A little thought experiment, as I lunch on some non-organic soy-and-grain-fed chicken thighs full of omega-6’s and sip on generic mycotoxin-laden coffee with half-and-half from rBST-treated factory-farmed cows:
How much would a perfect diet cost? What if I were willing to pay for the best of everything? I’m not, by the way. A couple caveats: this is restricted to perfect foods that I am *willing* to eat. No liver, no other offal, and no beef. This also presumes that I cook 80% of my meals, and so that same amount of calories are involved in these purchases. And finally, I’m only counting the foods that make up the bulk of my calories in this calculation. If I have money left in my grocery budget for the month, I could be tempted to splurge on pink Himalayan mountain salt, or bulk sheets of nori, or fancy raw-milk cheese. But they don’t make up the consistent elements of my diet.
First, nutrients. I eat 100-150g/day of carbs and protein, and 150-200g/day of fat. That makes 2150-3000kcal/day, varying on how much I work out that day. 80% of this, for one week, is 700g of carbs, 700g of protein, and 1000g of fat. How much would I be willing to spend, as an absolute max, on weekly groceries? Let’s say $150. I think I average $100 nowadays, and even that makes me cringe a little.
Great Protein Sources:
Wild-caught salmon fillets – 2 for $11 at Whole Foods – 6.5g protein/$
Ground grass-fed buffalo – 10lb bulk package for $95, plus shipping – 7g/$
Pastured eggs – $6 for a dozen – 13g/$
High quality whey protein isolate – $50 for 3lb package – 25g/$
I take 50g whey 3 times a week after lifting, and I eat 4 eggs for breakfast everyday (26g x 7 = 182g). Supposing I eat 2 salmon fillets (70g) a week, the rest of my protein need would come from buffalo (700g – 400g = 300g). Add this up and you get roughly $74.
Great Fat Sources:
Organic avocado – 4-pack for $5 – 17g/$
Organic coconut milk – 1 can is about $1.75 – 40g/$
Virgin unrefined coconut oil – 64 oz for $40 at Tropical Traditions – 45g/$
Grass-fed butter – my favorite brand, Organic Valley, is $6.50/lb, or 62g/$
Extra-virgin olive oil – 1 liter for $5 – 190g fat/$
Wow, avocadoes are steep, and olive oil is cheap. Let’s say I go through a 4-pack of avocadoes a week (85g), 2 cans of coconut milk (160g), 1/2 cup olive oil (120g), 4 sticks of butter (400g), and the rest as coconut oil (230g). Total, $21.
Great carb sources:
Sweet potatoes (let’s assume organic is crucial) at $2/lb, 40g carbs/$
Negligible carb grams from organic frozen green veggies, about $2/lb as well.
High-quality dark chocolate, 1 bar for $3 – 15g carbs/$
I eat a pound of veggies and a pound of potatoes a day, on average. I probably go through 2 chocolate bars a week. Total cost of $34. For the week, this is $129, which leaves me enough money for a pint of Haagen-Dazs “five” coffee ice cream, spices, cheap wine, Nutiva Coconut Manna, and my weekly pound of bacon. I can save money on coffee by drinking it for free at work, and that makes just about $150 per week. The priciest elements that don’t add a whole lot in nutritional value are the avocadoes. If I got all my mono’s from olive oil (even expensive bottles), that saves $4-5 a week. If I eat some of my carbs as white rice, that could save another $5.
The real reason for going through this experiment was to see if I could afford grass-fed buffalo and pastured eggs as a major source of meat, leaving the chicken breast and pork for the occasional night out or home dinner date. While they *are* two of the most expensive items-per-gram out there, the nutritional value may be worth it.
Next time: The Bulletproof Executive. Am I really willing to eat nothing but butter for a week?