Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Affording Yourself 30 Extra Pounds of Grass-Fed Ground Beef, the Easy Way

I am the first to admit that our household doesn't eat all pastured animal products; in fact the vast majority of our meat is still conventionally produced. I could spend a lot of time writing up excuses about this, but I think that my time is put to better use by instead devising ways to carve out chunks of our budget that make room to eat pastured animal products more often. It may well be years before we're able to afford to buy nothing but pastured meat, but until that point I am comfortable with making slow gains in the proportion of pastured meat that we consume.

Which brings me to one of the most affordable budget building blocks of a budding primal / paleo eater: 100% grass fed ground beef. Yes, if you are exceptionally resourceful and already have a good scoop on a local pastured beef source, you can ask your butcher to grind the beef for you - or grind it yourself at home. However, I'm talking about something like the 1 lb. packs that you can pick up at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, usually for about $6 (though occasionally you can get it on sale for $4/lb. at Whole Foods!). do you budget yourself to a gradually increasing proportion of pastured meat?

The answer is: one $6 savings at a time.

Ask yourself, Where can I save $6? Sometimes, the answers can be stunningly simple.

  • Bring a loyalty coupon for your car's oil change or car wash.

  • See what changes you can make in your phone's voice and data plans. As a personal example,  I text so rarely (instead relying on Gmail chat and emails), that a texting plan isn't worth it for us; the odd texts I do get or send barely amount to a couple of bucks a month without a texting plan.

  • Buy fewer treats. Even if the ice cream parlour you're hitting up for post-workout carbs serves ice cream only from 100% grass fed cows and sweetened minimally only with white rice glucose syrup (insert your own proclivity/requirement here...but by the way...if you do know of such a place...tell me where it is!) -- a $12 family trip for ice cream translates into a meal with 2 lb. worth of grass-fed ground beef! That's a massive pan of spaghetti squash with meat sauce, or 8 1/4 lb. burgers! So, consider cutting out the occasional ice cream run in favor of another nourishing, quality protein meal.

  • I saved $11.70 on these leggings for my toddler.
    That buys about 2 lb. of grass fed ground beef!
  • money on clothing! Now, don't get me wrong. I understand the value of a few investment pieces - especially for a grown adult. Don't skimp on a quality, well-fitting pair of minimalist shoes - or a dress for date night that makes you feel like a million bucks.

    Guess what, though? Your kids' clothes are a whole different story. If your kids are out and about playing in the sunshine with you (as they well should be!), they'll have a new outfit go from "new" to "used" status in about 0.045 seconds.

    Another reason to save on kids' clothes is the fact that you'll be getting one season's wear tops out of most articles of clothing.

    So, there are five completely painless ways to save a bundle on your kids' wardrobes:

    ::: Ruthlessly shop the clearance racks. Look for savings of at least 75%. The best way to do this is to wait for seasonal items to go on clearance as the season closes. Right now (the heat of summer), you can still find some leggings and jeans on the clearance racks; I bought my older daughter some jeans a last week at Target for $3.24, and today I found my younger daughter some leggings at Kohl's (above, 90% off $13.00 at $1.30). Knowing that fall weather is a good three months or more away, I bought a full size up for them. (You can always do a quick hem job on slightly long pants but lengthening too-short pants requires magical powers.)

    ::: Shop clearance online, and stack coupon codes. Same principles as above, seeking at least 75% off savings, only you monitor your favorite retailers' sales via email subscription to their deals and coupon sites like You should rarely, if ever, pay for shipping using this method and can often get the best selection from clearance (that is, your needed sizes in stock).

    If you first click to your favorite retailers' sites through ebates, you'll also earn cash back when you're shopping online - I was recently cut a $22 cash back check from ebates simply by clicking through the site to the sites I routinely buy from online...a $22 that I otherwise wouldn't have, which could buy about 3.5 lb. of grass fed ground beef!

    ::: Buy used. Thrift stores, yard sales, consignment sales, eBay! There are so many resources, and often the clothing looks new or even has the original retail tags still attached.

    ::: Enthusiastically solicit and accept hand-me-downs. Save the best items for special occasions, and let your kids run themselves ragged outside in the more well-loved items.

    ::: Request clothing as gifts. Grandmas and grandpas (and aunts and uncles! and friends!) love picking out outfits for kids. If you put a bug in their ear that you're looking for Christmas outfits, or other special occasion outfits, or some more durable (and therefore more pricey) basics (like jeans or new comfortable shoes), you're likely to save on some of the more expensive elements in your childrens' wardrobes.

    As a parting thought on this point, say that with the above methods combined you save $180 per child on wardrobing annually. That's 30 lb. of grass fed ground beef - or in our family's case, about 15 dinners, plus leftovers!

What savings have you built into your budget lately in order to upgrade the quality of the food your family is eating?

Disclosure: This post contains an ebates affiliate referral link. Thanks for supporting Primal Kitchen at no additional cost to you!


  1. I have actually found that eating local (shockingly!) has saved me money on my food budget. The only logic I can come up with for this is as follows: It's hard to find food, therefore I buy less food, therefore I use all of the food I have until my fridge is bare. Less waste = less money spent on food overall.

  2. if you are allowed to in your area, wash your car at home. there's a pound of ground beef right there. also, get a programmable thermostat and learn to live with your house not so cold in summer and not so warm in winter. dress accordingly. temperature conditioned air is very new to humans especially in the summer.

  3. Great post! We canceled our cable and downgraded our netflix.


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