$20 Three-Course Paleo Meal for Two - Why Paleo is Neither "Expensive" Nor "Inconvenient"

Sorry Chili's, your meal is actually too "expensive" and "inconvenient" for me.

"The diet (Paleo) can be expensive (grass-fed, organic meats and eggs are more expensive) and inconvenient due to the limitation of food choices, both of which make this diet less practical for the average person long term."

-Dr. Melina Jampolis, "Is the Paleo diet healthy?"

One of the chief criticisms of Paleo is that is is "expensive" and "inconvenient". If either of these points were valid (which they are not) it would only be in the extreme short term.

Yes, preparing real food takes some time, but, as is the case with any skill, proficiency and efficiency improve over time. At a certain point, preparing a skillet of veggies, eggs, and breakfast meat will actually become more convenient than waiting in a McDonald's or Starbucks drive thru. Shopping for groceries and stocking a pantry could also been seen as "inconvenient" for someone accustomed to eating out three times a day. However, this argument falls apart when you consider that the time spent waiting for a table can easily exceed 45 minutes or more on a busy night, about as much time as you need to shop for an entire week.

Together with "inconvenient", the oft-cited "expense" of purchasing real food is altogether insignificant compared to the costs associated with the long-term care for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. The annual healthcare costs for a person with diabetes average $7,402 more per year than for someone without the disease. People with diabetes also miss, on average, a full week of work (8.3 days/year) compared to their non-diabetic coworkers (1.7 days/year). (Source: "Diabetes in the United States")

If my appeal to logic falls short, however, allow me to appeal to your stomach.  The meal I present to you below cost ~$20 for both my wife and I to eat and drink to our heart's content ($4 bottle of wine, $5 in antibiotic and hormone free beef ribs, $3 for an acorn squash, 50 cents for a head of garlic, $3 for a bag of frozen berries, and the relative amount of veggies, nuts, chocolate and other accessory ingredients would only add up to a few more dollars as I had plenty left over for future meals).  The time investment worked out to about one hour, but this wasn't a full hour of slaving in a hot kitchen, rather it was 15 or so minutes of prep work 45 minutes of relaxation as food cooked in the oven, and another 10 or so minutes to make up the plates.

The first course was a simple salad made with organic green leaf lettuce, shredded carrot, red onion, roasted pumpkin seeds, and dressed with a glug of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  It was, of course, accompanied by glass of "anti-aging" red wine.

The second course was serving of broiled beef ribs (recipe here) with a side of roasted acorn squash (recipe here) mashed with caramelized garlic (recipe here).  It was, of course, accompanied by a second glass of red wine.

The third course was a frozen berry cobbler (recipe here) that provided a deliciously unnecessary (my stomach was quite full at this point) dénouement to the meal.

I'm sure some of you have some "expensive" and "inconvenient" (Not!) Paleo recipes that you enjoy. If so, please share the love in the comments section below!
Share on Google Plus

About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment


  1. Where do you get beef ribs for $5? Even at the local co-op they are at least double that per pound and I have to feed 4 (my 10 & 8 year old kids eat more than my husband sometimes). Thanks! :)

    1. My local Publix grocery store sells the "Greenwise" (no hormone no antibiotic) beef ribs for $3.99/lb. The conventional ones are even cheaper than that. I'm always surprised because I think its such an awesome piece of cow to gnaw on. My non-paleo wife likes them too, so it's a regular at our house.

    2. I live in southern Oregon, so no Publix..sigh..
      I guess I'll just have to look harder. Thanks for the info tho. :)

  2. A big pot of chili is great in the cooler months. I can usually squeek out 2 meals for my family of 5 for around $12 with that! With this many mouths to feed, I've become best friends with my crockpot. I can buy the "cheaper" cuts of meat & we eat very well. With a little planning, eating this way is plenty convenient & the food is much better than any drive thru! Great post & I would love to hear ideas from others!

  3. I hate both of those arguments, which is why I have "budget" and "easy" recipe sub-categories on my blog. I should also point out that ounce-for-ounce and pound-for-pound, convenience foods are FAR more expensive than whole, unprocessed foods - and I knew that long before we adopted a paleo/primal diet.