Is Eating Primal/Paleo Really That Expensive?
When you decide to buy naturally raised animal products and organic produce, it may seem to cost a whole lot more at first. It is important to keep in mind, though, that when you start eating whole foods and better-quality products, you are also doing away with all of the high carbohydrate processed foods and beverages. In his new book, The Pegan Diet, Mark Hyman states, “Some studies show it can cost as little as 50 extra cents a day to improve the quality of your diet.” Cooking at home with nutrient-dense foods in fact costs less than endlessly buying already prepared-for-you meals in a box and/or take-outs. Implementing a few simple strategies and “cooking hacks” can make Primal/Paleo eating affordable and easy.
A Few Simple Strategies
As mentioned in a previous post, you can:
- Buy in bulk and cook large meals ahead of time.
- Shop at a food co-op (member-owned “cooperative”).
- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm.
- Shop at farmers’ markets.
- Look into volunteering at local farms.
- Grow your own garden (in your backyard or in a community garden).
- Cowpooling (when you decide to buy with your friends a whole butchered cow at a local farm, each one of you getting a section of it).
Three Basic “Cooking Hacks”
In his book, The Pegan Diet, Mark Hyman highlights how easy it can be to prepare a smoothie, a salad, and a basic stir-fry. Just knowing how to fix these can be a first step to cooking delicious and nutritious meals.
- Smoothie: Blend together 8 ounces of unsweetened non-dairy milk, ½ cup of frozen berries, 1 handful of leafy greens, 1 tablespoon of nut butter, and 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds or chia seeds (or pick other ingredients of your choice).
- Salad: In a salad bowl, add 1 bunch of chopped greens, non-starchy vegetables of your choice (peppers, cucumbers, radish, fennel, green onion, olives), a can of wild salmon or 2 to 6 ounces of chicken (or other protein), 3 tablespoons of herbs and spices of your choice (parsley, cilantro, mint, basil), 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. Mix together.
- Stir-fry: Heat avocado oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute for 2 to 3 minutes; then add chopped or pressed garlic, a little ginger, and 3 cups of chopped vegetables (such as fennel, leeks, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, asparagus, onions, broccoli, etc.). Add spices such as paprika or cumin. Make it Asian with a little bit of toasted sesame oil, gluten-free tamari, and mirin (or your favorite paleo-approved stir-fry sauce). Cook for about 10-15 minutes or less. Top with lemon juice and fresh herbs such as parsley or cilantro. Add salt to taste. Add a protein of your choice (for example, cooked ground meat or sliced chicken).
By implementing just a few shopping strategies and taking the time to cook simple meals at home, you are opening the door to a world of better health and wellness. If you prioritize what is really giving you the nutrients you need, Primal/Paleo eating can be enjoyed even on a tight budget. This will also most likely save you money down the road. As they say, “Health is Wealth.”
Hyman, Mark. The Pegan Diet: 21 Practical Principles for Reclaiming Your Health in a Nutritionally Confusing World. New York, Little, Brown Spark, A Hachette Book Group, 2021, pp. 144-45, 176–77.
James, Abel. The Wild Diet: Go beyond Paleo to Burn Fat, Beat Cravings, and Drop 20 Pounds in 40 Days. New York, Penguin Random House, 19 Jan. 2016, pp. 300–301.
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