Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
9 Mar

What is the Cost of Eating Healthy Foods?

A couple years back I highlighted a Time Magazine photo essay called “What the World Eats.” It was a fascinating visual comparison of what – and how much – representative families across the globe consumed in a given week. (Several obliging MDA readers later shared photos of their own rations.) Revealing on yet another level, the Time feature included the cost of each international family’s provisions. Expenses varied radically as you can imagine with weekly expenditures ranging from $1.23 in Chad to more than $500 in Germany. The three American families, incidentally, reported spending $159 (California), $242 (Texas), and $342 (North Carolina) each. With the talk about rising food prices looming in the headlines again, I found myself thinking about Primal food costs. Is anyone seeing the jump yet? Are Primal folks more or less affected by these periodic fluctuations? Do we, as a Primal group, really spend more than the average American on our food?

As many experts and commentators have noted over the years, Americans as a whole actually spend less on food than any other country when it comes to percentage of income. In the U.S., our average food expenses constitute about 9-12% of our income (depending on the source (1 (PDF), 2, 3) you consult). In 1949, it was 22%.

By contrast, much of Western Europe today devotes 14-17%+ of their total household budget to food. In Pakistan, families spend an average of 46% of their income on food.

On top of this, there’s the breakdown of food spent for “at-home” consumption (i.e. groceries) versus “away” (i.e. restaurants, fast food). Of the roughly 10% of income Americans spend on food, more than 40% is spent eating out (PDF). (In Belgium, for example, that number is 25%.) That means a mere 6% of our income is spent on the weekly supermarket/farmers’ market haul. When you look at it this way, we see that average at-home food costs are roughly equal to average health care costs, utilities, entertainment costs, and vehicle purchases costs. That’s not combined, folks.

A few more facts? (PDF) The groups that spend the most on food per person are the most affluent households, one-person households, and older households (55-64). (Probably no surprises there.) Among the groups that spend the least are households headed by single mothers. Larger households and those with kids spend less per person, and smaller households spend more eating out. Northeasterns and Westerners spend more on food (both total food expenditure and eating out costs) than Midwesterners and considerably more (especially in terms of at-home food) than Southerners. Affluent homes devote a lower percentage of their (more substantial) income on at-home food but a higher percentage on eating out than lower income and middle income homes.

More income, however, doesn’t necessarily translate into better food purchased. Although the amount spent on items like eggs, pork, and vegetables rose in higher income homes in Belgium, for example, in the U.S. the items prioritized with increased income were fish, cheese, and sweets. In another international comparison, higher incomes in the U.S. were associated with a higher percentage of the budget spent eating out, whereas “away” food expenses stayed fairly level as income rose in Belgian households. (PDF)

The information, I think, opens the door for a million questions and observations. Today, however, I’m interested in how the Primal community compares to the average American when it comes to expenses. The University of Iowa Extension Program offers a calculator that tells you how much you should spend on food to achieve the USDA’s Low Cost Food Plan (their version (PDF) of nutritious of course). (The department also offers calculators for “moderate” and “liberal” eating plans.) Doing the calculation for a “typical” four person family with two teenagers at home and no meals out, my number came up at about $815 per month. Does a good Primal bounty exceed the USDA’s low cost estimate?

Let’s do our own bit of informal research here. (The polls are completely anonymous.)

Approximately how much do you spend on at-home groceries (counting CSAs, meat shares, etc.) per month per person in your household?

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Additionally, how many meals, would you say, do you eat away from home each month?

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Finally, I’d love to hear your other thoughts. What’s your thinking on the income percentage picture? How do you work it? I know Primal folks bring a lot of creativity to the table when it comes to foraging for the best deals (as well as the best nutrition). How much does resourcefulness save? Have you gotten thriftier over time, or have you consciously increased your outlay for food as you’ve travelled down the Primal road, so to speak? I’ll look forward to reading your feedback. Thanks for reading today.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Rising food prices have definitely been noticed at my farmer’s market. Ground bison used to go for $4.99/lb 6 months ago, and now it is $8.49/lb. Pork and beef have seen similar, but less dramatic increases. Chicken hasn’t risen in price (yet).

    Neal wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • I suspect the increase in the cost of bison is due more to demand than production costs. I’ve read that bison has become wildly popular. I haven’t seen similar increases in pork or beef in my area. I like bison but I won’t pay the premium for it.

      Dave Fish wrote on March 9th, 2011
      • It is because of the demand and the way they are raised. Because bison don’t eat corn and aren’t fed hormones etc like cows they take longer to grow to full size bison. And they can’t slaughter the females right now because they need them for reproduction. So there is going to be about a 5 year gap in production. It sucks but they have to do it this way in order to catch up with the demand.

        Kyle wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • We had to cut bison out of our diet. We eat it maybe once a month now.

      Kyle wrote on March 9th, 2011
      • You are all so damn lucky to have the opportunity to buy bison. I wish it was available at my farmers market! I do have the opportunity to get lamb, rabbit and of course the other popular animals though.

        I have had bison a few times and its awesome.

        Primal Toad wrote on March 9th, 2011
        • My local grocery store (Martin’s and Kroger in Richmond, VA) both carry ground bison packages. It’s pretty good and not all that expensive.

          Wes wrote on March 10th, 2011
  2. We definitely spend more on groceries than we did before going primal, but we make up for it by eating out less. With so much great food in the house (and fewer fast food cravings), we’re just not as excited to go out as we used to be! In eating in and eating out, we’ve moved toward spending more on better quality food that we need less of.

    kristin wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • Completely agree with this post. Yes, buying large grass fed lamb/pork/beef joints is expensive, but they last ages and taste great, so great in fact that I no longer have the urge for the weekly take away and fast food treat. Overall I would say its beginning to balance out.

      James wrote on March 10th, 2011
  3. I try to keep costs low by buying directly from farmers (30 lbs of grass fed beef for $140 last week! I wonder if HIS prices will go up?), but I don’t always plan perfectly and the grocery store is expensive if you want the good stuff. Buying herbs and spices in BULK definitely helped me cut costs.

    I spend about $500 a month on food for myself (I live alone) while only going out for 1-2 meals (and only when I have to due to social reasons).

    Also – every 8 weeks or so, I spend probably $100 on protein powder. Optional spend obviously, but I like the stuff.

    Graham wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • Herbs are a rip-off. The fresh ones in the grocery store are way overpriced, and the dried ones are probably several years old by the time you buy them. I say this judging by the color. I have grown herbs off and on in my adult life, and never are they that faded and dull looking when you dry them. Bay leaves are the worst. I’ve also had a live bay tree before, and even when the leaves are dried they are dark green and almost glossy. (And bay trees are so much fun to prune! Mmmmm the smell! I WILL be getting another one when circumstances permit.) You’re basically paying for stuff way past its prime that you have to use more of because it’s nowhere near potent anymore. On top of that it’s been sitting on the shelf in a plastic container (outgasses the contents) or in clear glass (light breaks down the plant matter).

      Anyone with room for some medium-sized or large pots around the house and no animals to dig in them should consider growing their own herbs. You need a patio or a very sunny window or a good grow light setup but it is so worth it. If you have a yard, all the better!

      Dana wrote on March 9th, 2011
      • Great point, Dana. I’ll go a step further and encourage people to carve out a patch of ground for some veggies going into spring/summer. Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard are all great greens that take very little space and effort. These can add up $$ at the grocery. Plan and maybe even plant now (zone dependent). Doesn’t get any better!

        Nancy wrote on March 9th, 2011
        • I’ve always wanted to start an herb and veggie garden! I don’t really have a good set-up for it now though.

          Dana wrote on March 10th, 2011
  4. I just voted in this poll. Here are my personal data points:

    My organic & local CSA box comes out to $140/month, and our grass-fed meat expenditures are roughly $400/month. I probably spend another $100-200 on other foods like wine, spices, etc. This range of expenditures comes out to roughly 8% of my gross monthly income (I am an engineer).

    The household is myself and my boyfriend. We both do Crossfit 2-3x/wk. We normally eat out Fri dinner, Sat lunch & dinner (we usually are out skiing on Saturdays) & Sunday lunch.

    I usually grow a portion of my own organic produce during the summer, and we currently do not have a separate freezer dedicated to meat storage. This is something I’d like to explore in the future, so we could save some cash by buying whole animals in bulk.

    My personal opinion on food is: you get what you pay for. As I am sure you have outlined, a primary food is so cheap in America is because the government subsidizes crops (notably white things, aka Wheat, Corn, Rice, Sugar Beets, etc.). Once you step away and start buying from local and responsible food producers/farmers, they are pricing so they get paid fairly for their hard work, and I am willing and eager to pay for their premium (tasty) products. :)

    Thanks for a great blog!

    Mmmm.... wrote on March 9th, 2011
  5. I know exactly how much we spend per month, because of my records in Quicken. Last year we averaged about $340/month/person. We started the PB in January of last year. According to my records, this is actually slightly less than we spent before we went primal, but only about $10 less per month. So, I guess it has not cost us anything to be healthier!

    I spend a lot less money on food when I am at my farm, because I can grow a lot of vegetables and fruit, and the local meat is cheaper. It is not completely grass-fed like the meat we buy in town at Whole Foods, but it is very good and very affordable: the ground beef is $1.80/# if you buy 20#. At that price even the dogs get to eat some.

    The farmer’s market in Houston is way over-priced in my opinion, so I don’t shop there often. OTOH, the farmer’s market in rural Tennessee is actually cheaper than the grocery store, so I shop there every week for things that I don’t grow myself, like peaches and blueberries.

    shannon wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • Ok, I re-checked my figures and it turns out I made a little mistake using the spending cloud in Quicken.

      In 2009 before we went primal we spent $317/person/month.

      In 2010 after I went primal (but my partner had not yet), we spend $340/month/person. Not a huge jump. And some of that could be due to inflation in food prices.

      shannon wrote on March 9th, 2011
      • Ok, Quicken just informed me that I don’t actually spend less money on food during the summer, except during the month of June. The reason is that I buy a lot of fruit at the farmer’s market for preserving. (There is not much fruit available yet in June; it peaks in July.) I pick a lot of blueberries at a farm for freezing, and I buy peaches for canning. So really, although the cost of daily food goes down in the summer, food expenditures stay the same because of “stocking up.”

        I think to get an idea of your monthly food costs, you should average them out over a whole year, because you might buy meat or fruit one month in bulk to freeze or can, and then eat it over the following months.

        shannon wrote on March 9th, 2011
  6. I’d have to say yes, in general, eating primal foods will cost more, but the difference in price is worth it when one considers the difference in nutritional value.

    A can of coconut milk will cost me more than a loaf of bread, but I’ll pick the coconut milk every time and make sacrifices elsewhere

    Joe wrote on March 9th, 2011
  7. I could save a lot more than I do if I bought more in bulk, online, etc . . . But at the moment I’m in a tiny apartment with little storage space. I also don’t have a problem spending more on quality food. After living in the Netherlands for 10 years, where the cost of food is considerably higher, I’m used to paying more. It’s also just my boyfriend and me, so we can afford it. He eats lunches 4-5 days a week out, but I rarely if ever go to restaurants, so it evens out a bit.

    Sandy wrote on March 9th, 2011
  8. I used to spend about $30 a week on food before going Primal. Then it went up to $35-40. Now I spend around $50, but the only reason for that is I’m trying to put on some more muscle, so the meat consumption has gone way up!

    Jim Arkus wrote on March 9th, 2011
  9. Food used to be 58% of my income, now it’s about 50%, so eating primal has saved me a little bit but I’ve eaten out less and eaten less in general since the foods I’m eating are more filling.
    My income is very low but the rest of my expenses are pretty low as well. We live rent free by doing maintenance and grounds keeping to pay our way. Right now my boyfriend is out in the rain fixing the tractor! LOL!

    Robin wrote on March 9th, 2011
  10. We spend about $400/person…maybe a bit more than before going primal (which was officially one year ago today!) but the quality of food has gone way up. And we have had zero medical bills, prescriptions, etc.

    Chowstalker wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • That is such a good point. The prescription meds I’ve been able to go off since going primal has saved a big chunk, and the doctors and hospital bills are officially paid off and for once, not being adding to! Our food bill hasn’t gone up much, but these other savings are helpful – and encouraging.

      Nicole wrote on March 10th, 2011
  11. Food prices are rising due to the devaluing of the fiat currencies. Read The Creature from Jekyll island or watch Money as debt.

    Chris wrote on March 9th, 2011
  12. I spend something like ~$400 a month on myself, but it’s tough to tell recently with work being so busy and me eating out a lot more than I should.

    Plus the NYC price premium is ginormous. Unavoidable.

    shz wrote on March 9th, 2011
  13. My husband and I spend roughly $300 a month per person on food. We buy our pork and beef right from the farmer, and in the summer we join a CSA and freeze half the vegetables so we have them fresh through the winter as well as in the summer.

    This is quite a bit less then I used to spend before. I was on Weight Watchers before I found MDA and because of that, I was buying all low-fat or WW foods that you pay an arm and a leg extra for.

    Christine wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • Just to compare I’m on the east coast of Canada as well.

      Christine wrote on March 9th, 2011
  14. I find that my favorite cheap foods are, eggs, liver, cheap cuts of pork, whole chickens. These are all rich in calories and protein and in the case of liver and eggs, nutrients, making then an ideal food that will keep you satisfied. Also I find that eating less vegetables can save money. When eating foods like this intermittent dating becomes easy and appetite decreases. Plain old eating less can save money.

    Michal wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • The typo in this comment made me laugh.

      Dating definitely affects the amount of money that I spend on food. Even money spent per individual goes up as leftovers aren’t generally accepted as date food.

      single wrote on March 9th, 2011
  15. I don’t have any recent figures, but I know before we went Primal we spent between $800-$900 a month on groceries for two. It would be pretty difficult to figure it out now since I have so many sources: Co-op, Farmers’ Market, online direct to source ordering, a little garage where I leave money in an envelope for olive oil. But I imagine it’s not much more than that now, although I’m curious.
    If anyone’s interested, I talked about the global implications of food prices and what it means for us at my blog: http://paleoperiodical.com/2011/02/28/rising-food-prices-what-does-it-mean-for-paleo-folks/

    Buttercup wrote on March 9th, 2011
  16. I had done the atkins a while back and did very well on it. I went for a multi year carb slide and am now doing Primal and new at it. Already I am saving money. 1 now cooking almost all meals. 2 not eating a 4 dollar bag of cookies, eating less because one pice of chicken and a ton of Brussels is enough. Having said that I am shocked at the price of some produce and going to Whole foods makes my head spin they will sell the same item as TJ’s for 1/3 more because they can.

    Andy wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • Yes, this seems like straight out corporate greed – the same pate at TJ cost double at WF in Florida (there are no TJ there).

      deb b wrote on March 9th, 2011
      • It’s not “corporate greed” but rather “lack of competition” that allows Whole Paycheck … I mean Whole Foods … to overcharge.

        John wrote on March 9th, 2011
        • Which comes from corporate greed because WF used to have competition and they drove them out of business.

          Large corporations are incompatible with a free market. Period.

          Dana wrote on March 9th, 2011
      • There are TJ where I live, and stuff still costs twice as much at WF. You’re paying for the big fancy store and the atmosphere, as well as a much larger and more stable selection. TJ’s is great but it’s so vexing when they stop carrying great items completely at random.

        Diane the Purple wrote on March 9th, 2011
  17. I was at a small dinner party with friends last summer, including a friend who is originally from Ireland but lives in Australia. The rest of us were born-and-raised in the U.S.

    The hostess had picked up the ground beef for the burgers from a local ranch (grass fed) and most of the rest at her local farmer’s market. We got into a discussion of food, food sourcing, costs, deals, etc.

    Our friend from Australia made a comment about that, saying something along the lines of “But it’s not like it’s a hardship for any of you to spend more on food,is it?” It wasn’t a nasty observation, just kind of pointing out that everyone at the table had well-paying professional jobs that supported us living comfortable lifestyles with the freedom to travel a lot and participate in expensive hobbies.

    His point was that we could all afford it – why SHOULDN’T we spend a little more on food as a percentage of our household spending? For him, food costs were already higher at home, but the quality was also higher than the typical food that is purchased in the U.S.

    Recently it occurred to me that I spend quite a bit of money on expensive food for my cat, in hopes that it will not only keep him healthy and happy, but that it will pay off in decreased overall veterinary care costs.

    I realized that buying high quality food for myself could very well have the same benefits.

    ennasirk wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • Very good point and extremely well delivered!

      Aimee wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • Yes, spend more on food and less on health and medical expenses. This is the plan. It’s been working great so far and can only be more of a good investment as I continue to get older!

      Getting a measure of this food/medical expense ratio would provide more context to our potentially increased spending on food.

      Tony wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • What a great observation! How did your other friends react to it? :)

      I’ve lived in the UK and the US. Relatively speaking, everything in the US is dirt cheap, but everyone here seems to complain so much when the price of anything goes up! I don’t get it.

      Diane the Purple wrote on March 9th, 2011
      • We get used to a price being what it is and rarely actually think about why it changes, just get offended that it does. Human nature i’m afraid, not just Americans. People elsewhere would do that too if they were used to things being cheap and suddenly they weren’t.

        Bevie wrote on March 9th, 2011
        • I agree with the expensive prices in Australia. Our dollar is sitting at parity with the US dollar, and yet food costs are so much higher down here. But – I think we have great quality and I am happy to spend on food. I currently spend about 25% of our income on food for our family of 5. Our income should go up soon, but our food consumption should stay similar so that will take a bit of pressure off. We drink 15 Litres of raw milk a week that I get for free – imagine if I added that into my calculations!

          Sharon wrote on March 10th, 2011
    • I can barely afford it, but it’s worth it. Food for the two of us is about 35% of my income. I hope that going primal will actually cut costs due to the fact that I am always buying $10-15 lunches trying to adhere to a somewhat healthy diet. $8 at Mcdonalds just doesn’t cut it for me. But I agree. Maybe the health costs will compensate for a possible increase in price. And thank you for not feeding your cat wal-mart trash. It means a lot when people think of their pets too.

      Nenad wrote on March 29th, 2014
  18. I spend about $400/person right now, BUT we are new to primal and still working out the expenditures. This is expected to go down. Two in our family are not fully primal also, that adds to the cost of food a little. We don’t eat out but 1-2 times/month. Who can afford to?

    EvansMama wrote on March 9th, 2011
  19. I do spend quite a bit on groceries, but I’m spending a LOT less on booze than I used to! Also doing better with less restaurant meals, and I do believe I am making an investment in my health that will result in less doctor bills in the future.

    To get the most bang for my buck, I do take care to find the best sources for my groceries- I order coconut oil and supplements from Amazon & pastured meats in bulk from Vermont, I get some good bacon and kerrygold cheese at BJs, cheap eggs and produce from a local farmer, and I sometimes make a 1.5 hour trip up the road to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to stock up on grassfed butter & cream, almond butter, and organic produce because their prices are so much better than my local stores. Luckily I have a Mini Cooper, so it’s worth it to drive around for good deals!

    Julia wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • This is how its done!

      Cut down on the booze, or don’t drink at all, buy as much food as you can from Amazon – all coconut products for the most part. Become a member at Costco and shop their often as well.

      Look for meat at the supermarket that is about to expire. I once bought 6 24 oz packages of wild alaskan salmon for about $4.50 per lb!

      Eat a lot of eggs if you an handle them since its one of the cheapest foods on the planet. Avocados and nuts are also pretty cheap. Buy frozen veggies and pick your own blueberries!

      Primal Toad wrote on March 9th, 2011
      • Yes I am grateful I don’t have an egg allergy; I’d be screwed!

        Jules wrote on March 10th, 2011
  20. Thanks for the info. I’m still trying to go Primal; but studies like this make me realize it’s more do-able than I thought.

    SJ wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • btw… we spend about $150 per person currently and eat out 3 times a week (breakfast or lunch, rarely dinner because homemade is just better)

      SJ wrote on March 9th, 2011
  21. very interesting. I come from a european family where 60% of my father’s income was spend on organic food! Me and the gf follow suit.. we are both students but what we dont spend on electricity, gas, travel, rent than its spend on food. not nice having nothing left over but we realise the obvious benefits of eating healthy and organic.

    Ryan wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • Since going Caveman on my food, I’ve actually noticed a decrease in my monthly grocery costs. I attribute this to: (1) less spending on commodity foods; (2) making all my own meals; (3) reducing meat costs by hunting, trading with fellow hunters or purchasing direct from the butcher shop; (4) only buying foods that are in season. But I think the real clincher is less money spent on commodities. Commodity foods – i.e. corn, soybeans, and sugar – soar during economic instability. Fruit prices rise as well. But unless there is a corresponding drought or famine, vegetable and meat prices remain relatively stable. At least that’s been my experience thus far. But the more I can live leanly, the better. Ultimately, my goal is to purchase and work enough land that I can feed my family, raise my own grass-fed cows, and hunt my own game. There’s a reason Ancient Greece emphasized a strong link between owning land and personal liberty.

      Steven wrote on March 9th, 2011
  22. While the reports may be suggesting that food prices are on the rise, take a careful look at what sorts of things they’re calling food. You’ll probably find that the biggest price jumps are coming from corn, wheat, rice, dairy, and grain-fed livestock. Very non-Primal type foods. So Primal may not be getting any cheaper, but as the prices of grains and non-Primal “food” continue to rise, expect more people to look for ways to completely cut these sorts of things out of their diet.

    Brian wrote on March 9th, 2011
  23. This is a good article on the subject:
    http://www.westonaprice.org/news/1410.html

    Ben wrote on March 9th, 2011
  24. I spent about $500 a month per person. We eat out 2 times a week.

    Bodhi wrote on March 9th, 2011
  25. I actually spend less money since going partially primal. It seems outrageous for individual items but in the end I spend less when I am not buying any processed food. I’ve traded quantity for quality. Farmer’s markets definitely end up being cheaper…but that might be because you are limited to what is offered and so it’s easy to stay on budget :)

    I eat like a king but on only about $160–$200 per month. And I’m not even trying to be frugal!

    I’ve also found that since I have become a more discriminating eater I can’t barely stand eating out, I’m always disappointed!

    Arrowyn wrote on March 9th, 2011
  26. Our household of 2 spends roughly $500 a month on food. We rarely go to restaurants and I have really developed my cooking skills over the past few years. The cost of food doesn’t consider the related health care costs and maybe it should. People who eat ‘fillers’ and don’t focus on nutrition will have higher health care costs as a general rule. And, as a general rule, the inverse is also true.

    Zusiqu wrote on March 9th, 2011
  27. Checking on my budget spreadsheet, and it looks like we spend about $350/person on food each month. For the 2 humans in our household. Another $75/month for the furry folk.

    Breaks down to:
    Grassfed meat, pastured eggs, & raw dairy from my farmer = $250

    Veggies, nuts, cheese, coffee, tea, etc…from TJ’s, Whole Foods, or the regular grocery store = $450

    Figuring that out makes me think “what have I been spending that much money on?” But I have the tendancy to just buy what I want when I want to make whatever I feel like making. I think I should start planning better and save a bit of that cash!

    Caroline wrote on March 9th, 2011
  28. Positive for primal:

    lack of processed food saves money. Cheaper cuts on meat. Better technique: use bacon, cook and save fat. More effective leftover usage. Better when cooking in bulk for multiple people.

    Negatives:

    from a cash flow, I spend more each time I visit. For instance, I want a big cobb salad right now, but I would have to buy everything (spinach, avocado, bacon, chicken, etc). Or I can run down the street to Cheesecake factory and get one for about $15. Throw in the time for shopping, and cheesecake factory will win. Primal shopping for one is tough. and I travel enough that keeping food in the fridge isn’t a great option either.

    charlie wrote on March 9th, 2011
  29. My food costs definitely went up when I started going Primal, because I started buying meat. Holy smokes! I had no idea how expensive it was.

    DeeDee wrote on March 9th, 2011
  30. My husband and I definitely spend more on grocercies than we used to, and I have learned over the last year and a half of being primal how to cut costs (we will make one meal and eat it for 2 nights, or take leftovers for lunch the next day). We have also learned that not buying a wide variety of food all in one trip helps save money. If I buy brocolli, we eat that all week as a veggie, and we normally always make enough for 2 meals, so we never just eat something once during the week. With only 2 of us in the house, if I buy a wide variety of veggies, they seemed to go to waste too often! I also hardly ever buy fruit. I buy blueberries and blackberries when they are in season and on sale, but never buy them full price. Fruit can get expensive and it goes to waste easily at our house. We shop at a local farm for eggs and butter which is cheaper than the kind we buy at the store and when they have grass fed beef and pork we will consider buying that, but it is a lot more expensive than the grass fed beef at the store, so sometimes, we skip it. We do eat out on the weekends socially and that is also more expensive b/c we order extra meat or add a salad to a meat entree. We have really been trying to keep our food costs down lately and our goal is $125 a week for both of us for groceries. We don’t always stay in that range but we try!

    Kira wrote on March 9th, 2011
  31. We spend 350 a month per person on average…. that includes all produce, meat, spices, and supplements. We don’t eat out much unless it is purely for social reasons, we don’t order pizza or fast foods.

    We spent about the same before going primal, but the focus was on cereals, snack foods and other “food products”.

    Mary wrote on March 9th, 2011
  32. I, too, feel the effects of the costs of being primal, but eating primally always has done my body great service, which you can’t put a price on. The products that Mark sells are an amazing compliment to the diet, but after years of paying for the DCMF on a part-time salary, I have finally felt its effects on the wallet.

    As a 22-year old college student, looking to be financially independent, I lose.

    I have had to choose between supplementation and a true primal diet. I chose the primal diet as it is redundant to eat Taco Bell Meat (now with sand!) and other junk food at a marginally cheaper cost, while supplementing. I have found living a true primal life (i.e. happiness) is all about managing Opportunity Cost.

    You can’t beat the foods you eat on Primal, and I don’t find them too pricey. It is tempting to buy a $12 primal lunch fit for a king, but I’ve been able to cut that down to $3.99 a day for a “lite lunch” of egg or tuna salad, and a delicious soup of the day.

    For a student with little time to prepare meals, even I have found small ways to pay the same. Plus, I’m not paying for all that worthless bread.

    Anthony Giametta wrote on March 9th, 2011
  33. My wife and I typically spend $280 every two weeks on groceries. This also includes non-food items. Because of rising fuel prices, I am planting a 4’X4′ garden in our backyard to lower our produce costs. If only the HOA allowed goats and chickens!

    Adam wrote on March 9th, 2011
  34. some of my meals I eat “away” are my shift meals I cook myself whilst working in a restaurant…
    Actually I hardly ever eat in my own home as my SO is non-primal & has a hard time grasping the concept. i buy almost all my own food & keep it at my primary job & cook in the toaster oven. I’m only home 2 or 3 nights for dinner & am seldom hungry at that time…
    I would have to rough guess maybe $200 a month? I did just pay for my summer CSA also.

    Peggy wrote on March 9th, 2011
  35. I find the American responses interesting, in the UK our tax has just increased to 20% which has increased food prices a great deal. That, together with petrol costing over £2.30 a litre (thats just under £12 a gallon)which has increased the transportation costs of our food.

    The irony is that out of the increase in foods, fresh veggies and meat has probably increased the most. If I could live on over chips and white bread it wouldn’t be so bad.

    For ethical reasons I buy organic free range meat anyway, but I can expect to pay £15 ($24)for a medium sized chicken.

    Abigail wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • surely there is no vat on food. only vat on luxury items like chocolates, booze etc

      minervacious wrote on March 25th, 2011
      • There is no VAT on staple foods like bread, milk, mielie meal and most fresh vegetables but there is VAT (14%)on everything else.

        Yvette wrote on March 27th, 2011
  36. i think in US vegetable prices are quite high. I always find good deals on the meat and stock it in fridge. But winter time the veggies goes super high and i eat veggies more than meat. summer time overall food costs decrease a lot. cooking home with decent amount veggies and meat cost $2-3 per meal per person and you eat better than a plate in restraurant costs $10-15. it is even cheaper than sandwiches. So Overall go primal

    salim wrote on March 9th, 2011
  37. Bah! I thought the poll was still talking about weekly expenditures, as above. I selected $75 when I should have selected $250.

    Blakery wrote on March 9th, 2011
  38. wow – i am spending too much – around 350-400 per person per month on mostly conventional stuff!! – currently buying antibiotic free meats (chicken, beef and occasionally pork and all usually on sale) organic cream, pasture butter, free range local eggs and some organic veggies, some conventional – can’t afford the grass fed meat from either store or local meat farmers. It averages out to about 8 bucks a lb. The closest TJs is an hour away and now gas comes into play with going there…. i am pretty frugal, shop sales, go to multiple stores, use economical veggies like cabbage alot etc – look at folks meals plans but i am just missing something as I can’t get our food costs down – btw – eat out maybe 2 times a month and its usually lunch so not super expensive.

    barb wrote on March 9th, 2011
  39. We live in California. Family of 5 (1 infant so I calculated for 4 people)
    Pre-primal average: at home food: $222/person
    Primal: at home: $280/person
    Pre-primal away eating: $77/person
    Primal: $42/person

    Total Food Cost % of Income: 7.5%

    Total food costs for us has gone up by $23. Not bad considering all the wonderful benefits we have gained by going primal.

    Momto3 wrote on March 9th, 2011
    • I miss calculated the %, it’s actually 30% of our budget. Sorry, I posted a second time below…trouble with computer.

      Momto3 wrote on March 10th, 2011
  40. I ran that calculator and it says $103/week but since going primal we spend ALOT less on food every week. I spend $50-$60 per week on really good food and have no problem getting through the week easily.

    Kim wrote on March 9th, 2011

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