Saturday, April 3, 2010

Grok Go Get Groceries

Let me start off this post by divulging that I was an accounting major for four years before making the switch to sports medicine. Organization of numbers and data is kind of in my blood, so the prospect of figuring out precise costs of meals excites me. Maybe I should change the name of the blog to Paleonerd.

Yesterday, I put up a post talking about the true cost of going paleo. After a storm washed out some baseball games I was working at, I got a chance to go grocery shopping a day early. This is probably the most excited I've been to go grocery shopping EVER. I was so excited to start putting real dollar amounts on the meals I'm making.

I do a vast majority of my shopping at Caputo's. I believe that it's a Chicagoland only grocer, but any checking around on Yelp will tell you all about the unbelievable produce they get and more importantly, the low prices they charge. The butcher at Caputo's is great as well, but you have to take advantage of specials and surplus sales. For the most part, you'll have to get most of your meat at farmer's markets, private suppliers, or online. I'll pick up meat at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods on occasion as well, but to be honest, ALWAYS getting grass fed meat can be tough. Sometimes you'll just have to offset poorer quality meat with some extra veggies and omega 3 in your diet. Always take advantage of sales on grass fed beef and freeze it for use later.

Get an idea of what you want to make for the week and by all means, make a list and stick to it! I usually prepare 3 specific meals a week and fill in all of my other meals with leftovers, eggs, and salmon steaks.

With money on my mind, I looked in the fridge before leaving and noticed that we had a tomato and a couple onions about to go bad. As opposed to throwing food and money away, I would much rather make something and at least squeeze out a couple meals (sorry if that phrase sounds gross). Onions and tomato make the base of a good chili and since I already have some ground beef and canned tomatoes on hand, I decide to add some peppers, mushrooms, and seasoning to the list to help salvage my produce.

2 hours and $76.94 later, I'm back home and ravenous for some chili. I'm not going to pretend that I'm the first person to come up with the idea of paleo chili. In fact, I bet the first paleo cookbook started with a steak recipe on page 1 and a chili recipe on page 2. Let's get into the real cost of a pot of paleo chili.
Here's what you need to start:

From Paleo Chili
Starting at 12 o'clock going clockwise: 2 cans of sliced tomatoes (1.09 each), 1/2 package of button mushrooms (1.15),1 pound of ground beef (5.99), 2 jalapenos (0.17), chili seasoning (1.29), 4 cloves of garlic (0.10), 1/2 a yellow onion (0.30), 1/2 a red onion (0.30), and a roma tomato (0.40)

OK, that's a total of $11.88. Over half of that cost is the meat, so you can see how much taking advantage of savings on quality meat can save you. The next question is "How many meals can I get for that $11.88?" You'll have to wait until after I give you my super quick synopsis of how to make chili. As most of you reading this have made chili before and I'd hate to insult your intelligence, feel free to skip to the end for the per meal total.

To make chili:

Begin by browning the ground beef in a pan. When you can see a little grease coming off the meat, add chopped onions.

From Paleo Chili
Next, chop up your jalapeños (remove the seeds) and add those. Here's a video showing you how to de-seed a jalapeño.

From Paleo Chili
That lady isn't joking about washing your hands after handling a jalapeno. They say you should hum happy birthday to yourself while washing your hands to get rid of the capsaicin (a powerful anti-inflammatory), but I say you should hum Freebird just to be safe. Let the meat, onions, and peppers cook while you quarter the mushrooms. This time allows the water to escape the veggies, helping to make a flavorful base for the chili.

From Paleo Chili
Once those are cut up and the beef looks brown, add everything else (the spice mix, the tomato, the two cans of sliced tomatoes, and the mushrooms).

From Paleo Chili
Once that starts to boil, turn the heat down as low as you can and let that go for about 10 minutes. Stir it a couple of times so that nothing sticks to the bottom. Feel free to eat it whenever your patience is up!
From Paleo Chili
That's pretty paleo. Let's kick it down a notch:

From Paleo Chili
BAM! Labna is a dairy product with 1/2 a gram of sugar per tablespoon. I find that one tablespoon takes chili to the next level. This is one of those small compromises I make to keep myself happy. Give it a shot, I think you'll like it.

After eating a bowl, I measured out 3 more full bowls of chili from the pot. That makes 4 total bowls (those accounting skills really come in handy) at $2.97 per meal. I'll admit that chili is just cheap by nature, but still, $3 isn't too bad for a meal.


Anonymous said...

Chili is a primal paleo staple. I used this:

season before, it let you not use any flour as it was all separate, if I remember correctly.

Paleotron said...

I'm going to see if I can get ahold of that spice mix around here. Thanks for the suggestion and the retweets on twitter!

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