I know that Melissa has talked quite a bit about the success that she has had with the Paleo diet, and even shared some recipes. I had looked into going Paleo a while back, but I was kind of turned off by the cost of the whole program. Clearly, the food tastes better and is better for you, but buying grass fed organic meats can really chew up your grocery bill pretty fast.
I was pretty hesitant because of the cost initially, so while I continued to look into making the switch to Paleo, I started thinking about cheaper sources of protein (since beans are out). I thought about buying shares of animals raised on nearby farms, but found that to be rather difficult for some reason. Even from the numbers that I saw, you’re still paying ~5-7 bucks a pound for meat, and that’s pretty expensive. I decided that there had to be a better way to get healthy, grass fed, organic meat that would be Paleo compliant for a better price.
Low Cost Paleo Meats: Wild Game and Fish
After I started thinking about it a bit, I had finally found an answer: Wild Game (and fish) meat. Game meat is perfectly Paleo. It’s free range, organic, 100% grass fed and all natural. Perfect for the Paleo diet, but my only problem was that I was never really much of a hunter so I needed a source. I needed to find someone that would give me some of their game meat (or trade) if they had too much, and I’d be able to use that for the foundation of my Paleo diet and supplement that with a bit of meat bought from the store and an expanded veggie servings, and I’d be all good. For those of you also looking for a cheaper way to get wild game meat that are not interested in hunting, simply follow along.
The first thing that I did was thought about all my friends. I thought about which ones of those had talked about hunting before, and which ones may be interested in sharing their meat with me. I had narrowed my list down to about five people – I figured the more chances that I had at getting some game meat, the better I’d be. It would also make it easier to cobble together some sources that would give me quite a bit of meat in the end, as opposed to just a pound or two.
Bartering for Wild Game
Finally, the next time I saw each of these guys I asked them if they were still hunting every year and how that was going for them. Lots of them were happy to talk with me and share hunting stories. Obviously, I had a lot of questions to ask them, and they all gladly answered.
One of the things that I did mention to them was that I was really interested in trying some wild game meat, and if they had any to spare I’d be happy to trade them some of my homemade beer for a bit of their wild game meat, if they had any left over that they didn’t think they would need to feed their families over the winter and until the next hunting season. Many were happy to trade me some deer steaks for a six pack of beer, and I was happy to have it.
A few of my close friends offered to let me tag along when they went hunting because they told me that pulling animals out of the woods was hard work and they could always use an extra hand.
Not really knowing how difficult it would be, I signed up to help two of them and found myself turned into a gear carrier at the beginning of the trip, and then an assistant when it was time to haul the animal back to the truck. I didn’t realize that those things were as heavy as they were, but, boy, I realize now.
The best part about this is for about a day’s work for each of my friends, they were willing to give me 1/4 of the meat that came off the animal, so I ended up getting about 30 lbs of great Paleo-friendly meat from those two. I couldn’t believe my luck! Despite the hard work, I immediately offered up my services for the next season’s hunt. Thankfully, both friends accepted and even offered to introduce me to others who would want someone to sherpa things around for them.
Two Strategies to Get Wild Game, Even If You Don’t Hunt
Now, if you don’t know any hunters to help you out with your Paleo-friendly meat, there are a few other options for you.
Like I mentioned, my first suggestion would be bartering with a hunter, but that’s not the only option.
Another option is a roadkill program that your state (most likely) runs. Many states offer to put you on a road kill list, and then you will get a call when there is an accident. Before you agree to take it though, be sure to ask as many questions as possible of the person calling. First, you want to know how bad it was hit and how big the deer was. If you’ve got to drive for a long way and make yourself miserable in bad weather, I would turn it down; there will most likely be more.
If everything seems ok after the phone call, go pick it up and find a place to clean it out. If you want, you can take it to a butcher, and they will cut it up for you (going rate is about $100 where I live) or you can try to do it yourself. Make sure that if you do it yourself dont try and save meat that was damaged during the accident – it’s not worth it. For those concerned about the taste, it’s the same as a deer harvested in a more traditional manner. Of course, accident is a very unfortunate thing, but it’s just as unfortunate as letting all the meat go to waste
Once I got home with some of my meat, it was nothing but great, Paleo-compliant foods! I had so much fun making all these venison recipes, like venison sloppy joes and venison meatloaf that I couldn’t think of something better to do next fall! I’m glad that I’ve found this great source of paleo friendly meat at a great price!
Readers: Are you paleo? If you are paleo, how do you get a good source of meat? Have you tried game meat before?
Photo courtesy of flickr.