Bad caveman! Lazy with counting

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t eaten a slab of cake or a frozen burrito or anything else anti-hunter-gatherer. And I’m not confessing about eating plenty of fruit, which some paleos seem to consider sinful. No, I’ve broken one of the pledges I set at the outset of my Caveman Month: to keep track of my food spending to see if I could stick to my version of a paleo diet on my usual approximate food budget of $350 a month.

Thing is, there are lots of things going for this homo sapiens these days, both in and out of the old cave, and my early practice of keeping track of the money spent and saving receipts every time I buy food — well, it has fallen by the wayside. I could try to reconstruct my spending based on my memory and receipts, but that runs the risk of an inaccurate tally. Call it roughly $200, or somewhat more than half the money spent in somewhat less than half the month.

Besides, trying to stick to the budget had meant buying my meat not at the butcher’s but at the grocery store, where in typical Canadian fashion, nothing in the fridge is organic. Ordinarily, in my pre-paleo-eating life, I paid a weekly visit to The Healthy Butcher on Toronto’s Queen Street. It has a pro-animal-welfare philosophy I can get behind, even if it’s not always the cheapest.

But hey, sometimes even the organic butcher offers a deal. The package of roast beef for more you see above may seem expensive at $10, but it was quite the weighty pile of cow-meat; it formed the basis of three meals, and it went down nicer to know the animal lived somewhat better than a bovine destined for a major meat packer (I hope that’s the case at any rate).

If I kept to the budget I’d never have been able to afford the roast beef, nor eight raw oysters on Saturday, nor the sashimi I plan to pick up for dinner some evening soon. By the time Caveman Month is out I’ll probably have spent well over $400 on food.

My conclusion: Paleo eating is more expensive than 21st century eating, since I’ve gone from gorging on meat two or three times a week to eating it most days. Meanwhile I’m consuming more seafood as well, and I have ethical issues around that, too, which can steer me towards expensive choices like wild Pacific salmon. (Farmed salmon bad.)

Finding an extra $50 a month on food wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but I may decide the benefits outweigh the costs.

And speaking of “weigh,” I keep getting skinnier and people are noticing (more on that later).

Finally, to add one more consideration to the mix: I’m happier with much less food than usual these days: My meals are portioned like my former snacks, and my snacks are often replaced with cups of herbal tea. So maybe I’m not spending more on food overall. Makes a caveman wish he could have done a better job of tracking his food costs.

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4 Responses to “Bad caveman! Lazy with counting”

  1. Ah man, are you saying that you don’t have a chest freezer? Where are you storing your grass-fed split-half ruminants? Few poses the requisite green-backs to afford these delectable, healthful necessities otherwise? How could you afford thrice-weekly wild salmon if you didn’t buy in bulk? Where are you freezing all of the pastured butter that goes on sale but once in a blue moon? Silly newbie.

    And haven’t you heard the Paleo good-news? Without the inevitable insulin-injections, blood pressure medication and unpaid sick days you’re actually MAKING money by doing caveman; caveman plus big-ass freezer that is.

    Of course if you live with a vegetarian you’ll need to set money aside for the inevitable health costs associated with such a silly, sanctimonious mistake.

  2. Dominic Says:

    In an earlier post you mentioned that, as a journalist, you are routinely provided with (non-caveman) free meals. It strikes me that your monthly spend was kept artificially low as a result. Have you taken this into account when setting your budget?

  3. Try Fiesta Farms (Christie & Dupont) for organic meat & veg

    Better prices than the Healthy Butcher

  4. on the surface, it may seem that paleo is an expensive way to live.
    however, as chris alluded to in his post, when factoring in the money saved on the inevitable health costs associated with eating the standard north american diet it actually becomes quite inexpensive and efficient.
    i just finished a 30 day paleo challenge for several clients. all reported feeling additional energy for their day to day activities not to mention workouts (many gym records were set this month!) furthermore, they experienced what i myself have felt for a long time, that with proper food and the metabolism that arises from it, energy for daily life becomes bountiful and this has a powerful effect on productivity, focus, physical appearance and confidence.
    the fact is, cheap food leads to cheap lives. i am often left dumbfounded by folks who complain that grass-fed meat is a couple of bucks more expensive than the regular commercial/grocery chain schlock; many of the same folks also spend countless bucks on gatorade, supplements and maybe more on booze. there is simply nothing more important than feeding; remember maslow’s hierarchy of needs, anyone?
    this is only the tip of the iceberg when you factor in how extraordinarily beneficial it is to purchase humanely and pasture raised meat; not only your health but the local economy and environment. which brings to me to my final point….er, it’s actually cheaper to eat proper paleo and a hell of a lot more fun.
    tomorrow is thursday, my favourite day of the week. that’s when i go to the dufferin grove farmer’s market which is 10 minutes away from me. i buy all my grass fed beef and organic greens there. i spend one day a week shopping and meeting the farmer’s that actually grew my food. it is much cheaper than shopping at the butcher and saves me time – don’t get me wrong, i still hit up the healthy butcher when i need to and they are a great store.
    most folks that i know that have adopted a paleo lifestyle have really emphasized this re-connection to where their food comes from; nothing more hunter-gatherer than that, i think! in the process they find they eat more nutritionally dense food (quality over volume) and they do so in a way that saves time and enhances their enjoyment of it and lifestyle. hard to put a cost saving statistic on all those things but i don’t think you have to plug that into a spreadsheet to understand the broad ranging impact.
    i will wager that by the end of your challenge you will find yourself with more vitality and more money in your pocket. there are many great resources out there to help with finding the best foods for the lowest price. and when you have that down, do what my friends, clients and i do, have some dinner parties and potlucks. we did one last week and ate like paleo champs on an average of 4 bucks a person. above all, cavemen are resourceful!!!

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