Eating cheaply on carnivore

(Bean) #1

I did a back-of-the envelope thought experiment to see if carnivore is possible within the SNAP benefits allocations. I needed a number for what would be considered inexpensive, so that’s why I chose SNAP.

We don’t receive or need food stamps, but our grocery list isn’t far off.

2 adults. Assuming an average to small women and a average to tall man. The estimated average benefit for a household of 2 is $372 a month.

I’m the small woman, and my macros for 2:1 keto works out to about 20-22oz raw weight 80% beef per day, including all the fat. Using 75% gives me a little protein wiggle room for fish, chicken, eggs/egg yolks, and liver.

Daily for two adults:
3# 75% ground beef/ day.
~1# bone-in chicken quarters (1 10# bag a week)

1 pound butter
1 head garlic
Salt/ baking soda
1-2 dozen eggs
1# chicken liver
2 cans sardines

$370 ish month for the least expensive options of each at my local Walmart.
Much higher at Dollar General ($540 +).

If pork/ game/ arrangements with a local butcher okay and available in place of some beef, price could be lower. (I haven’t reintro’d pork.) Pork around $1 a pound less at WalMart, but is often less expensive on sale from other stores. I can’t do mayo or seed oils, but most people would have these things in their cupboard/ fridge if not strictly carnivore.

This assumes retaining/ consuming all fat from cuts and making bone broth from chicken parts. It also assumes access to freezer/ fridge, range, baking sheets, salt, baking soda, pots and pans. I use zipper sandwich bags for precooked meal sized portions, so about a $1 a week.

IRL, hubby eats only half his food at home, work provides lunch. He currently is not fully carnivore, but should be considering some of his specific health concerns. He is able/ happy to eat cheap pork cuts. I eat a lot of $6/# chuck steaks at dinner. I break them down from on-sale roasts, so it works out about the same unless we have company. When grandkids are around, I buy single serving carbs and some fruit, which is expensive. My local grocery discounts produce 10% for SNAP recipients, though.

Note that this does not include coffee, teas, bottled drinks, etc. Cafe Bustelo would run $12ish a month for cup-or-two-a-day couple, but that assumes they have a coffee maker that will do small amounts or a refillable pod for a Kerig-type machine.

Caffeine tablets run $5/ month

Some of the more common supplements, although many carnivores don’t bother.

Nature-made Calcium with D and K runs $30 for 150 days, so $1.40/ week.

Nature-made Burpless Fish Oil is $20 for 150 days, so 0.94/ week.

Sometimes stores have a buy one get one on vitamins.

I use baking soda for electrolytes if I need them. I do some distance running.

Again, just a thought experiment, but I hope it’s helpful to someone who needs therapeutic levels of carnivore keto.

If you have carni/ keto $ savers, make a comment. This was just me puttering around when I was awake overnight.

(KM) #2

Relying solely on animal nutrition is comparatively expensive no matter what, when compared to the cheapest veggie diets. I know we can say that it pays for itself in lowered health costs, and as you’ve shown here if you have enough motivation you can figure out how to do it within a really tight budget. Still, I get it. If I had $370 to spend for two people, especially if one of them was a big male with a big appetite, I’d be tempted to fill him up with pasta, beans, bread and rice and have $100 left over for other costs, since I’m assuming the austerity budget extends to the rest of life as well.

If I were going with the least expensive carnivore I could …

I’d definitely see if my body and nutritional needs could be satisfied with more fat, less protein, as the fatty cuts of everything seem cheaper. I’d skip the butter - fatty meat presents plenty of opportunity for rendered cooking fat. I would get off the caffeine train. I’d probably do a deep dive into what I needed for nutrition and hopefully be able to skip the supplements.

(Bean) #3

SNAP would only be usable for food, so saving the money for other uses wouldn’t be in my original calculations, but I hear you on filling up the big guy. I currently steal the fat off his beef, lol, so I have it easy in that regard. However, he’s a huge grump if he gets too many carbs.

Calcium could be optional with bone broth, especially if the shells from the eggs were included?


Carnivore is my most affordable diet I think, at least it’s not any more expensive than being a vegetarian (high-carber, low-carber or ketoer) was… (Well I ate many eggs and my meat is less expensive and more satiating…) But carbs always made me hungry and I always needed high protein. I eat close to no ruminant meat as it’s too expensive (and harder to get here. I can’t buy any locally, just pork and fowl and some, very limited fish). Thankfully I love pork and find it satiating, not everyone is like that I am aware (but the lucky ones get satiated by chicken and don’t get bored of it in no time either)…
Butter is a more expensive fat (still worth it, awesome!) so I use the lard I get rendered out of my pork anyway.
I had a problem that I eat too much protein and it’s not just unnecessary/wasteful but expensive but I can help this situation with fat fast and OMAD days… Whatever is my problem diet wise, the right food choices (and timing) tends to solve it.

Sometimes I am glad my SO is thriving on his high-carb diet. As we couldn’t both live on mostly animal food both. Some carbs are cheaper than animal food (but many are very expensive especially that I usually look at cost/protein. I get energy for super cheap, that’s no problem, protein is the pricier part especially that I can’t depend on cheap chicken much) and they work for him. They just extra cost for me as I get hungry from them and end up eating at least as much protein and probably more fat than without the carbs… That’s why carnivore and keto is cheaper for me.

While the cheapest pork I can get here is lean, less protein definitely would make my diet cheaper… My fat fast days are super cost effective (and I like them anyway). 30g protein, 100g fat, very low carb… :smiley: My before and after day have plenty of protein and I badly need to lose fat so I am happy with my ability to have 1-2 such days per week. Very convenient too.

My SO (his energy need is twice than what I should eat per day if I want to lose fat) pretty much does that. And lots of fat and decent protein (maybe half of my intake when I do my best to minimize it…? a tad more, maybe? sorry I can’t do little protein, I already eat only enough for a decent meal if you ask me). It would seriously bother me if he ate huge amount of carbs and it seems, he is thriving on HCHF - but either way, he only can do this single style, anything else would cause huge problems and he are way too stressed without that already.
Legumes sound good to me if the one in question handles them well. I love legumes, they are satiating due to their protein content (I never heard about anyone who ate a ton of legumes and stayed hungry but probably some exist, not very many though I am sure). The other stuff would leave me hungry but my SO gets well satiated for MANY hours with some grains and fruit so good for him. Obviously things are individual… If I ate bread, that probably wouldn’t do any good to my food costs (or figure or well-being) :smiley: Legumes with seitan could have worked. Somehow. I prefer meat and eggs and dairy, thank you very much but I would survive (as long as I got my eggs and dairy too, in smaller amounts).

I tried to persuade myself about the huge costs of coffee but it can be a tough battle. What battle, war. It is to me but I am winning now (since 2 days but let’s be hopeful). I wouldn’t give up my tea though. It costs money and I could drink water but hey, I need SOMETHING… I do drink water.

I personally don’t do supplements but that’s me and the reason isn’t just cost.

(KM) #5

I might have been thinking of WIC, which I believe includes things beyond food. For anyone curious, this is the list of what SNAP can be used for. Certainly eye opening what they apparently think of as necessary essential food groups!

(Joey) #6

It is amusing that live animals are not permitted.
Animals must be dead.

(KM) #7

Because heaven forbid anyone decided to raise their own meat with a bit of government assistance. Grow all the plants you want, though.

You are, of course, welcome to kill your own animals (that bow and arrow thing is in Alaska only.) Get a little more “American” and they’ll add handguns to the list.

(Joey) #8

Yes indeed. That’s called a Federal Farm Bill. :us:


They should move the candy to “no” and move the vitamins and medicine to “yes”. Idgits!

(KM) #10

Makes it pretty bleeping obvious who’s running the gubmint and what their agenda is, doesn’t it.

I’d swap candy, soft drinks, cookies, ice cream and snack crackers (all of which are Separate categories, good grief why not just call it Carbage Garbage and be done with it, this is the quintessential definition of the unhealthiest, junkiest junk food probably 70% responsible for people’s poor nutrition whether you’re seeking a good diet of animals OR plants) for food animals, vitamins and medicine.

I’m also curious about, say, potato chips. Are those ‘snack crackers’ or vegetables, or unfairly denigrated to a forbidden status below even candy korn.

(Megan) #11

Great thought experiment @beannoise

I’m on a very limited budget so buy the low cost carni foods. Thankfully I’m happy to live on ground beef, pork shoulder, chicken thighs and cheese. I buy eggs and eat a few but most go to my dogs :stuck_out_tongue: Ditto bacon when I grab it on a good special. Sacrilege I know!

Added to the above is instant salt, coffee, tea bags, cream and unsweetened plain greek yoghurt. It’s a wonderfully short shopping list.

What do you see as therapeutic levels of carnivore keto?

(Bean) #12

Paleomedia does a 2:1 fat to protein. Charlie Foundation (for epilepsy) lists a lot of other options from 4:1 to a modified Atkins. I’m running about 2:25:1 plus IM. I used this calculator to find my macros:

ETA: I’m only using render fat from my meat currently. If I want to be higher than a 3:1, I think I would need to add butter or something.

(Alec) #13

I only have carni in Australia experience, but here’s my cheap carni list:

  1. Eggs: great value
  2. Pork and lamb on special: also great value as long as you have a freezer and the ability to buy in bulk when the specials are on.
  3. Ground beef: usually the cheapest beef
  4. I am always on the lookout for good steak deals, but they are rare: steak is usually expensive
  5. Canned salmon is great value and pretty tasty
  6. I always buy butter in as much bulk as is available, but cream needs to be bought in small quantities and regularly: no waste is an important principle of cheap


You missed out ‘roadkill’. Kangaroo is quite tasty.

(Bean) #15

I wish lamb were more local and inexpensive in the states.

(Alec) #16

:joy::joy::joy::man_shrugging::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. I have found roo too lean: not tasty enough.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #17

I haven’t priced a pork shoulder (what they call a “picnic” here) lately, but it used to average just under $1.00/lb. It’s probably gone up some, but is still one of the best deals around. Even with the bone in, the cost per serving is still low.

“Bustelo: ¡es más café!”

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #18

I don’t mean to be contradictory at all with the following, just to amplify what you said. :grin:

The advantage, to go along with the higher price, is far better nutrition. This is often overlooked. My mother also taught me not to look at the price per pound, but rather the price per serving. It changes the calculation somewhat.

Processed food, interestingly enough, is actually far more expensive per pound, but people generally think of it as less expensive. It generally works out to be more expensive per serving, as well, if one goes by the actual serving size, as opposed to the size the manufacturer puts on the label, lol!

On the other hand, much as I hate to admit it, butter is a much cheaper cooking fat than bacon grease, given the cost of bacon these days. On the other hand, in my area, lard is only slightly more expensive than butter. Many people favour it as a cooking fat.


Wow. I don’t know the prices at the moment as I never buy lard and always hated crappy supermarket lard but if it didn’t do something really crazy, butter is a few times more expensive than lard here… But I am okay with butter prices now, it was way worse at some point during the war…
Lard is still cheapest as rendered out from fatty pork (the tastiest too) :slight_smile: And I use very little anyway. It is nothing like butter though and they have different roles quite often so I use both. If I used a lot of added fat and lard wouldn’t be right, I would use coconut fat. I prefer animal fat and I almost only eat coconut fat when my SO cooks with it (he avoids lard except in pork dishes) but I see no problem with it.

Why? It’s so stupid, it’s usually more expensive (and when it’s not, it’s watery crap but I think I wrote about it before…). I am always baffled when people consider cooking our own (often better) meal more expensive. Of course that is the cheapest possible eating, maybe with 1-2 weird exceptions but I can’t think about any.

(KM) #20

I was tasked with creating chili from roadkill kangaroo. It did not go particularly well - I did not cook much at that point in my life, and apparently had never heard of seasoning. :laughing: