Paleo Plan

How Much Does Eating Paleo Cost?

Photo courtesy of ecochildsplay.com

Here’s a very common question we get about the meal plan at Paleo Plan and about Paleo in general: How much does eating this way cost? Here’s Jason’s answer to that very question, which was sent in by a reader, Renee.

Q:
Could you give a general idea of how much a week’s worth of groceries typically cost following your lists?
Thanks,
Renee

A:
Renee,

There are a lot of factors that can influence this, but a ballpark is around $150/week for two people on the diet (as prescribed by our plan).

Now, your first week on Paleo Plan may be more, especially if you don’t have a lot of the staples in your cupboard already (such as coconut flour, almond butter, etc). Those things can be expensive, but tend to last a while, and don’t need to be bought every week, or even every month for that matter.

However, if you go Paleo, we highly recommend making the big commitment and cleaning out your kitchen of non-Paleo items, it makes it much easier to follow, and really gives you the commitment to stick with it beyond the first few tries. When you do that, you’ll replace your kitchen with a lot of new items, most of which aren’t perishable. But this is an early expense. I would say plan to spend maybe around an extra $100 for the transition.

Also, if you go to Whole Foods and buy only organic produce and grass-fed beef, it’s going to be more expensive than if you go to a discount warehouse. My philosophy is to eat the best food you can afford. But know that Paleo can be a spectrum, and regaining health is your goal, not following any hyper-specific rules. If you eat Paleo foods but have to get non-organic to make your budget work, then you’re still eating better than the average American diet. So, it’s still worth doing.

My general philosophy is to eat Paleo in this order, according to what you can afford:

1. Eat Paleo categories of foods (no grains, dairy, legumes, etc)
2. Then, eat the cleanest foods possible (organic, grass-fed, nitrate/nitrite-free)
3. Then seasonal, local, and as large a variety as possible.

Thus, if I’m traveling or go out to dinner, I make my decisions based on that (meaning, just because they don’t have grass-fed beef doesn’t mean I get the mac and cheese :)

But that’s just my approach.

Let’s take this discussion over to the forum. How do you guys go about budgeting and prioritizing your Paleo foods?

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14 Comments

  1. Could I half the shopping list and recipes to make them for one person?

    • @Courtney – Yes! Go for it. A lot of our subscribers do just that.

  2. It’s worth the extra cost to live healthier. I’ve lost 145 pounds in the past 21 months. I can tell you that it is worth every penny of it. I enjoy the freedom my new lifestyle gives me. When you consider all the junk food that you no longer buy, paleo is not that expensive.
    You can pay the farmer more now, or the doctor more later.

  3. I’m considering the Paleo, at my doctor’s suggestion. However, my husband is severely allergic to all seafood and all nuts. What kinds of substitutions would you recommend for the nut ingredients? I noticed a lot of the recipes call for almond butter, flour, etc… We’d be doing this together, and I keep what he’s allergic to out of the house, anyways. Thanks!

    • @Kendra – Good question. You can substitute almond flour with a combination of tapioca flour and coconut flour. I’d go half and half or 3/4 tapioca and 1/4 coconut and see how things go. Coconut flour absorbs a LOT of liquid, so you have to either combine it with other flours or use 6 eggs for every 1/2 cup of flour. If you’re going to do 1/2 and 1/2, maybe add an egg or two to the batter, or some other kind of liquid (apple sauce, mushed up banana, coconut milk, etc.). It just depends on the recipe and what you’re trying to do with it. There’s also sweet potato flour now, but it’s very expensive. There are a lot of recipes online for baked goods using just coconut flour, so I’d just experiment with some of them and see what ratios you like.

  4. petryk.steven@gmail.com

    I just shopped for Week 1. I halved all the quantities and it cost me $150 at Publix.

    • Neely Quinn

      petryk.steven@gmail.com – So remember that when you first go Paleo, you’re buying a lot of staples that you’ll use for a long time after – spices, oils, flours, etc. I don’t know if that’s the case for you this week, but that would bring up the price by quite a bit if so.

  5. I would be interested to know if the $150/week is buying all organic or not. We made the switch to buying only organic a while ago, and found that many things, especially meat, can be up to 2-3 times the cost of conventional. We are now looking at going paleo, and already have many of the staple items which will help, but we also spend close to $150 a week just eating organic and cannot afford much more. I really don’t want to have to sacrifice food quality to be able to eat paleo.

  6. anonymous

    $150 a week for 2 people…So I could expect to spend $500-600 PER WEEK for my family of 5…or $2000-2400 per month???!!!! Who the hell can afford that? My current grocery budget is $600/MONTH. SERIOUSLY?!

  7. Jessica O

    Could this group consider the fact that a large population can’t afford to ‘eat healthy’ according to how the Paleo diet is setup on this website? Have you considered creating an alternative menu and meal plan for those of us who simply cannot spend 100.00-150.00 a week for food, making it more accessible? You make it sound so very easy, but if you are completely new to this diet, it’s not easy. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s even harder. Are there other websites that do accommodate that money issue? I am sure I am not the only one who has passed this website up due to the expense of the recipes and the grocery lists that this website generates. Granted they’re good recipes and lists, but unrealistic for a lot of people.

    • Sally Barden Johnson

      Hi Jessica,

      I appreciate your comment. Making a big change in one’s eating habits, having to buy all new food items and perhaps new cooking equipment can be financially burdensome. We actually have several articles on the website that deal with the topic of budgeting and provide examples and tips for keeping Paleo affordable. This article, http://www.paleoplan.com/2012/06-07/eating-paleo-on-a-budget/
      provides a shopping list and the menu for a woman who is eating Paleo for around $200.00 a month! This next article provides tips and resources for purchasing foods through cheaper, alternative sources as well as where and how to buy them in bulk and even a few great cooking tips for economical meals and snacks, http://www.paleoplan.com/2013/03-07/paleo-on-the-cheap/. And, the following article provides tips for keeping it Paleo at Walmart. http://www.paleoplan.com/2013/06-20/3-tips-for-shopping-paleo-at-walmart/. Finally, I want to share this informative post from Mark’s Daily Apple that lists 99 great ways to save money on healthy food, http://www.marksdailyapple.com/99-ways-to-save-money-on-food/#axzz3Un1oerHF.

      Following our meal plan may not be right for you but I think if you try some of our recipes and employ a few of the budgeting tips in the articles above, you’ll find that not only are our recipes good but they’re realistic as well.

      Sally

  8. Redhead

    I would like to say that this website is not very supportive for its customers. You tell a customer that because he/she chose to have 3 kids that it’s their responsibility to figure out how to afford it? Make it possible for that family to live a Paleo lifestyle, and actually show that you care about their health and well-being, instead of just a paycheck. A person who is truly dedicated or passionate about the Paleo Diet wouldn’t just blow them off with the crappy article that basically explains nothing for them. Isn’t this diet meant to help others better their lives and not bankrupt them in the process? Provide alternative menus, grocery lists because other options exist. I have navigated this website thoroughly, and it seems to be geared more toward the business owners instead of the clients.

    • Sally Barden Johnson

      Hi Redhead,

      Please see the response I just posted to Jessica O’s comment. My answer pertains to your comment as well.

      Sally

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