7-Day Challenge: Revisiting Paleo on a Budget

Last November, 2010, I put up a post about "Budget Paleo" in response to an email I received. "Have tried to follow the "paleo" lifestyle thing, but having some difficulties, mostly due to budget constraints." That was a pretty popular post, racking up 205 comments from readers, most of whom seemingly finding it very doable to "paleo" on a budget. Yes, it’s time to use "paleo" as a verb, too.

Fast forwarding to my rant a week or so back, “Avoiding entire food groups is a mistake, critics say,” where there was this silly tidbit in the quoted material from Dr. Joanne Slavin, one the people behind the miserably embarrassing failure known as the USDA Dietary Guidelines, or "Food Pyramid:"

Grains are really cheap, and for the average teenage boy it would cost a fortune to do this (Paleo) diet," … "Animals are a really inefficient way to get calories, and you don’t need that much protein."

There’s really too much stupid and wrong with that to even tackle it here (see the previous post). My grandmother always said, "You can’t fix stupid," and I always tend to believe it. So, assuming unemployed teenage boys are not typically going to be buying their own food beyond the Big Gulps and Doritos one typically sees them consuming, how about in general?

Here’s what I think:

  1. The shopping carts you see at the supermarket being pushed by various waddlers, chock full and overflowing with crap-in-a-box, frozen processed junk, and sugar drinks in all colors of the rainbow, have less overall healthy, complete nutrition than does my 1/4 full cart of meat, fish, fowl, vegetables, and fruits.
  2. In terms of nutrition per calorie, my cart wins hands down and I’d wager that it also wins in cost per calorie and certainly in cost per unit of weight.

In short, this idea that paleo is necessarily expensive is simply false. And the one thing worse than a falsehood is a pernicious lie.

But why not delve more deeply and do something about this "nutritionist" canard, this pernicious lie? Sean Abbott, blogger at Prague Stepchild, has an offer out to any budget conscious paleo/primal sort to participate in a bit of an experiment to document their food expenditures over the space of a week.

…it would be nice to see a more comprehensive post somewhere, along the lines of: this is what I ate this week, this is how much I spent and here are some pictures. …

I’m offering an open challenge/invitation to anyone who wants to document their […] diet on a budget experience for a week and the winner shall receive a…

Yep, he’s even offering a prize, but you’ll have to go read the post to see what it is. I hope Sean gets enthusiastic participation, so give him a hand if you’re so inclined. Hopefully, what we’ll get out of it is a number of real life examples of people eating meat, fish, fowl, vegetables and fruits in a very nutritionally dense package, and for an amount of money that would rival or even beat the waddlers with their crap-mobiles.

And keep in mind that what’s produced will be available to all of us, to henceforth save a lot of time in attempting to counter bullshit. So Spread the Word, please.

Since Covid killed my Cabo San Lucas vacation-rental business in 2021, this is my day job. I can't do it without you. Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. Two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance this work I do, and if you like what I do, please chip in. No grandiose pitches.


  1. Mart on May 9, 2011 at 10:41

    I share an apartment with another guy and our eating habits are diametrically opposed, although both of us are on very limited budgets. He’s a “struggling” actor, and I’m a “struggling” marketer. I eat paleo although I cheat in two ways: one tsp of sugar in the 2 cups of tea I drink per day, and I drink beer. On my limited budget I look to the bargains in the supermarket weekly flyers. Last week bought 3x 3lb “chubs” of Ralph’s 80/20 ground beef: $1.99/lb. This weekend bought “family packs” of fresh chicken breast at Jon’s Market $1,59/lb. My other protein is Trader Joe’s organic free-range eggs $3.79/doz. Flaked coconut – Erewhon Market bulk food bins $2.69/lb. Fat: I use LouAna cocnut oil – the refined stuff – $6.99/32 ox at Ralph’s, or Trader Joe’s butter $3/pound. The eggs are the only organic/non-CAFO protein I can afford. I rarely eat fruit, but got 2 pineapples last week at Jon’s 99¢ each. For veg it’s never organic, solely conventional: cabbage 33¢/lb, carrots 59¢/lb, onions 25¢/lb, beets 59¢/lb, potatoes 10-20¢/lb. Sometimes sweet potatoes, broccoli when it gets down to maybe 69¢/lb. This is my diet at least 90% of the time. Luckily I know how to cook and can spice things up in various ways.

    Contrast this to my roommate who eats the cheapest items he can find in this list: pasta, conventional pasta sauce, packet oatmeal, white bread, frankfurters, turkey burgers, fruit smoothies using skim milk. He too varies it when he can afford to “splurge”, but while his diet is terrible he does at least do it on a budget.

    I wish I could afford grass-fed this, pasteured that, and all the rest of it, but believe me – I live from hand to mouth. While I don’t begrudge any of you out there your own diets I do get the impression that a lot of the paleo bloggers are “early-adopter” types – because they can afford to be. You really cannot afford first-pressing organic coconut oil or even the cheapest grass-fed beef on the sort of budget I live on.

  2. Jan on May 9, 2011 at 10:58

    Mart – as the mother of three adult children who are all on a strapped budget, let me just praise you for your efforts. No, not everyone can afford a side of grass-finished beef, or the freezer to put it in. I tell my kids “Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, and ignore the bread.” (Not that they particularly listen LOL). If you’ve given up all of the pre-packaged crap that passes for food these day, and said a hearty “So long!” to grains, you got a head-start on most of the country, no matter where you shop.

    I think you’re exactly the kind of person Sean’s looking for over at Prague Stepchild (I’ve already thrown in my 10 cents – inflation, you know…).

    • damaged justice on May 9, 2011 at 11:35

      Respectfully disagree. The tiny little second hand freezer that’s lived in our garage for more than a decade is barely big enough to hold a quarter cow, and while our family isn’t truly hand to mouth, like most of the “working poor”, we still mostly live month to month despite our best efforts. One of the exceptions is in picking up that grass-fed quarter cow every fall for less than five “dollars” a pound, and then stretching that carcass until spring — just finishing up the last of the organs and still have a few packs of bones to make stock. We and more are proof that *anyone* can afford real food, if they place a high enough value on it.

      • Sean on May 9, 2011 at 11:56

        We live in a smallish flat in Prague so this is not even remotely an option. We necessarily put more of a priority in buying seafood when we can afford it. But I don’t think that means we don’t eat real food.

      • Jan on May 9, 2011 at 12:12

        Damaged Justice, two of my adult children are what you’d term “working poor” and live paycheck to paycheck – both live in small, inner city apartments and even a small freezer is out of the question, along with the means to buy grass-fed meat in bulk. The third has a little more discretionary income, but is also a single mother – most of her extra money goes to child care (in every sense, just not daycare). These young adults are just starting out on their own, building their careers (and Mom and Dad don’t support them), so the whole “perimeter shopping” and cutting out grains and processed food is very good advice for them.

      • Richard Nikoley on May 9, 2011 at 18:19

        DM, I think the great irony is that when you find yourself in a position of having to eat everythng, you’re getting better overall nutrition than everyone.

        Modern evolution?

      • Dana on May 14, 2011 at 10:59

        I once found a freezer out by the dumpster behind my apartment building that’s probably about the size of yours (the freezer, not the building). It still worked. Someone had dumped it. I have no idea why. But it would have cost me almost $200 new, and that just wasn’t happening. Had I gotten a tax refund at some point I might have used that to buy a freezer but that’s not an option for everybody on that low an income. And minus the freezer, forget putting away a lot of meat–even homemade jerky really should be refrigerated unless the jerky-maker absolutely knows what he or she is doing.

    • Mart on May 9, 2011 at 13:01

      Jan – thanks for your kind words. re: damaged justice’s reply – not only is it arrogant to assume people can afford to buy and run a freezer as well as their primary refrigerator (the most expensive to run appliance in the house) the stated price of “less than $5 a pound” shows he must not understand what eating on a budget is about at all. and when you are poor you also don’t have the luxury of being able to afford to buy in bulk and save money that way. So buying a hefty side of beef at $5/lb is out of the question too.

      • damaged justice on May 9, 2011 at 13:54

        Well, I was respectful, but since you call me arrogant, I’ll call you ignorant and that’ll be that.

      • Dana on May 14, 2011 at 11:00

        The arrogant part was where you assumed that if someone didn’t do what you did it was because they didn’t place high enough a value on it.

  3. Matt on May 9, 2011 at 11:41

    Hey Richard,

    I think to make a really compelling case here, you’ll need to be specific about what you’re comparing.

    Let’s face it, once you go on ANY structured food plan and start watching your nutrient intake, your spending changes. It’s probably not really fair to compare paleo vs junk food. Doing any structured food plan will likely lead to cooking more real, buying less junk, eating out less, and really cutting down on fast food.

    The cost argument against paleo isn’t paleo v no structure. It’s paleo v Zone, or paleo v the food pyramid, or paleo v whole 30, and so on.

    The really interesting cost comparison would be something like totaling the cost for a week of: eating paleo v default recipes from a cookbook v another popular eating methodology, and then compare all that to prepackaged food and/or fast food.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 9, 2011 at 18:22

      Matt, fair point, if we were comparing. All we are trying to do is douse the canard that a paleo diet must be prohibitively expensive.

  4. Tony on May 9, 2011 at 11:49

    I come back to this again and again. If you are measuring your costs you first have to decide why you are eating paleo? If only because it’s the latest fad and you are on a tight budget, then stop wasting your time. If it’s for health reasons, then why aren’t you also measuring your health costs in addition to simply your food costs?

    Richard’s post covers the valid point about the nutrition per calorie (and therefore also roughly per dollar). The old bang-for-your-buck concept is definitely in paleo’s favor weight- and nutrition-wise.

    I am a single dad with little to spend on what is unnecessary. When I measure the cost of going paleo, I take in the big picture, which has to include not just food but also general health and its associated costs. The less I or the kids are sick, the less I am running to a doc or buying meds, the less I work time I am losing, etc., the more I save in dollars. The healthier the habits I can instill in my kids, the more they can focus on their life goals without being sidetracked by illness and health issues. In addition, I am investing now in my health when I am old, banking that end-of-life morbidity will be greatly decreased if I support what my body needs along the way. I’d rather spend my retirement money on enjoying myself that drugging myself just to be able to function.

    It seems like most people who complain about the cost of paleo are mostly making excuses to cover up the issue of convenience. Here is where I agree there can be a greater cost. If you support yourself and have noone else with whom to divide the planning and labor, then, yes, you might spend a little more effort to prep and cook your food than you would to simply grab cheap take-out or to microwave some ultra-convenient plastic-wrapped crap-in-a-box. For me the little extra effort is easy in light of what I gain.

    I think most of us reading Free The Animal will probably agree that convenience is a rampant addiction in many developed countries, with the worst case probably being the U.S. Of course, the last persons to recognize or admit to an addiction are the addict themselves. It doesn’t help matters any that there are billions being spent to ensure that people stay addicted to convenience.

    So if you’re going to complain about the cost, first get real about why you are doing paleo in the first place. Take a good hard look at what your attachments are. Only then can you do an honest comparison.

    • Tony K on May 9, 2011 at 12:25

      Great point Tony. You do have to measure the total system cost. It’s like saving money on your car expenses by not changing oil. (Oops, then the engine blows).

      And the cost isn’t just monetary. There’s quality of life issues. It’s a pity when at 40 erectile dysfunction strikes due to so much wheat consumption. How can you measure the cost of that in self esteem, marital strife, etc?

      Great insight!


    • Richard Nikoley on May 9, 2011 at 18:26

      Tony, I have no idea how old you are, but in any case, you are wise beyond your years. Remember that, and live it the rest of your life.

    • Monte Diaz on May 14, 2011 at 08:34

      Take what Tony is doing and extrapolate it to every single person in the U.S. Imagine the hundreds of billions of dollars we would save in “health” care. It isn’t just about the money either. Just how much time and creative energy is expended on taking care of the sick? How much productivity is lost by the sick and the families that they burden? I’m not just talking about people with heart attacks and diabetes here. How about all of us who just aren’t at our genetic maximums? People seem to only notice when we are at 10 or 20 percent capacity. I for one, am sick and tired of functioning at 50%! The potential to truly maximize our output as a species is in our hands and dinner plates.

      The gains from going “paleo” can’t possibly be measured monetarily. We should all be thankful that such a profound return on our paleo investments is even possible, much less so cheap.

      If everyone had Tony’s maturity and dedication, just how much creative energy could we free up and use toward solving real problems? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the pursuit of one’s health is never a selfish one. We are all in this together.

      I’ll finish with one of my all time favorite quotes:

      “Many small people who in many small places do many small things can alter the face of the world”

      Written on The Berlin Wall.

      P.S. Thanks for the platform and the forum Richard.

  5. Sean on May 9, 2011 at 11:49

    Thanks Richard. It would be nice to see some people document their inexpensive paleo-ish diet as proof it doesn’t have to be “necessarily expensive”.

    • Paul C on May 9, 2011 at 12:24

      Interesting that you mentioned fresh salmon in your post. Last night my family of six baked $23 of fresh salmon (about 3 lbs on sale) and I had enough leftover for lunch the next day. Seven person-meals for $23, which works out to be $3.28 per meal. Not a starving artist budget, but not crazy expensive, for quality tasty food. Some side vegetables added to the cost of each meal a little, not sure if I can be accurate about that part.

      Yes it’s farm raised and yes I’ve seen the documentary about how salmon farms are destroying wild salmon with parasites, ugh. I still put the blinders on somewhat.

      • Sean on May 9, 2011 at 13:22

        Paul, we were pretty amazed at how cheap and high quality the seafood was in the supermarkets when we were visiting my folks in the landlocked state of New Mexico last summer. Salmon especially, yum.

      • Paul C on May 10, 2011 at 06:45

        Are people muddling different concepts together? Paleo is one thing. If you then add wild-caught or grass-fed or locally-grown to the mix, the costs can skyrocket. You certainly can gain some value for the cost, but if you are talking pure cost perhaps it is important to separate paleo from these other concepts.

        For example, my farm-raised salmon meal would go from $23 to about $60 for wild caught salmon. Last night we roasted an $8.30 whole chicken and had regular white potatoes, for a cost of about $1.75 per person-meal. We have made that same meal with a locally grown pastured $17 chicken and organic potatoes, for a cost of about $3.25 per meal (slightly larger chicken).

      • Andrea Reina on May 10, 2011 at 10:46

        I think the paleo and pastured/organic do get conflated a little, but there are places where it’s valid. For example, there are good arguments that farm-raised salmon are really a different thing altogether from wild: farm-raised has much less omega-3s than wild, and given the cost my main reason for eating salmon is nutritional. The pink color of wild salmon is a result of eating krill, in farmed it’s the result of dyes that have real health consequences. Farmed salmon also typically has higher concentrations of PCBs and other toxins. These things go against the two lynchpins of paleo nutrition: don’t eat toxins, and nourish the body (shout out to Chris Kresser).

        For this reason I’ve been trying to buy fresh sardines and mackerel more often: same nutritional benefits, delicious, and I get heads, bones, and organs for later use, all at a cost of less than half compared to frozen salmon ($4/lb vs $9).

      • Paul C on May 10, 2011 at 13:48

        Budget primal needs its own name. You get 90% of the benefits, without the worry and work and cost of those in the no-toxin organic camp. I’m certainly willing to be an experimenter and one who leans toward no-toxin and spends more, but I see the point of this post that you can get most of the way there for a pretty low cost, then later focus on fat ratios and food source issues if a changing budget or priorities allow it.

      • Mart on May 10, 2011 at 16:05

        “Poorleo”? :)

      • Mart on May 10, 2011 at 16:15

        “Low-Payleo”? :)

      • Paul Verizzo on May 12, 2011 at 05:22

        LOL! Good one! I’m there.

      • Dana on May 14, 2011 at 11:04

        But getting back to what Tony said about how going Paleo means less spent on health care and being a burden to others. Being ecologically conscious about your Paleo choices, *where you can afford to do so*, ALSO cuts back on society-wide costs. When we don’t take precautions ahead of time to ensure we do not cause undue hardship on the biosphere, sooner or later we have to clean up our messes to save our own asses. It would have been a lot cheaper for BP to make sure their designs and methods were sound than it would be now for them to do a full cleanup after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. It would be cheaper for assholes out west to stop farming in areas that are semi-arid and take out the dams that block the salmon runs than it would be to continue with salmon farming and *really* fuck up the wild population.

        It all comes of using foresight and being mature enough to make sacrifices in the short term for greater benefits later.

  6. Ryan on May 9, 2011 at 12:07

    I think the issue with cost arises when people put a lot of emphasis on lean meats, lots of veggies and lots of fruit. When I started reduced the amount of fruit I purchased, and finally said yes to fats, a whole world of inexpensive meat opened up to me. I know it’s not grass fed, but I can’t get any at the moment, the CSA hasn’t started, but the supermarket pork chops have regularly been under $2/lb, as have boneless chicken breasts. Insane prices. Grab a bunch of that, get some 80/20 ground beef, some certified humane, organic, local eggs, heavy cream, a few greens(lettuce, asparagus, celery, a pepper or two), sweet potato(always cheaper than white potatoes it seems..) and of course I have to have some carrots.

    While that sounds like a lot, some of that can be bought in bulk and last weeks. Originally I was spending a butt-load, but now I could easily spend under $40/week.

  7. The Warning on May 9, 2011 at 12:07

    The “expensive” complaint is complete BS.

    I went paleo, and my grocery bill went DOWN considerably. That’s what happens when you stop the insulin fueled binges and mindless eating of neolithic nutrition.

    I eat less, but feel more satisfied than before.

    • Josh on May 9, 2011 at 16:03

      Same here, I don’t buy several $1.39 sodas every day along with a few dollars more on snack foods… I also don’t buy packaged crap that costs WAY more per unit than meat and veggies.

      I added up the price of some pre-cooked bacon that every “cheap” soccer mom buys for their little crotch fruit…yeah about $20.00 per pound for BACON

  8. Roberto Sarrionandia on May 9, 2011 at 13:07

    Frozen meat and fish is fantastically cheap. It is absolutely astounding that I can feed myself for a day for half an hours unskilled work in the UK using frozen meat.

    It might not be as good as fresh meat and fish, but far far cheaper, and certainly better, than breakfast cereals, cakes and pastries.

  9. rob on May 9, 2011 at 13:37

    I think it only gets expensive when you concern yourself with the lifestyle of the animal you are eating.

    Want to eat a cow that gets a daily ration of beer and full-body massages? Yeah that’s going to cost you.

    • Be on May 9, 2011 at 14:44

      I think you are missing the point about grass fed beef. My concern isn’t the cow’s lifestyle, but mine. There are lots of benefits of eating grass fed beef over CAFO beef if you can afford it (it IS more expensive): Better Omega 6 to Omega3 ratios, higher CLA (maybe the best source for them – see Mark Sisson’s blog today), and much less risk of disease like Mad Cow and E. Coli which are unheard of in properly raised grass fed beef.

      Of course if I was a cow I would rather be fed grass and will take the massages but will pass on the beer (too high in processed carb crap).

  10. CavemanGreg on May 9, 2011 at 14:26

    The Tony’s hit the nail on the head. The real cost benefits of going Paleo don’t necessarily show up at the checkout counter-they show up from reduced healthcare costs, increased productivity, and quality of life. It can be tough purchasing better foods like grass fed, pastured, organic, etc, but just remember the higher quality the food, the less of it you need.

  11. Kris @ Health Blog on May 9, 2011 at 14:33

    In Iceland where I live, healthy food is more expensive than cereals and bread, but I would say that it is still cheaper than takeaway fast food which is something people here eat a lot.

    With good planning it shouldn’t be too hard to cut down the expenses significantly though. I don’t go out of my way to buy grass-fed or organic, but most our beef is pretty much grass-fed by default anyway.

  12. Katie on May 9, 2011 at 15:04

    I just put a pork shoulder in the crockpot with some tamari sauce, coconut milk, ginger, garlic and red peppers. I’ll make a coleslaw to go with. The pork shoulder was $2.02 per lb. and weighs 4.4 lbs. I’ll have plenty of leftovers for breakfast and lunch for my husband. It will work out to around $2 per meal, not counting the cabbage.

    I grew up eating lots of beans, corn, and bread from the 2nd day bread store with jam. I have a mouth full of fillings as a result. My children rarely have a cavity. So eating crap is very expensive indeed as I can attest to every time I break a tooth.

  13. Rob on May 9, 2011 at 15:28

    I’m 200lbs 6’3 and 23 so I probably eat more than the average person and I can manage pretty well on £25-30 ($40-50) a week, which in the UK is pretty damn cheap! Hell I’ll do it, I’ll keep my receipts and take pictures of everything I eat for the next week… it’ll be an interesting experiment just to see what I actually eat on a weekly basis.

  14. Cheopx on May 9, 2011 at 16:09

    60 lbs beef, various cuts and organs: $150 CDN.
    12 lbs chicken thighs: $15 CDN
    4 lbs butter, 2 lbs coconut oil: $25 CDN
    Potatoes, carrots, onions, random other veggies: $50 CDN (this is a LOT of root veggies)
    Various herbs and spices, bulk: $10 CDN

    Easily enough food for us two, and a half (various guests, etc), for… $240 CDN a month.
    Base diet. Of course once in a while I’ll get a lamb roast, or bison instead. Splurge, but not exactly over the top.

  15. Bill Strahan on May 9, 2011 at 17:47

    Here in Texas, I often see decent protein on sale for $1.69-$1.99/pound. I see all the veggies I eat other than avocado for 49-99c/pound. Simple math shows me a range of $2.18 to $2.98 for a pound of meat and pound of veggies. Throw in $1 for some good fats (coconut oil or butter) and 50c for spices, and it sounds like less than $5 a day for a pound of meat/pound veggies with spices and good fats.

    At minimum wage, that’s less than an hour of work a day to cover your food needs. If you have athletic aspirations and are shooting for a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day you’re looking at closer to $7/day for a 200 pound guy. Still about an hour at min wage.

    Another way of looking at it is one 8 hour day at minimum wage should more than cover your weekly food needs.

    If you’re wanting to upgrade from cheap protein to grass fed beef, etc., that will add $3-$5/pound for protein sources. So the $5 for pound of meat/pound of veggies and the $7 for two pounds meat/pound of veggies becomes $8-$10 and $13-$17 respectively.

    So, in a nutshell, if you just want to eat the closest you can to exist, you can do it for under $5. If you want the best meat possible and want 200+ grams of protein a day, it’s going to cost $13-$17. Less than an hour of work at min wage for the first, and about 2 hours at min wage for the latter.

    Weigh your options, make your choices, but in terms of percentage of income even at min wage, these don’t seem like they’re too bad.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 9, 2011 at 20:11

      You’re right, Bill, and many or these folks won’t think twice at dropping 3-4 fo a _____________________ fat free Americano, carementl whachamacallit at Starbucks.

  16. Jim on May 9, 2011 at 18:32

    Well, I think some of you need to find a local farm and check their prices! IF you can! No disrespect intended. I was surprised to find here in Montreal a farm with grass fed beef veal and lamb they feed the hogs some grain. The prices tracked right down the line with Cosco which was a hell of a nice surprise the meat is beautifully packaged and deeply frozen not like the fresh steaks at Cosco but way tastier.

    Eating Paleo has cut our costs (wife and I) Scotch consumption down to just shy of nil and no crap in a box any more. We are working on daily IF with pretty good sized meals in the evening.


    • Luc on May 10, 2011 at 08:04

      Hey Jim,
      I live in Mtl too – could you share the name of the farm you are mentioning please?

      • Jim on May 11, 2011 at 07:29

        Bonjuor Luc here are 2 farms close to home! It’s always tricky let people in on your meat secrets for fear of having them over run but I’ll risk it Bro;-)

        Valens make peperettes with no filler just meat fat and spice…….No GD Gluten!


      • Luc on May 17, 2011 at 08:30

        Thanks Jim!

  17. KimBoo York on May 9, 2011 at 18:36

    I see what everyone is saying: you can buy cheap meat, and eat cheaply. That kind of presupposes you can afford all the extra fixings to make the cheap cut of meat taste good, though. It’s a cheap shot to assume that someone should just “shop smarter” to save money; everyone’s budget is different, as is their income. It’s not all one way or the other, and personal tastes and kitchen competence contribute a lot to what the grocery bill will be.

    I have to say, going paleo six months ago, my grocery bill has stayed the same. What’s changed is that I am buying smaller amounts of higher quality food, as opposed to baskets full of pasta and sugary-pasta sauce and bread and candy. I still scrimp, and sometimes it really is a choice between the plat of fresh brussel sprouts or the pound of ground beef because I can’t afford both. Still, I’m healthier this way, and I know for a fact that I would not save money by filling up with grains and other crap because, simply, I would never get full. Financially it’s a wash; as far as my health goes, it’s no question that paleo is worth the $.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 9, 2011 at 20:15

      KimBoo, discover crock pot cooking to make even the cheapest meat tast amazing. Use stock for the braise, never water.

    • HeMan on May 10, 2011 at 16:17

      Most of the “cheap” beef cuts are the most flavourful. My favourites: blade and flank, though I have a taste for oxtail too — which used to be cheap, but not any longer.

      They just require more cooking to tender ’em up, as Richard has mentioned.

  18. Dave K on May 9, 2011 at 18:45

    Food doesn’t cost the same everywhere. We’re very cost conscious around here, we used to feed 2 of us on $340/mo now on Paleo it’s hard to do for less than $800, and we’re not even eating grass fed or pastured anything.

    • Heather on May 10, 2011 at 07:06

      Same here. I’m shocked at the prices people are quoting here. Which is why I’m moving to a MUCH lower COL area in a few months!

    • Paul C on May 10, 2011 at 14:00

      I was going to post that I know my costs are low, because I live in an area with a ton of farms (Green Bay, WI). Butter is probably cheaper here than anywhere in the country. Even industrial meat is somewhat grass-fed around here, because I see the dairy cows eating grass on the way home from work, and I see the old dairy cows being driven to the meat-packing plant 3 miles from my house.

      Location definitely makes a huge difference in cost. When I lived in the Chicago burbs, all food was much more expensive.

  19. J. Stanton - gnolls.org on May 9, 2011 at 20:03

    Ryan mentioned this, but I thought I’d underscore it: eating Cordain/DeVany low-fat, high-veggie paleo will be expensive. If you honestly believe that potatoes are evil, and that you’re going to die if you eat too much animal fat and don’t cover half your plate with vegetables, you’re going to spend a lot of money.


    First, because vegetables have no calories. They look pretty and may contain some nutrients, but you’re getting no significant caloric value out of them.

    Second, lean cuts of meat are much more expensive. 73/27 ground beef is much cheaper than lean ground beef. Pork shoulder is cheap compared to chops and tenderloin. Etc.

    Third, the fat is where all the calories are. 9 calories per gram of fat vs. 4 per gram of protein (approximately)…you’re getting much more energy for your money with fatty cuts.

    Fourth, potatoes cost a lot less per calorie than pasta or any other starch. I’m buying 8# bags of Russets for $2.50.

    You can buy freezers all day for under $50 on Craigslist.

    If you’re eating nothing but beans and rice out of the 25# bags, or instant ramen, I can see the argument that paleo is expensive. But coconut cream costs the same per calorie as pasta (and far less than sauce), and hamburger costs less per calorie than breakfast cereal.


    • Richard Nikoley on May 9, 2011 at 20:20

      All good points JS. Good to know that there are strong economic arguments against the professor of economics. :)

  20. rayout on May 9, 2011 at 21:14

    Explore your local ethnic grocery stores, they usually have great prices and often they are not adverstised. I found the cheapest coconut oil ($3/16oz) at an African/Carribbean grocery store. For some reason the Japanese grocery has the cheapest ground beef at $1.29/lb and also carries bloodline tuna steaks for $2/lb (seriously amazing stuff – cook it rare like a beef steak, ends up with similar texture and bloody in the middle with all the omega 3 goodness). Mexican markets tend to discount produce heavily if it is about to spoil.

    It helps to cook whats on sale rather than having a single recipe in mind and buying meat at 2x sale price. Also use every part of what you buy. Whole chicken is cheaper (well usually the leg quarters since CW tells everyone to avoid it). Just de-bone the meat and use the bones for stock/soup.

    Also for some reason I find that when I eat something extremely nourishing (liver, the fish steaks I mentioned earlier) I fill up quickly and stay full for a long time. I ate two fish steaks the other day and today I made it through an extremely long day of work (8:00 AM to 9:30 PM) only eating some roasted chicken for lunch. I didn’t even feel hungry towards the end. I’m definitely in agreement with the idea of quality versus quantity.

    • becky yo! on May 10, 2011 at 14:22

      My local Mexican grocery has crummy produce (except for cheap limes!) but great prices on meat (Milanessa for $2.99) The Mexican cuts are typically very thin and great for grilling on those nights you forgot to plan dinner! They also carry goat, lamb, organ meats, chicken (marinated or not) liver, and big quart jars of lard they render themselves for $2.00!

  21. Elenor on May 10, 2011 at 11:55

    Speaking on “not-on-a-budget” … Does anyone know when the Ancestry Foundation Symposium went to “you can only see one speaker out of two at any one time”?!?!

    I haven’t gotten an answer from them, and there’s no mention of it on the site — just a whole different schedule posted. I’m really unhappy about that. I wasn’t thrilled about each speaker getting such a short time, but now I miss every other speaker entirely!! Anyone know anything about this?!

  22. brandon on May 10, 2011 at 01:52

    I’m totally paleo. I eat 2lbs of beef each day and nothing else. Nothing. I drink only water.

    My cost for food per day is as little as $4, which is two pounds of ground beef. $4. Is it possible for someone on SAD to spend so little and have such a healthy way of eating? I’ve been doing this for two years now. Just beef and occasionally eggs, pork, chicken, and fish. I don’t eat just ground beef. I also eat ribeye steaks. But my point is that if I wanted to minimize my cost, I could easily do it for $4 a day.

    • Matt on May 10, 2011 at 05:31

      Because 2 pounds of beef is totally healthy and a complete diet. /sarcasm

      • Paul Verizzo on May 12, 2011 at 05:32

        Apparently it is. Zero carbers do it. The Inuit, in their way, do it. The late, great Bear Owsley did it for five decades.

        Please be informed before you make your statements.

      • Julia on May 12, 2011 at 19:11

        I wonder about this too; is it ok to just eat muscle meats, or are organs needed for a complete zero carb diet? I’d think the Inuit probably try to eat as much of the animal as they can, and eat plants when they’re available (I’m guessing that probably isn’t often). Living on ribeye does sound tempting :)

  23. Matt on May 10, 2011 at 05:30

    I imagine most folks do increase the grocery bill when going paleo. After all, meat is more expensive than anything else in the store, really. Lucky enough to get *free* beef, pork and venison from my parent’s farm. So I have zero cost there. I will be chicken or salmon at the grocery store though. I’ve found that I went from $40 per week grocery bills down to $25-30 after going paleo (with dairy). If I would have to buy my own beef and pork, I’d be even at best.

    Oh, and I don’t bother with organics, add 50% premium for organics if you really want to be fundamentalist paleo. Laws of diminishing returns suggests to me that the tiny benefit of organic food is not worth the large increase in cost.

    • brandon on May 11, 2011 at 09:40

      Like we all have a mommy and daddy to give us free beef, pork and venison

  24. John on May 10, 2011 at 05:48

    Here’s the big eat-well-for-cheap tip I hear a lot in Crossfit circles: If you’re in the US, pony up for a Costco or BJ’s membership and use the US’s subsidized factory-farm system to best advantage. Cheap veg (fresh and frozen), eggs eggs eggs, organ meats, big cuts of pork and beef (learn to trim and cut into chops/steaks/roasts/etc yourself, it’s not hard), frozen wild-caught fish for a fraction of what you’d pay for fresh from a fish market, etc., etc. No, it’s not all grassfed/organic/raised with love by hippies/whatever, but it’s way better than what most people eat, and you can use the money you save to make the smaller purchases that make a big difference — good pastured butter, a jar of coconut oil, local produce in season, etc.

    Another good tip: Get a wok and a good Chinese cookbook and learn ten thousand tasty ways to combine pork/chicken/seafood/beef with veg on the cheap. Skip the rice and noodles and use good fat and you’re in business. (And don’t go all Robb Wolf and freak out over a TB of good fermented soy sauce here and there… if gluten’s a real worry, Kikkoman’s new GF soy sauce is superb.)

  25. Sara on May 10, 2011 at 06:50

    I suspect that going paleo would at best reduce a grocery bill or at worst keep it roughly the same. Carb addicts spend a *lot* on carbs, and I know this because I used to do it, and I have a roommate who still does it. Since I’ve replaced the carbs I used to eat with good fats & more meat & veggies, my bill has reduced a bit. Not a huge amount, because I buy organics & grass-fed when I can, but I know that if I needed to reduce it more I could by going non-organic. Also, yes organics/grass-fed is ideal, but even non-organic/non-grass fed paleo is leaps & bounds above a carb-addicts’s diet in terms of food cost & health cost. I love reading about how everyone is making it work; ANY way people find to up meats & fats and reduce grains is worth it.

    I’ve seen the various “food costs” play out with my roommate, who is not paleo. I watch her literally get up each morning & eat carbs, eat several times during the day, eat dinner, eat again soon after, and then eat AGAIN right before bed. Every. Day. No, she’s not into working out/fitness, lol; she’s overweight (and a walking example of “Why We Get Fat” a la Taubes), and has all the mood swings/hunger pains/health issues/etc you expect from carb addiction. Not only is her food cost high, but her cost of living on that roller coaster is incalculable, especially since she doesn’t realize she could stop it. One day she did say to me, after I had mentioned going grain-free, “but what’s left to eat?!” To someone who eats grains literally from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes to sleep, without them she would indeed have nothing to eat. Even though I am so much happier these days AND spend SO much less on food than she does (we often shop together), she explains it away by the fact that I’m thin and so therefore need less food. While I understand that she’s addicted and not ready to change, it’s hard to be around such a person because you want to shake them & scream, “Wake up!!” Alas, if only that worked…

    I want to also add that my roommate tends to shop based on recipes: “Oh, I want to make ___ tonight!” and so buys whatever that recipe calls for, even if it eats away her food budget (and then she can barely afford what else she needs). While buying for a recipe is fine if you have the money, if you’re on a budget, one of the best things to do is buy just the basics (meat, eggs, fats, veggies, spices) and then figure out inventive ways to eat them. This has helped me scale my food bill way back and still eat delicious stuff.

    Oh, and I look for stores that offer spices by the pound. No sense spending $3 on a whole jar of cumin when I only need a small bit, and can get what I need for about .50 at a local health food store. I’ve saved loads this way.

  26. Gabriele on May 10, 2011 at 07:18

    I’m still new to this and have already fallen off the wagon big-time. But, I keep coming back because this way of eating makes sense to me. When i’m eating SAD, i’m buying the most expensive Swiss chocolate (snob) and tons of other processed crap. That stuff adds up. When i’m doing my version of paleo, i’m eating eggs and seafood in addition to my fruits and salads. If i only eat when i’m hungry, it’s amazing how LITTLE i eat in a day! The expense comes when you buy only grass-fed meat or wild salmon, which i do. But i’m still spending less than with SAD. I’m more careful about what i eat and when i eat it (because i have to lose weight here). And i’m a walking example of what SAD food does to you: a big weight problem and a mouthful of dental implants. God only knows what’s going on inside my body. :(

    • Paul C on May 10, 2011 at 14:10

      You have great awareness and courage. Keep up the journey.

  27. gallier2 on May 10, 2011 at 09:42

    Just some random thoughts on things that might optimize costs when living on paleo. As several people already mentioned, adapt the diet to what’s available cheaply, not the otherway round. Look at opportunities, all markets have special weeks and buy accordingly.
    Use also unconventional ways to get stuff, may be you have neighbours who love gardening but can’t eat up all their production.
    You have friends that are hunters or know some hunters from whom you can buy cheap game (I have three different sources for wild hogs, deers and hares and it costs nearly nothing as they are shot for population control more than anything else (yeah forests are quite crowded in Europe))
    Its good also to know some hobby fishers, they tend to fish more for fun than for consumption, they are often happy to get rid of surplus fish.
    Even when buying in supermarkets, look at the labels, sometimes the cheapest noname products are better (nutritionally) than their brand conterparts, because they contain higher fat or even contain organ meats.
    Learn to be less wasteful when cooking, I often see people cutting away a lot of good stuff from meats (ligaments, bones, skins) and vegetables.
    People also often assume that things that are old are spoiled and can not be consumed but that’s often false. Cream, eggs, joghurt, cheeses can be safely consumed long after their expiration dates.
    imho people put too much emphasis on steaks.

  28. JoelG on May 10, 2011 at 10:23

    I got on the scale this morning and my weight had dropped to 216, down from 257 six or eight months ago. I’m 41. If you’re as obese as I was, when you get past age 40 you’re pretty much a dead man walking. If I spend more money now on the likes of grass-fed beef from a local farm and organic produce, fine!

  29. Paul Verizzo on May 10, 2011 at 14:33

    I’ve done just what you’ve asked for. I made careful notes of food prices, the USDA and Fitday and on package nutritional information, and kept some close records. Using mostly a discount grocer, Save A Lot, eating the least expensive meats, all CAFO, of course, you can eat the mythological 2000 cal/day for under $3. Now, not saying it’s not boring or good stuff, but if you don’t have the buckeroo, and you wish to eat, it’s still better for you than SAD-ola. Food prices have trended upwards a bit since I did this, but it’s for the most part still valid.

    Another way of looking at it is that my food bill, including veggies, fruit, treats, AND dry goods like paper towels, detergent, etc. ran about $200/mo for the two months I kept sort of track. So maybe $180/mo for close to 3000 cals/day.

  30. dr. gabriella kadar on May 10, 2011 at 16:33

    Low cost paleo = liver, kidney, pork belly, mackerel etc. 1 small and 1 regular meal per day = no hunger, better focus. Recently I’ve bought whole (head and feet on) big, fresh ducks for $10 Cdn, fresh ‘natural’ (whatev…) chicken $6 cdn. The only splurge is Chardonnay (shhhh). Food is cheap. Housing and gasoline are expensive.

    Paleo means carrying fewer bags of groceries. All good.

    Crunchy duckfeet are irresistable, except I knocked an orthodontic bracket off. I love roasted, crispy, crunchy chicken backs or quail (bones and all), but it’s on the ‘no no’ list for the same reason that the duckfeet should have been. North Americans, in general, don’t seem to enjoy really chewing food. What’s with that, eh?

    • LadyAdmin on May 10, 2011 at 19:38

      Crunchy duck feet? Man, I might have to try that. What do you fry them in? I’m hoping duck fat, cause that would be awesomest. :)

      • dr. gabriella kadar on May 12, 2011 at 17:39

        I roast the duck on a drip tray. I add water to the bottom tray so that the fat from the duck doessn’t scorch. I cover the duck with foil, loosely, so it won’t burn. But the feet get crunchy. And they are so good. I don’t eat the head though.

  31. Jessica K on May 11, 2011 at 05:18

    If I just shopped at Whole Foods for grass fed and organic? It would cost me a FORTUNE. If I join a CSA for locally grown organic veggies and buy my beef by the 1/4 slab from a local farm that serves up grass fed beef? Not only more affordable but great quality and local! For me, things get eventend to get expensive when I choose convenience. I’m in Tampa, Fl and there are so many local options. One only needs to do a little research!

  32. Bart on May 11, 2011 at 07:05

    I live in Poland and I am shock by the prices you are quoting. Life in the US is cheaper than Poland!

    1$ ~2.7 Polish zloty, 1 lbs ~ 0.45 kg.

    Chicken breasts 2$ per lbs?
    2.7 x 2 = 5.4 zloty for 0.45 kg. So you get 1 kg for 10.8 zloty in the US. In Poland 1 kg of chicken breast costs 18 zloty. Transferring this back to bucks – 6.6$. That’s the cost for ~2 lbs of chicken breasts. Non-organic, supermarket quality.
    160% of your price.

    One avocado runs at about 2$ in Poland. You say it’s no more than a dollar for a pound in the US.
    One avocado is about half a pound. So one pound costs 4 bucks in Poland.
    400% of your price.

    Butter (clarified) / ghee – 19 zloty 0.5 kg = 7$ for a pound of butter.

    Average income is 30000 Polish zloty after taxes = 11000 US dollars.

    If I hear any of you complaining about food prices I will rip you a new one!

    I mean, seriously.
    On average, with a paleo-esque diet, I spend about 1200 PLN (440$) per month.
    I make no more than 1450$ per month (after taxes). So I spend up to 1/3 of my income on food. One third – rent. The rest – installments, therapy, public transport. I’m extatic if there is something left.

    • Cheese on May 11, 2011 at 08:26

      Does Poland have giant factory farms for chickens?

      Do avocado grow in Poland?

      The USA produces so much food, it feeds half the world. Makes sense it’d be cheap in-country.

      It’s cheap compared to Canada, where I live. But I don’t live close enough to the border to take advantage of it. On the other hand, Canadian meat isn’t pumped full of hormones.

      • Bart on May 11, 2011 at 13:05

        It does. I used to believe the theory that underdeveloped countries have better quality meat because they can’t afford steroid, pesticide etc. But let’s be realistic. Using methods which would result in a greater meat productions are utilized. If there is something organic it’s most likely exported to Western Europe.
        Sure, avocados don’t grow here. But most “super foods” people obsess over don’t grow here when you think about it.
        The discussion about whether paleo is cheap or not depends on your geographical coordinates. For me – it’s expensive as hell. Most people I’ve asked say they spend three times less money on food.

    • J. Stanton on May 11, 2011 at 16:32

      That’s an optimistic price for chicken breast, even in the USA. Typical supermarket price is more like $3.50-$4 for boneless/skinless/tasteless chicken breasts. So they’re about the same as in Poland.

      Hass avocados are anywhere from $1 to $2 per avocado, depending on where and when you buy. I’ve seen tiny ones for less, but typically the normal-sized ones are $1.25 where I am.

      Butter is anywhere from $3.50 to $5 per pound depending on where and what brand you buy…$3 is a bargain. But milk is heavily subsidized in the USA and we have a lot of people drinking skim and fat-free milk, which makes butter artificially cheap.

      People like to brag about bargains. I got a whole boneless rib primal for $5/pound once. But that’s not a deal I expect to see repeated.


  33. Doofiangrinder on May 11, 2011 at 07:52

    Ah come on mates I can get ya dealio on a boat load O bananas for pennies a day and ya can smear it on ya patna cus thats the true way to tell if it good fo ya!

  34. Denise on May 11, 2011 at 17:27

    I thought one of the tenants of the paleo diet WAS to be buying food from natural sources. At least that’s what Mark Sisson and others write about. A lot of these posters are buying factory farmed crud. Of course it’s cheap, it’s subsidized by the government in part and the animals are eating a diet based on grains and corn which is totally unhealthy for them and for us. What’s the difference then between this approach and every other low carb diet? Can you really call this “paleo” ?? just wondering.

    • Janey on May 12, 2011 at 05:37

      Mark Sisson recommends grass-fed and finished beef as the best choice, grass-fed and grain-finished as second best. And then he says, “After that? Just eat beef. Whatever you can get on a regular basis.”

      • Denise on May 12, 2011 at 10:12

        Well, then you might as well just go to McDonalds and order a bunch of hamburgers without buns and eat those every day. Personally I’ll take a pass on the frankenmeat.

      • Paul Verizzo on May 13, 2011 at 04:36

        So, you are willing to starve if your standards are unattainable? McDonald’s beef is not “frankenmeat.” It’s not artificial anything. It’s ground beef. And yes, far better ground beef of unknown heritage than grains and beans.

        You really need to get off of your high horse, Denise, and walk in the mud of reality for most of us.

      • Jim on May 14, 2011 at 21:44

        Wow +1 it will hurt if she falls from on high!

    • Mart on May 11, 2011 at 19:37

      So I guess you’re not on a budget then Denise? As I can’t afford meat that costs much more than $2/lb then what do you suggest I do? Give up – and go back to eating bread, pasta and all the other Neolithic stuff?

      • Denise on May 11, 2011 at 22:00

        I am on a budget too but no, I don’t eat a lot of cheap meat. I make little money, I live in a small apartment and do not even own a car or take fancy vacations. I eat lots of fresh vegetables, nuts, fruits and sometimes potatoes and use very high quality meat and fish more or less as condiments or in small doses. Our primal ancestors used to eat and kill their own free range animals and the closest thing we have these days are grass fed animals or wild fish. I would rather eat things like organic high quality eggs or sardines than eat the junk food meats that some people here seem to think is “primal”. A factory farmed animal has nothing in common with our ancestral diets, you need to realize this.

      • Bart on May 12, 2011 at 00:46

        The question was: is eating paleo expensive. Yes it is.
        Saying that non-paleo eaters spend more money, because they drink Coke and eat candy bars is crazy. Many people don’t eat that, it’s not a factor.
        Again, meat is and will be more expensive than grain. Yes, I get it – grains aren’t healthy – I don’t eat them. My friends do and their food costs are 1/2 or 1/3 of mine. Yes, I get it – I’m investing in my health, they aren’t. But again – the point is – I’m spending a fortune and saying that paleo isn’t expensive is ridiculous. Especially if you’re talking about organic/grass-fed food. That’s going to double or triple the expenses.

        And finally, something people here keep ignoring. Certain regions – like my Poland – are even more expensive. Let’s say that ok, are factory-farm meat is still better quality. But it’s not organic, not grass-fed. If I wanted to but that, I’d spend at least as much on food as people eating organic in the US (more likely it’s more expensive – the idea of animals being grass fed is completely foreign here; I mean, I guy in a health food store was selling me some eggs saying they are good quality because the chickens were only fed wheat!).
        And now, if you take into account the fact that on average Americans make 3x more money than Poles… Three times more! The prices are relatively speaking three times greater for us on principle. So let me say it again – paleo is expensive. It’s probably the most expensive “eating system” ever. Yes – health benefits, yes – nature. Yes. But that fuckin’ costs!

      • Paul Verizzo on May 12, 2011 at 05:13

        “A factory farmed animal has nothing in common with our ancestral diets, you need to realize this.”

        Of course it does. A lot more in common than not. Amino acids, lipids, they were there then and they are there now. Better CAFO than SAD!

        Frankly, your response sort of annoyed me. It smacks of grand standing, “Look how pure I am.” Our individual life circumstances are all different, and even w/o being major consumers of crap, some of us cannot afford the luxury of organic/grassfed/wild/roadkill or whatever. When I had decent income I bought a lot of that stuff. Now I’m on Social Security and I stalk the wild Save A Lot. And am grateful that I can eat MEAT without thinking of it as a condiment. (Which is not what our ancestors thought.)

        “Perfection is the enemy of good enough.”

      • Denise on May 12, 2011 at 10:10

        I’m sorry if my opinion offended you. I don’t happen to believe that anyone in our past was eating tons of cheap meat full of antibiotics and hormones. The nutritional value is not the same. It contains more Omega 6 than Omega 3, among other things. People who live near factory farms are unhappy due to the pollution these places produce. I’d rather eat less of a better quality product than contribute to that system. To each, their own.

      • J. Stanton on May 12, 2011 at 13:12

        As Don Matesz points out, beef from male animals is from steers – castrated bulls. Steers are fed anabolic steroids to replace some of the androgenic hormones they’d otherwise be getting from their balls…these steroids produce similar muscle mass but with less of the androgenic effects of aggression, etc.

        Paleolithic humans, in contrast, would have been eating intact male animals…and the smart ones would be eating mostly males in order to let the females reproduce.

        Plenty of natural OMG HORMONES!!! in an intact bull.


      • Paul Verizzo on May 12, 2011 at 15:14

        Non sequiturs, Denise. What you say has no connection as to why one might eat CAFO meats due to budget. I know all the reasons they are not good, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t the best option for my, and other’s, circumstances.

        “The point,” to use your phrase isn’t that we MUST eat purely, it’s that we leave the worst behind and do as best as we may be able to. “Able to, ” will vary with individuals, budgets, availabilities, etc.

        You seem to choose to blow right past my observation that perfection is the enemy of good enough. (Not that I made that up.) Are you saying I might was well be eating grain laden CAFO since my chickens are massaged and drinking Evian?

        Perfectionism is a common finding in the religious, and not all religions have to do with spirit.

      • Brian Scott on May 12, 2011 at 06:08

        Where I live, I cannot get grass-fed beef. At all. It doesn’t exist here. All of our beef is imported. I bought a chuck steak last night to make stew, and it cost almost $5/lb.

        Whether that means I’m eating primal or not, it is certainly better that I ate that stew for breakfast this morning instead of some breakfast cereal with skim milk with a couple of slices of heart-healthy whole grain bread with margarine. It’s better that I ate supermarket bought bacon yesterday, with eggs fried in the drippings mixed with some butter, than if I picked up a patty (a type of meat pie fast food here).

        If I ever have the good fortune to have access to a local farm that lets its cows graze and doesn’t feed them grain, and lets their chickens pasture and their pigs root, etc. etc. I’ll switch in a heartbeat. Until that day, I’ll do as best as I can with what I have available.

      • Gabriele on May 12, 2011 at 08:56

        I was thinking this also. If you’re eating regular grain-fed meat, cheap stuff, are you getting the benefits? Isn’t the whole point to eat as much grass-fed and pastured meat as possible? Isn’t the point to AVOID factory farmed animals because of the junk and unnatural food they are fed? The same goes for farmed fish! Since when do fish eat corn? But on these farms, they do. So how is it healthy, even if on a budget (which i certainly am) to eat these kinds of animal foods? I am in total agreement with you Denise!

      • Denise on May 12, 2011 at 10:13

        Thanks, I believe that is the point! :)

    • Matt on May 12, 2011 at 04:25

      Laws of diminishing returns, look it up.

  35. Mary on May 12, 2011 at 07:07

    In January of 2010 I took the Food Stamp Challenge. The official challenge is to eat at a food stamp bundget for one week (which was actually 5 days). At that time they figured an average of $3 per day per person. $101 was the average monthly benfefit for a single person and $200 per month for a single person was the maximum benefit. I ate low carb for the whole month and spent a grand total of $93.22, which included taking snacks to a party, and I had enough food for two full days plus enough Splenda (I know – not Primal) for a couple of months, enough tea bags for half a month, most of a quart of mayo and most of a bottle of Worcestershire sauce (I know – they’re not Primal either!) and stuff like that.

    I was very strict in figuring the costs. I assumed I started the month with absolutely nothing but some salt and pepper, and if I needed a teaspoon of this or that I had to buy the whole jar or bottle or whatever, and the cost of the whole jar or bottle was included in the $93.22. Everything was commercial, not organic, but there was very little processed food other than Splenda, mayo, worcestershire sauce, and maybe a few other condiments like that.

    I averaged between 1500 and 1550 calories, 12 -15 grams of fiber, 80 -85 grams of protien a day. I ate about a pound of meat a day and about a pound of veggies.


    • Paul Verizzo on May 12, 2011 at 15:53

      1500 calories a day doesn’t even cover my BMR! Even before seeing your post I was cogitating on how it’s a lot easier to be Paleo Pure and eat organic grassfed sardines or whatever if you don’t require a lot of food. The fact that we are so different in size and need seems to never enter the conversation. Yet, there it is, as they say, hidden in plain sight.

      I am 6’3″ tall at 224 pounds only ten overweight from maybe a nice old man’s 17% body fat level. My BMR, if I do nothing but stare at the ceiling lying in bed is 1900-2000 cal/day. I am moderately active, biking fairly hard about six hours a week and resistance training for an hour or so. Averaging, my caloric need is in the 3600/day arena, well over double what you survived on. And let’s not forget that even at the same body weight, men typically burn more calories due to the lower BF level.

      Unfortunately, Social Security does not pay more money to larger people.

      Nevertheless, I think what you did is very impressive.

      Some (paleo) food for thought about food budget confounders.

    • Bart on May 13, 2011 at 02:48

      What you achieved was incredible. No doubt about it.
      But your caloric intake was insufficient for the majority of the population. It was the caloric intake of a caloric-restriction diet, a strict one at that.
      Even the frowned upon FDA recommends approx. 2000 calories per day.

  36. Paleo Josh on May 17, 2011 at 16:39

    Wow there are a lot of comments. keep up the good posts.

  37. Todd on May 18, 2011 at 02:10

    I’m new here. Looks like I’m late to the party on this conversation, but a couple of thoughts I had based on this discussion.

    1. Beef maintains its fatty acid profile better than other kinds of meat regardless of what it’s fed. So if you have to lower your costs somewhere, perhaps that’s the place to do it. Make other adjustments in your intake to compensate for the balance of omegas and/or supplement with O3s. We’re lucky in the UK that British and Irish beef is almost universally grass-fed. We simply don’t have great swathes of territory to grow grain on just to feed cattle. So that can help keep costs down, somewhat.

    2. As some have alluded to, in order to cut costs, it’s good to start honing our GATHERING skills as much as our HUNTING skills. Keep your eyes peeled for deals on items close to their Sell By dates, or reduced for some other reason not related to their edibility. I get plenty of veggies more cheaply because I buy stuff that’s been reduced to sell quickly because of Best Before/Sell By. Last night I got a half a roast chicken (yes, not the perfect fat profile, but if you’re watching your pence…) for £2.00 because it was reduced at the end of the day. I had some of it for dinner last night, and my wife will eat the rest with a big salad for lunch. I went to the store to get heavy cream and a couple of other bits, but when I saw the deal, I grabbed it. They also often have pork joints, bacon, etc. all pre-roasted at reduced cost in the evenings.

    3. In a perfect world, we’d all eat perfectly, but we need to be on the lookout for zealotry. Paleo folks seem to spend a lot of time pointing out the silliness of the dogmatic puritanism (on top of his wrongheaded ideas) of a guy like the Banana Douche, but we need to watch out that we don’t get didactic and alienate people from trying to ease their way into eating more primally by having an anal retentive outburst over every little thing that doesn’t fit our conceptions of “Truth”. With some smart purchasing, and a little bit of attention to the OVERALL balance of fats in the diet, one can definitely make good steps toward paleo eating on a budget, IMO.

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