In this raw food podcast episode I provide four tips about how to eat raw on a budget. Big thanks to Rebecca for inspiring me to record this podcast from her comment on the Rawtarian Facebook page!
To listen to the podcast click on the photo/play button above or save the MP3 to your own computer.
How to eat raw on a budget:
1. Your buddies: inexpensive items that you keep on hand on time! Example – bananas, oranges, sunflower seeds
2. Eating in season
3. Identify your most expensive raw food items and find a cheaper source
4. Organic and “really raw”
12 Most Contaminated Foods
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Grapes (Imported)
12 Least Contaminated Foods
- Sweet Corn (Frozen)
- Sweet Peas (Frozen)
- Kiwi Fruit
Dirty dozen source: http://www.ewg.org/ Environmental Working Group
TRANSCRIPT OF HOW TO EAT RAW ON A BUDGET:
Hello, and welcome to Episode 2 of The Raw Food Podcast! I’m your host Laura Jane The Rawtarian, and today we’re going to be talking about how and where to shop raw without spending a fortune. Stay tuned and I’ll be back with you shortly.
Hi, and welcome to another episode of tTe Raw Food Podcast. Thanks you so much for joining me. I’ve received some amazing feedback from you all about the fact that I’m doing a podcast, and some of you are big fans of podcasts in general, so thank you so much for your encouragement and support to encourage me to record these podcasts. In this episode of The Raw Food Podcast, I’m going to be talking about how and where to shop without spending a fortune. The reason that I am focusing on this topic is because recently on my Facebook page, which is facebook.com/therawtarian, I asked just a quick question about the types of topics that you guys were all looking to find out more about, and this was posted by Rebecca on the Facebook page, and she posted how and where to shop without spending a fortune as something that she would like to hear about. And I thought that was a great topic. So I’m going to focus on that in this episode.
There’s 5 keys points that I think I’m going to talk about in this episode in terms of keeping your raw food budget in reasonable shape. So I’ll just give you a quick intro to the 5 (actually there’s 4, but maybe I can come up with the 5th at the end!).
So the first one, I’ve just call this “your buddies”, and what these are your main raw food staples that you kind of need to have, and that are bulky in the sense that you can actually get full off of them and they’re not too expensive. A couple of examples of my “buddies” in my area would be apples, oranges and bananas. Those 3 things I always have in my house, they’re relatively inexpensive, and they’re really substantial, and I can use them in a lot of ways.
Similarly, in terms of nuts and seeds, a similar “buddy” is going to be sunflower seeds in my area. I live in Canada, but I think it’s common in North America for sunflower seeds to be quite inexpensive. But I’ll talk about that a little bit more later. So that was the first one. The second tip is to simply eat in season, and I’ll talk about of course again. The third tip is to identify the very expensive items that you really do want to have in your diet and find a better source; a cheaper source for those items. The fourth item is to consider whether you really do need to buy: one, really raw, like truly really raw items, of course those are going to drive up the cost a lot because they’re harder to find and also when you talk about budgeting, people will pay a premium for things, and when people will pay a premium for specialty things, companies will charge more for those because they know people really want them and will pay, so considering whether you really want raw, or also whether you really want or need organic. Those are 2 decisions that you can make, and you don’t have to make those 2 decisions all across the board, but you can kind of take each individual purchase and look at it on its own sake and figure out whether or not you want to pay more for those features. That’s a quick overview of what I want to talk about.
1. Your Buddies
I’ll start with that 1st concept of your buddy foods which are just your main staples. And I think it’s very important for you to have these staple foods for a couple of reasons. You need stuff that you can feel like you can just eat and it’s not going to break the bank. So bananas are an extremely amazing product for this reason, because they’re very filling, they have a lot of calories, they’re very good for you, and they’re usually quite inexpensive as well. I haven’t done the math lately, but I think it’s something like 30 cents a banana or something like that which is really great. So, bananas I always have on hand for that reason because, I don’t know about you, but when I’m eating some expensive foods like kelp noodles or cashews, things like that, I sort of feel a little bit of reticence to eat those foods, or almost a little bit of guilt, because I know, “Oh my gosh. This meal is costing me a lot of money. I’d better enjoy it.” and I just have sort of like financially it feels weird when I’m eating really expensive foods, because I’m a normal person and I’m on a budget, so it’s good to have foods when you don’t have to feel that way. But I think we all do need to be conscious, so I’m not going to say that we shouldn’t feel guilty for eating expensive meals, because we can’t. It’s just not realistic to just eat expensive meals every day of the week. So, bananas are great, oranges as well, and apples. So those 3 I always have, and if I run out of them, I have to get more.
What I also find in common with those 3 items, apples, oranges and bananas, they’re all super easy to pack with you. All 3 of those could be thrown into your bag, or your car, and you don’t have to wrap them up or do anything. Apples and bananas are so easy to eat. You can eat them when you’re driving, when you’re sitting at your desk at work, and they don’t require any effort at all. Oranges are a little bit more complicated, because you have to peel them, but those are 3 great staples. And in your area, I know I have people who communicate to me from all over the world, like from Australia, South Africa, and all kinds of places, you may have your staple foods that are… like, I would just say fruit; you’ve got to find some fruit that is cheap, accessible, that you like to eat, and that’s bulky and realistic. Pomegranates are great, but you’ll probably not going to have the time to sit around and peel a pomegranate every time you need a snack. So for me, those are apples, oranges and bananas. It may be different depending on your tastes or what’s affordable in your area.
Now, in the terms of my “buddies” for nuts and seeds, sunflower seeds for me (I haven’t done the math) are so much cheaper than most of the other seeds in my area, like pumpkin seeds are very expensive, so I always have, like, a gigantic plastic container of sunflower seeds. I’m not good with ratios but it’s practically like a 4 litre milk jug, you know like that big, it’s like that many sunflower seeds! I just keep those on hand. They are great to add as filler, so you do want to be careful when substituting certain nuts and seeds for other things, because it can change the taste and texture. Sometimes if I have a recipe that might call for say, 1 cup of almonds, I could say make half a cup of almonds, half a cup of sunflower seeds, and it kind of bulks it up, but it’s a lot cheaper. I do also keep almonds on hand as well, as a “buddy.” In my area, I find that they’re not that expensive, but the price of almonds does fluctuate quite a bit. If you can substitute sunflower seeds, that’s excellent. Also another extraordinarily expensive nut is the pine nut. I don’t ever buy pine nuts. I love them. They’re so delicious, but they’re so expensive, so I’ll substitute cashews for pine nuts. Basically, I think you need to identify some of these key sources like some cheap fruits, and some cheap nuts and seeds that you can keep around all the time and not feel guilty about consuming. That’s the 1st item, so that was me talking about my “buddies”.
2. Eat in season
The 2nd item is eating in season. Can’t stress this enough. I actually live in sort of a farming community on Prince Edward Island in Canada. It’s a small rural place, and there’s a lot farming happening around near where I am, so I feel a little bit more connected than I used to feel when I lived right in a big city. So, I feel like I’m a little bit more on pulse in terms of when things are coming in season and there’s a lot of farmers’ markets, and things like that around here. When you’re somewhere that’s cold, like me in Canada, it’s snowing outside my window right now, those tropical fruits that we all love, cherries, blueberries, well they’re not tropical but you know… pineapples, all those beautiful fresh fruit travels miles and miles, and it’s really at a premium in the winter time wherever you are; it’s like the most distant away from you in terms of time and accessibility. Obviously, if you see a tiny container of strawberries, and it’s really expensive, you’re not going to buy it.
What you want to be mindful of, is in a summertime or whenever things are cheaper, you want to gorge yourself on those. Like I know, when corn, for example, is in season, I buy tons of corn, and I just eat a lot of it. I don’t really like dehydrate it and do anything with it, except for when it’s in season, and when it is cheap, I eat a lot of it so that I get a good fix. Similarly, there are things that I just get excited about when they’re in season. Even summer, I love watermelon, in the summer, there’s gigantic pumpkin-sized watermelons, and they’re really cheap, just get a lot of them. Enjoy it, because realize that it’s probably going to be too expensive to gorge yourself on watermelon at other times of the year, so I think there’s two sides to it. Number 1, you can’t have fresh cherries all year round and not break your budget, so the concept is you’re going to have to avoid the very expensive stuff in order to stay on budget, that’s one side of it. But the other side of it is when things are lower priced, you want to really tap into that and enjoy it so that you do feel that you do get to enjoy those exciting things.
This topic is talking about budget, but sometimes (or at least I do) I’m like “Okay, I know these cherries are ridiculously expensive, but I really want them and I’m really going to enjoy them, so I’m going to get some.” Another good tip, too, is I do this all the time. I see cherries for sale for, I don’t even know, a ridiculous price… $8 a pound or something, but I think I really want some, but I’m not going to buy the whole bag. I’m just going to get one of those bulk bags, the plastic bags that you can put apples and oranges in them and stuff, and take some of the cherries from the pre-packaged cherry sack that would have cost literally $16 had I taken the whole bag to the till, and I just take a small handful enough that might be like a desert for after one meal or something, just so I can have that pleasure, but I don’t have to spend like $18 just on cherries. So you can still treat yourself but you do have to be mindful of it, and it’s not so much like, “I’m completely tracking everything that’s in season,” but season dictates price. It’s good to have a general sense of what things normally cost. And of course, related to eating in season, if you can find local sources for things, they’re usually quite a lot more inexpensive, but it’s more of a hassle. I totally support eating locally, and eating from local growers, but it can be hard to arrange, in terms of connecting with the sellers, and by all means, it’s great. And you can get some good deals depending where you live, and how well connected you are. That’s was the 2nd section, eating in season, a great budget conscious idea.
3. Identify your most expensive items
The 3rd concept is to identify what are your most expensive items that are really breaking your bank. Of course, if they are things that you think “Well, I don’t really need that anyway,” then you could eliminate them. But something that I have done, as you may have noticed from my delicious simple recipes like the raw cheesecake, and alfredo sauce, and things like that, I really love using cashews to replicate that creamy, cheesy, comforting creaminess. So, cashews are something that I use a lot of, and where I live, they are so expensive. One month, actually in October 2011, I tracked every dollar I spent, not only on food, but on every single thing I spent, and that was very eye-opening experience, one of things I learnt was that I was going to a bulk food store in my area and buying small bulk (filling up a bulk bag) of cashews, and I was doing that maybe once every 2 weeks, and it was very expensive. I realized there had to be a better way, so I kind of just calculated looking at my bill, “Well gosh! I’ve been buying these cashews every couple of weeks for 2.5 years. How much are these… Is this a good price???!!” I had never even thought about it, not because I’m rich, but because I just didn’t think about it. I thought I just need these cashews in order to make me happy and make me stay raw, so I’m not even going to care about the price. But I realized that they were so expensive, and that I needed to find out if I could get them cheaper, and so I don’t buy a lot of food online; I’m not against it, but I just haven’t really figure out where to do it, and taking the time to look into it. I realized that I needed a better source for cashews, and so what I did was calculate the price that I was already paying in my local community, and I compared that to some online stores. The store that I did end up buying from was called nutsonline.com, and I had a good buying experience with them.
So, I think I basically was able to buy, including the cost of shipping - which was expensive - but at the end of the day , it was pretty much half the price of what I was paying locally. Now I did spend about, I think, $200 or something like that on cashews and I bought a lot, because first of all, I didn’t want to go through the hassle of ordering all the time, but I think it was a better deal for shipping, and you certainly got a reduced rate for buying more. Financially, if you can sort of invest in without having your money tied up in cashews, then that’s a really good way to do it. But I don’t buy everything. The other thing that I bought during that order was actually dried dill spaces. I don’t know why but they’re ridiculously expensive in those tiny jars. I was making dill pickle kale chips all the time and was throwing so much dried dill on there. These little tiny jars of dill were probably like $6. Anyway, when I got my nuts online order, I also ordered 1 pound of dill which didn’t sound like that much to me. It was like $8 which was very cheap I thought, compared to my local price. And there’s a huge container of dill that I got for $8; it was so worth it! [...]
Anyway, you have to be careful, though, you don’t necessarily want to buy all of your nuts and seeds, and stuff online, because a lot of businesses will have some products that are expensive, some products that are cheap. And they kind of assume you won’t do the math on every one, so really all I am buying online is cashews and some spaces, and specialty items that I can’t get locally. But again, what you want to do is figure out what is costing you the most, then see if you can find an alternative. Another thing is, if you don’t mind calling places like what I did, I just called the bulk store that I was buying from and I just said, “Hi, I always buy these cashews from you. Can you tell me over how much they are per pound?” and they had no problem. She ‘d just said, “Okay, please hold on.” And she looked it up. So it takes a little bit of research, and it will totally depend on where you are located, of course. Anyway, so that was number 3, and the general concept there is figure out what’s costing you a lot of money and see if you can find it cheaper.
4. Raw and organic - choices
Number 4, this could be controversial, but I am a fan of being real and talking about real issues. There are two issues. Consider whether you really want to buy: “raw” products, and similarly, do you want to buy organic produce. These are really big questions, and of course, ideally we would all eat only organic foods and only pure, certified raw foods that would sprout when soaked in water, and all those kinds of things. But I don’t know about you, but financially, that is not realistic. If I actually looked at my bill, even while I am basically cost-conscious, now that I’m eating raw, my grocery bill has literally doubled definitely. I do eat really well, and I don’t really skimp. I get whatever I want, but I don’t always buy organic, and I don’t always buy raw, especially nuts. Basically, if you are wanting to buy truly raw sproutable nuts and seeds, that is going to be very expensive. You can certainly do that, and all the more power to you if you can afford to make that a priority in your life. That’s great. But for me, that’s not realistic, and I think at the end of the day, it’s not realistic for a lot of people.
And again, you could sometimes get the really raw sproutable seeds that have never been heated, but basically you don’t have to have really raw sproutable foods. The reason why some nuts, for example, would not be raw is most nuts are coming in a hard shell, as you can imagine. In order to get that shell off, they’re very frequently heated using steam and different types of heat, that’s why a lot of them are not raw. You will see the word “raw” on a lot of things nowadays. That word is not really regulated as far as I know unless that’s changed lately, which I doubt. I know there was a group of people advocating for raw certification, but I don’t think anything has happened with that lately. Often, you’ll see the word “raw” on a package, but really that just means it’s unroasted, because a lot of nuts will be roasted. So if it says “raw”, it probably isn’t raw. I would say it’s only actually raw if you’re getting it from someone that you know you can trust online. I haven’t actually bought anything from “The Raw Food World”, but I’m sure that Angela Stokes-Monarch and Matt Monarch, people who are actively promoting things for the raw food diet, I would trust their labeling. But yes, it’s going to be much more expensive if you get truly raw items from trusted sources.
Now on the subject of organic foods, there is a list, and I should put a link to it in the “show notes”. Actually, it’s a common list out there. I forget what it’s called, something like “The Dirty Dozen”. It’s the foods that you really do want to get organic. That’s because these foods are either very absorbent, they will really suck up all the chemicals and stuff that are sprayed on them. Or frequently, it’s the type of produce where you actually eat the exterior of it. For example, a strawberry. You can’t peel a strawberry, you’re just eating the whole berry. So, if there’s chemical on it, there’s no peel or anything to protect it. You can contrast that to bananas, where I usually buy organic bananas as well, but at least with the banana, if it has been sprayed, you could remove the peel off it; that’s sort of 1 layer of protection.
I’m certainly not going to say that an organic banana and non-organic banana are the same, but if I had to choose which one of them to eat, organically, I’d definitely choose the strawberry. It is interesting; I haven’t looked at it lately and I didn’t look at it before recording this. I would like to brush up on it, but I think some common things on there would be green peppers, apples, berries like cherries, strawberries that kind of thing; I’ll put a link in the show notes. And greens. I really do like to get organic greens when I can, and I usually do buy organic greens most of the time. Talking about that number 1 concept of my “buddy foods”, the apples, oranges and bananas, just being open and transparent with you, I don’t always get organic oranges. When I’m using orange, lemon or lime rind, I usually will only zest an organic fruits, but I don’t always buy organic oranges. It also depends on where you live. In my area, and in my town, it is hard to find organic apples; they’re not in-store just because of where I live in. It probably would depend if you live in a bigger area, but it is something to consider. And of course, organic is a lot more expensive than inorganic foods. That is a general overview of some of my thoughts on how to get your raw food bill under control.
Overall though, I think depending on how you were eating previously, raw food is expensive. When you’re dealing with fresh fruits and vegetables, unfortunately, they are more expensive for so many reasons, but partially because of their shelf-life. When you can have a bag of cookies that can sit on the shelf, in a pre-packaged package and they can sit there for, I don’t even know how long, years until it sells! Compare that to some cherries that aren’t going to last for long at all, there’s a lot higher cost for those products. That’s a reality, and I think that it’s kind of a mindset shift, as well. For me, I’ve definitely noticed my budget has gone up. But first of all, it is totally worth it for me to feel so much better in mind and body, to look better, to have more energy so I can accomplish more and do more and feel better. So for me, it is an investment that I am willing to spend. I think it’s very important to look at your budget and think “What is in my monthly budget that is not important or that doesn’t need to be there.” For me, for example, I will spend money on my health, I will spend money on my quality of life in a lot of ways, but I’m not going to spend money on a nice car. My car is worth barely anything, and it doesn’t look great, but it works fine and it’s great on fuel. And it gets me from point A to point B. Everybody has different priorities. But I do believe that it’s very important to value yourself, and the fuel that you put into your body, it’s extremely important. It has so many side effects, not just health but also, just your well-being and your energy, and we all know how great we feel when we have some green juice or just a big bowl of cherries; that just revitalizes you and energizes you, and you will pay more for these healthy foods, but for me it’s something that I’m willing to pay for, and I think that it’s important to realize that.
What I’m trying to get across is that it is going to be more expensive and I don’t want to sugar-coat that, so it is a reality. It’s a case of looking like, well, if I’m going to do this raw food thing, and I’m not going to compromise on it and I am going to spend more on my budget, I want to keep my raw food budget reasonable and do some of these tips that will help to keep it in a reasonable area. But maybe there’s other areas in my budget that don’t need to be expensive, like certain monthly costs that a lot of us pay but we don’t necessarily think about, we can look at other ways to save money or also to earn more money. That’s a different idea as well.
So, as Rebecca wrote on the Facebook page,” how and where to shop without spending a fortune”, I think for all of us, it requires a certain mindfulness of just being aware of prices overall, like, “apples are normally around $2 a pound”, and so if you see it suddenly “Oh my gosh. These are suddenly $3.50 a pound.” You might want to get fewer or that kind of thing. It’s just good to be aware of the general baseline of prices.
I think as well, frequency of shopping is something that can perhaps help or hinder you depending on your personality type. As a household, we generally grocery shop once a week and that, basically we try to get everything we need for that week. I find that for me, it’s important to have that one week cycle, because if I try to go longer, my greens, my lettuce or spinach start to give a little slimy near the end. For me, eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables that one week cycle works really well. It’s really good so I really think you want to avoid food waste, like you know just rotten things that going in to the garbage; you definitely want to avoid that. We generally go grocery shopping once a week, and then sometimes I will also stop in on the grocery store to pick up just a few things. Quite often, if I have had a lot of green smoothies or something, I might run out of greens and I might pick that up at the grocery store in between, so if I go grocery shopping on Saturday, I might have to pick up some greens, and maybe a few more apples and things maybe on a Wednesday or something like that.
I think setting up a schedule for yourself, but also realizing that if this is something really important to you, and sometimes you do need a little pick-me-up too if you think you’re really craving something fun and exciting, well go ahead and splurge on something maybe a little bit more expensive, some specialty, tropical fruits or something like that. But it’s good to keep those things as “extras” that can kind of help you curb a craving. You don’t have to have them every time, but you’re certainly can.
I hope that some of those budget conscious tips were helpful for you, and I’ve had a lot of fun recording this podcast actually. It’s taken me a couple of weeks to, probably more than that, just to do this second episode but I’m really excited about it. And again, I really do appreciate your feedback about this podcast, and I hope to be talking to you again soon. Thank you so much for all your support and I hope to see you at therawtarian.com.
You have been listening to the Raw Food Podcast, with your host the Rawtarian. Be sure to visit me at www.therawtarian.com where you can browse over 100 of my absolute favorite simple satisfying raw vegan recipes that you’ll find pretty quick to make and with just a few ingredients and that taste spectacular. While you’re there, be sure to sign up for my newsletter, and once you’ve signed up for that, you’ll get a PDF copy of 11 of my most favorite, most satisfying, most delicious recipes, including raw vegan Alfredo sauce, raw brownies, and whole host of other delicious recipes you can make at home that are raw vegan and tastes amazing. Thank you so much for joining me, and I hope to hear from you very soon, and until next time, enjoy your raw adventure.