I recently moved to the USA and find it really difficult to stick to a paleo diet because all raw meat and produce is extremely expensive. I thought that food in the USA would be extremely cheap though I'm finding the prices impossible to afford (I am on the west coast which I know is more expensive than the rest of the country).
Meat is the biggest problem with nothing below $3 per lb for chicken breasts (Typical price over $5-6 per lb) and nothing below $5 per lb for red meat (including the lowest quality ground beef). I used to eat fish every week, typically salmon but now I've stopped altogether because I cannot afford any whatsoever here. Salmon is typically $11-16 per lb.
How do people in areas like this afford their food. Where can I find it cheaper?
If you don't mind me asking, where did you move from?
Yes, Paleo is expensive. And no, you won't really find it cheaper. At least here on the East Coast (Florida) Organ meats are normally considerably cheaper than $3/lb, however most fleshmeat is going to be $4+, and grassfed will be much more - unless (like many of us) you find a rancher who is willing co-op beef "on the hoof"... this is what I do to get my blanket $4/lbs beef.
My suggestion is to get a chest freezer, buy in bulk, learn to grow veggies and spices, and aquire a taste for organ meats. These are the ways you can save money. Also, if you can't swing 100% grassfed, don't sweat it. You should make it a goal to improve your food supply, but initially you can simply improve by moving forward with eating the correct whole foods before worrying about where they are sourced.
But you also have to be mindful of your lifestyle. I could live off less than $10/daily pretty easily - that would be a pound of quality grassfed beef and some veggies to go with it. If you can't do $10/daily for groceries, I personally would re-asses my priorities - I'm not trying to sound elitist, but diet only falls second to shelter in my personal heirarchy of needs.
Cow share is a great idea. Other than that, scope out the Farm and Garden section of Craigslist for free-range meats and eggs. I found a great source that way, with $4/lb grass-fed Longhorn beef (very lean). Their prices are extremely competitive. And don't get hung up on making sure there's an "Organic" label. My Longhorn rancher says his meat is less expensive because he didn't want to have to deal with the gov't's stringent rules/regs on making their place Organic, it would have raised their prices and compromised their cattle. The animals are free to roam from the day they're born until the day they "walk the green mile". (anyone in the Northwest who's interested, http://www.rockingmcattleco.com/ )
Farmer's markets, too, another very good way to find less expensive whole food.
Pay now or pay later. If you eat crap because it's cheap, you'll end up getting sick and at best you'll have to pay for a bunch of doctor's visits.
To save money you can get the stuff that most people don't like, that's the 75% ground beef, dark meat chicken, organ meats. All of that is quite reasonable at the butcher's counter.
This is part of a common rant of mine. Food is actually expensive and you need to budget for it. "Stuff you can eat" is cheap and not food. Here's a link to my usual rant:
Learn to coupon. Just this week there were coupons for organic frozen vegetables and larabars. Safeway currently has a coupon out for $1 off your produce purchase of $5 or more and has also recently expanded their organic produce section. I also know there are coupons out right now for Helios Kefir. I know Foster Farms had coupons for fresh chicken breasts not too long ago. It's totally doable.
I don't know about the exact prices on the West Coast, but I've found that Trader Joes has really good deals on chicken, ground beef and salmon. Here in MA ground beef is $2.50/lb, which is a full dollar lower than any other supermarket's non-sale price. Salmon is usually $9-10 / lb frozen at Trader Joes.
My advice if you want to do Paleo style on a low budget is to embrace the tuberous carbs and fat. Splurge a little on coconut oil (you can buy a big tub on Amazon for a good price) and pastured butter. Buy sweet potatoes and white potatoes on the cheap. Slather them with butter. Use eggs for protein (lowest price can't be more than $1-2 / dozen). There have been a lot of threads here on how to do paleo for cheap - search for them.
My husband and I started out eating Paleo back in December and we adjusted our budget accordingly. We stopped going out to eat. We cut our housing expenses (found cheaper rent) and also cut our cable. We have 1 car payment instead of 2. We took that money and put it towards our grocery budget.
We also didn't start out on organic produce or grass fed beef. We bought whatever fruits and veggies were on sale, and also whatever meat and fish was on sale. We did what we could. The most important thing was cutting the grains/sugar/processed foods.
If you are interested, I did a blog post for eating Paleo on a budget- http://www.intentionalconsumption.com/index.php/2011/06/14/healthy-eating-on-a-budget/
What about hunting and fishing?? I'm still to practice what I preach on this one, but it dosen't get much more Paleo then fresh caught fish or a hunted critter on the bbq.
I also agree that not everyone is going to be able to afford local, grass fed, and/or free range. Some of us can't afford it regardless.. we have kids and mortgages that won't take a back seat.
I shop at a latin food store that sells ground and cheap cuts of beef for 2.49 a lb and pork butt and ribs for 1.99 a lb. I buy cheap blocks of cheese and 30 eggs for 3 bucks.
I also make my own full fat yogart and beef jerky, cause I can't afford (or find) healthy store bought selections.
Things I still want to do:
I don't find paleo to be super-expensive, but:
*I usually eat frozen fruits (berries) and veggies, and grow some of my own
*I don't eat a ton of meat or seafood, around 1/2 lb per day, sometimes less.
*I don't hesitate to buy 'conventional' or frozen animal foods. One as poor as I simply can't afford grass-fed, fresh everything. I am always looking for a deal or a sale. Trader Joe's frozen seafood selection is the best!
*I have a chest freezer and buy in bulk and freeze for long-term use, whenever possible
*Eggs are a diet staple, and in my area you can find pastured eggs at farmer's markets for a great price
*I check out farmer's markers on a regular basis and try to make connections with local farmers who offer pastured animal products
*Most of my calories come from butter, cream, coconut oil, beef fat, and starches, which are all fairly inexpensive for how much energy they contain
*I eat white rice (in addition to potatoes) which is super-cheap and not perishable
*I almost never eat out.
I eat 3000+ calories per day of mostly 'primal' foods on a monthly grocery budget of (max) $200-250 per month. My boyfriend doesn't live with me, but he eats some of what I'm bringing home as well.
Also this is not just a paleo eating problem - The US is in the toilet right now and inflation is hitting us pretty hard, food prices for ALL food is through the roof. Use the tips others have mentioned, shop at farmers markets, watch store sale ads and buy what you can find on sale. Pick up the sunday newspaper and grab the coupons in there, if you're lucky you can find some coupons that are for whole foods. Look online for coupons as well. Coupons.com is a good source. One thing that is always cheap is eggs and they're so versatile you can use them many ways to not get tired of them. Some grocery stores if you go in the morning they will have meat that they price really low to get rid of it because it's close to expire date, ask about that at your store.
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