Figuring Out Your Steak Budget
With food prices soaring due to a blend of inflation and special operations, the prospect of strolling into the local supermarket and filling your trolley with 20 pounds of steak might be looking a little daunting. And if you’re just clearing the aisle of prime grass-finished ribeyes, it’s certainly going to put your wallet to the test.
Looking at a store like UK’s Tesco, that’s going to set you back £172, at £8.60 per pound of ribeye.
But perhaps you don’t trust the quality of Tesco’s own, and you’d rather head to the local farmer for meat that is guaranteed to be grass-fed grass-finished. With prices hovering around £18 per pound for prime ribeye cuts, your weekly food budget comes up to a colossal £360. If that’s a price you’re willing to pay for the pursuit of peak health, then it’s fair game. But if that seems excessive, you have a few ways to trim down.
A Carnivore Budget Disclaimer
Before we start reeling out the solutions, it’s worth considering that a well-formulated carnivore diet saves unnecessary expenses. Such as, forking out monthly for a cabinet of supplements to plug the holes of nutrient deficiencies.
The need for supplementation on carnivore is minimal at best, and can even be nonexistent. You could make a case for electrolytes, a digestive aid, especially during transition. That’s pretty much it.
Then there’s the prescription cost-cutting that can appear from fixing metabolic dysfunction and sending autoimmune disorders into remission. The absence of random breaktime and TV snacks that allow the food budget to creep up. The lack of skincare products once you’ve wiped out the triggers. The savings are drastic, and can often more than compensate for steak inflation.
So you shouldn’t weigh this up by the cost of steak alone.
1. Start Cutting
Three pounds of fat-drenched ribeye amounts to a whopping 3900 calories, which works out great if you’re trying to pack on some extra size. But if you wanted to move in the direction, you can get away with eating far less. You could even slice that budget in half and roll with 1500 calories for approximately 1.5 pounds of prime steak.
That still gives you a very respectable 150 grams of protein, which on a ketogenic diet should be more than enough to ward off any muscle loss. That’s because ketones actively protect lean tissue by replacing amino acids as an energy source, which lowers your protein requirements.
1500 calories might sound oddly like one of those fad starvation diets that starts with a flurry before getting watered down to regret, but this is the carnivore way. Each calorie comes brimming with a diverse range of micronutrients, tallying up to the full spectrum of human nutrition.
1.5 pounds of ribeye puts you at a more respectable £160 a week. Which is still steep, but not out of the realms of possibility.
There’s a caveat to this. Shooting that low in calories can place limits on the body’s ability to solve existing deficiencies and promote wholescale healing. For that reason, I don’t like the idea of opening up with a large deficit. Leave it for further down the line, once you’ve already acclimatised and repaired the metabolism through strict carnivore. Then you can up the ante.
2. Stick With Supermarket Beef
There are plenty of benefits to picking regeneratively-raised beef from a local farm. You’re contributing to the fight against climate change by supporting a product that actively increases the topsoil, and that comes with a minuscule carbon footprint. Not to mention, beef raised on pastures will have less Omega 6, more Omega 3, and a whole range of phytochemicals obtained from said pastures.
Getting your beef from farmer Ted might be the better choice. But we shouldn’t get carried away. The margins are fine. Most grain-finished beef will still have been placed on grass for the majority of its life cycle. Ruminants also possess the marvellous ability to convert inflammatory compounds into bioavailable nutrition, such as by turning seed oils into saturated fat. So the net result being, grain-fed meat is still very low in Omega 6.
There simply isn’t that much separating local grass-finished beef from supermarket beef. Not enough for me to dunk on people who pick with the latter. Especially since I currently get my steak from Aldi.
3. Get Cheaper Cuts
Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to steak than ribeyes and sirloins. In fact, they’re not even the best cuts. They may have a deliciously soft texture, but that’s coming from a lack of collagen, a nutrient with a huge range of desirable effects. Collagen can go towards repairing your skin, hair, connective tissue, as well as lowering inflammation and feeding the gut flora. It’s everything fiber tries to be, and more.
What caps it off, is that collagenous beef is typically going to be cheaper. Much cheaper. A pound of brisket, which also comes drenched in intramuscular fat, is just £4.17 in the same supermarket as the aforementioned ribeye.
That gets you to £87 a week for 21 pounds of weekly steak. That’s a very fair price to be paying for your weekly grub, especially considering the cost-cutting associated with skipping polypharmacy.
4. Ground Beef And Organ Meats
Brisket is great, but there’s a greater discount available if you’re happy to make a habit of eating ground beef. The full-fat version, not the 5% cuts where you’re paying more for less nutrition. 20/25% ground beef gets you down to £1.70 per kg, or £36 per week. Even if you’re barely getting by, that should be more than affordable. You could even throw in a few eggs and a slab of butter to round off the frugal caveman lifestyle.
Ground beef also happens to be stacked in nutrition, being high in collagen, as well as potentially containing compounds from organ meats, since it’s typically taken from a variety of cheaper cuts. If you get it from the local butcher, it wouldn’t be difficult to get some liver mixed in.
As for offal, cuts like liver, heart and kidney are extremely inexpensive and have plenty to offer that muscle meat might lack.
But this isn’t without a caveat. Organ meats taken to excess can put you at risk of hypervitaminosis, leading to unsavoury side effects. So I wouldn’t try to trim the budget by adding a pound of liver a day. A few ounces a week is more than enough to help plug nutritional deficiencies, after which you can taper it down to the occasional treat of liver pate.
In short, following a carnivore diet can be extremely expensive if you decided to pursue the best possible variation, but you’re not dropping many points by opting for lousy supermarket ground beef. You might miss out on a few plant compounds, the Omega 6 count may be slightly higher, but the impact on your health is probably going to have a negligible difference.
That being said, the environmental side certainly should be considered, since we’ll have a giant problem on our hands if the topsoil runs out. But while regeneratively raised beef is certainly the better choice in that regard, grain-fed beef is still a few leagues above mono-crop agriculture in planet safety.
At the end of the day, you have plenty of options, each of them being far more valuable than a plant-based diet. Figure out your budget, decide whether you’re happy to spend an hour a day chewing through your steak, and don’t be afraid to switch things up further down the line.