The Carnivore Diet on a budget might seem like a challenge.
Meat is expensive. There’s no way around it. But you don’t have to break the bank while eating on the Carnivore Diet. With judicious shopping and creative tricks, the Carnivore Diet can fit any food budget.
Whether you’re just starting or a seasoned pro, these 13 tips and tricks will help you save money.
1. Buy cheaper cuts of meat.
You’ll save serious money by selecting the right cuts of meat. There is a huge difference in price across the different cuts.
What Carnivore doesn't love a ribeye steak? But there are more affordable options.
Here is a list that shows the cost of the most common cuts of beef. Don’t be afraid to consider the more expensive cuts as there are fluctuations in price based on demand, availability, and trends.
Generally, try to buy from the first two categories to save.
Cheapest Cuts of Beef
Moderate Cuts of Beef
Expensive Cuts of Beef
Top Round (London Broil)
Eye of Round
New York Strip
Keep your shopping list ready with the cheapest cuts of beef so you can jump on any sales at your local market.
2. Buy lower grades of meat.
You can also save money by purchasing lower grades of beef. The grading of meat has nothing to do with the safety or even quality of the meat.
The USDA designates grades based on the marbling (fat content) of a piece of beef. Marbling contributes to tenderness, flavor, and juiciness of a steak. The different grades of beef include Select, Choice, and Prime. A piece of meat that comes with the Prime designation will have the highest level of marbling.
This doesn’t mean that lower grades of beef don’t offer quality or flavor. The secret is knowing how to cook these tougher cuts of meat. A low-and-slow braise can make a Select piece of meat taste Prime!
3. Ground beef is your best friend.
Ground beef is the most cost effective way to gain the benefits of beef on the Carnivore Diet without breaking the bank.
Ground beef is easy and versatile. Throw it in a pan and sauté for a quick hit of beef. You can also make burgers, meatballs, or mix it into eggs. There are hundreds of ground beef Carnivore Diet recipes online.
Easy to freeze, defrost, and cook, ground beef is the workhorse of the Carnivore Diet on a budget.
4. Opt for grain fed versus grass fed.
Grass-fed beef costs approximately 50 to 100% more than grain-fed beef. You can save significant amounts by opting for grain-fed.
While there are benefits to grass-fed beef, any beef is better than no beef. If the options are grain-fed beef or no beef at all, grain-fed will always win.
5. Mix in cheaper options such as eggs, sardines, and beef organ meats such as beef liver.
The Carnivore Diet doesn’t mean you only eat beef. There are a range of animal-based food products that you can also include in your daily regimen.
Eggs are the top option. They make up for a lot of nutrients that beef muscle does not offer such as choline, vitamin K2, vitamin E, and selenium. If available, buy pasture raised eggs that have higher nutritional counts.
Canned seafood is another cost effective option. Canned tuna is the most popular, but there are other options such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies. These are nutritional powerhouses and offer tremendous value. Tinned fish is high in omega 3, vitamin D, and Iodine. Make sure to buy options packed in water, not oil.
Another less traditional option is beef offal. Kidney, liver, and other organs are incredibly rich in nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and protein. These more adventurous items might make some squeamish, but for the bold, these are a great value.
6. Buy meat on sale.
Local grocery stores frequently run sales. Stock up on your favorites when they become available.
This can be a great way to save on your workhouse cuts such as ground beef or chuck roll. It can also be a great way to splurge on the more expensive cuts without breaking the bank.
Make friends with your local butcher. They can help you find cuts that are less popular and less expensive. They might also have specials on cuts they need to move. Tell them that you’re living the Carnivore lifestyle and maybe they’ll help you out.
Don’t be afraid to purchase meat markdowns and soon-to-expire deals. You can save significant money by purchasing meat that has been marked down because it will expire in the near future. You can expect savings that range from 25-75% off.
7. Go direct to the source.
You can purchase meat directly from a local farm or rancher. You can find farmers or ranchers at your local farmers market or search your local area.
Ranchers will require larger orders, but the savings will be worth it. You can always freeze your extra meat.
You can also save with online meat delivery services. These subscription companies partner with local ranchers and sell meat options direct to the consumer. By cutting out the middleman, you benefit with the savings.
8. Buy in bulk at big box or warehouse stores.
Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Restaurant Depot. Enter any one of your favorite local wholesale stores.
Do you own a business? You can easily apply for free membership at restaurant wholesale retailers such as Restaurant Depot.
9. Don’t fear the freezer.
Use your freezer to preserve your savings when buying in bulk. When properly stored, frozen meat can last 6-12 months.
Vacuum-sealing your meat is the best way to preserve its freshness during long freezing periods.
10. Rotate through different protein sources.
Beef offers the most nutritional value for the Carnivore Diet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix other protein sources.
Popular options on the Carnivore Diet include poultry, pork, lamb, venison, and even exotic meats such as elk and buffalo.
11. Cook with bone-in cuts.
Price per pound, bone-in meat is always cheaper than boneless. The bones add some weight, but they’re much lighter than the meat. Less work goes into processing bone-in steaks, which means they come at a cheaper cost.
The connective tissue and fat around bones bring tremendous flavor and nutritional benefit. They also help certain cuts of beef cook more evenly.
12. Make bone broth.
You can use the leftover bones from your bone-in cuts to make homemade bone broth. Boil the bones in water to get a nutrient dense snack or meal.
Bone broth is an easy Carnivore Diet recipe that is delicious and comforting any time of year. You can sip the Carnivore bone broth on its own or mix it into a braise.
13. Eat 1-2 big meals a day.
The Carnivore Diet reduces binge eating and promotes intermittent fasting. You’ll quickly find on the Carnivore Diet that you need to eat less and eat less often.
Eating an all meat diet keeps you fuller longer. The high fat and protein content of the diet signals to your body that you are full. Many people on the Carnivore Diet report not needing to snack or eat three meals a day. Instead, they eat 1-2 large meals.
In the end, this means eating less and saving money in the long run.
Carnivore Diet Cost
The Carnivore Diet doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, with proper planning and judicious shopping, the exclusionary nature of the Carnivore Diet can save you money in the long run. As an example, let’s explore how much the Carnivore Diet costs when only eating ground beef.
Let’s assume the average person needs around 2,500 calories per day.
A four ounce serving of 80/20 ground beef contains 240 Calories, 21g Protein, 17g Fat, 0g Carb. You would need about 10.3 servings of ground beef to reach your daily calorie requirement of 2,500.
This would be about 2.5 pounds of ground beef a day.
The national average of ground beef at retail price is $4.33. At a price of $4.33 per pound, the daily consumption of 2.5 pounds of ground beef comes out to $10.83 per day on the Carnivore Diet.
That amount of money would barely cover lunch on a traditional diet. Layer in some additional cost savings tactics mentioned above and you can save even more.
When starting the Carnivore Diet, you might feel overwhelmed by the information. You might think it’s expensive to eat only meat, but in reality, it can be very affordable.
Another pro-tip? Mix in some Carnivore Diet beef jerky. Great for on-the-go snacking, this will keep you fueled on the Carnivore Diet. Check out our sugar-free, minimal ingredient beef jerky.