Paleo on a budget

I talk to a lot of people about the Paleo lifestyle, and I’ve been asked by a few folks whose budgets are tight about how viable and sustainable the Paleo lifestyle is when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on food. It’s not a concern that I take lightly. It’s a sad fact of life today that good, whole foods are more expensive than eating fast food. It is for this reason that the US is in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Just from an economic standpoint, it makes sense for the common person to eat fast food.

My wife and I are cost conscious when buying our ingredients. While it may not be the first factor in making our selections, it is most likely a definite second. We shop sales every week, and tailor our menus to what we can find on sale at the local food stores. This past week, for example, the local Kroger had brisket on sale for $.99/lb. That’s a great price for a whole lot of meat. They also had pork shoulder on sale for $.69/lb and ribs for $.99/lb. We ended up buying some brisket and ribs to smoke as it’s good for a few weeks afterward if stored properly.

Vegetables are seasonal, and as such, their prices vary on their availability. We tend to follow the seasonal norms for vegetables and fruits to keep the costs down. When purchasing seasonal vegetables, it’s also nice because they tend to be fresher and more ripe than off-season vegetables.

Pork and chicken can be inexpensive, and these can be quite tasty. The only real danger here is that these are bland meats that, if not prepared with spices and vegetables, can become boring and drive people away from eating well.

As for organic vs non-organic, if it’s simply a matter of economics, it’s hard to justify organic. From a nutritional level, non-organic whole food will always be better than pre-processed or fast food. Always. Also, organic will be better than non-organic, but this is a matter of pesticides, hormones, and fertilizers that have lingering presence in the fruits or vegetables once they are consumed. I recommend buying organic when it’s possible, but if it’s just too expensive, go with the non-organic versions. You’re still far better off.

The final point I’d like to make is that when you make your own food, you tend to waste less. The food goes quite a long way if you save leftovers and use them for lunches or additional meals. While sometimes a cut of meat may seem expensive, when we consider how many meals or servings we get out of that meat, it really shows how cost effective eating well can be.

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