Cheap and Easy Paleo Food

5 Mar 2013 by Chuck, 2 Comments »

Vanessa and I get all kinds of questions and comments relating to how paleo is too expensive to do on a regular basis. We’ve found that is simply not true. While these foodmeat-and-vegetables costs were pulled on June 1st, 2012 and may have fluctuated since then, I promise that they are still close enough to be highly relevant.

Cheap and easy paleo food in a nutshell is just like everything else paleo- some meat, some veggies, and some fat. Easy, done, moving on.

No, but really, it is that easy. Where people go “Paleo Poor” (just invented that term) comes from two possible situations: when their prior diet is full of absolute crap or when they come from a normal culinary background and decide to go all 5 star Zagat rated with their menu.

If your diet really sucked before you are going to have to adjust your budget. You’ll never get food as cheap as rice, pasta, bread, and oatmeal. If it’s really that cheap, how good for you can it possibly be? Think of the added cost as an “ab tax” or a “not die early and sick fee.”

If you’re not a culinary wizard, don’t try to make every single meal something from an amazing paleo website or cookbook. Keep it simple and stock paleo friendly ingredients over time. “Meat, veggie, fat, done” is your new mantra. On the simple note, another area where people spend more than they intend is following paleo recipes with 74 damn ingredients. Save the crazy stuff for a real occasion and daily it’s, “meat, veggie, fat, done.”

shish kabobWhile ribeyes and lobster tails are paleo, they’re probably not fiscally reasonable for most of us on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have tasty animals for dinner every night and not have to rob banks to finance your health and body compostion quest.

Cheap and Easy at Home:
This is where Vanessa and I live during the week. About 5 nights a week are either rotisserie chicken or flank steak and some steam in the bag veggies. Fat is usually coconut oil for me and guacamole for Vanessa. These are choices that we make for food out of convenience, cost, and taste. If we were really pinching pennies, we’d buy, prep, and cook both the chicken and the veggies. Flank steak is my go to beef product because it’s fast, lean, tasty, and very reasonably priced.

Grocery Examples:
Alright, so tonight Vanessa and I went to the store and pulled some prices for easy paleo items. Here we go:

Carb Items:

Item Price Weight/Quantity
Broccoli $2.39 1 lb/1 head
Cauliflower $2.94 1.4 lbs/1 head
Broc/Cauli Steamer Bag $2.49 12oz/1 bag
Golden Delicious Apples $1.49 1 lb/3 apples

Protein Items:

Item Price Weight/Quantity
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $7.39 38oz/5 breasts
Ground Beef $3.79 1lb
Flank Steak $6.99 1lb
Pork Chops $3.49 1lb
Eggs $1.59 12 eggs

*I didn’t figure any fats since per serving they are so cheap that they aren’t an issue. Trust me, a container of nuts isn’t one serving.
**Then I thought for a second that maybe the fats are where everyone is going “paleo poor” so I checked. Olive oil broke down to $0.19 per tablespoon based on our most recent bottle. I’m sure nuts are about the same.

So if you eat like crazy and are greedy, your high cost is dinner for $10.33. Not the cheapest, but that’s also 2.3lbs of chicken and 1.4lbs of cauliflower. Probably don’t need all that. Figure a solid serving of 8oz of meat and about a pound of veggies and most combinations come in between $4.13 and $5.88. If you really want to go cheap, have 4 eggs and an apple for a whopping $1.03.

Now this wasn’t looking for sale items, playing some couponing game, buying bulk, or messing with frozen veggies. Prices only go down from what’s listed above.

Cheap and Easy on the Road:
This is something that you can piece together in any U.S. airport or convenience store. Beef jerky and some nuts, tada. Heck, maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll be something along the lines 7-11 and you can grab some carrots or apples to go with it. The stuff is all over the place and is totally within your reach financially.

**Oh yeah, track your food and default to eating less. You don’t need the $15 “End of the World Beef Jerky Supply Feedbag” and 8oz of pecans to make it the 2 hours to grandma’s house.

7-11 Example:
In and out of 7-11 in under 2:00 today with: bag of 7-11 beef jerky ($4.99), snack size bag of cashews ($0.99), and an apple ($0.69). Yeah, I didn’t figure tax in there, but that’s only because I stole it. No, really it’s because even crappy food is taxed, so it’s a moot point and I also don’t feel like digging up the receipt. So the fast, cheap, easy, and available on the road paleo meal is a whopping $6.67. This is without planning, buying larger quantities, and packing. My guess is that pieced together from a real store, this would drop to around $3.00 per serving.

Other Road Options:
Other road options include fast food stops. Yeah, it’s not paleo-ideal, but it stops excuses. Every fast food place that I’m aware of has some kind of grilled chicken item. Order, throw away what isn’t chicken, and put in your face hole. Or, if you’re driving and pass a grocery store, deli meat, some apples, and some nuts can get you through a TON of drive time. Another option is to just not eat. Yep, there’s all kinds of cool stuff associated with intermittent fasting, but really, just know that you don’t need to eat 6 times a day. You know how many cavemen ate 6 times a day? None, because they were too damn fat and got torn to pieces by some prehistoric honey badger.

Cost is not a valid excuse for not eating like a grownup!

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2 Comments

  1. lisa says:

    Question: why do y’all want to eat lean meat if animal fat is fine on Paleo?

    ***Well, there are many reasons for this. First, we differ from many paleo peeps who feel you don’t need to account for calories and servings. Back in the day, food was scarce and it was hard to get enough food to go around. In the here and now, we have more food than we need and it’s very easy for us to get far too much food. Fatty meats can be a very dense calorie source. In addition, think about game meats. Most are incredibly lean. Not fatty. Cavemen didn’t have access to farm-raised, fattened meats. Also, unless you are eating high-quality, grassfed, organic meats, it is best to keep the amount of fat you get from meats to a minimum. Most of the beef, pork, chicken, etc. are fed a grain-based diets and given many artificial substances to increase growth and help them resist the plethora of diseases they are exposed to. The fat from these animals contains mainly Omega-6 fatty acids (inflammatory) and can transfer many of those lovely hormones and antibiotics to you.

    Now, does that mean we never eat fatty meats? NO! We love brisket, ribs, and a nice juicy steak. But, we don’t eat them every day and we don’t recommend that you do either.

    • Lisa jones says:

      Good to know!! So clarified butter and coconut oil and olive oil should be the fats of choice when you need to cook.

      ***Coconut oil is actually my preferred cooking oil as it has a much higher smoking point than olive oil and keeps us from having to hear the smoke detector when I’m searing things.

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