“£30 for a joint of beef? Low-carb diets sound expensive!”
Many people contemplating the switch to a diet based on high quality animal products expect it to be expensive, especially when those premium foods replace apparently ‘cheap’ carbohydrates and processed foods. But whilst quality comes at a price, the low- carb way of life turns out to be cheaper than you might imagine.
Firstly, when you eat predominately real food – a high fat, low carbohydrate, animal-not-grain based diet – you feel fuller on less. And if you’re eating less, it potentially costs less. So that’s a good start.
Many studies of low-carb diets find that even when allowed to eat as much as they like, people on the low-carb diets spontaneously consume fewer calories. For example, in the paper below, researchers compared a ‘paleolithic diet’ (lean meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, root vegetables, eggs, and nuts) to a ‘mediterranean / consensus’ diet (whole grains, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, fruit, fish, and oils and margarines). The latter is supposed to be the healthy one, recommended by the medical profession and government food pyramid. In both groups patients were allowed to eat as much of the foods as they wanted. What they found was…
or said the other way round: the paleolithic diet was more satiating (filling) per calorie. (BTW the data strongly hints that it was the reduction in grains wot won it).
OK, back to the picture at the top – that expensive topside of beef… but wait, “what are all those eggs in the background of the picture?” I hear you ask. Well, we buy organic eggs straight from the farm. Every week or two we get a couple of trays of misshapen eggs (‘wobbly ones’ we call them). At £5.50 per 30 egg tray that is only 18p per egg – never going to break the bank is it? Just stop and consider that: 18p for a fantastic source of first class protein and brain-nourishing n3-fatty acids, plus excellent minerals and vitamins including bone and heart boosting A, D and E. Name a carb-food you could get for 18p that comes even a fraction of the way to matching an egg for nutritional excellence! Lord Strathcona is a case in point. The following quotation is attributed to Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who frequently ate with Lord Strathcona:
‘Strathcona, a broad-shouldered man taller than six feet, would be seated at one end of the long table, Lady Strathcona at the other. As course after course was served to the rest of us, he would converse, drinking a sip or two of each wine as it was poured. Sometime during the middle of the dinner, his tray was brought: several medium soft-boiled eggs broken into a large bowl, with plenty of butter and with extra butter in a side dish, and, I believe, a quart of whole milk, or perhaps half and half.’
Lord Strathcona lived ’till 93 on his egg, butter and milk diet, so it kept him well nourished, and it would have been a very inexpensive diet too.
So, what about that huge hunk of meat? Generally, I only consider meat at under £10 per kilo and its generally organic. So topside at £15 per kilo is towards my upper limit. However, it fed us over three days, making three dinners and lunches – a total of twelve individual meal-plates in all:
i.e. just over £2-50 per head for the beef – not bad eh?
This is how I did it:
- Day 1, dinner for 3. I pot-roasted the beef with carrots, onions, celery and home-made bone-broth. We carved off slices at the table and ate them with buttered vegetables.
- Day 2, lunch for 1. Some chunks of beef cut off and popped in a lunch box with some left-over veg.
- Day 2, dinner for 3. Re-heated some choice slices of the beef in an oven proof dish with fat and veg from the original casserole. Served with brussel sprouts and peas. (Buttered, of course). The left-overs made:
- Day 3, lunch for 1.
- Day 3, dinner for 2. Chunked the remaining beef and made a Bolognese style sauce with onions, peppers, courgette and passata. (see pic below). Again, enough left over for:
- Day 4, lunches for 2!
(Oh, did I say the topside of beef cost me £30? Well it would have normally, but I picked it up when it was reduced to £15, so it was a real bargain making it closer to £1.50 per head! But that’s just good housekeeping ;-)