Week 1 Of Paleo Diet: Sticker Shock!

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Eating "clean" meat is an expensive proposition when going Paleo.

Eating “clean” meat is an expensive proposition when going Paleo.

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.

5 thoughts on “Week 1 Of Paleo Diet: Sticker Shock!

  1. Pingback: Week 3 Of Paleo Challenge – Hitting My Stride | Dot to Trot

  2. Miss E

    Organic meats really are healthier — especially organic beef. To be certified organic, cattle has to have been raised organically through two generations before entering the food supply. So, unlike commercial beef, you know for sure that your ground beef (usually sourced from several animals per package) has had no illness, mad cow disease or other health issues it could pass on to you.

    I trade off on grocery costs by not always buying organic vegetables. There’s a loophole in organic vegetable growing anyway, so we really have no idea whether the seeds for those foods came from GMO production. I also buy my meats at Costco to save money.

    • My preference is buying our meat from local farms. We purchased 1/2 a cow last year and not only did it save us money but it was tasty and “clean.” I do believe buying local is best for the freshest foods. But “clean” meat in grocery stores is just too expensive. I know you can get good deals at Costco. Does Costco have “clean” meat?

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