I wrapped up my first week on the Paleo diet, and other than the “clean” eating, it was pretty much the same as my low carb diet. In fact, I saw no difference. Granted it’s only been one week, but I have to wonder if the price of organic produce, grass-fed beef and cage-free birds, really offers that much of a health benefit.
I bring up cost only because I saw a 37% cost increase in my weekly groceries. My weekly budget for groceries is $135. For my first week on Paleo, I spent $185.67. If I don’t change anything, that’s a $200 increase by the end of this little experiment. Ouch!
Part of the sticker shock I attribute to “start-up costs” – items like ghee, coconut oil that are pricy but I won’t run out of anytime soon. But the cost of “clean” meat I find hard to swallow, experiment or no. It cost me $26.69 for 3 pounds of grass-fed ground beef. Normally I spend $16 for 7 pounds of regular ground beef (and that lasts for 3 weeks). I’m sorry, but for me to continue to spend that much on ground beef means that gold better come out the other end.
But, it’s not just beef, which is expensive (grass-fed or not), but “clean” chicken is costly too. All 3 pounds of a whole, cage-free chicken costs double the price of a 6-pound caged chicken ($11.97 vs. $5.97). Yes, I know the 6-pounder sat in a cage to get fat, that water was probably injected into the meat, and the farmer fed Foghorn hormones for good measure. But when you are a single-income family on a tight budget trying to stretch your dollars, “clean” eating means: food that doesn’t give you the trots!
Organic produce cost about $0.50-$0.70 per pound more than their non-organic counterparts. That doesn’t seem like much of a price difference, but it ended up costing me $20 more than buying non-organic produce. I know some people will think that the price is worth it to eat healthier, tastier food. But the truth is I couldn’t taste any difference, and the data is still out on whether organic is really healthier and budgets matter. In my home, $80 is a bill payment or 2 weeks of gas. It seems I’ll get more bang for my buck by using a vinegar wash to clean my non-organic fruits and vegetables.
Clearly going Paleo or eating “clean” is doable if you have other options for protein and have a larger food budget. However, if you have a limited budget, I’m just not sure it’s worth the cost.
Suggestions from you Paleoites on non-meat protein options or ideas to cut costs are welcome!
I certainly didn’t think I’d harp so much on money for my first post on trying the Paleo diet. But for me, it is a BIG deal. I promise to have more to say about the foods, recipes and my energy level throughout the challenge.