Buying More Meat on a Budget

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I eat a steak almost every day. That is absolutely an expensive way to go about eating a carnivore diet. I don’t deny it, and sometimes I feel like I’m being a little bit extravagant. At the moment, though, for reasons I won’t get into right now, it’s what I do. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped trying to save as much money as I can. I can eat a lot of meat and still get within shouting distance of a reasonable grocery budget. I would never want to see someone forgo the idea of a carnivore diet because of the cost. Here are some ways I keep things manageable:

Buy in bulk. If you’re buying the packages of one or two ribeyes from the grocery store, it is going to cost a ridiculous amount of money. I do buy my steaks that way when I have to, and resent the heck out of it. Thankfully, there are usually better ways to go about getting steaks. My primary source of beef comes from a local ranch that sells me a whole beef at a time. Our whole family can eat on that for about three months, so I get my steaks and roasts for quite a bit less than you might expect. When my freezer runs low, or I just want to stock up on ribeyes, a local grocery store frequently has either whole boneless rib roasts or boneless strips on sale for $4.99/lb. Those roasts carve up into 12-16 ribeyes or New York strips for around $55.

Buy cheaper cuts. If you want beef steaks, they don’t have to be ribeyes. You can get sirloin or skirt steak and enjoy them just as much if you learn to prepare them properly. Just be aware that the cheaper cuts are typically the leaner cuts, and you’ll need to add fat accordingly. I make sure the butcher knows I want the fat trimmings from my cow. You can often buy suet or rendered fat from local farms or independent butchers, as well. Sometimes they’ll just give you the rib fat trimmings for free, because they’re just going to throw them out, anyway. We really do live in clown world.

It’s ok to get the 10 lb. chub of ground beef from Wal-mart. As important as it is to buy local, and to support a sustainable meat supply in that way, there is no getting around the need to live within your means. There’s very little evidence to support the idea that conventionally raised meat is less nutritious than the grass-finished, and you’ll get along just fine on the cheap stuff. Kelly Hogan, one of the most amusing and adorable carnivores in the online carnivore community, eats a whole lot of inexpensive hamburgers–even McDonald’s hamburgers. It really is good for you, so go ahead!

Eat all the meats, not just beef. You can eat an all-animal sourced diet without ever having a steak at all. A lot of carnivore/zero carb adherents are perfectly happy eating fish, chicken thighs, canned seafood and other meats, pork rinds, and even (gasp!) bologna. I stick to beef and eggs almost exclusively right now, but I’ll eat anything that ever moved if I’m hungry and it’s all I can find at the moment. Eat whatever meat you like. Chances are you can find something you can afford.

Eat the organs. I always get the organs and offal from the whole beef that I buy. Liver, heart, tongue, kidney–you name it, we’ve eaten it. (Except lung. I think I’ll ask for that this time, too.) Some people don’t like organ meat, and I don’t think they’re strictly necessary for everybody. But they are cheap, and, in my view, superfoods. You can have liver ground into your beef to both hide the taste and stretch your meat a little farther.

Do not fear the egg. Whether you buy them or raise your own chickens, nothing beats the nutritional punch of eggs. I know you’ve been told that they’re terrible for you, but…well, I’ll get into why they’re good for you some other time. Right now, just ask yourself: when’s the last time the “experts” told you the truth about anything? One brand of eggs I’ve bought says “Two a day are OK!” on the package. That’s stupid. Twenty a day are ok, if that’s how many you can eat. They are a perfect nose-to-tail diet, easy to cook, easy to digest, and cheap. I raise my own chickens and buy some eggs, too. Dirt-scratching, insect-eating, happy chickens give you better eggs, but you’ll do just fine on the cheap eggs, if you need to. Splurge a little on the free-range ones, if you can afford it. Or just get to building your chicken coop now. Spring is coming! I’ve got 20 more chicks coming in a couple of weeks!

It’s still going to cost more. Even with all these tips, I’m sorry to report that I have not seen any way to wrestle my grocery budget back down to the size it used to be. Meat really does just cost more, and my next post will explain why I think it’s well worth the investment. I hope that some of these tips make it seem less scary to eat a meat-heavy, or even meat-only diet. I’ve found this to be the most satisfying and healthful way to live, and want to see more people discover its benefits for themselves.

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