Maximum Efficiency Paleo/Primal

by (21) Updated June 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM Created June 11, 2013 at 11:27 AM

let's talk about the 80/20 rule as a law of efficiency (not the 80% paleo, 20% cheat food rule), whereby you figure out which 20% of your inputs are producing 80% of the results, or in this case:

  • which essential foods should provide the majority of your nutrients and calories
  • which essential foods can be used in the most recipes
  • which 20% of all Paleo-friendly foods should constitute 80% of your diet


keep in mind 80 and 20 are obviously rough.

looking at some paleo cookbooks there are just a ridiculous amount of recipes using a vast number of ingredients from all over the world and i don't have the fridge space, money, or time to be cooking all that different stuff.

so, I'm trying to compile a "team" of foods, that are the best value overall in terms of everything.


  • bulk grass-finished beef — if you find a good local farm it can be cheap, once you learn all the different cuts it becomes easy. nothing needs to be said really. crucial IMO (or pastured chicken, pork or game meat) but if it is too expensive, consider getting the cheap cuts like stewing beef and giving your slow-cooker some exercise. i also recently had beef heart, it was a pain in the butt to trim, but it was basically like tender tasty steak and 5 times cheaper.

  • canned sardines — super cheap, some worry about BPA, but i feel like mercury is a bigger health risk. i read recently that it's nearly impossible to avoid endocrine disruption, that BP-A is one of many bisphenols that disrupt hormones IIRC.

  • Diesel whey protein — is grass finished and only has stevia, glutamine, amino acids, and natural flavors IIRC. it's also really cheap. however, i've grown to love Schinoussa brand which is 8-9 dollars more expensive, but it has a pleasant smooth graininess because of the added probiotics. the natural flavor tastes really good.

  • conventional eggs — extremely cheap compared to their pastured counterparts. they pack a nutritional punch, can be used in a lot of recipes.


  • big bag of frozen non-organic veggie mix of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. — from costco, excellent value. steamed with melted butter on top is a great, quick, tasty meal.

  • big bag of mixed organic greens: kale, spinach, chard. — costco, excellent price, amazing source of nutrients. can be the base of any dinner or lunch meal as a bed of salad.

  • carrots and celery to make stews with all the tough cuts of meat.

  • cucumbers — nice on salads, not really essential but i really like salads with cucumber, it makes them refreshing and crunchy.


  • Frozen bag of organic wild blueberries — costco, amazing value again

  • avocados — very versatile and are calorie dense

  • tomato paste — extremely versatile and can be used for some of the best dressings and sauces


  • organic extra-virgin coconut oil — crucial for cooking, Carrington Farms brand is an amazing price for top quality, $17 for 54 fl. Oz at Costco

  • normal butter — hard to find pastured butter in Canada, and if you find it it's twice as expensive. i consume a lot of butter, so the savings definitely add up.

  • kirkland organic EVOO — good for making sauces, dressings, etc. — costco, quality seems to be high, could be wrong. barely any more expensive than non-organic


  • big bag of white basmati rice — costco, cheap, safe starch, basmati is the best tasting rice in my opinion.

  • non organic potatoes — safe starch, very cheap. blended, adds thickness to stews.


  • Himalayan Pink Salt — costco, nuff said

  • Organic ACV, Optimum Nutrition brand seems to be the best value anywhere, when I switched from Bragg's I realized that Bragg's tastes like elephant butt. sorry to ruin it for you guys lol. ACV is SO crucial for almost any recipe for me, sometimes when something is just a little underwhelming, add some ACV and it is now really tasty. works for 99% of recipes.

  • turmeric (or curry powder) — arguably the healthiest spice, i have found quality matters a lot with it

  • bulk BBQ mesquite seasoning — costco, tastes amazing, works for a lot of meat recipes

  • onions/garlic — crucial for a lot of recipes, i tend to have some problems with onions, they give me gas it seems.

  • raw honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup — moderation so they shouldnt run out quickly

  • stevia — NOW brand original flavor has so far proved to be the best for me, lasts 6 months or so and perfect sweetness with no bitterness.

  • dijon or yellow mustard — adds kick to a lot of things, cheap, and can be made into honey mustard, which science has repeatedly shown to be the tastiest sauce on the planet.

  • coconut aminos — if i could find it where i live, adds a good umami/savory taste to any dish.

kitchen gizmos

how would you guys change this? would you add or take away any veggies? fats? meats/protein? would you add in nuts? do you think there is adequate omega-6 in this list, as long as there is no eating out and no vegetable oil consumed? are there any amazing healthy recipes/cuisines you think this list is missing out on?

also, as soon as i get some suet so i can make tallow, i will be making a crapton of pemmican. pemmican and salads every day would be the ultimate efficient paleo base!

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3 Replies

880 · June 11, 2013 at 12:26 PM

For what it's worth, you may want to look into replacing some of that grass-fed beef with oily fish. You've got the sardines on there, which could cover your omega-3 requirements, but you could also replace some of the beef with fish and get equivalent omega-3s and cheaper protein as well. I'm guessing you're worried about mercury levels in bigger fish; I don't know a lot about mercury, but according to Chris Kresser, you needn't worry about mercury provided that the levels of selenium in the fish are on par with the levels of mercury.

110 · June 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM

I think I need to re-new my costco memership......

10 · June 11, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Yes. And get parsnips or yams instead of the white potatoes. chicken and wild caught fish is far better than beef. Also, avacados count as fat also. Mercury, yeah, don't worry about that. it's really non-threatening in a whole.

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