Here's the scoop:
Our family does better on a primal-esque diet. The Hubby's Type I diabetes finally gets under control and my children's behavior goes from screaming and stubborn to normal. I stop having migraines, acid reflux, and a portion of my anxiety.
We used to be vegan for many reasons, but a big one was animal welfare. Therefore we try to do our best in purchasing humanely raised meats. This can be rather expensive.
Our food budget for 2 adults and 2 young kids can't be more than $300/month, and $200 would be much better. When we buy even the minimum needed we often spend $400/month.
To top it off I'm dealing with adrenal fatigue (self diagnosed, but I'm willing to explain my symptoms to anyone that wants to know).
So everything is conflicting. A cheap diet is one heavy on the carbs, but that's bad for The Hubby's diabetes and my adrenals. We could buy cheaper meat that's CAFO, but that makes me feel icky on the animal welfare front and thinking about all the junk in that meat is extremely off-putting. The money amount really can't budge.
And to top it all off we can't afford much gas for our car, so I can't be driving all over the place looking for deals, and if I take public transportation I can only buy as much as will fit in the back of my giant stroller because I have to take the two kids. So stocking up is hard.
Any advice? I'm pretty sure I can't satisfy every criteria we have...
Offal is usually quite a bit cheaper than the muscle meats, and so much better for you! You could grind heart, liver, etc into ground beef to be half-and-half mixture and save money and get more nutrition than just ground beef. Works well for sausage, too!
I'm wondering too about your freezer space: do you have room to store a "bulk" quality meat purchase that you might be able to get a discount on? Our butcher in Eugene has a special deal if you buy like 30 pounds at once. Also, to go along with t2009's idea, have you tried asking a butcher about their prices on bones for stock? You may be able to get them super cheap, and use that stock to stretch your meat budget a little extra. Are you able to grow any veggies? Okay, this is a stretch, and I can't remember the site, but there's a website that has maps showing fruit/nut trees in public places in major cities where people can just show up and forage at the right time of year.
I'm interested other people's suggestions about this, too. Our food budget is tight as well--$150/month for DH and me and DS (9.5 months). We aren't doing a primal diet, but I'm trying to incorporate more TF principles. I just went to a little grocery store nearby that sells all local and organic foods, and they had three different kinds of eggs: 2.99/doz for eggs from a local farm that has cage-free but not pastured chickens and then 3.99/doz and 4.99/doz for two different types of eggs from pastured chickens. They guy working at the store didn't know the difference between them. Buying eggs from Aldi at 1.19/doz, I can rely heavily on eggs to make our food budget stretch, but I can't even afford that many eggs if I'm paying 3.99/dozen!
Grass-fed organic butter can be frozen if you are able to find and buy a large batch of it. It provides good nutrition and calories for other foods, such as vegetables and can stretch the portions of leaner meats such as chicken.
Also pastured organic eggs are usually affordable and excellent in nutrition.
I would prioritize fat over protein in the budget, especially if you are dealing with adrenal fatigue.
Puma, what is a good price for organic, pastured eggs?
I pay a bit less than $3.99 USD here, but when I lived in the US $4/doz was about right. $5 seems high. You may have work on establishing a relationship with a farmer, I don't know if that is possible in your area. Eggs keep a long time, so it may be worthwhile to drive a bit to get a large box of eggs at a lower price. In the US I used to drive 45 minutes and buy 12-16 doz eggs at a time from a very good farmer and pay about $4 a dozen for them. I also bought other things from him; it was a good relationship.
The benefits of pastured eggs are the grass, dirt (minerals) and insects that the chickens eat which makes their eggs more nutritious.
Another option is raising your own chickens, something I've never done but it seems to be increasing in popularity as people attend to their nutrition more diligently.
A trick I use with eggs is to add one to each meal - a casserole for 4 would have 2-4 eggs stirred into it. This stretches the nutrition and calories of each meal. I noticed that my family ate a bit smaller portions when an egg or two was added.
I hope this helps.
Wow, great ideas!
I have a chest freezer, it's good sized. I'll have to ask around for bones, I might be able to find some cheaper than what they sell at the natural food store. Two years ago my friend gave me 10 lbs of beef femur ends and I was able to get 30 quarts of good, gelling stock from that. I pressure canned it to save space in my freezer, I need to do that again. It was wonderful having home canned stock.
The butter is a really good idea. I prefer fat over protein, anyways. My daughter is like me, she'll eat pats of butter. My son doesn't like fat so much, so that's hard.
We have a small flock of chickens that are laying again (Yay Spring!), so that's helping with our egg needs. We're getting 3-7 eggs a day right now, and soon I can expect 6-7 eggs a day. Two of our hens don't lay anymore so we're going to fatten them up and make some stew.
We're thinking of raising rabbits.
Thanks for helping me stay positive, guys, it's really helped a lot.
US Wellness meats has some great sales quite often and the ship right to your door. I bought fifty pounds of ground beef last year at $4 per pound. Their shipping is flat $7.50.
Thanks, I've never checked them out. Seems like time to scour for deals. That flat shipping is amazing!
I think their prices must have gone up. I couldn't find any products that were an especially good deal. If you live in a place where it is very hard to find good meats, it may be worth your while to order from them, though. The 85% ground beef was still almost $7/lb with the 50lb (12% discount).
They sell 75% ground beef and that's what we bought. It was delicious. We got the 50# discount, plus it was on sale. They have sales almost constantly, but different items every time.
I just did the math and right now with their discounts at US Wellness Meats - if you did 80 lbs of the 75% ground beef it would be 5.33 a lb + the 7.50 s+h. Could you find anyone local to you to split that amount with? 80 lbs is a lot at one time, especially for a smaller family. (I could kill that much at my house though, lol. It wouldn't last more than 6 months I bet.)