The Guide to Eating Paleo on a Budget

Perhaps the biggest reason people give for rejecting the paleo diet is the cost associated with it. While it true that it can be quite expensive to eat handfuls of nuts and wild salmon fillets and grass-fed beef on a regular basis, When it comes to eating paleo on a budget  there are many alternative staples that can actually lower the cost of your weekly shopping list and save money! Furthermore by playing around with the unconventional (by Western standards) foods in the kitchen, you may just discover a new found love for cooking or fall in love with a previously undiscovered flavor.

Purchase pantry staples in larger quantities.

Oils and nuts have long enough shelf lives to warrant purchasing larger quantities less frequently, especially considering how much cheaper these foods cost per serving when purchased in bulk. Consider a membership at Sam’s club or other whole sale warehouse, where these foods can be purchased for a fraction of what they cost at supermarkets. Alternatively, you can try purchasing these products online.

Try some other ‘bone-in’ cuts of meat.

In addition to often being more flavorful, these cuts of meat are often significantly cheaper than their boneless counterparts, because the additional labor on the part of the butcher does not have to be factored into the cost. While these bone in cuts often require methods of cooking beyond sauteing and baking or broiling (how most people cook boneless cuts) to render them flavorful and tender, consider it an opportunity to expand your culinary knowledge and learn some new tools that you can use for the rest of your life. Furthermore, these slow-cooking methods typically used with bone-in cuts of meat can be accomplished with modern appliances such as the electric crock pot, allowing you to do all of your preparation ahead of time and have a hot meal waiting for you when you return home from work or some other activity. Next time you’re preparing a shopping list, consider adding cuts such as shoulder, shanks or hocks, or even a whole chicken that you can butcher yourself and prepare for several different meals. While they may be intimidating at first, you may quickly find that the decreased cost and increased flavor far outweigh any slight initial inconvenience in preparing them, and make them a regular staple of your new paleo lifestyle.

Have a heart…or a kidney or liver.

The obstacle people have to overcome in introducing organ meats into their diet is a mental on. The truth is, most organs are significantly more nutrient dense than their muscle counterparts, and are readily available at a fraction of the cost. The reason they are so inexpensive is simply the stigma that they have acquired in our society. Though the taste is somewhat unusual for those not used to it, most organs are quite rich and flavorful, and are as easy to prepare as traditional cuts of meat. Chicken livers, for instance, make an excellent protein source for stir-fries, and can be prepared simply by seasoning with a bit of salt and pepper sauteed with some fat in a pan. Chopped liver makes an excellent dip for raw vegetables. Make your life a little more paleo by adding some organs to your next shopping list.

Buy some canned fish

There’s more out there then tuna. Next time you’re shopping, consider picking up a can of salmon or mackerel. They are inexpensive, have long shelf-lives, and are an excellent source of omega-3s and other essential nutrients.

Shop seasonally

Buy your fruits and vegetables when they are in season and produced locally. They will be significantly cheaper than those produced off season, and will also be a lot tastier.
Buy frozen: Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and flash-frozen at their peak ripeness, making them nearly as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. They are often on sale, allowing you to buy in bulk and stock up.

Grow, harvest, hunt and gather

Our paleo ancestors didn’t have all of the conveniences of the modern supermarket. While it may represent a greater initial time and financial (though foraging and fishing are practically free) investment than simply shopping at market, It will undoubtedly give you a profound appreciation for where your food comes from, and may enrich your life beyond the act of preparing and consuming a meal.

1 Comment

  • Reply July 11, 2013


    This post was super helpful, especially since I started on the paleo diet. Healthier more organic foods are definitely more expensive than foods grow with antibiotics. While I love the diet, it has been tough on my wallet. Thanks for the post. Can’t wait to start saving

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