A lot of people out there are curious how much it costs to do the carnivore diet.
As a college student, I wondered the same thing. Before the carnivore diet, I was eating a low-carb Paleo diet (lots of meat and veggies), so I was no stranger to the world of real food and just how expensive it can be.
Budgeting for the carnivore diet can be tricky, but I hope that this article can help you get a good baseline for how much it costs to go carnivore.
For anyone who still doesn’t know what the carnivore diet (also called zerocarb) is, it’s a diet that consists of eating only animal products. This includes all meat, seafood, eggs, and raw dairy. Some people will only eat beef, salt, and water on the carnivore diet, while others will have beef, chicken, pork, turkey, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, and even game meat.
In this article, I’m going to break down exactly what I buy in a given week, and show you just how much it costs. We’ll then compare it to my spending on a Paleo diet, and break down a few ways you can save money on the carnivore diet
Before we get started, there are a few things to note about my specific carnivore diet that might make it a little more expensive than other carnivore diets out there.
I do this for one main reason:
Grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and wild-caught salmon have more anti-inflammatory omega-3s (good) and less anti-inflammatory omega-6s than their factory-farmed counterparts
My goal with the carnivore diet was to eliminate autoimmune issues and clear up some pretty awful cystic acne. Ever since I first starting eating Paleo, I noticed that grain-fed meat and farmed fish contributed greatly to breakouts.
I freaking love seafood. More specifically, salmon. Unfortunately, wild-caught salmon ain’t cheap.
I also eat a lot of lamb and a decent amount of pork, which are pretty close to the price of beef, but not exact.
For these reasons, my budget may be a little bit higher than others out there. Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
On a typical day, I’ll eat anywhere from 1.5 to 3 pounds of meat. Usually, I’d say I eat about 2 pounds per day.
I’m a pretty active guy, (weightlift 4 times a week, play intermural basketball 2 times a week), but I’m also rather light at 155 pounds so you may need more or less food depending on your activity levels.
I also eat tons of animal fats with my meat, as I find it really easy to get enough protein, but harder to get enough fat.
I consume grass-fed ghee and grass-fed beef tallow with every meal. Between the two fats, I have about 4 total tablespoons per day. I sear my meat in fat and like to put gobs of ghee on my beef and lamb when I eat it (don’t judge me). These healthy fats give me a big energy and calorie boost that I need for workouts.
For those curious, I would guess I eat between 2400 and 3000 calories a day.
Here is an actual breakdown of what I ate in a single week:
- 16oz. of grass-fed ground beef (85% fat)
- 12oz. of grass-fed sirloin steak
- 26oz. of wild-caught salmon
- 8oz. of grass-fed ground beef
- 48oz. of grass-fed ground beef (yup, I ate 3 pounds of ground beef in one day)
- 26oz. of grass-fed lamb shoulder chops
- 24oz. of grass-fed ground beef
- 18oz. of grass-fed lamb
- 16oz. of grass-fed ground beef
- 24oz. of wild-caught salmon
- 8oz. of grass-fed ground beef
All and all, this is how much of each meat I consume in a week, and the price of each food:
|Food||Glycemic Index||Glycemic Load||Insulin Response|
|Kidney Beans||28||7||Very Low|
Again, this is going to be a lot different if you’re not consuming grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish.
I adjusted the prices to reflect what I can find at my local grocery store, and this is the estimate I came up with if you’re not going grass-fed:
|Instant oat porridge||79|
If you’re coming from the standard American diet, consuming tons of refined carbohydrates (pasta, bread, cereal, frozen pizza, etc.), you’ll be spending way more on pretty much any diet that dosen’t include a bunch of junk food. However, if you’re coming from a Paleo diet, like I was, the carnivore diet really isn’t that much more expensive.
I found myself wondering if the carnivore diet really is more expensive than your typical Paleo or Ketogenic diet, so I decided to run some numbers.
Here’s what I would eat in a typical day on Paleo, along with the cost:
- 3 cage-free, organic eggs – $1
- 10oz. of organic vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach) – $3
- 1 cup of organic berries/naval orange – $1
- 1 Hass avocado – $0.75
- 1/4 cup of macadamia nuts – $1
- 3/4lb of organic meat/wild-caught seafood – $5
- 1/3 bar of organic dark chocolate – $1.30
- 4-6tbsp of healthy fats (grass-fed ghee, coconut oil, olive oil) – $1
The grand total for my daily Paleo diet?
$14.05/day, or $98.35/week.
Compared to our weekly total for a grass-fed carnivore diet of $114.63, that’s savings of about $17 per week on the Paleo diet. This is actually pretty accurate estimate based on my bank statements.
Still though, I wouldn’t consider that to be a massive difference, especially if it means looking and feeling better. Vegetables ain’t cheap, so replacing them with more meat isn’t a huge blow to your budget.
After doing this experiment, I was a little taken back by just how much money I was spending on food (more on that in a bit).
I decided to look for ways to save money on the carnivore diet, and published my findings here.
What are the key takeaways?
- Search for sales, buy in bulk, and freeze for later
- Embrace cheaper cuts of meat (like chuck steak and ground beef)
- Learn to love fat (butter and beef-tallow)
I’m sure that some of you right now are thinking…
“How is this college kid really spending $120 a week on food?”
I can totally understand that. In fact, after writing this article, I’m even a little shocked how pricey the carnivore diet can be.
With that being said, there’s a few things I’d like to point out…
Right after this article, I sought out ways to save money on the carnivore diet and found several. By taking advantage of sales, buying in bulk, and eating cheaper cuts of beef, I cut my monthly expense by over $20 while still eating grass-fed & wild-caught (you can view the whole list of tips here).
I practically stopped eating out (unless my dad’s paying), which really frees up a lot of money. It’s not that you can’t eat on the carnivore diet, it’s actually pretty easy (just order steak or a burger without a bun). It’s just that for me personally, I knew that eating only meat would be a bit more expensive, so I cut back on eating out and focused on buying healthy food I can cook a home.
How much does your well-being mean to you? How much is it worth to look and feel better each and every day? For me, it’s priceless. There’s just about nothing in the world I wouldn’t prioritize over my own wellbeing, and I hope you’d do the same for yourself.
You deserve to look and feel your best, and if the carnivore diet makes you feel your best, isn’t that worth every penny?
Have you tried the carnivore diet yet? How did it effect your grocery expenses? Let me know in the comments below!