Friday, October 21, 2011

Paleo at our house: Meat/Protein

I get A LOT of questions about the expense of paleo, how we make it work, and what exactly we buy.  So...I thought I would share some of that info.  I'll have to break it up in a couple of posts.

Since we have made the decision to be a one income family, we have certain budgetary restraints to consider.  When we first started doing paleo, I will admit that it was a bit tricky.  And really, it still can be at times.  Ideally, we would eat the highest quality meats all the time.  However, it's not in our budget to buy organic/pastured/grass fed meat all the time.  But that doesn't mean that we just throw in the towel and eat junk.  I think it's important to buy the best that you can.  However, the "best" that you can afford might be different than someone else.  In the interest of full disclosure, there are times that we do choose convienence over quality as well.  I'll explain all of that as we go though.  I should also note, even though it should be assumed by anyone I've ever come into contact with, I'm not a professional.  This is just how we do it around these parts.

Okay, grab a cup of coffee because this is a long one.  Here's the breakdown of all of the meats and proteins that we eat...

This is an easy one for us as we have family that we get our beef from.  In the past, we have bought 1/4 cow, but starting this year, we'll be buying 1/2 cow.  It's amazing how much more our boys have started eating this past year.  It's crazy.  Anyway, if you don't have a farmer in your life that you can get good, grass feed beef from, I'll post a few links at the end of all this jibber jabber for you to check out.

We don't eat fish all that often.  Maybe a couple of times a month.  It's not because we don't like it, it's just that it can be spendy.  We do buy some fish from Trader Joe's though, namely tilapia fillets.  TJ's carries some pretty good options for fish and seafood at decent prices if you've got room for it in your budget.  Additionally, just recently we drove out to Cascade Locks and bought some salmon from the Indian fishermen.  Although I can't remember the exact price that we paid, I do know that it was much cheaper than even a good sale at Fred Meyer.

To be honest, I wish that we ate better quality chicken, but, it goes back to the budget.  In the end, it's not something we stress about though.  We have already vastly improved the way that we eat and we'll continue to do so with time.  We have bought chicken directly from a farm before, but it's a bit pricey and can be a little more work.  So, here's what we've landed on.  If price is really a concern, we go with bone in, skin on chicken thighs or drumsticks.  You can get a big ol' pack of them at Costco for 99 cents/lb.  Trimming the skin off takes a couple of extra minutes, but it's really no big deal.  If we're making fried chicken, we just leave the skin on anyway.  It's super easy to make shredded chicken that just falls off the bone by just popping it in the crock pot for a few hours.  Just yesterday though, I picked up 80 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts that I got for $1.48/lb from Zaycon.  If we buy from the grocery store, we usually get organic drumsticks from Trader Joe's or boneless skinless chicken thighs from the Fred Meyer meat counter for $1.99/lb.

We recently split a pig with my parents and have somehow managed to eat most all of it in just a couple of months.  Oh well, I guess that leaves room in the freezer for all that chicken and the beef that we'll be getting in the next couple of months.  When it comes to pork that we purchase at the grocery store, we mostly eat bacon and sausage.  We usually get our sausage at New Seasons.  Ingredients in sausage can be tricky, so I just took some time to chat with one of the butchers and figured out what was in their sausage.  They make all of their stuff in house and it ranges anywhere from $3.99/lb to $5.99/lb.  We mostly stick with the ground Italian sausage because it's the cheapest.  As for bacon, my sister tipped me off to a brand that is sold at Fred Meyer that doesn't have nitrates or sugar in it called Hempler's.  It's not with the natural/organic stuff, but with the regular bacon.  It normally runs $4.99, but it's on sale often for $3.99.   We always snag a few when it's on sale and toss them in the freezer.

Other stuff
For quick meals for the little dudes, we always have Trader Joe's hot dogs in the fridge and a couple extra packages in the freezer.  We also usually have a package of salmon burgers and regular burgers from Costco in the freezer too.  While all of those choices are not 100% paleo, they work well for us in a pinch.  And let's be honest, if you've got kiddos around, you're "in a pinch" a lot more than you'd prefer.  Also, on occasion, we snag some nitrate free lunch meat for on the go meals or Jack's school lunch.

We get three dozen eggs a week from a local farm and we also usually end up buying another dozen or two from the store.  When we first started getting farm fresh eggs, I couldn't tell much of a difference between the ones from the farm and organic store bought ones.  Now though, wowza, they don't even compare.  We mainly use store bought eggs for scrambles or or baking.

Okay, if you made it through all that, nicely done.  Did I miss anything?  Anybody else have any good local sources for meat?  If you do, please share!

Here are a few links for ya'll:
Afton Field Farm (This is one that we've bought from before.  Located in Corvallis, OR.)
Bald Hill (This is another one the we've bought from before.  Also in Corvallis, OR.)
Full of Life Farm (Haven't bought from them, but have heard good things.)
US Wellness Meats (Also haven't bought from them, but they have are popular among paleo food bloggers.)
Eat Wild (A great resource to find a farm close to where you live.)

And lastly, Robb Wolf recently wrote an article about the expense of eating paleo.  He does a breakdown of costs and makes some recommendations.  It's a good read, especially if you are struggling with the expense of eating well.


  1. Thanks, Alison! This really helps me see how it can be done in "real life." Would you mind sharing the brands of nitrate free lunch meat you've found? I'm having a hard time locating any at all.

  2. Yep, I'd be happy to--Trader Joe's has some (although I believe they still might not be 100% paleo, but we still get it on occasion) and Applegate Farms is also nitrate free. At our Freddie's the Applegate Farms packages are in the front display section thingy of the deli counter. Does that make sense?

  3. Yes, and I don't know why I never thought to look there. Thanks!

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