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Any advice starting a raw diet for a poor starving college student?

I am a poor college student, but I want to go raw. And I don't doubt that it is possible, I just don't know where to start, and how to do it cheap. I go to school 2 minutes from my apartment, and thus have no problem eating all of my meals at home, but I need to eat cheap. Its frustrating that McDonald's cheeseburgers can be a dollar, and fruit and veggies can be so expensive, especially organic. Thus, I would love some advice on eating raw on the cheap.

Also, I recently went from morbidly obese to almost "average" (still working on the last few pounds) and am enjoying the new life. I would really like to hear some of your experiences with eating raw, and how it has affected aspects of your health. I don't doubt that it will have a great impact on my health, I'm just curious about various experiences with health before and after going raw.

Any other advice/tips/stories/anything would be greatly appreciated as well. Thanks!



  • hey bryan

    Im a quite poor but I eat all raw. so it is possible.

    but i reckon it might be hard to transistion on a budget, cause i did eat a lot more food when I was transistioning.

    I dont know where you live - city or rural area... but a good thing is to find out if there are any farmers around you.. I drive about an hour out of the city to a farmer, he isnt certified but only grow naturally. and I buy cheap produce.

    and if there are any food co-ops near you can most often be a cheap supply of good organic , sometimes biodynamic produce.

    and maybe if you can find a place that will sell cheap large quantities of fruit etc.

    and in the summer, go out and find your own wild food. berries, greens etc. free and amazing. and you can even ask people with fruit trees if you can take some of their fruit, they often have more than they can eat anyway.

    and let fresh raw produce be the base. go for the green juices and green smoothies.

    it can be fun to play with the powders and the nuts etc. but you dont need them and it is expensive.

    For me the most profound change has been the mental energy - clarity - the main reason I keep this way of living up is the clear inpact i can see in my meditation, yoga and over all relations to the world.

    its a spirutual way of living for me.

    on a more down to earth matter - it means more energy, I get too tired from cooked food to keep it up, and my periods are half the length and pain free. and I can feel it in my flexibility and recovering time from working out.

    enjoy your journey!

  • Some food that isn't raw to have on hand for transitioning- load up on brown rice and some dried beans. I know this is backwards sounding, but these are cheap, filling, and healthy. If you eventually go all raw, you will not need to restock on them. If you stay high raw, these are excellent to have on hand. I cook up a big batch of each of these, and freeze small serving of them for later.

    Now, you have the need for quick food covered. If you run out of raw, you have something besides McD's.

    Check out at your local store for what's cheap. Many times it's apples, celery, carrots, bananas- stuff like that. Avoid the more exotic stuff till you can afford it. Try to get some greens in every day. Usually spinach is pretty affordable (just eat it with something with vitamin C so you can absorb the iron).

    Fill up on as much fresh fruits and veggies as possible- subliment with brown rice, beans, or also sweet potatoes.

  • I'm a struggling full time student and a single mom. I have learned to dumpster dive. A lot of good health food stores will leave boxes of clippings that might not look perfect for the yuppy trendy crowd, but can be great for us raw foodies for juicing and salads.

    Just wash everything really well.

    Also, I reuse the left overs from when I juice stuff to make pate's and dehydrator breads.

    I don't have a top of the line blender, juicer, and dehydrator, and you can find these things on Craig's list.

    Being a raw foodie can be cheaper than you think if you don't focus on fancy over priced nuts ( use sunflower seeds instead) and the expensive items many of the raw sites try to get you to buy.

  • joannabananajoannabanana Raw Newbie

    do you have an aldi's by you? the fruit/veggies aren't organic, but they are really cheap. i've been going there the past 2 weeks and i've saved a crapload of money. also, i go to other grocery stores on occasion and they have discount fruits and veggies at the end of the week. maybe go shopping when your food store has those.

  • Omgoshh I'm in the same boat I'm a poor college studnt and all u need is the famers market so cheap and local !

  • Wow, thanks for the comments everyone!

    These are a lot of great tips, I appreciate them. I grew up in North Carolina and then Northern California, and in both places I had no problem finding local farmer's markets and other local marketplaces, etc. I moved to LA for school, and I must say that maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but I've yet to find good local produce (I think this city's main exports are inflated egos and bad drivers) but I'll have to ask around.

    Thanks for the tips! If anyone has any more or any resources you'd recommend, I'd greatly appreciate it! I'm just trying to get as much information as possible. :)

  • I am in the same boat as you Bryan! I fortunately work at Whole Foods, so the discount helps and I just budget the hell out of my life! But it can be hard an I try as hard as I can to incorporate as much raw foods into my day as possible :)

    I am actually interested in writing a story for my school's e-zine about how incorporating more raw foods in our diets would be beneficial to our health and productivity. Bryan, would I be able to contact you to ask a few questions about your interest in a raw diet and all things accompanying. If you can help me out email me at tarapelette@hotmail.com

    It would be greatly appreciated!

  • This is my boat exactly! I'm excited to see if it works - I'm going high raw next week. I'm addicted to oats though - I make granola and oatmeal all the time. Does anyone know of a good raw-substitute or if there is a brand of oats that is raw?

    I am a senior in college, pinching pennies, and living in frozen, expensive new england. i was raw for a while this summer and the benefits were amazing. if only i could go back and still live on my meager budget. let me know how it works out - i'd love any tips!

  • eechoeecho Raw Newbie

    If you are high raw, what's the problem with oats? Oat groats are minimally processed though heated. And they're pretty much gluten free so unless you are doing 100% is it really a problem?

    Plus, you can still do 80/10/10 with some oats (cooked foods)

  • Do you have a local "Food Not Bombs" collective? They often have the good connections to find the free produce.

  • I actually heard about Food Not Bombs at a Unitarian Universalist general assembly in Long Beach a few years ago, but I haven't ever seen one. I'll have to look it up. I would guess there is one in LA.

  • There is such a big raw community in LA, I bet you can find loads of others, if you would like ''moral'' support or just inspiration from amazing people. and great farmers markets there too.

    in santa cruz, there is this health food store that have a space in the back where they leave all their bumped or almost kinda old produce, and the majority of it is still perfect to eat and organic. so maybe ask around in the health food stores.

  • Will do, thanks!

  • Bryan- Food Not Bombs" believes in free vegan food for all. I have seen them at work during protests.

    You might also want to get in touch with "freegans" in your area to find the best dumpsters.

    My heart goes out to you, I just found out that one of my texts books for this semester is going to be $110, so it looks like my daughter and I will be dumpster diving weekly now.

    Oh, and if the cops try to mess with you, tell them you are hungry and they usually will let you be.

  • Being on a tight budget is hard, I can totally identify with you... here is a sight with 5 helpful tips, hopefully they help:


  • I hear you Bryan! I was going to start a similar thread!

    I like all the suggestions so far (I've even spent a few months dumpster diving myself)...

    My advice is to buy a lot of cheap dried beans and grains and keep sprouting, start a new batch every other day (if your diet can keep up with that). You'll have sprouts at every stage continuously. It's a great way to turn cheap dried beans into yummy live food! Eat them plain, in recipes, throw them into smoothies, just keep eating them! yum!

  • Vegirl, Slazikk, thanks for the tips!

    I'm absolutely in love with fruit, so I've been eating a ton of it, and mixing spinach and greens into my smoothies, eating lettuce and celery for snacks. So far I've found some good deals at my local supermarket and I am going to be checking out some more locally-operated places this weekend. Thanks for the tips everyone! I really appreciate them, and all the advice and tips I've been getting from the raw community have been so helpful in my transition to this new lifestyle.

  • I'm also in a major metropolis. What's worked for me:

    *Are there any markets in LA? Fruit and veg can be very cheap at markets. Go at the very end of the market day when vendors are selling very cheap or giving away free

    *I don't buy organic- I can't afford it. I figure that fresh fruit and veg is better than SAD and don't stress about it

    *Sprouts are dirt cheap to grow, and very nutritious. With a sunny window and some effort you can grow salad greens and veg too

    *scope out turkish, asian, and indian supermarkets for greens, fresh herbs, and produce

    *If you're transitioning, frozen vegetables are cheap, and allow you to incorporate out of season and fancy produce into your life. Same with some fruits- particuarly frozen berries (fresh are very expensive where I live)

    *Are there allotments or a community garden in your area? If not, can you start one? Dirt in kiddie swimming pools or builders' bags work well in an unused lot or on a rooftop. Would your university allow a student group start a vegetable garden on campus?

    *find raw foodie meetups, food not bombs (great recommendation someone made), guerilla gardeners, freegans, and activist groups for advice :)

  • check out this blog.

    she managed to do healthy raw vegan on 3.33 a day! i think that is incredible


  • i am in college and live off of about 80$ a week which has to buy my food my dogs food and gas and anything else I find necessary. YOU CAN DO RAW CHEAPLY. I am a low fat raw vegan which means eating larger amounts of fruit and veggies. Try buying boxed bananas and mangos it will be cheaper and get to know the people where you buy your produce. Chances are they will give you discounts on "old" bananas which are perfectly ripe and ready to eat. there is a youtube video on 80-10-10 about following that lifestyle and being in college... it has some okay tips. here is my blog its www.myreallyrawlife.blogspot.com sometimes i put up money saving tips and what not. Buy something when it is on sale for example grapefruit 3 for $1 stock up and have some monomeals. Do you have a farmers market near by? or google some farms close to your town and perhaps take a visit there to get to know the farmers and get fresh produce from them :D I didn't read through all of the replies so I am sorry if I repeating anything anyone else has already suggested. Hope everyone is having a great monday!!

  • You know I can not stress enough eating seasonally. Not because I believe it to be the only way but because when things are in season they are so cheap AND usually organic.

    Let's face it how often do you see organic strawberries in decemeber and if you do they are sky high prices.

    Also most Raw recipes are complex and require a lot of work, it is easy to just eat simply and cheaply and lastly got to the supermarket at night.

    Honest you can get lots of reduced fruit and veg (still perfectly good) cheap!

  • Hey Bryan!

    Ive been eating raw in university (vegan too!) and recently am focusing on going 100%.

    It IS possible! I suggest searching your college for groups that promote plant-based diets, you never know what new friends you'll make, and that kind of support will help you when times get tough. Financially, if you can find a chinatown near your area it would be the greatest thing! They always have the cheapest priced fruits and vegetables. In Toronto the most exotic fruits are the cheapest in chinatown, and can be up to four times the labeled price in regular grocery stores. Also buy a ton of greens, they will fill you up! Reassure yourself that you can eat ANYTHING you want, but you are CHOOSING to eat clean, pure, and beautiful food.

    Good Luck!!


  • Chef ShuannaChef Shuanna Raw Newbie

    eecho mentioned eating oats. I found that SUPER helpeful when I first went raw. I buy raw oat groats (which can be challenging to find) buy the bag full and that will last me a good while. They are super cheap and super filling! I put some in a glass jar filled with spring water before I go to bed and by morning time they are sprouted perfectly! Blend them really smooth (for easy digestion) and top with fresh banana and cinnamon. It is a great breakfast and keeps me full for a LONG time! Then I would have the rest of my day for the more costly fruits and veggies!

    It can be difficult to eat raw cheap but a lot of people have success doing it. I myself find is difficult because I just LOVE to eat. I love food. I have a horrible habit of eating when I am not hungry and snacking ALL day! So for the food lover I can see how it would be a bit hard but if you have no problem with that then it can be quit easy! Good luck and people around here can be great resources so keep at it!

    Oh yah.... someone mentioned beans and rice.......LOAD UP...especially if you are not 100% and you need to transition! Ease your way in.....


  • sv3sv3

    Raw passion is right, eating seasonally really is the key - and taking advantage of the current deals that come up.

    There's always some offer on and even supermarkets have great deals on fruit and veggies.

    I only buy nuts and seeds when they're 3 for 2, etc.

    It's just about being flexible and going with what's cheap and available.

    (I've been so happy in the last few months as sharon fruit have been on offer but this has pretty much ended now so I'll just have to say goodbye for another year!)

  • Hi Bryan - I don't know where you are in LA but i know there is a Waldorf School in Santa Monica -- there may be more than one Waldorf School by now. Call them and ask them where they are getting their produce from. There is probably a CSA nearby. They will probably let you have food in exchange for work on the farm (and it doesn't have to be a huge commitment). Here in Florida I buy food for at the local farmer's market - cheap - grown and harvested locally - it's the best. Very cool that you've transformed yourself - congrats! peace...Brenda

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