I love paleo and feel better the more paleo I eat, but it can be expensive. There are a lot of tips available on how to save money on paleo, but I haven't found any info on what it costs the average person to eat paleo for a month. The reason I ask is that my wife and I have seen a substantial jump in our food expenditures since switching to paleo and are wondering if it's worth it.
As a point of reference, we live in Colorado, have a 14 month old (also eating paleo!). We eat few grains, lots of meat, eat organic when we can, mostly shop at Whole Foods, make the most of frozen meats and produce and don't drink alcohol. We're spending about $1,200 a month on food.
Every non-paleo person I've mentioned this too is shocked. I'm curious what paleo people think. Thanks for sharing!
My boyfriend and I spend around $350/month, not because our money is going elsewhere, but because we don't have any. (When I say that I am not being melodramatic--our combined AGI last year was just over $12,000.) A large chunk of this budget comes from SNAP benefits. We are proof positive that one can maintain a bare-bones paleo diet even when living well below the poverty line which makes the charges thrown around of paleo being elitist and inaccessible to most Americans hard for me to swallow. Sure, we aren't eating optimally or anywhere close to where we want to be, but we are working with what we have until circumstances change and feeling way better than we did on our old beans/rice/peanut butter/oatmeal/(insert typical poverty food here) diet.
We have to make a million concessions to be able to eat relatively well. We eat conventional meat, renting a car share car once a month to go to the butcher where we get a 55 pound freezer special of assorted meats (they allow you to customize for your particular tastes) for $129. We supplement with roasts and other cheap cuts when on sale. We eat supermarket eggs and occasionally barter with neighbors who have backyard chickens when they have a surplus. We buy veggies at the supermarket and supplement with wild edibles and container garden crops in the summertime. In the fall I get moose and venison for free from various family members. We eat a lot of canned wild fish. This still allows for the occasional splurge--a pound of bison or a jar of coconut oil, for instance.
Being of an age group where almost everyone I know, me included, is a chronically underemployed service job wage slave has its benefits, though. I know a lot of people in the food service industry which garners the occasional free meal and expired products from fancy kitchens (two gallons of raw milk yogurt was my best score). There are potlucks a plenty. Cultivating good relations with butchers and fishmongers and farmers has also been crucial and has resulted in lots of cheap or free bones, fish heads/scraps, veggies, etc.
I can't get out of Whole Foods for under $100 in a very short trip, so your quote doesn't surprise me. The nearest one to me is 45 minutes away, otherwise I'd probably be there more often and have an even higher bill myself.
Us: Two adults, near-4-year-old, 14-month-old. Meats: conventionally raised, mostly. Dairy and eggs: organic, mostly. Butter: Kerrygold salted, via Sam's Club. Produce: Mix of conventional and organic. We might buy alcohol once or twice annually, usually for guests. Specialty items (like coconut flour) are sometimes bought via Amazon for the best price.
After my first budget busting month of paleo, where I was buying all of these new condiments and fancy schmancy items like macadamia oil, I had to focus on basics of whole foods. And still? Around $1000/month to feed us, the bulk of which is the cost of conventionally produced protein - mainly beef, some chicken and pork, and some lamb - and organic eggs.
I'm constantly rethinking strategies on how to trim it. Curious to know how others manage!
We spend about $600/month on food for a family of four. We buy our meats grass fed AND finished from a farm. There are many online to choose from. BJs Wholesale has some great deals on Organic spinach, romaine, spring mix, carrots, frozen berries, coffee and green tea. We buy select things at Trader Joes and a local co-op every week. Whole Foods is WAY too over-priced and had a hand in the Organic Industry folding to Monsanto.
Historically speaking, Americans spend a fraction on their food now compared to 50 years ago.
"In 1901, according to a 1997 Bureau of Labor Statistics study, the average family spent almost half of their budget on food. Just 3% of that went to meals away from home. Today, we only spend an average 13.3% of our budgets on food--but 42% of that money is spent in restaurants."
"In 1949, Americans spent 22% of their income on food, whereas in 2009 they spent a meager 10%."
In addition to harming our health, factory farming has inculcated into our minds that food should be worthless. I just paid $7.08 for a dozen organic, pastured eggs that are absolutely delicious with deep orange yolks. Our conditioning tells us that we should buy battery eggs that cost 99 cents a dozen. 99 cents doesn't buy you a lot of nutrition when it comes to eggs.
I consider one's health to be by far the most important monetary investment, principally via high quality food. That being said, I don't even think I spend more now than if I were buying the standard low quality food that most people eat. I go to sushi every week or every other week and that's the only time I go to a restaurant. It's all sustainably harvested wild fish, and it is expensive, but a few times a month isn't actually all that much. I also don't go to bars (or drink in general) so I save a lot of money there. I don't buy value-added processed trash food, so I save there.
The bulk of my diet is grass-fed lamb, pastured butter, eggs, potatoes and spinach. I mix in some chicken, sausage and crustaceans/fish here and there as well to keep it interesting. All the produce is organic and all of the meats are the best quality that I can find. Even so, it doesn't add up to all that much money, and if it did I would certainly be cutting other expenses before food. In fact, if I came upon a higher quality source of anything I currently eat, I would definitely buy it, even if it costs twice as much. I could see this happening if I went from free-range veg-fed chickens to pastured. Hopefully some day I can find them.
I've just been costing this out - I THINK for two of us we are managing to eat well (organic pork, free range chicken) for about £200 per month. Mainly shop at markets here in the UK, where we can buy veg, meat etc at really keen prices and then freeze it. Lots of offal (kidney, liver, marrow bones) and inexpensive but omega 3 high fish such as mackerel, herring roe (milts) and tinned wild salmon.
Also, we eat out MUCH less as I always feel it will be inferior quality food, omega 6 high oils etc etc.
So - I reckon we are saving lots over the "old" way of eating.
I agree with what some others have said: buy a half or quarter of a cow, a pig etc. and put it in a freezer. A small chest freezer is only a few hundred dollars. I also frequent the Asian supermarkets in our area. Not organic or anything, but their prices and selection are awesome. All sorts of greens, fish, and any kind of offal you can think of. I particularly like fresh sardines which are 1.50 a pound, and they clean them on the spot for you. I get whatever else I need at Trader Joes. I am also thinking about taking up hunting....
Yes we have found it initially expensive, although when we really started looking into it, we were actually probably breaking even, or even paying less then before. I was sorting out last years receipts for tax returns and the sheer amount of "one off" trips to the petrol garage with chocolate bars, or crispy cremes, or pastries etc (you get the picture) the extra money on top of the food bill piled up! Then your take-aways on top of that, the odd chinese, indian or domino's pizza delivery, trips to macdonalds (just down the road here :/) and then add to that the cost of eating out which we don't do so much anymore we are probably quids in!!
For me personally, i spend about 300-350 a month. I rarely do grassfed/finished beef- i do organic grain finished, i do grassfed lamb, 1-2lbs of wildcaught fish a week. The little vegetables i do get these days are potatoes and organic spinach, broccoli, carrots and turnips. i shop the sales for meat because i eat between 2-3 lbs of it a day. new zealand and australian lamb are very reasonable in some of the chain stores. the organic beef i get is about $4 a lb at harris teeter. The fish depends on which wild caught is on that sale that week. usually it is either salmon, mahi mahi, cod, or yellowfin tuna. it's usually $6 a lb and i buy 2 lbs of it. if it happens not to be on sale, i'll buy 1 lb at $11 a lb.
How can I stay Paleo when broke? 22 Answers