If there’s anything I know, it’s that life is expensive! Every month, some big-ticket item breaks in my house—the fridge, the water heater, the dishwasher. And every time I hit the grocery store, the prices are creeping up, up, up. It’s tough to get ahead, or even to break even. So I save pennies wherever I can… and that goes for food shopping as well. I read the ads, shop the specials, buy produce in season, and hit the farmer’s markets. But you know what I don’t do? I don’t cut corners when it comes to quality. And that’s why I spend extra money on grass-fed meat and free-range chicken and eggs.
I know that some people think that grass-fed and free-range are just synonyms for “overpriced.” But here’s the truth: The difference between factory-farmed and naturally-raised animals is HUGE. Here are four big benefits you get for that extra money:
More omega-3 fatty acids. Today’s typical diet is far too low in these anti-inflammatory nutrients, which your body desperately needs. Grass-fed meat contains a bountiful supply of them, and it’s also lower in pro-inflammatory omega-6’s than conventional meat. Similarly, eggs from pastured chickens have a much better ratio of these fatty acids than eggs from caged chickens.
More vitamins and minerals. Grass-fed meat is richer in B vitamins, zinc, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and beta carotene than factory-farmed meat. As for eggs, one study comparing the eggs of free-range and caged chickens found that the free-range eggs had twice as much vitamin E.
More CLA. Conjugated linoleic acid helps you fight inflammation and keep extra pounds off, and in addition, it may markedly lower your risk for breast cancer. Grass-fed beef is an outstanding source of CLA.
Cleaner, less contaminated food. Grass-fed and free-range animals are living the way they’re meant to live—not stressed, crowded together, loaded with antibiotics, and fed an artificial diet based on corn, soy, and even garbage. This means that grass-fed and free-range animals are healthier all-around, which translates into higher-quality meat and eggs.
In short, you’re getting more than your money’s worth when you opt for grass-fed or free-range. However, I’m not going to kid you: Meat and eggs from naturally-raised animals are indeed pricier. So how can you work them into your budget? Here are some easy ways to drive the cost down:
- Shop the big-box stores. Believe it or not, the same stores that are famous for selling super-sized junk food are now carrying lots of high-quality grass-fed and free-range products as well. You can buy them in bulk and save a bundle.
- Buy direct from farmers. You don’t need to live in a farm community to buy straight from the farm! Many farmers deliver to cities now; simply place your order online and pick it up close to your home on the delivery date.
- Order online. I get my meat delivered monthly by ButcherBox, which partners with a collective of small farms to they can get a much better price. Ordering online also saves me a ton of shopping time.
- Eat more eggs for dinner. Eggs are less expensive than meat, so save money by making frittatas, omelets, Scotch eggs, or crust-less quiches for dinner once or twice a week.
- Eat organ meats. Liver, heart, and kidneys are all nutrient-rich and inexpensive. And if you’ve heard that liver is filled with toxins, here’s good news: Liver from pastured animals is purer, because these animals are raised in a cleaner environment.
- “Cowpool.” Go in with friends and buy a half or whole cow (or pig) that a farmer raises, butchers, and freezes for you. To find farms that do this, go to eatwild.com.
- Save your bones. The bones from grass-fed beef and pastured chicken are ideal for bone broth—so freeze those bones, and when you get enough, toss them in the stockpot and make “liquid gold”!
Finally, when you’re calculating the cost of grass-fed and free-range meat and eggs, factor in the cost of being sick vs. being well. The better your diet is, the healthier you’ll be—and the less you’ll spend on doctors’ visits, medications, and sick days. In my book, that’s worth a few extra dollars at the checkout stand any day!
Keep thinking Big and living BOLD!