Friday, September 01, 2006

Frugality and the carnivorous lifestyle

It’s been said on frequent occasions that low-carb (and by extension, zero-carb) eating is expensive. (This claim is typically made by people trying to either discredit the low-carb way of life, or by those that have never even tried the WOE in the first place.) I can agree with this sentiment to a certain extent; healthy eating is not usually cheap and meat is more expensive than grains.

However, it doesn’t have to break the bank. (It certainly hasn’t broken mine, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it.) Costs can be cut, and healthy meat and fat does NOT have to be sacrificed for unhealthy and damaging (yet low cost, admittedly) carbohydrates such as cereals, potatoes, pastas and breads.

If you are a low-carber, then I would recommend purchasing frozen vegetables. Out of all the preservation methods available, it is my understanding that freezing is the least destructive. Local prices at my neighborhood Kroger usually are less than $1 for a one-pound bag.

Since I am personally a no-carber, I will mainly discuss purchasing meat and dairy. Ok, on to meat:

Beef

Beef is more expensive than poultry in general. However, this doesn’t mean I’ve slashed beef off of my menu. As I’m sure this has been said before, buying tough cuts and tenderizing them with either marinades or a hammer can work just fine. Soy sauce and lemon juice both work all right, but I like to avoid soy whenever possible (yes, yes, I know soy sauce is fermented and isn’t that terrible for you) and lemon juice has sugar in it (which, I’m sure, increases the Vitamin C content of my meat, which isn’t bad). Those methods work fine in a pinch, and I’ve been able to eat pot roast like a steak. (Lemon juice + hammer + raw pot roast = tender pot roast)

Of course, there is always ground beef, which is cheap, but ground meats should be cooked thoroughly to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, this will destroy most of the nutrients, as well.


Chicken

Chicken is a tasty and less-expensive alternative to beef. Overall, I have few problems with chicken, except for the fat content. Even with the skin on, the saturated fat to protein ratio is lacking, and with chicken (and most poultry) it needs to be supplemented with some kind of fat. My favorite fats overall is butter and coconut oil. I reserve my oil for eggs, so I just bake my chicken in a stick of butter. Once again, I am weird about my chicken and cook it thoroughly, so some more nutrients will be destroyed.

Turkey

My hatred for turkey burns like the fury of a thousand suns. But it’s cheap, so get it if you’d like.


Fish

Canned tuna, especially store brands, are very economical. If you want to purchase fresh fish such as salmon, avoid farm-raised fish. It has no omega-3s and is a waste of money. I’m not a fan of fish, so I can’t really expand on this.

Eggs

You remember the old Food Pyramid? On the bottom of the pyramid, the FDA recommended “6-12 servings” of grains a day. This was supposed to be the basis of your diet. That’s a heck of a lot of food from one group, huh?

Well, with frugal no- and low- carb living, we are going to replace that entire section with eggs. Yes. Eggs.

The basis of a frugal carnivore or low-carb diet should be eggs. Eggs are the cheapest animal protein and fat source out there- take advantage of it. I’ve scoured websites that discuss frugal living- and all of them say to stretch out meals with pasta, potatoes or a starch. I can forgive this, as these sites are not diet-oriented and they are honestly stating what the lowest-cost way is to feed a family.

No- and low-carbers? Stretch your meals out with eggs. Hate eggs? Find a way to incorporate them in, anyway.

Butter

Buy the solid block of butter, the one with the Spanish name on it or something (I don’t remember what the brand is) It’s about $0.50 cheaper than the butter sticks already cut and wrapped.

Coconut oil

I am a big fan of coconut oil- I buy from Tropical Traditions. The oil can be expensive, so I just wait for a sale, like a buy-one-get-one.


Buying in Bulk

I am aware that some people have like, 15 freezers or whatever and can store huge quantities of meat in them. Buying in bulk is good. If you are able to do this, then go for it. My personal living situation makes this impossible, so I’m giving advice based off of three people sharing one fridge.

If I think of some other tips, I’ll be sure to post them. Thanks for reading.

25 Comments:

At September 25, 2006 12:20 AM, Blogger detox said...

you didn't mention duck :-) which has some really great and tasty fat. I bought (French) duck confit which is canned roast duck - very reasonably priced in France - recently, which ist canned in rendered duck fat - plenty of tasty fat to use, .g. on chicken. Of course you can make your own confit or orast duck and even if it is not for the meat, the fat is just awesome, (same with goose).

 
At October 02, 2006 5:47 PM, Blogger megadittles said...

What you have against the turkey? Maybe one chased you down trying to gobble you up?
Okay, I hate pork steaks and brauts. I'm probably about as un-American as it gets since I snub both.

 
At October 05, 2006 9:05 AM, Blogger The Happy Low Carb Taco said...

Megadittles,

I just dislike the taste. ;)
I, also, am not a huge fan of pork.

 
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At April 14, 2007 9:36 AM, Blogger annaandguy said...

The humble, reasonably-priced low cooker (CrockPots, etc.) is the way to go with thrifty cuts of meat. Slow cookers create tenderness from the long, slow, moist heat method of cooking (braising). Beef roasts, pork shoulder, and whole chickens are great to cook once a week, debone the meat, fork-shred, and store in a storage container in the fridge. Then ready-to-eat meat is available for quick meals: tacos, burritos, casseroles, omelets, soups, sandwiches, salads, and other items. Adding sauces and spices can instantly change the basic cooked meat from Mexican to Italian to Southern.

Also, bone-in cuts are even cheaper than boneless, and the simmering in liquid releases very absorbable bone minerals into the broth/gravy, especially if a T or 2 of vinegar/lemon juice or other acidifying ingredient is added.

And while 4-8 hours is a long time in meal-preparation terms, most slow cooker recipes only take 10-20 minutes of pre-cooking prep time. The rest is simmering time, which can take place without supervision (slow cookers have a very good safety record). And they use far less energy than an oven or stovetop for slow-cooking.

The trick is to get into the habit of thinking about the meal early, when shopping and the night before or in the morning, rather than the stare into the fridge panic at 6 pm, wondering what to make for dinner. Like anything else that requires a change of habit, it takes time and reminders to adjust the dinner prep routine with slow cookers. Mark your calendars :-).

 
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