doesn’t have to be in a perfectly cut strip. So that’s a little hack there. I like that they sell those ends. It provides an affordable way for people to get their hands on some great bacon.

Angie Alt: Yeah. And a few times in the past, when I’ve kind of been in desperation for bones, and things like that for bone broth, I’ve ordered from them. When I was working on my first cookbook, I kind of ran into a tight spot, and needed some specialty cuts, and I got them from them, too. So very helpful.

And then for seafood, a great option online is Vital Choice Seafood. This is really high-quality seafood sold online.

Mickey Trescott: Yep. They have a great store, and some great products. Both frozen and then they also have some canned products, as well.

Angie Alt: Yeah. And I think, if I remember right, Vital Choice was started by an actual fisherman. He was really wanting to make sure that people had this option.

Mickey Trescott: That’s awesome. I know there’s a lot of you guys in the middle of the country that don’t have the access to high-quality seafood that we do living on the coast. So having frozen seafood is a really great option. Especially because if the company is doing it right, which I think this is Vital Choices’ practice. They’ll freeze the fish on the boat, so it’s super, super fresh. I have a little bit of an issue with histamine with seafoods, and I can definitely tell when I don’t get seafood that has been handled properly. So I actually almost exclusively eat frozen seafood, because it minimizes that risk of having a histamine reaction.

Angie Alt: Right. Ok, so hopefully you guys aren’t going to find this list of options too overwhelming. We recommend you check out all of these options, and pick one or two to test out for a while and see if you like their system, if you like their products. And if it actually helps you save money. Mickey and I are definitely not using all of these options all the time ourselves. It was about finding out what was the most convenient and affordable for us. And we hope that you’ll be able to take these choices and do something similar to kind of tweak your budget and stay with the real food approach. So, we’ll be back next week with another episode, you guys. Take care everyone.

Mickey Trescott: Bye guys!

Angie Alt: Thanks for joining us on this episode of the Autoimmune Wellness podcast. We’re honored to have you as a listener, and we hope that you’ve gained some useful information.

Mickey Trescott: Did you know that we have dozens of informative articles about living well with autoimmune disease, and over 250 elimination phase compliant recipes on our website, updated multiple times per week? Make sure to click on over to AutoimmuneWellness.com. Follow us on social media. And sign up for our newsletter to find out about all of this new content.

We’re either at Autoimmune Paleo, or at Autoimmune Wellness on any of these channels. You can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of any page on our website. Don’t forget to connect with the AIP community by using the hashtag #AutoimmuneWellness.

Angie Alt: If you enjoyed the podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes, as this helps others find us. See you next time!

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About Angie Alt

Angie Alt is a co-founder here at Autoimmune Wellness. She helps others take charge of their health the same way she took charge of her own after suffering with celiac disease, endometriosis, and lichen sclerosis; one nutritious step at a time. Her special focus is on mixing “data with soul” by looking at the honest heart of the autoimmune journey (which sometimes includes curse words). She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Nutritional Therapy Consultant through The Nutritional Therapy Association and author of The Alternative Autoimmune Cookbook: Eating for All Phases of the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol and The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook. You can also find her on Instagram.


  • Jen says

    Great episode. I highly recommend setting up a Frontier Buying club if you can swing it. Whole Foods and many Coops order from them. Best prices ever if you can meet their minimum order. They have great online tools to manage orders from multiple people. Everyone can put their orders in online.

    Country Life is another great source if you can get to their minimum. You’ll need your own spreadsheet to figure it out. But very good prices if you’re looking for nuts, dried fruits, flours, and other similar specialty items. Not AIP but many Paleo options for the reintroduction phase. Their prices rival Costco or Trader Joe’s for nuts but the product is much fresher, which means less risk of rancid oils.

    • Angie Alt says

      Great tips Jen! Thanks for sharing!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Jen – thanks for these two excellent resources!

  • Lydia says

    I like to order from Vitacost they frequently run 15-20% off codes and free shipping over $50. Great for AIP pantry items and GF treats for my kids. Supplements sometimes hemp me meet the minimum order.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Lydia, thanks for sharing!

      • Kristen says

        I was going to ask your opinion about Vitacost too. I’ve found their prices to be great, I love the free shipping, and it arrives within 2 days. Do you have an a opinion about them at all? Anything I should be aware of?

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Kristen, I haven’t personally used them but I know others in the community love them. They do have frequent discount codes. Hope it helps!

  • Donna says

    Yes, I was going to mentioned Frontier Co-Op as well. When I was buy vegetables from a CSA, we all went in together and bought from Frontier. They have great essential oils, bleach free TP and paper towels, herbs and teas and more.

    We buy our giant organic coconut oil and olive oil from Sam’s Club. I believe the membership is just $35.00.

    I have also learned to source from the farmer/grower. I live in rural SW Michigan and I buy my meats from three farmers/growers. They might not be the cheapest source out there but they are organically fed, using NON GMO corn that my grower himself grows (and grass raised as well.) This meat is also very fresh as when it comes time to buy chickens the farmer contacts me and ask how many I want and I have them within two weeks of being taken to the slaughterhouse. That is some fresh meat!!

    Instead of buying 5 lbs. of honey from the health food store (who have had to mark it up to stay in business) I go directly to the bee keeper and save $5.00 per jar.

    In my personal experience I have spent more money on food since going AIP…BUT the quality of the food I am eating is so much better, and fresher and tastier that I am willing to make that trade-off. My husband and I prioritize our food and our healthcare as our number one priority over “luxuries” like cable TV, Smart phones, vacations, eating out , flat screen TV’s, new vehicles and so on.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Thank you for sharing your tips, Donna! I agree, we are in the same boat of paying more for food now w/ the dietary changes for our family, but the quality has increased astronomically.

  • […] ladies discuss all things autoimmune on their podcasts and we’re big fans. But what we love about this episode (Season 3, Episode 5) in particular is their focus on eating clean on a budget, a vital topic we’ve rarely seen […]

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