Is The Cost of Eating Paleo Worth It?

One of the main concerns with going Paleo is always the cost of the food, so I wanted to take a moment to really clear that argument up.

The last blog post I wrote was about how you can eat Paleo on a budget. This blog post will show you that even if you don’t eat the same 6 ingredients day in and day out to try to save money, you will nevertheless probably be saving money in the longrun. Let’s begin.

You’re health is fine, right?

But really, how overweight are you? How much weight did you gain last year, or the year before? Was it 3 pounds, 5 pounds, 20 pounds? Did you decide at that point that you could be ok with your new weight, and that this is just what happens when you get older? Well, those 3 pounds every year over the next 10 years will end up being 30 pounds. And if you continued to gain 20 pounds a year, you’d be 200 pounds heavier in 10 years. Get where I’m going with this?

Obesity and diabetes go hand in hand.

In fact, one study found that obese people have a 27.6-times higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people at a normal weight.

The following horrifying info comes from the CDC here.

  • Among U.S. residents aged 20 years and older, 25.6 million, or 11.3%, had diabetes in 2010.
  • Among U.S. residents aged 65 years and older, 10.9 million, or 26.9%, had diabetes in 2010.
  • 35% of U.S. adults aged 20 years or older had prediabetes (50% of adults aged 65 years or older). Applying this percentage to the entire U.S. population in 2010 yields an estimated 79 million American adults aged 20 years or older with prediabetes.
  • That means that 104.6 million Americans were on a straight path to diabetes, or were already diagnosed. That’s like one-third of the country…
  • Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death, and it’s a major contributor to heart disease and stroke.

Are you overweight? Obese? Find out here. Because if you are, and you’re on your own way to having diabetes, then you’re in for a hell of a time financially down the road. Medical expenditures for people with diabetes are double those of normal people, averaging out at $11,744 in 2007. It’s not just blood glucose-lowering drugs, which by the way, just for ONE medication for diabetes, Metformin, it can cost anywhere from $4 to $100 per month for someone without insurance. It’s also all of the awful things that go along with having diabetes, like foot infections, blindness, sleep aids for sleep apnea, kidney infections and failure, cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood pressure-lowering drugs, and blood glucose monitoring tools, plus all the visits to the doctor, among other things.

How much do obesity and diabetes cost?

So let’s see here. $11,744 per year (and that was in 2007, so who knows how much it is now?) divided by 12 months is about $1,000 per month for a person who has diabetes. If both you and your husband/wife have diabetes, that’d be $2,000 per month.

Average American households currently spend about 12% of their income on food. So if you’re making $45,000 a year, you’d be spending about $5,500 a year on food (groceries and going out). That’s $458 per month for the whole family. The average Paleo/Primal eater, according to a casual survey done by Mark Sisson here, spends about $250 per month per person on food. If you have an average household of 2 adults and 2 kids, you’d be spending around $1,000 on food per month, depending on the age of your kids.

So, is it worth it?

Yes, that’s about $500 more per month than the average American family, but as you saw in the last post, you can do it for even cheaper than that, and I know a lot of families who do. Even if you do spend that amount, though, it’s still less expensive than becoming obese and being on several medications, seeing doctors regularly, and having continually increasing insurance premiums. The co-pays for meds, even if you’re insured, can be more than $200 a month alone. Not to mention the mental and physical anguish of having these diseases, feeling tired and crappy all the time, not being able to do much physical activity, and knowing that your lifespan will likely be shorter than your healthy peers’.

Would you rather pay a little more per person every month now for wholesome groceries and be a healthy, comfortable, non-obese person with normal insurance rates? Or would you rather pay later financially and physically? Eating Paleo, or any diet that’s better than the standard American one, will help you stay at a healthy weight, avoid diabetes and heart disease, and keep your medical costs down.

So to sum it up, yes, the cost of eating Paleo is definitely worth it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.


Share it

Subscribe to the blog


  1. Graham Lutz

    We are spending about $600-800 more per month on food, but my wife was a big time couponer before we found out my son has Celiac disease. That was about 2 years ago, and I’ve spent the better part of the last 3 years studying medical literature and scientific journals to figure out what’s the right way to eat.

    I have lost 75 lbs. and everyone is in the house is happier, healthier, and gets along better!

    You couldn’t pay me to go back to where I was 3 years ago!

  2. Heather

    Thank goodness I thought I was the only one spending 800/mth…it’s usually close to 200/wk for my husband/me and 2 small kids…mind you the kids aren’t (yet) 100% paleo, so we still buy bread/milk/cereal *insert cringe here.

  3. TJ

    I have been following the Paleo lifestyle for 13 months now. My wife is not, but since I cook all of the meals, she eats Paleo probably 60% of the time. Our food costs for the two of us probably runs between $400 and $500 per month.

  4. Patricia K.

    I was vegan for 3 years before turning Paleo. I didn’t buy much vegan junk food, but I did buy all kinds of fake meats, gluten for making fake meats, special this and special that. After going mostly Paleo, I spend a lot less because I’m not buying crackers or expensive fake foods. Meat and veg, eggs and veg, sometimes a bit of cheese, or small portions of beans (instead of the whole can at once) are most of what’s on my shopping list. My son will eat potatoes and rice.

    I try to keep my groceries for 2 (me and my grown son, who is happy to have meat and eggs in the house again) around $400-450 a month. We are blessed to live in a college town and in a rural state where people are knowledgeable about food and local produce and meat is proudly served in stores and restaurants. Potatoes and rice are cheap, and buying veg and fruits in season isn’t expensive. If you are ordering bison or grass-fed meats off of the internet, super foods, all organic veg, then yes, things might get pricey, but I don’t worry about it. I figure it’s better to eat real food with one ingredient – egg, spinach, pork chop, etc., than a bunch of processed vegan crap. We all make choices.

  5. Suzanne

    I spend about $75/wk for food just for myself and any guests I may have. I have been eating 95% Paleo for about a year. I feel great and wouldn’t change a thing.

  6. Jamie

    I’ve been spending $1400-$1600/month for our family of 8 (6 kids ranging in age from 7-19). This seems like a lot. . . but we refuse to compromise our health for cost savings. I’d love to shave money off the cost and utilize it elsewhere but I don’t see how that’s possible without eating junk.

    We are buying 1/2 a pasture raised beef this Fall, it’ll cost us about $900-$1000 for 250lbs (finished weight), so that’s much lower than we would pay for similar quality meat at the market. We also have 16 chickens hanging out in our backyard (city). . . they should start producing eggs come late August.

    Our cost didn’t increase going grain free because previously we’d been buying a lot of gluten free specialty items (cereal, breads, treats). . . now all that money is funneled to meat and healthy fats. Our produce consumption (and quality) has stayed the same. I buy 4lbs of bananas, 6 lbs of apples, 3 lbs of oranges, 3 lbs of mixed berries, and occasional melons every 2 days. I don’t eat much fruit, but the kids go through it like water!

    Another big expense for us is our trail mix station. . . I keep a variety of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, & coconut on the counter at all times for the kids to grab a quick snack or pack in a lunchbox.

    Right now we are buying 10-12 DOZEN eggs each week. . . I’m excited for those chickens to start laying. Right now I split our eggs between really good quality and Costco 5 dz packs (high quality first half of the month or so until my budget dwindles).

    I buy very little milk for the kids now. . . (big change). So, when I do, I can justify the $6/half gallon price for good milk.

  7. Wenchypoo

    If you have an average household of 2 adults and 2 kids, you’d be spending around $1,000 on food per month, depending on the age of your kids.

    My two kids are cats–obligate carnivores. Since I make my own cat food, we all end up eating pastured, grass-fed meat and eggs. We also spend about $1000/mo. on food–most of it on non-gardenable stuff, and it helps reduce the need for any of us to go to doctor/vet visits.

    I can’t complain about having a triple-digit HDL reading!

  8. champ

    Many people are like myself and they aren’t gaining 3, 20, 30 lbs a year or last year. So you didn’t answer your question, is it worth it. To the non weight gainers that maintain a healthy weight, is it worth it? I’d like to know YOUR thoughts

  9. Gryphon

    IS IT WORTH IT? Absolutely!! The cost of one prescription to deal with the results of overeating or poor eating, especially if you are under-insured will more than offset the additional costs. So many of us pay up to $500 to join a gym that we don’t attend. I rather eat the additional expense to reap all the wonderful benefits of a disease free or lessened life.

  10. mreed

    My family is just getting started on Paleo lifestyle. Even though I don’t have an average monthly grocery bill to post, I feel that I actually spend less at the grocery store since I’m not buying so much junk food. I do cringe at the $30 -$40 I spend weekly on fresh fruits and vegetables, it is well worth it when my 6 year old asks for fresh fruit over oreos! It is ABSOLUTELY worth every penny!

  11. Becky

    I’m a major couponer and that easily cut out 1k in groceries per year. This year I’m planting a major vegetable garden (square foot garden style). I had a friend who did this, just a veggie garden in one 4×4 box and he grew over 100 pounds of produce, and literally saved 2000 dollars on groceries that year. I had another friend that lives in Brooklyn who grew a smaller, but still substantial amount around her window frames, and this year got permission to start a roof garden.

    Needless to say I expect my veggie garden to save me money, especially living on veggies like I do. If stores refuse to offer cheaper, organic produce… well, I’ll just have to make my own.

  12. deidre

    We have 4 children ranging from 3-8. For the 6 of us, we spend around 1200-1300/month. Since removing gluten and dairy from our diet, my depression has gone away and the weight started falling off… a few months later we changed our diet from gluten and dairy free to paleo because I found out my husband had diabetes. His blood sugar levels have dropped dramatically and are just about normal after 4 months on the paleo diet and NO MEDICATION!!! We’re still working on dropping it further, but he is doing and feeling SO MUCH BETTER! My oldest son has had major improvements in his attitude and self confidence from simply changing his diet! When the other 3 kids eat something we normally wouldn’t, the next day is a living hell! Would I go back to our old diet? NO. Not for anything. Bring on the bigger grocery bill.

  13. Janis White

    Could you email me with an ballpark example of what you’ve experienced for the average monthly cost of the Paleo diet plan to cover 3 meals a day, with whatever snacks and/or desserts you recommend including. This would be without the extra fruits and veggies I know I’ll have to get at the store. This is for a single woman 66 years old.
    Thank you

  14. Magen

    I found this blog while searching for affordable ways to eat paleo. I have to say, I am getting tired of the “in the long run” argument. I really am. Most of the world can’t look at the long run. We have to look at what we can spend paycheck to paycheck or month to month, some of us are on foodstamps. And obviously we see the good in the long run, other wise we wouldn’t be looking at this way of eating. Please, just help us with tips on how to do this in away a family of 5 with about $400 a month to spend on food can actually afford this.

Leave a Comment