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.)

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

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.

TAGS:  big agra

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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272 thoughts on “What is the Cost of Eating Healthy Foods?”

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  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).

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. We had to cut bison out of our diet. We eat it maybe once a month now.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

  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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

        1. I’ve always wanted to start an herb and veggie garden! I don’t really have a good set-up for it now though.

  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!

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  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

  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.

  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!

  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!

  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.

    1. 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.

  11. Food prices are rising due to the devaluing of the fiat currencies. Read The Creature from Jekyll island or watch Money as debt.

  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.

  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.

  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.

    1. 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.

  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: https://paleoperiodical.com/2011/02/28/rising-food-prices-what-does-it-mean-for-paleo-folks/

  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.

    1. Yes, this seems like straight out corporate greed – the same pate at TJ cost double at WF in Florida (there are no TJ there).

      1. It’s not “corporate greed” but rather “lack of competition” that allows Whole Paycheck … I mean Whole Foods … to overcharge.

        1. 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.

      2. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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!

    3. 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.

  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?

  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!

    1. 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!

  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.

    1. 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)

  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.

    1. 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.

  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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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.


    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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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”.

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

    1. surely there is no vat on food. only vat on luxury items like chocolates, booze etc

      1. There is no VAT on staple foods like bread, milk, mielie meal and most fresh vegetables but there is VAT (14%)on everything else.

  34. 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

  35. Bah! I thought the poll was still talking about weekly expenditures, as above. I selected $75 when I should have selected $250.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

    1. I miss calculated the %, it’s actually 30% of our budget. Sorry, I posted a second time below…trouble with computer.

  38. 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.

  39. I have always eaten mostly within the principals of Primal, as a family we eat lots of veggies and meat. Unfortunately I have always bought meat that is organic and free range for ethical reasons and they are rather expensive. We will pay about £15 for a chicken ($24) which means we eat less meat and a lot more veggies.

    Even now though vegetables are very expensive, this has something to do with the tax increase in the UK to 20% and the price of fuel (£2.30 a litre). I grow my own in the summer season and I tend to buy from the Indian supermarket as they are less expensive than the regular supermarkets.

  40. wow – i am missing something – i spend about 400/mo/p and its nearly all conventional stuff!! I buy antibiotic free meats on sale, organic dairy, free range local eggs, a mix of organic and conventional veggies and fruit. Grass meat from either store or local farms here avgs 8 bucks a lb. The nearest TJs is 1 hour away and gas at nearly 4 bucks a gallon is making that trip less reasonable….we eat out maybe 2 times a month and its usually lunch so not expensive. I use frugal foods like cabbage etc alot. i shop up to 4 stores following sales, bargains I make meal plans, i make planned leftovers- what am I missing??

  41. We live in California. Family of 5 (1 infant so I calculated for 4 people)
    Pre-primal at home food: $222/person
    Primal at home food: $280/person
    Pre-primal away food: $77/person
    Primal away food: $42/person

    Total Food Cost per person: $322
    % of income towards food: 30%

    Since going primal (9 months ago) our food costs have gone up $23/person/month

    But we have gained energy,health and a lot more fun.

  42. Our grocery bill makes up about 20% of our income and I feel like it’s a good investment in ourselves and especially our kids. We also do our best to buy organic as much as possible which certainly adds to the cost but add to my peace of mind.
    I’ve been buying in bulk more often as a result of higher food prices on fresh foods. Being in a co-op and having a home garden, including berry bushes also helps a lot.

  43. I think on a monthly basis I spend about $250-300 dollars on food alone, but now these days I hardly go out to eat, which means that I consume high quality food and mainting optimal health levels. I have noticed this year that produce and meat has gone up in prices by a good amount, which was kind of shocking, yet all of the processed food stayed the same. It sucks, but I’m glad that I changed my eating ways or else i don’t think I would ever feel this way today.

  44. Currently my husband and I are doing the Whole 30 Challenge by Whole 9. We live in the DC area (pretty pricey cost of living). I spend $100 per person a week. This includes 10 meals, 7 breakfasts, and 1-2 snacks a day. Not too shabby!

    Tip: Make enough dinner to eat for lunch the next day. Saves money and time!

  45. I think its BS that majority say they eat out JUST 1-2 times per month. That would include any meal like a salad for lunch, paleo/primal snack, etc. I dont believe it. Its not just trips per month to Outback Steakhouse.

    1. I am gluten-free, and I work in the home. It is a rare month I eat even one meal out.

      Before going gluten-free, I used to eat out frequently, but I always packed a lunch. If the food I can get out isn’t better than what I can make at home, I wouldn’t at all.

  46. For 2011 so far, $400-450 a month including a vegetable CSA box ($25 every other week) and $50/mo on other farmer’s market expenses. I live with my boyfriend who is not primal but usually eats whatever I make for dinner, and I do not buy any non-primal food for him anymore. We are both students working full time with separate expenses and bank accounts…pre-primal could get up to $600 some months on junk food, bars, restaurants, etc.

  47. Adult male living alone: Before going primal I was averaging $393 per month on groceries. Since going primal that has dropped to $315 but I’m a bit surprised by that figure since I’m buying organic. This is roughly 5% of my income. Before going primal I was eating out 1-2 times per week and now I eat out about 1-2 times per month so I’m actually spending about $100 less overall on eating than I used to. I’m quite pleasantly surprised by all that. Prior to doing these calculations I was entirely unaware of what % of my income was going to food.

  48. I’m a single mom with a preteen daughter…I just started eating Primal again on March 1. I do believe that I spend more more on primal foods because quality meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables are more expensive.

    I was spending a lot of money on gluten free processed foods before I started eating this way, so I may save some money in the long run.

  49. I make $1150/month net right now.
    My rent is $625
    Other utilities like phone is $110

    That leaves $415 to feed two people.(as long as nothing bad happens like my carpool gets sick and I have to bus)

    We only make it through by the grace of friends who donate “extra” food they have.

    Food should be cheaper just so everyone can eat.

  50. help – i am spending too much – more than 400 per person per month and thats all conventional antibiotic free meats on sale, organic dairy, local eggs, organic and conventional veggies – grass fed local meat avgs 8 bucks a lb here in store or local farm. I use economical stuff – cabbage etc buy on sale, shop multiple stores, meal plan, make planned leftovers etc we rarely eat out btw the closest TJs is an hour away…recent gas prices make that trip less economical….what can i do to get to that $250/p group???

  51. I don’t know if I eat primal or not, since I just found this web site a couple of weeks ago, and I’m in the middle of reading the book. But at the urging of my trainer, I switched to a whole foods, low carb (average 37.8 grams per day, according to Fitday) since last August. I’m probably not primal because I spend a couple hundred dollars a month on Crossfit and a trainer. My wife does not follow a similar life plan, lots of sodas, high carb snacks and food. So we spend around $600 per month on both types of food. Therefore, it’s hard to compare costs. But, even if it’s more to eat whole, how much does a quadruple by-pass cost? Or, death?

  52. In Nova Scotia prices are high and increasing further. Just an example a head of conventionally grown romaine is 3.99. Yes I think there is gold in it and yes I still buy it.

    I’m working on keeping my individual food budget to 465.00 per month and I don’t eat out.

    Compared to many friends where I live they think my food cost is excessive. They spend about half and don’t take into consideration all the Tim Hortons (coffee & donuts etc) as well as other restaurant food. They also don’t factor in all the over the counter or perscriptions. It would have to be extreme for me to use those.

    Hippocrates famous quotes is “Thy Food Shall Be Thy Medicine.”

    I say pay now or pay later.

  53. My family isn’t fully primal, but with the two of us, my toddler, and newborn, we have a monthly budget of about $300 for groceries. I can actually make this happen by shopping at Costco for most of my groceries. Their Organic selection keeps getting better, and their prices can’t be beat! I can’t wait for them to carry grass-fed beef, but for now the organic ground beef will have to suffice.

    My family has no budget for eating out, yet it happens anyways. Right now I think we have it down to $200-ish a month.

    At a total food cost of $600 (I added an extra hundred because I tend to not add my incidental trips for milk and veggies) this is 20% of our take-home income. We live in California.

  54. this whole hype about “rising food costs” – well – food costs have been shoved so artificially low by our industrial farming of junk that they HAVE to go up if we are to get any quality back in the food supply –

    Thanks Mark for highlighting this – it’s *extremely* important that people get a perspective on this food-cost thing – we are eating SO MUCH CHEAPER (with a matching level of cheap quality) than any time in the last 100+ years – and this is NOT a good thing – last month i did a post on this very issue urging people to understand that they cannot get real quality on the cheap (you GET what you PAY for) (as we are growers and KNOW the costs of good organic fare) (Re-Thinking the Appropriate Cost OF Food)

    i have a little cutworm problem in my greens in the greenhouse right now – the conventional chemical controls cost about $12, organic-but-not-OMRI-approved controls cost $26 and what did i end up paiying for all organic-OMRI approved controls for this nasty little caterpillar pillaging my chard? $58.00

    Please everyone get a clue – pesticide free (or safe organic ones) herbicide free good organic fare, meat or veg – COSTS TO PRODUCE!

  55. I spend on average $100 per month on pastured eggs, raw milk and raw milk cheese. (but this factors in a 2qt per week of kefir production for some family members.)
    $120/month on pasture raised meats, organs, fat, and bones from the farm
    $80/month on vegetables/salt/beans/legumes.

    SO about $200 total for myself. And that is with me NOT using all the meat and animal products i buy each month. That is what i spend.. it is not what i consume each month. I always have left over cuts of meat/ bones/ fat/organs from the month prior’s purchase.

    I eat out about 6xs/month. -Yes you can still eat clean and have a social life! LOL

    I think the issue with food prices is the fact that people do not understand how to USE an animal or animal products. They are also spending their money on the WRONG things which is mostly foods that are devoid of nutrients. SO they have to eat and buy more in order to even come close to be satisfied by their nutrient intake. For example: The bones (with marrow and joints or the whole carcass as with fowl) should be slow boiled for hours to extract the nutrients and marrow and to soften the cartilage and connective tissues to eat them. A split marrow bone and one cut beef joint is enough to make two-three batches of broth- about a gallon each. From this you can make stews, soups, or drink it by itself. 1 whole broiler chicken makes two 5-quart pots of soup that is full of meat. and you could probably stretch the meat into three big pots of soup and be totally fine. 1- $10 chicken + $5 veggies/herbs/salt = SEVERAL meals. So meals for a week only cost $15-$20. average of 14 meals is just over $1 per meal. How awesome is that!? Not every meal ends up being that inexpensive…but consider there is much more that people can do to lower their food costs (and subsequent energy costs) even by cooking all their meals from scratch.

    Raw milk is used to make kefir, and whey in order to do other ferments.. or to make my own butter. I also drink it.

    Most vegetables end up fermented and the others are parts of a meal.

    what people fail to realize is that it is NOT the QUANTITY of the food (or the amount of calories) that matters but the nutrient density that matters. Your body doesn’t get hungry for calories it is starved for NUTRIENTS. If you focus on having a certain percentage of this that or the other every day….. your costs are going to sky rocket. HOWEVER, if you focus on making each meal as nutrient dense as possible, you save money.

    I do not buy canned foods or pre-made foods. I do a lot of seasonal eating. I don’t waste my money on berries and fruit or specific vegetables when they are out of season. They are more costly out of season and have fewer nutrients and often just taste bad.

    Eating “primal” or true “traditional” requires using our noggins and doing what is not only MOST healthy but it also requires for it to be economical with our financial resources and energy/time.

  56. We spend about $400 per person for a family
    of five. We go through a lot of meat, eggs,
    nut butters, organic produce from Whole Foods
    or the farmer’s market and tons of coconut and
    olive oil. We eat out about twice a year, at best,
    but do have our friends over for meals quite often. My kids really enjoy their food and eat
    a lot. My husband and I feel that good quality
    food is worth the premium that you inevitably
    have to pay for it. I don’t want my kids to grow
    up eating unhealthy food like I did.

  57. 17% of my income (after taxes) goes towards food. I might take my family out to eat 2-3 times a month. I shop mostly at Henry’s and TJs. 25% goes towards rent, 17% towards car, 7% towards commuting, 8% towards paying off debt (student loans, revolving credit), 5-10% towards utilities and miscellaneous, the rest is tied up in investments and cash (roughly 33-38%). Me and my family live a fairly minimalistic lifestyle (outside the commuting). The rise in prices has certainly taken a chunk out of the portion of my income that went towards investments/savings. I do buy grass-fed beef, but usually only ground beef since it’s at 5.99 a pound. I stock up on items like frozen veggies and coconut oil when there is a sale. I am stocking up on salt and other spices while they are still relatively cheap. I would say that my food bill is more expensive since going primal, but it hasn’t increased drastically (no more than $50-75 a month.)

  58. Here in Sacramento, California, there is actually quite a bit of competition in fresh, local, organic, free-range, etc. sales. We have Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, a lot of fresh-food oriented local chains, many farmer’s markets, and two food coops. Even the conventional markets are pushing in this area.

    So the price of eating primally seems to be going down for us. We could do better if we hit the farmer’s markets but we can afford the convenience of Whole Foods and Raley’s (local chain that was a healthy food pioneer – one of the first supermarkets to do organic.)

  59. Once upon a time I was “diagnosed” by an Ayurvedic specialist as the kind of person who “spends too much money on food.” Not a lot else of what he said really stuck, but as far as I’m concerned this one has been pretty accurate.

    Couple of suggestions that I think would help add additional depth to the survey:

    1) I drink a fair amount of alcohol (not excessive IMO, but maybe on the high end for Primal folks), which is a luxury item by most microeconomic definitions, and especially depending on where you live, it can be pretty expensive. When I’m calculating costs on my own personal budget, however, I tend to lump the cost of booze I buy for home consumption in with my grocery budget, while any alcohol consumed in a bar (not necessarily with a meal at a restaurant) similarly goes into my “meals out” category. I didn’t factor this cost in when responding to the poll above.

    2) Why not include the cost of items used for food prep & storage? Not exactly a regular expense the way groceries are, but for many Primal people I know, the initial conversion to this style of eating tends to include a large degree of start-up costs. For example, I bought a meat grinder, a food dehydrator, and a set of (better) knives for the (better) meat I’m eating now. I’m also contemplating a chest freezer, too. For the record I’ve been at it for about seven months now, so I would question whether I’m actually still in the “start-up” phase.

    Anyone else in a similar position?

  60. Really I have no idea, I will have to track this better. I am pretty sure since I went Primal it has actually gone down. I don’t eat out near as much,, like almost never. I don’t buy any expensive snacks, over priced cereal, bread, spreads, dips, or frozen dinners. It’s all pretty much homemade food these days.

  61. With just the two of us at home, my husband and I grow as much as we can during the summer, canning and freezing for later use. He hunts and fishes, and that’s provided an elk each year (200-300 lbs. of grass-fed meat) and seafood when available (clams, etc.). We spend about $125 per month per person for food, including occasionally eating out. We spend a lot on food – but we are very healthy and spend very little on doctors visits & prescriptions!

  62. The pain of food costs hasn’t even come close to a critical point yet. We will see shortages this year in production of food from the US & Russia – this will cause turmoil but the real pain comes when the political party in South Africa gives up its reign and that are too becomes another Dafur.

  63. We spend about $270 a month per person for a family of 3 in California. The bulk of that is spent at Costco and Trader Joe’s with side trips for organic veggies at a natural foods market. I don’t buy meat from the supermarket chains because it is of such poor quality. I rarely purchase grass fed meat because of the expense however the butcher at the natural foods store did tell me he would save me the beef fat so I can render my own tallow. (Bonus!) We eat out rarely. Frankly, the food I prepare at home is much tastier than the stuff we get in restaurants.

  64. Since going Caveman on my food, I’ve actually noticed a decline in my food costs. I attribute this to: (1) spending less money on commodity foods; (2) making all my meals; (3) hunting or purchasing meat from fellow hunters; (4) buying foods that are in season. But the real clincher is little to no money spent on food commodities. Corn, soybeans, sugar, and legumes sky-rocket during economic instability. But that doesn’t affect me much, since I no longer eat those things. Fruit prices go up, but I eat fruit sparingly as a sort of dessert or treat. Unless there is a famine or corresponding drought, vegetable and meat prices often remain relatively stable in tough economic times. At least that’s been my experience so far.

  65. Ironically, the calculator gave me almost identical to what we have budgeted for food [$150 per week]. This is for a house with 4 people; myself, my wife, my almost 4yr old, and my 1 yr old. We eat out probably once per week. The calculator gave me $141/wk. So for $9 more per week [according to the calculator] my health can go from CW-bad to Primal-Good. That is an investment I would make a million times over…

  66. We spend about 8% of our income on groceries for a family of 4 with 2 preteens (but almost 10% if you add in all the vitamin supplements and protein powder). Our spending has gone up since going primal, but is well worth the health benefits for us.

    When we first started primal 2 years ago, we were on a very tight budget, so we focussed on buying the cheapest meats and veg we could find. Not always the best quality, but at least we could cut out the grains and still stay on budget.

    About 6 months ago my husband got a new job and our income jumped significantly. Now that we can afford it, I focus on buying higher quality food: free range meats, organic veg, cage-free eggs.

    I like that we’ve been able to eat primal regardless of our budget. If you can only afford cheaper meats and veg, that’s certainly better than a grain-based diet. If you can afford higher quality stuff, enjoy the added variety and better taste that it provides!

  67. We spend $1,100 a month for our family of 7 (2 adults, 5 kids). That’s baaaarrrely enough. I buy as much organic/grass fed food as I can. We go through about 80 eggs/week. It’s insane.

  68. We (husband and 2 kids) have been primal for about the last 8-9 months and the grocery sticker shock no longer surprises me. I am so backwards from where I once was. I used to try and get my grocery budget down as low as $300 for a family of 4, then with the times and inflation I had it pretty steady at $600. But now it’s around $1200 per month. I go to a butcher for grass fed beef, a health food store for my organic produce and coconut oil etc. and a regular grocery store for a few other things like shampoo etc…

    I really took into consideration our income percentage spent on food compared to Europeans. Ours was seriously low, with seriously low quality food. Cheap is exactly that, cheap! We don’t eat out much and my husband works at home so
    he tends to eat more than average. So with the $1200 per month for 4, that is only about $40 per day for 4 peeps, so about $10 each per day and only about $3.30 per meal! Pretty good! And great food!!

  69. As a family of 5 (3 children), living in Fairfield County (CT), we spend about 2K per month in groceries.

    In addition to this, I also eat lunch 20 days a week at work, and breakfast about 15 days a week at work. Some of those breakfasts are protein shakes or nuts that I have on hand from home, or free fruit at the office.

    We probably eat out as a family twice per month, and once per month my wife and I usually go out for dinner.

    Buying grass-fed and organic food where I live is extremely expensive. The Whole Foods and grocery stores around here prey on the well-educated A-type personalities that dominate this space and ramp up the cost of food. Even the food at the farmer markets and farms is very over-priced.

  70. One more point – why the Primal Way economically may work out cheaper.
    If you follow the Markets you will notice that commodity prices get manipulated by futures traders and it’s a bit out of hand right now.
    Yes, there are futures on cattle (MOO) but that is the extent of it, as for grains well there’s “aplenty” for all and right now there seems to be very big swings from those foods being in Contengo to Backwardation.
    Meaning the future prices are either above the actual price of the product (Contengo) or below the actual price (Back..).
    Yes the stock market is messing with our food supply too and this will lead to a very bad ending

  71. (sorry if this comes up 2x – can’t get it to load right…)

    this whole hype about “rising food costs” – well – food costs have been shoved so artificially low by our industrial farming of junk that they HAVE to go up if we are to get any quality back in the food supply –

    Thanks Mark for highlighting this – it’s *extremely* important that people get a perspective on this food-cost thing – we are eating SO MUCH CHEAPER (with a matching level of cheap quality) than any time in the last 100+ years – and this is NOT a good thing – last month i did a post on this very issue urging people to understand that they cannot get real quality on the cheap (you GET what you PAY for) (as we are growers and KNOW the costs of good organic fare) (Re-Thinking the Appropriate Cost OF Food)

    i have a little cutworm problem in my greens in the greenhouse right now – the conventional chemical controls cost about $12, organic-but-not-OMRI-approved controls cost $26 and what did i end up paiying for all organic-OMRI approved controls for this nasty little caterpillar pillaging my chard? $58.00

    Please everyone get a clue – pesticide free (or safe organic ones) herbicide free good organic fare, meat or veg – COSTS TO PRODUCE!

  72. We spend $600 a month total on food for four people. One person is primal (me) and the other three are semi-primal (I’m working on them, but figure semi is better then not at all). We only eat out one meal a week (Friday evening) otherwise we cook all of our meals at home from scratch.

  73. We’re in the SF Bay Area, and our monthly grocery bill has jumped from $700/mo in 2005 to $1200/month in 2010. I think this is due to food inflation, as well as choosing better foods, which here are definitely more expensive all-around. There are just 2 of us, so it doesn’t do to buy anything in bulk (plus we have no extra storage).

  74. Before I moved from NC to WA I was budgeting approximately $600 per month for food. I was purchasing everything from a chain grocery store. Now that I am on the West coast and have gone primal I have had to adjust considerably. All our meat is purchased from a local farmer, veggies from the farmers market (when it is in operation) and all the seafood from the market. Including wine, which I typically purchase from Trader Joes at around $4-5 a bottle we are now spending almost $800 per month. So yes things a good deal more expensive but we also find ourselves going out a lot less.

  75. Hmmm … it’s just me and my wife in our house, and I’d say we spend ~$100-120 per person/month. That’s 2 shopping trips a month usually less than $100 each and maybe an addition “restock” trip for maybe <$50 or so.

  76. Our food costs have gone up since we became primal (veggies + meat are more expensive than quinoa and couscouse!), but I also think food costs have gone up since we made the switch. We also moved from DC to TX and oddly enough I find food to be more expensive here, especially at the farmer’s market. I think because it’s harder to farm in TX than in the very fertile land around DC. We have gotten thriftier, though, and are looking into getting a dedicated freezer so we can purchase bulk local grass-fed meat instead of overpriced grain-fed meat at Whole Foods (which is, unfortunately what we do now). I’m also interested in learning how to make a proper stock so that we can get protein and nutrients from animals without always having to sit down in front of a slab of meat. Many of our friends are “paleo” (we all CrossFit and that’s how the local CF affiliate recommends eating, yay!), but compared to the non-paleo/primal friends and family we spend a lot more money on food. And a lot more time! But I think it’s worth it 🙂

  77. ~800/month on food for 2 adults, a 3yr old and an 8 month old.

    Not all organic or free range/pasture fed… try to get organic on the softer stuff like spinach and blueberries but get conventions bananas, sweet potatoes, etc. Also get leaner cuts of conventional meats and some cheaper free range/grass fed cuts and slow cook. (Grass fed ribeyes are expensive around here).

    Probably 50/month on vitamins & fish oil.

  78. I have a family of 4 (dad mom 2 teenagers 15 & 16). When my wife and I began trying to live a primal life style was the beginning of last summer the kids were off living at the cabin with the grandparents for the summer (ah good times….) and things went really well. We noticed an actual drop in the food bill. I think mainly because we both drink way too much pop (which we have cut out completely (I have had only one glass of D-Coke since July). When the kids came back home and all the stuff that comes with Teenagers and High School it became tougher to remain primal all the time. Then since we live in the northern regions of the midwest, when winter came along it became harder and way more expensive to keep a good and varied selection of foods on hand. So the long and the short of it is, Yes primal is more expensive right now and harder to maintain. We find our children complaining about repetitive food choices (not big veggie fans) and we find ourselves falling back at times to the easy choices because the drama is just too damn much. We wait for spring when our food choices increase and hope the pricing drops as they become more available again.

  79. I think I spend less on food since going primal. I’m on food stamps and I know I don’t go over as much now as I used to. I know I eat less food and my pantry is almost empty now. Veggies are in the fridge and meat/seafood/berries are in the freezer. The only stuff in the pantry anymore are cans of tuna, salmon and olives and a jar of salsa, a bottle of balsamic vinegar and a bottle of seltzer. Also, cans of dog food.

  80. Before we started producing our own raw milk, butter, pastured eggs, pork and fowl my family’s food costs where $250 per person per month. We do some gardening but our soil is very poor. There are two adults and two children in my family.

    Since we have been growing our own food our costs are down to $150 per person per month. Here are some further suggestions to help others interested in growing more of their own food:

    I really like your blog and ebooks. I have ordered your two books. Thank you for your simple system of exercise. I’m sure I will be recommending your exercise system.

    Caroline Cooper

  81. The extra I spend at the grocery store is about equal to what I used to pay at the liquor store.

  82. Weird, we’re 99.9% primal and my husband and I spend $100 or less a week on groceries, eating out, and our biweekly csa.

  83. I think a lot of it is regional. Food is so expensive close to NYC. We pay $1600 – $2000 a month for a family of 5 in Southern CT. There is a huge premium on organic and grass-fed/free-range foods in this area as the sellers know it’s in high demand.

  84. My husband and I are on a very tight budget and we manage to eat a healthy low-carb/primal type diet (lots of veggies, lean meats, nuts, etc) for $25-$30 per week. And that’s for the two of combined, not per person! There are weeks I spend more when I’m stocking up on something, but we average $25-$30 per week. Granted, we live in an area where costs are lower than the majority of the country right now, but they’re still quite high compared to when we got married 3 years ago, even.

    I buy a lot of frozen vegetables because they’re cheaper (especially if you buy store brand), there’s no chance I’ll forget about them and they’ll rot which helps a lot towards reducing waste, and because they have to be ready to eat when they’re frozen, they aren’t picked long before they’re ripe like a lot of the “fresh” produce you get at a regular grocery store. We don’t have any good CSA’s or farmer’s markets nearby, so we do the best we can with what is available to us.

    I also buy meat in bulk whenever I run across a good sale, which goes a long way towards keeping costs down. I’ll be able to do that more once we get an extra freezer. We don’t often buy foods we’re just “in the mood for”, but instead go for whichever meats and vegetables are on the best sale that day. We’ve learned to not be slaves to our cravings with this method, and live quite happily that way, too (most of the time, though we do occasionally indulge, which makes living that way the rest of the time bearable).

    Someday we’ll be able to increase our budget a bit and go organic and grass-fed. But as I said before, we’re doing the best we can with what we have right now, and I think that it’s pretty good.

    We do use protein powder sometimes, which I don’t include as part of our regular grocery budget because we don’t buy it that often. We’ll spend $60 getting two giant containers from VitaCost.com, which will last us probably 6+ months.

    We also get our eggs from a friend, and pay an additional $2.50 that’s not in our grocery budget a week for those (two dozen).

    Also, we typically only eat 1-2 meals away from home per week, when my in-laws have us over for supper.

  85. I’ve been eating paleo (a la Loren Cordain) for at least 8 years and all of my grocery store expenses average $250 a month, walnuts in bulk included. My animal protein comes from canned wild caught salmon ($2.50/#) and regular turkey that I bake ($1.40/#) – a young one a month, but I’m starting to substitute home-grown organic sprouts for some of that. I figure that home-grown is cheaper and way fresher. Most of my meals are like rich dinner salads (20 ingredients, oil & balsamic vinegar). Once I learned to balance and season them I stopped losing weight and never crave anything and never eat out.

  86. Primal lifestylers will feel the inflation more than the “avg.” population due to the lack of processed foods in the Primal diet. Processing keeps less of the “real” stuff out of food and so costs can be kept under control. Real food? Not so much and so the Primal community pays…

  87. We only spend about $175 per person, but I do a lot of work checking for sales, finding coupons. I especially seek out coupons for organics and real food options, which are harder to find but more valuable. Good resources include facebook, where you can ‘like’ your favorite companies and get first notice about new deals, Whole Living and other magazines, and searching out company websites, which often have a printable coupon. I also grow a lot of my own vegetables.

  88. There’s only two of us, but we spend over $500 a month, eating all but Saturday breakfast at home.

    I buy eggs from a guy near my home (Alameda, CA) for $6 a dozen and we eat a lot of them.

    Really good meat is readily available, but it’s super expensive, as is the farmer’s market, where I pay at a minimum 25 percent more to buy local produce instead of the organic who-knows-where-it-came-from produce at my grocery store.

    I got rid of satellite TV to cut my budget rather than eat lousy food. I’m 52 years old, I am incredibly healthy, and I want to stay that way.

  89. I live in rural Nebraska in the middle of a sea of grains. Being close to the source hasn’t spared me from rising food cost. I have a great relationship with my local grocer and he has warned me that prices will be going up still. I’m buying chickens soon. I will be working on primal diet for chickens( lots of grasshoppers). We will see if we can cut the food bill by raising and growing more of our own. I have to learn to can.

  90. HELP! For those of you who say you spend $100/week or less per person on food, please explain how you do it! Most of us are eating organic, right? I live in New England and at my organic market hamburger is $6/pound, olive oil is $20 for a big bottle, eggs are $5/dozen, coffee is $9/pound, a container of organic Kalamata olives is $10, New York strip is $18/pound (so I don’t buy it, obviously), etc. I eat no processed food, and I still can’t get out of there for less than $300/week. What am I missing?

  91. I have been Primal for 10 months now, and I will say that upfront costs were high in both time and money to figure things out. And looking at my history, my costs stayed about the same. I eat out less now, and eat home cooked meals 80% of the time (although I think that % is higher lately).

    Currently I have been averaging about $570/month on Primal groceries for 1 person. (I am single, plus I eat like a beast). I average $160/month for 1 person for dining out.

    Assuming 3 meals per day and my Mint.com # of transactions for eating out the last 10 months:
    22% of my monthly cost is Eating Out @ $9.30/meal
    78% of my monthly cost is Dining In @ $7.83/meal

    So it really isn’t worth it to me to go out to eat too much. It’s not worth the overhead costs for the service while eating food of very questionable quality from a health standpoint. I equate “eating out” to short term time savings with long term financial and health consequences.

  92. I spend only $200-$250 or so a month as I buy my meats at the supermarket, whatever is on sale, and I will usually buy it in quantity.

    But I would gladly pay 10x as much for the results I have gotten, I look and feel 20 years younger (that’s actually a bit of a lie, I was never this strong when I was younger) … if you could put that into a pill how much would people be willing to pay for it?

    $2,000 a month? %5,000 a month? $20,000 a month?

    As an added bonus I have learned how to cook, which I never thought would happen. Though it is true that the only thing I have learned to cook is meat, lol.

  93. I live in Canada, and in a far northern location. My family consists of two adults, and five children (one a nursling, no table foods yet). We spend $1200 per month, which is about $200 less on home-food than before going primal/paleo. This amount is about average for a family of two adults, two children up here, anecdotally.

    This will be reduced by half beginning late summer, as long as our garden produces and our animals do too.

    Since last summer, we no longer eat out, but zero was not an option on the poll. We live rurally, and I don’t like paying for substandard food, not to mention the fuel costs to travel. If there were a primal/paleo restaurant, we would eat out probably once/month. When we used to eat out, we spent about $100 once or twice/month for our family.

    I am always shocked at how little food costs in the U.S. In a few major cities here, there is enough volume and competition to make prices more reasonable, but otherwise, its just expensive.

    My frustration is more to do with quality though. If I’m going to pay $4 for a head of broccoli, I am very upset to discover (by trying to lacto-ferment it) that it’s dead, completely devoid of living lacto-baccili. If those little critters, which are ubiquitous (save for on dead veggies) can’t live on it, I don’t want to put it in my body. I may as well eat dirt or wood; it would be just as nutritious.

  94. I cow pool to help keep the cost down and get pastured beef slaughtered in a clean local (very small) facility

  95. Add 0 to polling options for – “Additionally, how many meals, would you say, do you eat away from home?”

    We eat 0 meals that were not made at home.

  96. Food prices in the U.K have rocketed. since going primal (Just me and my daughter-havnt convinced the men yet!) As we’re buying tons more fruit,veg and meat our weekly bill had doubled to £200 for a household of 4. We cant afford organic and as we only eat Kosher meat we cant get grass fed so we’re eating the usual fare from the shops. Its very prohibitive.

  97. we are a fiamly of 4, me and my husband my 17 year old and are 3 year old. Are food bill has went up since going primal,but we started in late august, I think it will go down in the summer when the farmers markets are back open here in ohio. Im gonna stock up do a lot of canning and freezing of produce:)

  98. buying grass fed and pastured meats is definitely less expensive when you buy direct from the farmer, with the added benefit that you know where it comes from. the farmer makes more on it that way too. i’m lucky that here in central ny we’re surrounded by farms, so we have lots of options, and we also have a great farmers market on saturdays. i purchased a whole grass-fed cow with 3 other friends and we are picking it up from the butcher on friday. it comes out to under $3 per pound in the package.

  99. I have to add to this simply because I have to state it is a fact that my families lack of going 100% healthy is due to money. When i lived in America it was easier to buy healthier foods, but here in Sweden food is INSANELY expensive. Organic food is even more. There is not a variety of quality meats here as well. Meat is very rare and to find Organic would be like finding a needle in a hay stack. Also living in the country side of Sweden does not make it any easier because then food is ever higher priced than its normal REALLY high prices and then to buy organic that is if you can find it is taking a huge chunk out of our budget. right now I am an at home mother with three young children while studying Swedish and my husband is also in school. We have a extremely tight budget, living paycheck to paycheck, hardly making it as it is. So to spend an extra 2000 to 3000 Swedish kronor is out of the question for my family. We tried it when our economy was better and when it gets better again we will go back to it. But the “average income” family going healthy is not too hard on the wallet. But for a poor family it is just impossible. Why is it the poorer you are the poorer you eat? I think the world forgets that others sometimes struggle financially. I mean REALLY struggle but they also want to have the right to eat healthy as well.

  100. I struggle not to feel like a yuppie sometimes, buying local and organic foods. Local can definitely be LESS expensive than conventional, industrial produce trucked in from California and Mexico, but my wife and I have to stay savvy with coupons to save money on organic foods. I do think it’s worth it, but it is an adjustment. I’ve been enculturated with inexpensive food. Healthy, sustainable, nutrient-rich foods are more expensive right now, but we’re learning: CSAs, Food 4 All (the weeknight dinner club we’re a part of; we cook once and pick up food the other four nights, farmer’s markets, and gardening.

  101. Why do you assume your readers are American, Mark? You do know that the internet works around the world, right?

  102. I’m not sure I notice an increase in spending. Since going primal, I’m a lot more attentive to things like buying fruits/veggies in season, so that seems to balance out the slight increase in cost from buying higher quality food and avoiding cheap fillers like rice/bread.

    Another thing that I do is just watch the sales. If chicken is on sale this week, I’ll eat chicken. If it’s ground beef that’s on sale, that’s what I buy.

    Also, eliminating soda and candy helps to balance out the cost of buying natural/free range stuff.

  103. oops. I thought you meant per week, but it’s per month. I spend about $500/month, but that includes expensive wines and coffee. I blanch buying grass fed beef, but I make stews and freeze them, and that extends my dollar a little bit.

  104. I have no idea why ‘studies’ always say that food costs less in the South. I’ve lived in the NW, the NE, the SW, and the rocky mountain West (and now the South) and food here in the South is by far more expensive than anywhere I’ve lived except NYC. Some items (like milk, eggs, and meat) will be twice as expensive as the prices I paid in the West.

    So, this economy has actually been good for us Southerners because, though prices are rising, it is causing competition and I am seeing lower prices on food items (sale prices) than I’ve seen in five years.

    So…don’t know what it all means, but I’m completely aware what a blessing it is to spend a small percentage of my income on food.

  105. I was just having this conversation this morning with some other moms who believe they can’t shop in Wholefoods because it is too expensive.

    I spend an max of $175 a month on food per person in our family (incl. 2 x 11yo boys.)

    When I switched to Wholefoods from a ‘regular’ grocery store a few years ago (because I was concerned the chemikills in the food I was buying were adversely affecting my son,) I spent no more money than I had previously.

    We were very cash strapped at the time and I was very concerned that I would spend a fortune at WF so I systematized my shopping. I planned meals a week ahead, made a shopping list of items to make those meals and bought only those on the list.

    I also set a monthly budget and if I overspent earlier in the month, I would get creative and use up what was in my freezer and pantry rather than buy yet more food.

    When I went primal 6 months ago, I spent no more money because I bought things like eggs instead of boxes of cereal.

    And as I’ve slowly moved everyone over to primal, I’m actually spending less than I was. We simply eat less food because fats and meat fill us up, we’ve cut out dessert and carb cravings affect us less often.

    I could probably cut costs even more if I were to use a CSA or shop at a farmers market but my main point is that it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to eat well, or primally, or at Wholefoods.

  106. I spend over $500 a month on groceries alone for a family of 3. We RARELY ever go out to eat.
    The food bills are killing us, but I know how important it is to eat whole foods, not processed. But I am not sure how long I can keep it up!
    It is $1.99 for a box of crackers and $5.99 for a bag of raw nuts. You can get 10 boxes of pasta for $10 – or one package of meat for $10.
    I know it is worth the extra mony, but after just having my second child, and deciding to stay hom – living off of on income makes the 10 boxes of pasta a lot more appealing. 🙁

  107. I have an extremely tight budget and live in (Sweden) where organic food is rare to find and 4 times the price than it is in America. When I lived in America it was easier to shop at food coops and eat organic even on a tight budget. But here is just doesn’t happen. Sweden is known and prides its self on healthy living, good medical care, and a higher standard of living, but the truth is far from that. Healthy food is EXTREMELY expensive! Its very shocking the costs of meat in this country and that’s is just talking about the regular price of meat.

    Well I guess for the middle to upper middle class and higher healthy living is just a small sacrifice int he budget. But if you are poor or living paycheck to paycheck it’s going to be extremely hard for you to eat organic.

    1. It’s a wild guess, but maybe there are less options for organic meat in Europe because “mainstream” meat is better quality…?

  108. i think i spend around $600 a month for 2 people, which is a lot more than i would like to be doling out. but i can say this, i feel better physically and i am a happier person.

    i’ve been on the cusp of losing my job for over a month (public defender in a county run office that is just as desperately in debt as every other corner of the country) and my parents worry about the amount of money i spend on groceries. but you make sacrifices where you feel you can spare it — i’m just not willing to sacrifice my health. i’ll be better able to handle the stress of being unemployed if i can keep my body in line.

  109. I knew the cost of food has certainly been increasing. However, until this posting, I had purposely avoided computing the monthly totals. Ignorance is bliss, right?

    As a single guy, I spend right at $600 per month. This amount represents slightly over 10% of my monthly gross income and is spent only at the local organic supermarket and at local farm stands.

    Since I work from home, I am fortunate to be able to prepare nearly all my own meals. Just for variety, I may eat at a restaurant twice per month. There are restaurants where I live that use organic, locally-grown ingredients, but I actually prefer to cook at home.

    Rent is my biggest expense. Food is second. I still sometimes get “sticker shock” at the grocery checkout, when the total surpasses $200. However, I’m not too bothered by it anymore, because I know that NOT eating well will cost a LOT more.

    So, I consider my food expenditures as an investment in myself. Hopefully, it will be a hedge against disease and the higher costs of being sick.

  110. I’m a farmer who went primal after being exposed to the concept by my paleo Crossfit customers. I can in no uncertain terms tell consumers that when farmers raise their prices, it’s because their costs are rising. We have to feed our livestock hay in the winter since grass doesn’t grow in the northeast year round. When the price of fuel rises, the cost of hay rises. Over the last five years, the cost of hay has DOUBLED. Additionally, thanks to increased food safety regulations, butchering costs have also risen significantly. My USDA processor has increased their fees by nearly 40%. I’m not going to get rich doing what I do, but I AM going to contribute to the health of other, my community and the earth while I’m eating very, very well.

  111. And now for something completely different: a question totally unrelated to this post. I’d really appreciate any insight, though.

    I am a 24-year-old female entertaining the idea of going primal. Problem is, I don’t know if I have the willpower to commit to it. I am crazy about carbs. I was reading somewhere that if you do the low carb thing for a while (I have the wherewithal to do that at the very least!) but then revert back to old eating habits you can experience ill effects, i.e. weight gain. Is there any truth to this?

    Thanks, and I do apologize for this being entirely off topic.

  112. The results will be a little skewed because after I voted, I realized it said per person not per family.
    Another thing, there should be a less than once per month category for eating out.

  113. In my household we definitely spend more on food now that we are Primal but we have offset the cost by eliminating items as well: alcohol, soda, eating out (keep it to a minimum or 1-2 times a week if that), junk food at movies, down grading cable package since out doing things instead of TV, packing lunches to work etc.

    So in the end it all balances out.

  114. This may be a good whole other posting in itself but what are some good online sources for Paleo food that people have found, and trust. I have been looking to buy meat and other supplies in bulk but don’t even know where to begin.

  115. I don’t buy things in bags or boxes…ie, all of my food is whole, fresh. If my body needs it, and I can stomach it, I buy and eat it. There are ways to save on “food”. Most people spend $150/month on foo-foo coffees at places like Starbucks…not including the tip. It was hard to break my cocoa/mocha habit, but quitting put a lot of money back into my wallet, and calmed down my gut as well.

  116. I spend more on food since going Primal because I used to eat all my meals at taco bell.

    Since going primal the quality of food that I eat has improved drastically, I can’t even stand to eat at restaurants anymore. I would rather just wait until another time to eat than to waste money on food of questionable character and origins. It’s not some iron will either my cravings have changed (for the better) since taking the leap.

    I find that supplements such as whey protein and vitamins have added costs as well to my food budget but it is all worth it 100% for more reasons than I can list in one post.

  117. Fascinating topic on many levels. This discussion needs to be incorporated into the national healthcare reform debate. Food prices in the US are quite low (I live in Europe), largely the result of subsidies to ‘big ag’ companies. But what is the real cost? While everyone likes to protect the wallet, the real cost is revealed later as our society grapples with epidemic obesity, related disease and fees to pay for healthcare. Is the general public willing to pay more now in order to pay less later? Thanks Mark for encouraging constructive dialogue.

  118. My husband and I spend between 200-300 per month for the two of us to eat. We are on a very tight budget and try to spend very little time eating out (maybe once a month if we have left-over money). We IF in the morning (coffee with cream, only). For lunch, we have what was left over from dinner the night before (brown bag to work, of course). Dinner is typically extravagant. Stews, soups, slabs of steak with veggies, or roasted animals tend to fill our house with the aroma of food.

    We also supplement often with coconut milk shakes if we are hungry after dinner.

  119. Luckily I live in the South. There seems to be no end in sight to the hunters who are willing to give you nearly and entire deer already processed.

    I’ll never understand it for the life of me, but if they keep offering, I’ll keep saying yes.

    Nothing better than a free slow-cooked dear roast. Yum!

  120. I definitely spend more per month on food now that I’ve gone primal, but that’s because my previous “nutrition” when at home was four days a week of pasta and sauce plus a couple of nights eating fried things at a bar.

    Since I switched to primal, I’ve run $300-$350/month in groceries while travelling between eight and 14 nights a month for work and probably eating out once a week at home.

    Part of the reason for the high spend is that I love seafood and the cost of sustainably harvested, cold water fish and sustainably harvested shellfish is higher than for clean beef or pork. But to my palate the cost difference is worth it–I just crave seafood more often than other meat.

  121. My partner and I are retired and have the luxury of not having to stent on food. I figure we are spending money on health viz meds that lots of people our age have as a large part of their budgets. Also, we spend far less than we used to eating out; in fact, I’m finding that I really would rather eat at home most of the time. We have highly rated French restaurant in our area which is the one place we have no trouble being primal so we go there about once a month. I say save elsewhere, not on the primary fuel on your existence.

  122. Thanks for posting the picks from Time magazine. Did anyone notice that the American and British tables had maybe one-tenth the fresh veggies, etc of all the other tables? And that most of the food on the British and American tables were mostly processed and packaged?

    I read Bill Bryson’s just-for-fun “Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid” not too long ago, and in that book was a picture of the food that the average American family of four consumed in one years’ time in the 1950’s, with the family standing in that small room alongside the food. Then he quoted stats on how much we consume today. It could NOT be pictured…it was shocking! Just as an aside, when my church decided to feed Vietnamese refugees during the seventies, the people were wide-eyed and said that the amount of food on the table would feed all of them for a few weeks…not just one day…and…the very rich food made them quite ill. How telling.

  123. I’ve been carfree for a long time, and lately I’ve focused on ordering more foods online.

    I need to budget for the shipping costs, which sometimes adds a considerable amount, but I’ve just started to budget for that as well. There’s a lot of variation in how much is applied in shipping, so it pays to shop around online for the best rates.

    I’ve found wonderful sources for organic, grass-fed products from small growers. I can get exactly what I want instead of going through the frustration of trying to find things without additives or HCS in regular stores. And I don’t have to worry about cab fares or hauling groceries up the stairs to my apartment.

    Plus I feel great supporting so many wonderful, creative small businesses.

    Local Harvest is one of my go-to sites, I’ve found some great sources there for meats and nuts.

    I sometimes wonder why more people don’t do lots of shopping online, there are so many benefits to it. But I guess if you have a car it’s probably easier to make the runs to the store; without a car, online shopping for organic/primal foods really ups the quality of my diet.

    1. – Also I think I’m able to stay on budget more when I shop online. I tend to be ADDish and get distracted and uncentered sometimes in big-store environments. When I shop online, I can decide how much I want to spend and stay with it, editing a cart if needed.

  124. I make an average of $1100-$1200 per month.

    $725 goes to rent, another $110 to utilities like phone, about $15 a month goes to pet stuff.

    That leaves $250-$350/month to feed two adults. It’s only by the grace of friends giving us “extra” food or cash they have that allows me to stay strong enough to keep working.

    Food prices need to go down so everybody can eat as much as they need.

  125. Spending money on meat is expensive, no matter how it is found, and when I’m not eating any grains, beans and legumes I have to eat at least a couple pounds a day to stay satiated. However, my mental math seems to say that this is roughly offset by not going out to eat that much, falling in only the 3-4 times per month range. Savings on lack of medical bills due to pristine health is immeasurable though…

  126. Like many other commenters, I spend a lot more on groceries but a LOT less eating out. I used to eat out for every lunchtime, and frequently breakfast too.

    Since going primal I make breakfast at home (pastured eggs & bacon – yum!) and I bring lunch to work (big ass salad + meat). When I don’t have time or ingredients to prepare a lunch, I make that an impromptu Intermittent Fasting day instead of eating out. I usually end up skipping dinner on those days too.

    I haven’t worked out the exact numbers, but my wallet and bank account certainly suggest I’m spending less than I used to.

    But either way, I’d much rather spend extra money on delicious primal food than on prescription drugs and hospital bills down the road.

  127. I typically spend about $600-$700 a month for my boyfriend and I, but this includes some garbage food because he hasn’t joined me in eating primal/paleo. I try to be as resourceful as possible, but I have decided that spending more on food as a percentage of income is worth it. Also, we don’t go out to eat often because I do have severe gluten reactions and it’s just easier for me to cook for myself than to worry about cross-contamination and getting sick.

  128. I read the poll wrong, I thought it was cost for the household per week (don’t ask me why, I think that is because that is how I think of this expense)

    Our actual number is probably somewhere around $350. Hard to say, since, for example, buying a portion of cow can last months. But I’d say most weeks our grocery store trips (no-kids couple) add up to about $150. So tack on a bit more for bulk buys and random stuff that I don’t remember.

    I think overall we probably spend a bit more now than we did before, but just by shifting what we used to spend on beverages, snacks, and dessert to better meat it mostly evens out. We still spend a lot more than most friends, who eat mostly pasta and cereal, but I’d rather spend the money now than on health care later!

  129. 300-400 $ a month/pp? What the hell where/are you eating?

    I spend about 120-150. And as far I remember food (exspecialy going out) was less than half the price here in germany (okay, its 15 years ago I last visited the States).

    I am in best shape. Getting 58 in a couple of weeks. I love Meat and fish and seafruit. Consume it maybe one time a week. I do not look like Mark (concerning my chest) but I did no sports the last 30 years.
    Ilove all primal food. And all junk food, too.

    If I could spend $ 400 for food, I would not. I would feed my Porsches (what I do not have) gas tank and cruise around instead …

    Okay, that´s primal, too 🙂

  130. I’m unemployed and have been for nearly a year now; a graduate student (hellllloooo, student loans!;) and a recent divorcee. So money is a huge issue for me, and going primal last October really made me worry for my grocery bill. For a long time my expenses did not go down, and in fact went up. Not just because I was buying more expensive food, but because I was buying *too much*; I was used to being hungry all the time, and overeating and never feeling full. When I actually started buying only what I will actually eat, my grocery bill dropped by 1/3. (sadly, it took a couple of month of before I realized the reason I was throwing bad food out was because I should not have bought it in the first place…habits are hard to change!)

    I rarely eat out anymore either, and that used to be at least another $30+/wk I’d spend, guaranteed, on top of the grocery bill.

    I don’t have a car, otherwise I’d try to buy from local farms and butchers; but even being stuck with the grocery store that’s in walking distance, my grocery bill dropped considerably after going primal.

  131. I look at it this way. If I didn’t spend money on good healthy home made things to eat, I’d spend it on things I definitely DON’T need. I probably spend about 60 to 90 minutes preparing food everyday, and to me, it’s very nearly a form of entertainment. Especially when trying new recipes. That’s worth a movie ticket or a book to me. Add to that home gardening, and composting, taking control over what I eat, and where my food comes from has filled in hours of empty TV watching for sure.

  132. To me I think the question is kinda multifaceted. In this horrible economy lots of people are out of work and trying to get by on whatever assistance and work they can scrape up. So I think the higher prices really are hurting people more if factoring in the pressure on incomes, but granted as a percentage of income the industrial farming in the US has in fact pushed prices down so as a percentage of income it does appear to be low. Secondly is the subsidies that agribusiness gets also plays a factor in cost to the consumer.

    Now all that said I don’t spend as much as many people on groceries. However I get paid every two weeks so my grocery run is about every two weeks. I load up a couple of shopping carts. I always get stares, and the cashier always acts like I am feeding an army and that it is an outrageous amount of food. But looking at what others say they are spending on groceries my spending is tame. So why is it that I get the strange reactions? Is it because people shop every few days instead of one big run every 2-3 weeks? I would like to know what it is that I am doing different than others since others are actually spending more than I do, but yet it seems like I am the oddball… Strange!

    I have to admit my budget is hard pressed to buy the grass fed meat and the more expensive things right now. I am primal, and I am studying permaculture and terraforming my lawn into garden this year to offset some of the rising prices and in a search for good organic, heirloom, wholesome food. I am learning I just have to be flexible.

  133. David Wolfe is quoted in the film “Food Matters,” saying that as Americans, we have our perspectives wrong. He goes on to explain that, generally speaking, we are willing to pay for expensive housing, cars, clothing, etc., but not pay for expensive, nutritious food. I am technically on a “poverty” level income but find plenty of ways to save money in most areas to be able to eat healthy. “The first wealth is health,” Ralph Waldo Emerson had it right.

  134. I’m very lucky as I can spend money on good food. But what is the true cost of food? We can talk about money out of pocket but we also need to talk about how much a grass fed steak from our local grower costs vs the corn fed one at the super market that has gone through so many expensive steps just to get there. There’s a cost to the farmers, the environment etc (I’m not telling you all anything new…) And it’s also about priorities and what we are willing to do without to have good food. To me there is not much more important than good food.

  135. The last two weeks I’ve had a humming voice in my head…it’s directly related to the movie HOME (the part where they speak about food & meat and how a lot of people in the world doesn’t have food and three millions farmers produce enough grain to feed 2 billion people, but most of that is produced to livestock feed or biofuel.
    Making me think, do I want to consume a lot of meat, to increase the demand of grain? I know that it’s not the most rational thinking but I would still like to enjoy my chunky beef without guilt.
    Other than that I have to say that I spend as much money as I did before, I’ve replaced most of the snacks & Candy and high carb food, with more nutritious food (more vegetables & meat etc).

    On the other hand I’m very satisfied with trying a low carb lifestyle (been mostly visiting the gym, doing lifting and spending some time on the crosstrainer).
    I’ve lost 6kg (79 kg now = 174 lbs) in roughly 6-8 weeks.


  136. I know for a fact that I spend more than all of my co-workers, mostly due to organics & high quality meat.Some tips on how to keep costs lower would be nice.


  137. I read the poll wrong, I thought it was cost for the household per week (don’t ask me why, I think that is because that is how I think of this expense). Any way to fix our answers?

    Our actual number is probably somewhere around $350 pp/pm. Hard to say, since, for example, buying a portion of cow can last months. But I’d say most weeks our grocery store trips (no-kids couple) add up to about $150. So tack on a bit more for bulk buys and random stuff that I don’t remember.

    I think overall we probably spend a bit more now than we did before, but just by shifting what we used to spend on beverages, snacks, and dessert to better meat it mostly evens out. We still spend a lot more than most friends, who eat mostly pasta and cereal, but I’d rather spend the money now than on health care later!

    One thing I like to remember is that the current fuss over food prices is all about wheat and corn. For those of who don’t eat these things (or animals that eat these things) presumably we should be impacted less.

  138. Our family has definitely noticed the pinch of both trying to eat better quality foods and the rising cost of food in general. With one teenage boy who eats more than the rest of us combined, it can get crazy the amount of money we spend in food.

    In general, we try to offset this by buying as local and bulk as we can. I have a big veggie garden including this year some new cold frames. We have our own chickens, we buy our raw goat’s milk directly from a farmer and buy our beef and pork in shares from local people. That puts our grass-pastured beef at about $3.50 a pound for everything from hamburger to steaks, and pork about the same. That saves us a ton. Still, I think we come out at about $1100 a month in food bills for our family. That’s a huge chunk of change. Trying to get it lower without filling everyone up on cheap carbs is very difficult. My son can go through 1200 calories of pasta in one sitting. Replacing that with veggies, meat, and fruit is *expensive*. Obviously, we think it’s worth it. And luckily, we can afford it. But it does mean that we have less money to spend on other things than other folks do.

  139. Wow, it looks like majority of people spends quite a bit of food a month. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with your location.
    For our household of 3 we spend $550 a month, but two of the people aren’t primal, so even though they eat everything I make, they still end up spending some of that money on over-processed junk food.
    For me, the cost actually went down simply because I invested into couple of freezers and now buy all my meat in bulk. Since meat is mostly what I eat and it’s so high in nutritional value that I need way less of anything else, I do see quite a bit of savings.
    However, over the past month, I’ve really noticed a major price jump just in the grocery store. For exacmple, heavy cream that was always $.99 has jumped to $1.30. Butter has jumped $.50. Fish has jumped dramatically.
    I think it will only get worse now that the price of gas is climbing again.

    I can’t wait for Spring and Summer because I do grow all of my own vegetables and preserve as much as possible. I will rely on it now more than ever before.

  140. My husband and I have been eating Primal for about six months now. Since I do all the shopping and we have a strict budget I have been very aware of the price differences pre and post-primal. I have noticed an increase of about $25/week per person. However, I feel that it has been almost completely offset by making more meals at home and eating out a lot less. I know that we will have fewer health care costs as well in the long run and that is priceless as far as I’m concerned.

  141. hello administration:

    i’ve tried twice to post a comment (and waited 2 hours to check for it) – is there a problem with me doing so?? there was no link involved–

  142. In the beginning I was shocked at how expensive my grocery bill was for being primal. I was spending $200 a week for me and my wife (Organic produce and meat was the culprit). But I soon realized I was buying WAY more than I actually needed, or consumed. My wife isn’t primal, she does weight watchers and I can’t convince her to go primal for the life of me. But after adjustments to my diet and realizing what I actually need, we are spending just about the same on groceries as we spent before I went primal (and she’s buying loads of horrible chemical WW products). Basically, we’re back to $125 a week, but some of that includes non-food items so maybe I’m a little less. Not bad for feeling great, and it’s a very small % of income (I love America).

  143. We spend about $200/person in my family, but there are seven of us- five children, two adults.

    This works out to 25-45% of our (frustratingly) variable monthly income. BUT, we deliberately live in a way that minimises other bills- no car payments (bought with cash), no rent or mortgage (small home with major renos all done by us), no tv, no eating out, movie theatre about 2 or 3x/year, non-curriculum self/home-educate, and this year we have a big garden (40×70- square inch/foot gardening) and livestock (layers, meat birds, rabbits, and hopefully a pig). This will reduce our food costs by at least half, as long as our garden produces.

    We really don’t have any time to do more than we do already, so we couldn’t spend more money without significantly changing our lifestyle, which we are attempting. Our food has always been our priority. There were a few years when we rented an apartment and had little income; our food then was 50-60% of our monthly budget, made possible by buying the bulk of it at the farmer’s market. At the grocery store, we would have been starving.

  144. OOOPs! I meant 400$ a month total…100$ per person. My bad for not reading thoroughly. :/ Is someone also making sure not to count those extras at the regular grocery store “just because you are there?” Hey gas right now where I live is 3.50 a gallon. If I spend 10 cents more for cat litter where I am at the moment, do I stress? no.

  145. I’ve spent an average of $330 on one person’s food over the last 12 months at the grocers. Another average of $88 per month at restaurants but some of that is more than my food bill as I was treating others. My raw food dog costs me about $200/month on food now that she’s almost a year old and hopefully full grown (I hope!).

    I buy grass fed meats, organic everything and I grow most of my veggies in my garden – but that will go way down with the plague of stink bugs that ate and rotted almost everything in my garden last year. Best I can hope for is some spring crops.

    Compared to the rest of the world, I can’t complain at how little of my income is going for food – mine and my pets.

  146. We’re spending about 15% on at home food. My significant other isn’t fully primal but he’s leaning. Since we made the switch to organic meat our outlay has gone up by about 1%. I expect to actually reduce the amount this summer. I’m going to attempt a full garden this year. I’ve been dabbling for a couple of years, time to dive in.

  147. Seems most of us spent more at first while figuring it out, then less in the long run. eating out less helps a lot.

    my other concern is local food and material waste. im willing to pay a little extra to help farmers with both.

    I get all my produce and eggs at farmers markets (local only) and worked it out to use almost no packaging. i bring my own containers for berries, dates, etc. for eggs i keep reusing or returning cartons.

    still figuring this out, think i can bring it under $200 / month.

    lettuce keepers work wonders for greens and vegetables.

  148. I have been primal now for 3 years and I have found that I do spend more per month being primal. Lets be honest, the cost food these days is ever on the rise. I am from Eastern Ontario, Canada so I only have access to the farmers markets for a limited time during the year the rest of the time I’m stuck with imported foods that are far overpriced. Its just cheaper to eat unhealthy food that is chalked full of “fillers and chemicals”. That being said since going primal I have not gotten sick, I heal faster and my overall quality of life is much better. So….I believe eating primal does in fact cost more but the benefits simply outweigh the cost.

  149. I spend $300 per month. (I’m single.) This includes 90% completely pastured meats straight off a local farm and wild fish. (The only exception being uncured bacon from Trader Joe’s.) Mostly all organic produce for the “Dirty Dozen,” but not for things that have a thick peel, such as avocados. This is less than I was spending before Primal. At the tender age of 40, I had to learn to cook for myself.

  150. Eating paleo seems expensive but when you calculate the cost of lets say doritos, they are like $5/lb. You can but a lot of chicken, beef, vegs for alot cheaper. food costs in America are Cheap. I’ve done two tours in Afghanistan, and the people there spend like 80% of income on food. We have it easy here.

  151. I spend alot of time abroad for my work and I have to say. The cost of food in the US is about 2-3x cheaper then abroad. In Australia and NZ I spend almost 40% of my money on food. 90% of that cost is grocery store food and NOT eating out which is only about 150 – 200% more then in the US.

    Not to mention the fact you can order in bulk online in the US making it even cheaper. Im comparing normal grocery store to normal grocery store. The organic shops overseas are even more pricy due to there size. There is nothing comparable to Whole Foods or Trader Joes overseas.

    I miss the US.

  152. I spend about $40 less per week now that my family is eating Paleo. I believe that the biggest reason for that is that I’m not buying any boxed foods or snacks and sweets. This makes a big difference. Another contributor is that my husband is now taking advantage of the new excuse to go hunting and fishing as much as possible, so we are eating much more wild meat and fish. It pays to live in Northern Ontario (Canada).

  153. I think geographic location makes a huge difference. In upstate NY our food costs come to $400 to 500 to feed two adults (one whom has a mannual labor in the cold type job) and a toddler.
    Our CSA is 80 a month (all winter too), and our grassfed beef is $3.75 lb purchased by the 1/4 cow in the fall. Our first big purchase together was a chest freezer, which at $200 on sale has more than paid for itself in stocking u on meat and summer berries. I buy almost everything in bulk even though our family is small. Coconut milk is about a dollar a can purchased by the case at the local Asian grocery. The best price I’ve found for coconut oil is from iherb.com, about $25 for 46 oz.

  154. Once I switched over to the Primal diet (and stopped working at a sports bar) my food costs have dropped significantly. It doesnt completely feel that way when I’m at the store and what I thought was going to be a $20-30 excursion ends up being more of a $50-60 one. But when I crunch the numbers and take into consideration that I was buying at least one “away” meal a day at $9-12, (whether it be a meal on shift/after shift, or merely because I NEVER went to the grocery) I was spending around a $100 a week on food. Now I spend about $50 a week on groceries. I go organic on as much as possible but will compromise with certain items if they are just too expensive and I know its not going to kill me. I have about 5 different stores to get different groceries at in regards to lower pricing. That helps keep some of the cost down as well.

    The hardest pill to swallow is the price of organic items, meat and the items dubbed “essential” (ie-coconut oil is no less that $10 for a small container) for cooking all the yummy food purchased.

    Overall, I save a considerable amount of money living the primal lifestyle and I quite enjoy that fact.

    (ps-I have become addicted to grocery shopping post going primal…I love it now and I actually have fun doing it…weird I know!)

  155. I’m new to eating primal, but so far it has been a very small increase for me. I was already doing my shopping at the local food co-op (which has as one of its missions to pass along the best possible deals onto members) and have been a member of a $25/week vegetable CSA for a few seasons now. I’ve become smarter about seeking out the local seafood markets and getting to know the types and prices of locally offered meats. And since I no longer purchase crackers, pasta, bread, sweets, or baked goods, my monthly increase for a family of four has worked out to only about $150, from about $650 to about $800.

  156. We average $325/month per person pretty much just eating at home. We grow most of our herbs and veggies in the summer, freeze our skinned heritage tomatoes, pick 6 organic six-qt baskets for the price of 7 and freeze them, buy 25 lb buckets of pitted, unsweetened sour cherries, make & freeze all of our soups, sometimes bake our own bread, and look for specials from our suppliers. Gotta support organic &/or natural local foods.

  157. I usually devote all of my money to stuff that I need. And yes I needed that stainless steel hunting knife with the gut hook and mahogany handle. It broke.
    40%-50% of money spent on meat.

  158. Where I live in Minnesota there is something called “Fare for All” . A 10 to 12 lb box of fresh fruit, veg and meat is $20. During the months without a major holiday (Christmas, Thanksgiving etc.) $25 for a mega meat pack, usualy 12 lbs. That has cut my spending almost in half.

  159. I can also tell you exactly what I spend a month (average) due to keeping budget on excel. I spent an average of $60.72 a person for a family of 6 a month in 2010. This is eating at home. Eating out I can’t figure accurately because most was put on the credit card :(.
    This year I’ve actually spent $191.55 less (Jan & Feb.) but that is mostly due to bills going up and income staying the same so food budget has taken the hit.

  160. I spend about $400 a month and eat well…no processed, almost no canned and definitely no packaged at all…ther’s actually little to no garbage at my house. I’m almost completely Paleo at this point. I don’t eat out much anymore and my alcohol purchases are nearly next to nil (I’m not a teetotaler, just not drinking). I do have an enjoyable cheat every once in a while but since going Paleo, my overall monthly “ingestion” costs, so to speak, have actually decreased by nearly half. But I have noticed my favorite meats and vegetables go up in price and have been eating more eggs and less of the choice cuts I’ve purchased before. Chicken still seems to be a fair price but everything else feels a bit like extortion. I think my biggest weakness and where I seem to spend the most is in wild blueberries and Greek yogurt.

  161. I buy almost all organic, grass-fed, etc. and spend about $500 for 3 people. I don’t include eating (1 x week) out b/c it’s entertainment for us.

    I buy all my meat in bulk and am part of a food co-op/buying club that saves a lot of money on things like coconut oil, nuts, seeds, etc.

    If you don’t have one in your area, start one. Our club started with a few moms on meetup.com and it’s morphed into a cafe/warehouse. Look into Azure Standard, Hummingbird, Frontier. Find local milk and meat producers on craigslist or even Facebook.

  162. I spend about $400 a month and eat well…no processed, almost no canned and definitely no packaged at all…there’s actually little to no garbage at my house. I’m almost completely Paleo at this point. I don’t eat out much anymore and my alcohol purchases are nearly next to nil (I’m not a teetotaler, just not drinking). I do have an enjoyable cheat every once in a while but since going Paleo, my overall monthly “ingestion” costs, so to speak, have actually decreased by nearly half. But I have noticed my favorite meats and vegetables go up in price and have been eating more eggs and less of the choice cuts I’ve purchased before. Chicken still seems to be a fair price but everything else feels a bit like extortion. I think my biggest weakness and where I seem to spend the most is in wild blueberries and Greek yogurt.

  163. Just FYI, that grocery calculator is from Iowa State University, not University of Iowa. Different college.

  164. For me, being a college student, about 70% of my own income goes to food costs. Eating paleo burns a hole in my wallet!

  165. P.S. It seems over 180 comments have been made but the thread shows less than fifty and doesn’t show the comment I just left…is there a glitch in the matrix? I hope I didn’t just post twice…

  166. The poll didn’t work very well for us. We grow enough vegies to sell, beef as well… but we still spend up large at the supermarket!

    And if eating meals away from home includes meals eaten whilst tramping, cycling, touring, working… it would be 40 or 50 in a month. Most of them would be made at home or made from food brought from home. Restaurants for meals, less than once a month.

  167. One HUGE benefit of eating Primal is that you do eat less. I typically do not eat until about 11am most days and now I only eat two meals a day and I am completely sated. I feel great too!

  168. ah who knows. it would be a pain to track, since i get clothing, makeup for my daughter, gifts and all sorts of other non food items at fred meyer, where I also get much of my food…that all goes on one credit card. then i get other stuff at another market and put it on a different piece of plastic. and 20lb purchases of grass fed beef at the butcher shop. don’t eat out much. so who knows. i don’t mean to be flippant or sound like a snob but i don’t really care. i have enough in the check book to pay the bills and there’s still enough left to hire a guide for climbing when i feel like it and to me it’s not really a choice–i get sick from too many carbs and crappy food is a crappy investment. i fuel my body with what i want. blueberries out of season–who cares. i don’t waste food and i grow what i can, harvest and hunt, preserve and dehydrate. i have a feeling it’s not much more than i used to spend on crappy processed foods. if people say they can’t afford it…guess they have lotsa $ for medical bills, eh?

  169. I am not as consisitent as I would like to be in my Primal eating and I live abroad, so my foraging skills require some tweaking because of language barriers. That said, as food prices rise, my favorite eating out places have not changed their prices much. I eat out at Korean kalbi houses and Brazilian bbq (very popular in Korea)often. My wife and I go out about twice a week and we have a meal out at least once with the whole family on the weekends.

    I think thinking of it in terms of percentage of income brings two points to light. We only can eat so much. I’d like to see that food weighed by volume. Average stomach sizes probably would show that we all eat about the same weight of food. Also, many people in other countries work to live and their race for accumulating wealth is about survival. Once they make their goal, perhpas they stop grinding for paper.

  170. I grow my own herbs and pay about $240 a month in food. It is all organic and the meats are all free range or grass fed.

    I feel good about spending extra on good quality food and almost look at it as part hobby expense, Haha.

  171. I live in Australia and I spend about $200-250 per week which feeds me, my 3 kids and my boyfriend 4 days out of seven. That’s an average as I buy lamb and grass-fed beef in bulk once every two months or so. The beef is more expensive but the lamb works out much cheaper. I also pay more for raw milk to be delivered from a local farm.
    As a single mum who works part-time and still studies, that’s a fair proportion of my income, however I consider it an investment in my family’s future. Sure I could easily spend half that living on bread, pasta, sugary cereals and processed meats, but how much would I have to spend in health care costs and lost income later when I develop heart disease and diabetes?

  172. With the poll being “per person” I think it is somewhat skewed. My 4 and 7 year old dont eat that much and even less of the more expensive items. I would guess my per person number ($175) would be closer to $300 without kids.

    The $175 is 2010 numbers though. I havent really looked yet at how much more I am spending now. Probably a little more at home, but less out so a wash

  173. I use a website called ‘The Grocery Game’ for the regular stores like randalls/Tom thumb and albertsons. This has done wonders for cutting my grocery bill and staying out of walmart too. Since going full primal, I seen my costs go up (family of 5) but still not as bad as some folks I know. More of the costs have been seafood, and fresh or organic vegetables. I sometimes have to consider non organic or possibly farm raised foods, but when it make the games list I buy extra or max then freeze what I can. I have vacuum sealer too. I even season some meats prior to freezing. I’m averaging $500 a month on groceries, and of course extra on cleaning, paper goods etc.
    I am not usually able to get more exotic meats like bison or such very often, but I did recently find a package of ground bison in clearance and snagged it! Froze immediately.

  174. Hard for me to give a correct $$ figure as we’re working off a freezer of game at the moment. Costs are however rising significantly for what we get at the grocery.

    I really don’t think eating clean and healthy is too much more expensive though. Like Primal Toad, we drink A LOT less than previously -very little in fact. This is not deprivation, but rather the influence of a wholly healthier lifestyle. I think we eat a lot less now as well. I believe we’re more satisfied with the foods and quality snacks that we eat, so we simply consume less. We also don’t buy soda, fruit juices, other drinks, which can add up. And we have a teenage boy in the house, so this is saying something. .

    Will be planting a garden soon, which will help with some costs going in to summer. Highly highly recommend you all plant even a small patch of some food you enjoy. Anyone can grow lettuce, herbs, a tomato plant!

  175. I completely agree with eating the very best quality food one can afford. However, I’ve seen some people get scared off from going primal as they couldn’t afford grass fed meat, etc. My point: just do the best you and your wallet can!

  176. Primal/organic eating is so important to us that we spend about 1/4 of our net income on groceries. The economy has negatively hit my income by about 40%, but I don’t want to back off eating well.

  177. Went to my favorite meat market today to buy rib-eyes. They were up $1 a pound since the last time I was in. They are sooooo good, though. Price didn’t stop me.

  178. Getting high quality meat here in Japan has really hurt our budget, as well as forking out for some comforts from home (tomato sauce, salsa, curry powder, and spices). I can easily drop 100 bucks just on that stuff! Looking forward to moving back to the USA and hitting up the farmers markets (and Trader Joes) later this year.

  179. My husband and I are on a very tight budget, so we typically spend 200-250 a month on food. We limit our spending by cutting out cheese and milk (my husband is lactose intolerant, so it makes life easy). We do not belong to a CSA, but try to buy grass fed beef when on sale at Whole Foods. We get gifts from family in the form of Wellness meat packages for Christmas and birthdays to limit some of our spending on meat. We also cut costs by drinking lots of smoothies with coconut milk and adding avocados to our dinners of chicken, beef, or pork (the extra fat at night helps us fast until lunch everyday). We buy in bulk from Costco for our eggs, bacon, and stocks for soups. Our main veggies consist of carrots, onions, and cabbage every week. We splurge on kale, swiss chard, and asparagus at least once a week. We do not buy fresh fruit (I’ll buy frozen for smoothies), but I get at least two or three fresh fruits from uneaten food at my school (we get catering from Whole Foods).
    Living primal CAN cost more, but if you plan and look for good sales (as well as take fish oil if you can’t afford the grass-fed meat) I’m sure you can eat for the same price as you could if eating a SAD—keeping in mind that you eat less food when primal than you do on a SAD.

  180. Thanks for the interesting article. I’m from South Africa and still fairly new to primal living. Here the costs of fresh meat/fish and vegetables is exhorbitant especially anything labled “free range” or “organically grown”. Also most “free range” meat is still grain fed. I haven’t found anything that is grass fed yet. We cannot get coconut flour and things like almond flour, coconut oil or nuts cost a pretty penny. I would say that on average I spend R600 per person per month on food. This equates to aproximately $4200 per person per month (R1 = about $7 at today’s exchange rate). This is roughly 15% of our monthly household income. I have a family of 5 (sometimes 6 as I take care of my niece every weekend). We do not eat out unless it is a special occasion (about 6 times a year). We are considered a middle class income family as both my husband and I work, we have a car each and own our own home (relatively speaking as we are still paying a morgage). The kids are not living 100% primal (yet) so they still eat bread, porridge and pasta which keeps costs down a bit. Most South Africans are considered low income earners and their staple diet is made up of starchy food (it is the cheapest food source here). South Africans used to be healthier in days gone by but now almost half of South Africans over the age of 15 are overweight or obese. I’m one of them and am determined that my children will not grow up to be like me. South African children are the 5th most obese children in the world. So, I’m prepared to spend what I can on fresh food to ensure my children grow up NOT one of the statistics.

  181. In Finland we don’t much have organic meat yet. We are kinda late on that trend.

    However I found a place where I can online order organic beef sirloin at a price of 29€/kg… that’s 2,2 lbs I think. That’s the cheapest I found here.

    Organic pork sirloin was 15€/kg if my memory serves me right.

    And organic ground beef was 9€/kg.

    Haven’t found organic chicken yet but I heard there is a place to get it from with a price tag of 20€ per bird. That’s a bit pricey for me even though I like chicken a lot.

    There are a few organic stores here and there but they are super-overpriced as are most of the organic veggie departments in the supermarkets.

    However I must say that the organic beef and pork taste super-awesome compared to the ‘regular’. I love meat anyways. 🙂

    Fasting is BTW a good way to cut down some food costs at the same time as you get leaner and receive the health benefits of fasting. Triple benefits glory! 🙂

  182. Fruit and Vegies in Queensland, Australia are very expensive. Local markets help – as well as planning meals around the ‘sale’ items of the produce on offer.
    Beautiful grass fed beef is easy to find and if you do a little research it is possible to purchase whole rumps from butchers which are absolutely top quality and can be cut by the butcher to make many, many meals.
    Kangaroo is a great healthy option and reasonably priced.
    By not purchasing the processed foods breakfast cereals, bread, crackers etc we save that money and use it on coconut oil, nuts etc.
    Our backyard also has 3 chickens to provide fee eggs. They eat all of our vegetable peelings etc. We give to them and they give back.
    Always looking for ways to stretch the weekly shopping money and choose healthy options. Like they said pay the farmer or pay the doctor!

  183. Our figure of $125 per person is skewed a bit by the fact that one of those people is still a baby (although she certainly eats her share of eggs and meat). I’d also like to add to the idea that “food as medicine” means that spending more for quality food is a wise investment and can save money in the overall household budget. We more or less primalized our family’s food last fall, in addition to adding vitamin D supplementation, and nobody’s had even one sick day the whole winter (despite the fact that half the kids at our school got pneumonia this year). Considering that every winter before this has been nonstop trips to the doctor for ear infections and nasty coughs, our food seems to be doing us a lot of good.

  184. I wonder if most people that voted in the survey realized it was for a month. The results are what I’d expect for a per week percentage. The largest group of voters say they spend $50 a week on groceries but only eat out 1 or 2 times a month. This seems very unlikely to me. Maybe I need to find a cheaper place to buy our food, but we’ve comparison shopped around town and we buy very smart and pay the least from our available options. This is from someone living in Southern Ohio. That or I’m just getting screwed on groceries. We buy nothing but whole foods and we spend $200 a week. That’s nothing but meat, fruits, veggies and milk for our young boy. That averages out to $4 per person, per meal.

    $200 weekly spend X 4 weeks = $800.00 total budget

    90 meals minus 4 dinners and 4 lunches (we eat out once a week for dinner and once a week for lunch) = 82 total meals

    $800.00÷ 82 meals = $9.75 cost of ingredients to prepare meal

    $9.75 ÷ 2.5 people = $3.90 per actual meal

  185. Primal eating in Germany looks like this:

    Grass fed meat ~ 1.5 more than grain fed, even tough these cows grow up only 2 miles from here…20$ per lb, but the quality is outstanding.

    Organic veggies ~ twice as much as “normal”.

    All at all I can say, that I spend about 250$ a week. You could make it with 150$ too, (I like spending my money on food :-)), but below that – no way…..

  186. Going primal in Germany:

    Grass fed meat is about 1.5 times more than grain fed. 1lb local beef digs a hole of 20$ in your purse.

    Organic veggies are almost twice the price compared to “normal” ones.

    All at all I can say, that I spend 250$ a week as an average for food. You could probably cut it down to 150, but below that: Paleo’s over…

  187. Living in the Northeast I haven’t noticed any food price increases yet. However I like to think that I am an extremely thrifty shopper and I’ll always search until I have the best deals. The average prices may be increasing and I just haven’t noticed. The local grassfed beef producer has not raised prices. They do have some new competion locally so that may be a helping keep the prices at 2010 levels.

    I do plan on putting some serious effort into fishing this spring and summer for the purpose of filling the freezer. For those living near the shore a good charter is becoming an ecomonical alternative. There are plenty of sustainable fisheries.

  188. I personally have been perfecting my skill of sourcing the cheapest possible location for buying a “larder” item that I’ll use over a long time. I’ve found bulk purchasing is the best way to really save money long term (brown rice, grains for example) but you do have to worry about storage so it doesn’t always work for everyone.

    Great article yet again.

  189. My depression era grandfather taught me to spend money freely on food and a good mattress. Look at the amount of time you spend sleeping and eating and get it right. My feeling is, if I can’t afford to eat right (and I can) I’m doing something wrong, and I would rather cut my budget elsewhere than skimp on food quality. I’m fortunate my family of four shares these priorities, and I don’t even keep track of the cost as long as I’m reasonable with my purchases to begin with.

  190. Food prices have just taken a jump here (I’m in Ontario, Canada), but I find I can scour deals if I go to the grocery stores that cater to different ethnic groups. There’s a grocery chain not far from me that is a ‘bargain’ place, but I’ve found better stuff there (a large bag of beef marrow bones for roasting, pig’s feet, etc) than in my squeaky-clean, high end grocery down the street. I’ve found Indian spice blends, with no additives or anything (just a straight spice blend) for $1 – whereas my main grocery store sells them for over $4. Costco helps as well, for buying large amounts of meat… I may take the plunge this year though and go in on a 1/4 cow from a farmer.

  191. For our family of five (two adults 3 kids) our food costs went up only slightly. But I stay at home with the children, so “hunting and gathering” is sort of my full time job. It takes more work to hunt down the farmers/hunters for our meat and go pick up our “illegal” milk, and get up early on Saturdays for our veggies at the farmer’s market than just buy the stuff at the store. I’d say our (by “our” I mean MY) time spent on food procurement has gone up much more than our money spent on it. The largest difference is that we eat more eggs and venison now. Once we found our sources, the prices were not that different from conventional protein.

  192. If you have a yard, grow as much food as you can. Don’t have a yard but a deck? Get some pots and grow things year round. Ever thought about your roof? I apply this thinking to purchasing locally grown food as well. Sure, I can’t get everything – but I can certainly try to grow as much as I can!

  193. My husband and I eat out about one time per month and spend about 600 on groceries per month (including CSA chicken, egg, and vegetable shares, as well as buying a side of beef and pig each year.) I make everything, including protein bars and yogurt from scratch so we can save money as well as know what is in our food. I buy food that is in season and plan my meals around what looks good at the grocery store and farmer’s market. I will spend my summer working at two local farms in return for a cheaper CSA share and hopefully some additional meat! The added bonus: we don’t ever have to go to the doctor, so that saves a lot of money!

  194. Since going primal 3 years ago, we found a local source for grass-fed beef, pork, and chicken. We also joined a CSA. The result? Our food bills went down AND our health care costs went down. No-brainer.

  195. We butchered a steer almost two years ago and are still eating him, probably have a couple months worth of meat left. We live on him, some chicken, and a ridiculous amount of eggs, we go thru about a dozen a day, we have three kids 4 and younger. I think we spend less eating primal, but then I’ve not figured it exactly. If I could stop making yummy almond and coconut flour treats we’d save even more 🙂

  196. I’d add my costs to the poll, but I think I might skew it a bit, as I live in Norway. The price range here would put me on $500 at least after conversion. Which actually isn’t extravagant food, with the only out of home food being lunch in the cafeteria at work…

  197. There is a much greater cost incurred when buying local organic. This will skew the global data. To have a comprehensive overview, you would need to also measure the food source/quality.

    $100 dollars @ the supermarket might buy you a large cart full of food, but it will also probably be of low-quality.

    How would these numbers stack up if put through a health & wellness filter? I.e. nothing bagged, boxed, canned, in a jar. No corn syrup, etc.

    The real meta potential here might be to create an info graphic that shows the ratio of cost vs quality vs amount of food consumed. (I think it’s fair to say that the average American consumes at least 1000 more calories than they *need each day).

  198. Eating primally is an excellent way to save money. I save so much money on supplements that it is a no brainer. Every day I eat 16oz of vegetables, 2 eggs, and 1 cup of berries. Add some butter and a few spcies and that is it!

    Additionaly, the protien is cycled per day. For instance Day1=Beef, Day2=Pork, Day3=Fish, Day4=Beef etc. Eggs, vegetables, and fruit are daily.

    After tracking this online at ‘nutritiondata’ this “diet” meets and exceeds ALL RDAs with many doubled and tripled! As an added bonus my omega 6:3 ratio is always at 1:1 even with grain fed beef or an occasional chicken.

    8 dollars a day with 300 dollars a month saved from protien powders, cod liver oil, vitamins, and minerals. Hint: Egg shells are an eggcellent source of elemental calcium and trace minerals…

  199. I make a valiant effort to always have Primal home cooked meals during the week but we tend to eat out 3-4 times a weekend. This works well for maintaining an 80/20 lifestyle. Although, when we do dine out we always eat at local, quality restaurants and never “get crazy” just for the sake of it. I will still order my grass-fed burger w/o the bun but will indulge in a few sweet potato fries! And weekend = wine, at least a 1-2 glasses a day. Needless to say, our food budget is pricey for two but I would rather invest in quality food now, than prescriptions and doctor visits later. I no longer view $1000 (groceries and dining out) as monthly expense… it’s really an investment into the health and well being of my family. I have extended family members and neighbors that spend $1000/month on Rx and continue to make poor food choices and never exercise. So at the end of the day, where do you plan to invest your hard earned money is the question.

  200. We spend $120 per person each month. We are a family of 5 with 2 teenagers, 1 child. I mainly shop at Trader Joes. Some of the posts have given me some ideas on trying to contact local farmers for grass fed meat in bulk. I just learned that most eggs contain soy protein and I would like to avoid that but the cost for soy free is prohibitive. I spend $1.69 per dozen at TJs. The soy free are $8.75 per dozen. Same thing for the organic milk I used to buy at $6/gallon. I now buy the regular milk for $2.69 gallon. Just those two items would be another $84 per month on my bill (when multiplied by what we consume). What I don’t compromise is supplements like Omega 3’s, Beta Glucan and probiotics.

  201. Sorry for the advertisement but this is what I read about soy protein in eggs:

    Did you know that almost all commercial eggs today, including those that are organic or Omega 3 eggs, contain soy protein in the yolks? Even chickens raised on organic feed eat high concentrations of soy beans. So if eggs are a part of your diet today, so is soy protein, whether you realize it or not.

    Tropical Traditions wanted to offer a soy-free egg from chickens that eat NO SOY. Tropical Traditions soy-free organic eggs have been tested to be soy-free! Our chickens are raised by family farmers and eat a coconut-based soy-free feed mixture that is certified organic, with no genetically modified grains (no GMOs!). Tropical Traditions developed the feed the chickens eat: Cocofeed. You can read more about Cocofeed here: https://www.cocofeed.com/cocofeed.htm.

    Why No Soy? Soy has become a big part of the human diet post World War II, with the result that there are many people with soy allergies today, and many people today are trying to reduce or eliminate soy protein from their diet.
    Soy is the cheapest protein available today, and it is a major component of most animal feeds. Cheap soy protein allows chickens to grow the fastest, and produce the maximum amount of eggs during their peak laying cycles.

    Highest Omega 3 Content! We don’t simply add flaxseed or flax meal to our chicken feed to make it “high Omega 3.” In addition to eliminating soy and using organic coconut pulp, our chickens eat a high quality fish meal and crab meal. Our fish meal is from deep ocean water small fish, and our crab meal comes from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest or Nova Scotia. They are very high quality products that add not only a high quality protein to replace soybeans, but also the purest form of Omega 3 fatty acids that come from fish sources. Laboratory testing has shown that our eggs contain almost twice as much of the Omega 3 fatty acids as other organic “Omega 3” eggs that derive their Omega 3 fatty acids from flax seeds. And we not only add high quality Omega 3 sources to our chicken’s diet, we completely eliminate the high amount of Omega 6 fatty acids that are contained in soy. Most nutritionists agree that our diet is unbalanced in its ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids because of the abundance of soy and corn in our diets today. Tropical Traditions organic soy-free high Omega 3 eggs supply a much better Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio because of the absence of soy.

  202. We spend way more than we should have to. High quality foods need to be affordable and available to all classes of people.

    Anyhow – we have found ways to cut down on our food costs. Buying our grass fed meat straight from the farm, and in bulk, has helped tremendously.

    And when in season, buying local produce is much cheaper for us too.

  203. I had to completely rework my budget when I made the switch from fast food & processed food to only whole foods, and then again when I went paleo.
    But it was basically taking my ‘eat out’ money and dumping it in to my grocery budget. I spend about $320 every month, and it’s just me in the house. I can shave that total amount down if I’m on low-flow, but $320 is the sweet spot for groceries – and I shop primarily at Trader Joe’s, Mothers and Henrys markets .

  204. I live near a Whole Foods and have a weakness for grass fed beef. Combine that with the fact I am trying to gain muscular bodyweight at the moment and I easily spend about $500 a month. Between Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s I can get everything I need to stay paleo (+ dairy) but it cleans out my wallet. Definitely the biggest expense in my life.

    1. It’s worth it though, right? I read a book from the ‘whole foods’ movement that asked us to reconsider how much we’re willing to spend on groceries. By buying cheap food/fast food that’s crap for our bodies, we’re setting ourselves up for ginormous health bills later on in life (diabetes, heart disease, etc.).
      But by spending more on healthy food now, we’ll save in eventual health costs.
      Sounds worth it to me, and ‘real’ food tastes better anyhow! 🙂

  205. When you buy good, whole foods, you’re also voting with your dollars. The only reason these corporations make this processed crap is because people will buy it.

  206. What a sobering series of comments. When I voted, I posted that I spend about $400 per month on food–but I think that might be a little low. The funny thing is that I meant for my family–my wife, myself, and our not-quite-three-year-old. I eat more primally than my wife does, and I have had to buy fewer healthier products due to our money issues. The stored up pasta in the basement is free, basically. Unfortunately, our budget only allows $250-$300 a month for food for the three of us, which is why we’re going under, pasta or no. I can’t imagine being able to spend upwards of a thousand dollars a month on food, yet I wonder how much healthier we would be if I could… I suppose one can make concessions here or there, but I thought one of the issues linking poverty and obesity in the U.S. is that McDonald’s, sodas, food crap is cheaper. Organic free range eggs cost me $4, and that’s with me driving to 3-4 different places when I grocery shop, just to save every penny I can. It’s difficult for me to spend “our” money on food for me when my wife is happier eating pasta and bread (for far, far less) anyway.

  207. Well, “technically” I only eat meals in my home less than 10 times per month. I have 4 jobs so I’m only home for “dinner time” 1-3 nights a week. I have a food stash @ the primary job where I do most of my eating. I work cooking in a restaurant 2 nights. That job supplies all the tenderloin, ribeye, & bison scraps to feed the corgi. That’s only for ski season…

  208. Food in england is up. I spend about £80-£100 per week on food for myself alone. People will say thats absurd but i don’t care. I refuse to eat poorly, and this is the price. i’ll keep eating the best way i can, it’s a basic human right.

  209. I think my wife and I spend a bit more, but that is partially because we live in a small apartment in the city. We have no room for a garden, or very much freezer space for meat. This prevents us from buying bulk meat, which definitely ups the price. It’s worth it, though.

  210. I wont conduct a study but since I have switched to being full primal I feel like I spend less money on food. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you are in pure practice consuming less biomass.

  211. We spend about $300/month/person on a primal diet (2 adults and 3 children) with only 1-2 days/month eating out. Having said this, we still don’t eat enough food and would like to buy more to eat, but this is already about 2/3 of our income and we are pushing to pay the bills. We don’t spend any money on alcohol, or any other habits. On the plus side, since eating primal we are spending less money on medical expenses and I have not had a cold or flu since.

  212. my food costs have skyrocketed since going primal. primarily, cutting out pasta, rice and bread (even for the kids), and replacing that with meat,vegetables, fruit, nuts. the kids also eat yogurt. we only buy organic, and if possible, local. food is by far, next to the mortgage, our highest cost. hard to complain too much, when we all feel great. and i really love that my kids have bags of candy from halloween, christmas, valentine’s that is UNTOUCHED. they aren’t interested any more. but they will go through 3-4 pieces of fruit a day. that’s spendy.

  213. That calculator told me I should be spending $260 a month on groceries. I easily spend $800 a month, and I don’t go out to eat ever.

    The only thing that ever lowered my grocery bill was alternate day fasting.

  214. I know this isn’t ideal for most people…We are involved in a primal dinner group exchange. There are three families and we each take a night tues-thurs. making dinner for all three families. We drop it off at each others house or bring it to the gym (one families owns a crossfit gym). We all live really close to each other and the gym is really close. It has been great. We all get to try new recipes and get to have a couple nights off of making dinner. I am not sure of the financial benefit yet. It has only been about a month. Depending on the recipe I could spend anywhere from 30$-45$ making enough for the 3 families.

  215. When I weigh eating out frequently at fast food joints and spending money on cheap crap… vs eating home cooked meals and quality time spent with family, it seems quite obvious to me why most of the world chooses the latter.

  216. About 10% net income right now but trying to adjust towards 15%. Great local farm that also carries a local ranchers grass fed beef and we raise our own chickens (just for eggs….daughter won’t let me eat her girls). Grow some of our own veg and we get the left over berries the deer, rabbits, coons and wild pigs miss on thier trips through the yard. My wife and daughter aren’t to big on me eating those either but I’m working on it.

    That 10% covers the rest of the household suppiles too. Tooth paste etc and cleaning supplies (dirt cheap..white vinegar cleans and whacks germs too and does a great job on the weeds in the garden).

  217. I’m a single mom and only work PT, so I’m definitely on a tight budget. I decided to prioritize what foods I want to buy “best quality” versus the areas where I am willing to sacrifice. I spent the bulk of my grocery budget on meats, eggs and dairy, and then I have to be frugal in other areas. We don’t really buy much fruit, and we buy a lot of frozen vegetables (probably about half frozen, half fresh). I also make EVERYTHING from scratch. Mayo, yogurt, you name it. I buy special items like coconut oil from Swagbucks when I have earned enough Amazon gift cards to get them for free (love the Nutiva brand). I use coupons for anything I can (eggs, frozen vegetables, household items, beauty items, etc).
    All that said, I spend $40/week (around $200/month) for the two of us (my son and me). In addition, we eat out about once a week, and usually spend around $15-20.

  218. You don’t have an option for eating out 0 times a month! On average, that’s about what we do.

    I am VERY frugal, and it does take a lot of work to find healthy food we can afford. It’s worth it though.

    We’ll eat better, and save money, when I have my own garden. You really should do a post on gardening; it’s very Primal to get the sunshine, exercise, and food all together (even though, of course, Grok didn’t garden). Foraging is another cheap and Primal food source I’d like to get more into. It’s amazing how many “weeds” are actually delicious foods!

  219. I actually keep a very detailed budget. My family of four (30 year old male, 30 year old female, 2 year old male, 5 year old female) spent $1100 a month on food before going primal, and $1300 a month after. Not bad if you ask me.

  220. I have not figured out what it costs us to eat primal, but when people tell me they can’t pay $4.00 for a pound of grass-fed ground beef, I explain to them that I can make a very healthy lunch for myself and my boys using that meat, a few avocados, and some steamed broccoli for cheaper than they can take their kids out for a happy meal.
    Also, if someone tells me they cannot pay $12 for one chicken, I explain to them that that chicken makes 2 family meals and two big containers of slow cooked stock, and if I were to buy boxes of stock at the store, the 3 boxes of stock would be the same price as that chicken.
    No matter how much you pay for local meat, you can always cook at home for cheaper than eating out. Plus, now that I have been eating only grassfed meat, I just can’t eat meat anywhere else. I think it is about eating smarter.

  221. we need to create a forum where we can share all the cheapest sources for various primal foods…coconut oil on amazon etc… and other products…bulk nuts would be a good find.

  222. We are a family of 4 and spend around 500$ per month on food. Since cutting out all grains and sugar I suspect our monthly grocery bill will be less. With not having to buy cereal, crackers, oatmeal, sugary snacks, lunch meat, chips, Pepsi, eating out at fast food restaurants, etc etc etc, our grocery bill will be much less. Even if we buy more veggies and grass-fed meat.

    I’m on the Canada’s east coast too, and we are building our own garden this spring so we can have fresh veggies and enough to store and freeze for the winter months.

  223. grass-fed and pasture-raised PACKAGES from your local rancher are a much better deal. We buy 1/8 beef and 1/2 pork package and it turns out to average $4.25/pound. We are able to store it in our regular sized freezer (we get one package about every 6 months so there is somewhat of a rotation, but we always have a little of each kind of meat). This is much more economical than buying individual cuts. Check with your local rancher to see what sort of packages they offer.

  224. Since I’ve been eating more Primal, I’ve been spending soo much more on groceries, and also going more often. Buying lots of fresh produce biweekly ain’t cheap (avocados, why??), and fish is goddamn expensive (especially since I only opt for environmentally friendly, sustainable fish sources).

    I don’t regret it though- it’s so much better than cereal and lunch meat sandwiches.

    1. Same here Ali. It’s been tough on a low income. I sure am glad that it has cured most of my health problems though. So I guess it is going to save me a lot of money in the long run.

  225. I live in Europe and I tend to be less worried about organic produce, mainly because I get a lot of vegetables from a neighbour who has a farm, and maybe most of my meat isn’t grass fed, but I bet it’s got a lot less hormones and other junk than american intensively grown cattle will have.

    I buy free range eggs mostly out of worry for the chickens and sheep or goat butter (either is delicious!).

    Yes, organic vegetables are more expensive, but I used to spend more on crap like cookies, cereal, pizza, 12 kinds of cheese and cold cuts and other processed stuff.

    I am my household, and spend about 40€/week (52$, I think) at the supermarket/healthfood store – that’s about 11% of my available income…
    I used to average at 75€, before going primal on January 2nd.