Answers To Your Paleo Diet Burning Budget Questions

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So we asked you guys what sort of food budget related questions you had, and you gave us some good ones. I’ve picked a few questions that seem to come up more often for people. Here we go!

1. “What about conventionally raised meats, is it okay to buy meat that’s not grass-fed and finished?”

We always recommend getting grass-fed and finished, pastured, free-range, or wild meats and eggs whenever possible. It’s better for youbetter for the environment, and better for the animals. It may take a little effort on your part to track down good sources of these foods, but it should be a priority. You can check resources like Eat Wild and Local Harvest to find local farms and places in your area that you can get pasture raised meats and other foods from. Now back to the question at hand, yes there are some of you who legitimately can’t find any good sources of grass-fed meat locally (you can always get it online and have it shipped), or may not be able to afford it. If you’re one of these people, don’t feel too bad. As always, just do the best you can. If that means buying conventionally raised meats at the grocery store, then that’s fine. While fat isn’t bad for you, and fattier cuts of meat from grass-fed/pastured animals are great, tasty, and nutritious, we typically recommend  trying to get leaner cuts of conventionally raised meats or trimming some of the fat from the ones that aren’t. This is because conventionally raised meats have a fat profile and balance that isn’t quite as healthy.

 

2. “What should I ask farmers when potentially buying meat from them?”

Ask them how the animals are raised and what they’re fed. Ask if they’re grass-fed/pastured, if they’re finished on grass, if they’re given any other feeds or supplements, etc. Ruminant animals like cows and sheep can be totally grass-fed, but some animals like chickens and pigs don’t naturally eat just grass. You can find chickens and pigs that aren’t fed/supplemented with grains, but it’s usually more difficult. You still want to find them pastured so they can peck, scratch, and root around eating their natural diets even if they are supplemented with some feed as well. Basically, the closer to their natural diet, habitat, and lifestyle the better.

 

3. “What are some good practical and affordable dried foods, and foods that are portable and don’t require refrigeration?”

When people think of portable paleo foods, one of the first things that pops to mind is nuts. They’re portable, stable, and tasty. It’s usually recommended not to go crazy with them though, as they can add up fast, and could give you a bigger load of omega-6 fats. Whole fruits and vegetables you can eat raw (carrots and celery anyone?) are good portable foods. Dried foods are another good option. You can typically find dried fruits, coconut flakes, vegetables, and meats like jerky pretty easily. Getting a dehydrator and making them yourself opens up tons of options, and can save you money as well. Canned foods can be really convenient. Canned fish is a handy source of protein on the run. One of my favorites is wild caught Alaskan salmon. There are even some brands like Royal (Royal Red, Royal Pink) from Trident Seafoods, among others, that can be found in local grocery stores, are wild caught, really affordable,  and in BPA free cans. Sardines, herring (commonly called kippers or kipper snacks), and tuna are good easy to find options as well. Just make sure they aren’t packed in junky oils.

While there are some cooked foods you can keep in containers that may stay good longer than you might think, getting a small cooler or lunch bag opens up tons of options and is one of the best things you can do if you need food on the go. You can put cooked meals or leftovers in containers, and get some ice packs to pack along with them in the cooler/bag, and you’re ready to rock!

 

food budget

For a lot more great info/resources, and how to make the most out of your food budget and your time, check out our new Paleo Diet Budget Shopping Guide.

Here’s a video of Robb talking about what the Guide covers:

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  1. Andrewpaleodoc
    May 2, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Hi Robb

    is this guy equally as useful if UK based? Or is a lot of it geared to the US market? Thanks

    P S I think in the UK we are lucky in that most of our cattle is grass fed (ironically organic cattle though is grain fed!)

    • Amber Karnes
      May 4, 2012 at 5:09 am

      We kept it pretty generalized. We do have a link in there to seasonal foods in the UK as well.

  2. stephen
    May 2, 2012 at 11:25 am

    anyone know of an affordable protein mix?

    • Amy Kubal
      May 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm

      Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post…

    • Griffin
      May 2, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      I use Isoflex. You can find it at a Super Supplements or Vitamin shoppe for $45 for about two scoops for a month. I wouldn’t say its the most affordable, but it is the best.

  3. ChrisG
    May 2, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Around these parts canned mackerel is half the price of canned salmon. Also I’m starting to find some reasonably priced grass fed ground beef. My old pressure cooker is crankin’ out the bone broth in no time. I’m buying a lot less fruit (just lemons). More expensive? If so, not by much.Takes a bit more planning. What’s expensive is bad health, especially without insurance. Paleo is a freakin bargain.

  4. Tamara
    May 2, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Feeding a family of five (3 teens) plus I way terminated from my job prior to going paleo, it’s been a budget juggle sme times. We barely make ends meet, but hey doing ok (course was shocked when I realized Ikids qualified for free lunches at the school ack and no kids don’t eat that junk) I use coupons and a grocery game list. I buy conventional meats, I search for sales and clearances on natural fed meats. We do occasionally hunt ( now have to save up to have the meat processed though), I recently even did a barter trade with a local rancher who I will do some work in trade for side or maybe whole cow. My husbands lipids are proof that even eating conventional meats will stabilize without drugs, and we all slimmed down some even. I watched my bill before paleo to after paleo actually go up about a third on average. Yet I am actually buying less in some ways, we all tend to eat less at a meal, kids do need more snacks than I or my husband does. Eggs are a common item in the fridge, both conventional and some from a local farmers market when it’s open. Husband due to his work and the fact he is on the road often with no access to microwave his meals are either at a local restaurant or whatever is cold or handy, he packs jerky and occasionally salads sometimes he does take leftovers, but lack of a fridge and texas temp even a cooler can be iffy. Often he may not get lunch if still fixing a crane blocking traffic etc. I eat leftovers for breakfast then usually a snack later then supper with the family. And yet the balance has come in the form of no longer needing some prescriptions every month plus no more junky vitamins (husband does take a multi chelated vitamin) no more medicine for bloating, gas, heartburn even a reduction in pain medicines. Rice and potatoes are now treats, pasta or pizza that the kids miss is usually with their friends or grandparents treating them. Nowadays they don’t even like cheap cupcakes with the greasy bland icing, but hide the chocolate and peanut butter lol. I even avoid buying so called paleo friendly snack bars (processed!) I do buy in bulk when can like coconut oil, olive oil even veggies and meats. I chop, trim and freeze most of the perishables ( actually killed my food saver darn it). I make soups, stews and chilis, we have to actually cook more from scratch, planning, making lists.. I actually became my grandmother, only I don’t can, but do have a garden, and even sew… But if this keeps us healthy enough to actually live life not just live then so be it.

  5. Amy B.
    May 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for this:

    “Now back to the question at hand, yes there are some of you who legitimately can’t find any good sources of grass-fed meat locally (you can always get it online and have it shipped), or may not be able to afford it. If you’re one of these people, don’t feel too bad. As always, just do the best you can. If that means buying conventionally raised meats at the grocery store, then that’s fine.”

    Apologies for the long post, but this really strikes a nerve with me because of an experience I had yesterday. I was at Target getting a couple of things. This is one of the Targets that sells groceries, and I ended up walking through the aisles for a while just to take a look. I do a lot of shopping at smaller specialty stores and farmer’s markets, but I’m no saint. I get plenty of food at the regular supermarket (not Target). That being said, I usually just go in, get what I need, and leave. It’s been a while since I just sort of meandered and took a good hard look at what the shelves are filled with.

    OH. MY. GOD.

    I knew it was bad out there, but it’s *so much worse* than I imagined. To say “it’s a jungle out there” (in processed food land) is an understatement of epic proportion. I honestly can NOT believe what’s passing for “food” these days.

    I think people worry about their health because they can’t afford the top-top of the line grassfed beef or $5/dozen eggs and things like that. All I can say is, if you’re eating real food, you’re WAY ahead of the game. (And I realize some of the more hardcore, super-strict eaters in the Paleo world probably don’t consider CAFO meat, chicken, and cheap eggs to be “real food,” but please bear with me.) Regular ol’ supermarket meats, poultry, and non-organic produce are still heads and shoulders above the massive amounts of absolute cr@p that can sit on a shelf for *years* and not go bad. (Who are they kidding with expiration dates on a box of cereal? Left unopened, that stuff ain’t goin’ bad for a loooong time, my friends.)

    I’ve been a low-carber for about 7 years, but my focus on food quality only deepened during the last 3 or so. During those first few years, I ate what I considered “real food,” but all from the selection of whatever looked good (and affordable) at the normal supermarket. Lots of regular beef and pork, eggs, butter, cheese (I do dairy), conventional produce, etc. (Even regular salad dressings & mayo loaded with soybean oil!) Was that totally optimal? No, but at the time there was no way I could pay $4 or $5 for a dozen eggs when I could go to the Latin American ethnic market and get a dozen for 99 cents. And you know what? I looked great, I felt great, and my blood lipids were great, too. I don’t remember all the details (and I don’t have the printout handy at the moment), but I do know my total cholesterol was 175 (if you even place any stock in that), triglycerides were 33. IIRC, my fasting glucose was 79 or so. I wish I remembered the rest, because I know my HDL, LDL, and ratios were darn good. So all that cheap, regular ol’ food didn’t seem to do me much harm. Might the best quality stuff have made me even healthier? Maybe. But I do know the run-of-the-mill food (REAL FOOD) you can get at any supermarket is going to be a world better for you than what you might have been eating previously — bagels, muffins, pasta, fat-free yogurt, Cheez-it crackers, “microwave entrees,” etc. I think the reason those markers of health were so good is that even though I was eating the conventional stuff, I had eliminated probably 80% of the biggest offenders — sugar, flour, etc.

    A lot of people stress out and have *a lot* of anxiety about where they are in terms of food quality. Please, take heart. And don’t worry too much. Yes, you should buy the best you can. But if the best you can manage is the standard stuff, it doesn’t make you a failure. They won’t kick you out of the “Paleo club.”

    Honestly and truly — when I read some of the ingredient labels on those “foods” at Target, I was stunned. Flabbergasted. People outside our food/nutrition community here have NO IDEA that so much of what they consume on a regular basis literally is not even food. I’m finishing up an MS in nutrition now, and seeing what I’ll be up against hit me like a brick wall. I know how to bring someone from level 7 to level 8. But how do I bring someone from below zero to level 1 or 2?

    What gets me isn’t even so much the junk food. When someone has a Twinkie or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, they know it’s junk. It’s the GARBAGE that’s masquerading as health food that infuriates me. The organic agave nectar, the organic expeller-pressed soy oil, everything fat-free or sugar-free, with 87 weird, artificial ingredients that the normal versions don’t contain. Gluten-free organic junk is STILL JUNK. Don’t get me started on what they’re doing in the juice section — juices with “50% less sugar” than the original” Why? Because WATER is the first ingredient. So you’re paying for watered-down juice with stevia added to it! Why not just buy the real thing and add your own water. At least then you’re paying for the actual product and not a diluted version. (Not that I drink juice…just showing an example, hehheh.) Unsavvy consumers have NO CLUE.

    I’m sorry for the rant. It was just a bit of a shock for me. Like I said, I knew it was bad. But it’s orders of magnitude worse than I ever would have believed.

  6. Joe
    May 4, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Amy B,

    I couldn’t agree with you more (and thanks for ranting for me!). It drives me absolutely nuts to see what people consider “food”, and then stare at me like I have three heads when I tell them I eat meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and not much more. And then they ask me how come I’m in such good shape when I work out for 10-20 minutes per day.

  7. James Phelps
    May 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Robb,
    I live in Wyoming and have a freezer full of wild game. I love it because I get a great bit of exercise and the fun is really that of having a connection to the past that is hard to describe other than you feel it deep down. I encourage anyone that does not do it already to take up hunting.
    I am not talking about some of the poorly done stuff that is all about horns. I am talking about fair chase. I can harvest enough meat in a week to feed a family with two teenagers all year and it does not cost me much to do it. I also am willing to teach those that want to learn.
    I am on week 5 now and got my doctor interested after he saw the dramatic change in me. No turning back now! Let me know if you want to go hunting and gathering ! You would be amazed at what is available outside close to home!
    Jim

  8. Terese
    February 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    It is true that some do not have the access to locally raised grass fed meats. Or, maybe don’t want to spend the time going from place to place to find what they are looking for. Check out http://www.ToplineFoods.com for grass fed beef, organic chicken, wild caught seafood and more. Shipping is available nationwide but is especially affordable in the west.

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