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Man, this raw foods diet is expensive...

So, I have been trying to follow 811 a bit more closely the last week…i thought my food expenses were high before, but now! Wow. Let’s just say today I’ve eaten 1/2 a watermelon, 1 lb of apricots, 8 oz of salad (basically one of those eartbound containers plus), 6 bananas, and a large container of strawberries. Oh, and a mango. I don’t think I can afford to eat like this! We’re trying to rein in our food expenses, which are too much for us (even accounting for the fact that NYC is a pricey place to live).....

Does anyone have any suggestions? If I strive for 811, which requires LOTS of fresh fruits, I feel like I am over-spending. (and yes, I’ve asked the local WF and grocers if they’ll sell me cases of things, and it’s still pretty $$). Even on regular raw I am spending a lot, but at least I have calorie rich foods like cashews or what have you that I can eat. But I don’t feel as good when I eat more fats. So….the last couple of days I have been eating a little quinoa and millet, which I actually don’t mind. That’s my solution, for now.

I am not really asking for ideas, I guess, as I know “it is what it is”, but I just wanted to vent a bit and see if I can get some sympathy from some kind souls. Just trying to figure this out, budget-wise, and it’s hard feeding a family of four in NYC, where 2 are raw (well, DH isn’t totally, but he is about 50%). We’re trying to get our monthly food $$ below $750—can you believe we’re nowhere close to that? My friends who are non raw spend about 200 a month on their families (also with 2 kids) so I know I can do it, although raw is more expensive.

ETA: Found an interesting article from late last year in the NYT about the cost of eating poorly vs the cost of eating healthy. Of course, when i say “cost’ i mean immediate money out of pocket, not long term costs (health care etc). My guess is you actually save in the long term! http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/a-high…



  • WOW

    Just eat regular raw… lots of veggies, organic fruit and some nuts. Sunflower seeds, flax and such as well as pumpkin are cheaper.

  • good , cheaper staples…like bananas and oranges and apple…

  • Geez…tell me about it! Our monthly for food right now is over $1,000.00 That’s about 25% of our take home..UGH! We can’t afford it either…but I am going to try to eat less dehydrated, gourmet foods, and hope something great happens that enables us to afford it! HAH! How is that for a plan? :)

    I wish I knew something better to tell you (and me!)...aside from growing some more. But, as I lived in NYC for 13 yrs, I know space can be hard to come by!

  • pick fruit from people’s trees.. grow sprouts.. get seeds and stuff in bulk.. grow flats of micro greens.. raw foods can be super cheap… you have to do it the right way.. sunflower seeds are soo cheap you can grow pounds of greens for mere pennies..for 2 of us.. our food bill is like $300 / month.. 100% raw. go for nutrient dense foods.. you can eat less.. and live longer..

  • nycgrrl, you DO have my sympathy. As a fellow New Yorker, I feel your pain. Although I don’t follow 811, I eat a ton of fruit and vegetables. I think it’s a matter of bargain shopping when you can. For example, sometimes WF does have incredible markdowns; for example, the other day mangoes were $1 each and peaches 99 cents a pound. These were conventional, not organic, but nevertheless…It used to be the Greenmarket was cheaper, but today I paid $6 for a bag of nectarines (granted, I did get a huge bunch of kale for $3). Food prices have obviously followed the big increase in fuel prices. So along with whatever bargains you can find, shgadwa’s suggestion of sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds also makes a lot of sense.

  • Oh yes, forgot to mention Trader Joe’s. Not always the biggest selection of produce, but certainly good prices. But I’m sure you knew that already!

  • If you live around the great lakes, Meijer has Great prices on organic. They run specials too every now and then on produce and also regular cooked organic foods, which I buy every now and then.

    I buy plums, peaches and nectarines for $1.29 a pound, organic. .99 per pound for conventional produce seems the usual. Peaches are the #1 on pesticides too.

  • Organic peaches run on average $3.99 here in NYC, and believe it or not are even more expensive at the greenmarket. It’s difficult to stay on a budget and can be a little frustrating. shgadwa, be happy you live in a place where organic produce is cheap!

  • My partner and I spend $75 dollars a week on groceries. This is the cheapest food bill we’ve ever had. We eat fruit for breakfast, smoothies for lunch, and salads/soups for dinner. I make many of these raw dishes for around $3 a meal, that’s cheaper than McDonalds. I don’t digest nuts well so that cuts expenses from the food bill too. I’m not sure why people are under the assumption the raw food is more expensive. I have not had that experience with it.

  • devonoah: i live in nyc…can’t pick anything here LOL…i can’t grow anything here either…. Thanks elliot-that’s definitely going to be happening, but MAN i love blueberies, watermelon..apricots..mangos…:) kirsten: glad to know I am not alone…that’s about where we are. We have two young vegetarian boys who are eating more than they used to…and watermelon is 6 bucks, apricots (for a pound) are 5 bucks, bananas 99 cents a pound…blueberries 4 bucks a container, and I eat one easily in one sitting…UGH. I don’t really eat any dehydrated foods at all myself…and I really try to buy in bulk for the boys—brown rice, beans, etc. and we rarely eat out, but man, it adds up!

    thanks Mon46…i definitely watch out for the bargains at the WF near us. It’s the only place to shop in our neighbourhood. I do get fruit on the street that’s very ripe, and use it to make smoothies. Greenmarket at Union Square? ugh, we LOVE that place but man, it’s pricey, and then factor in the metrocard cost and it’s not worth it. And yes, sunflowers are cheap but i can’t overeat them on 811…grrrrr…And yes, trader joes—we stock up on frozen fruit there. Not ideal, but the prices can’t be beat.

    shgadwa: I live in nyc. thanks though. and yes, mon46 is right, organic is usually out of our price range. Heck, regular produce is out of our price range LOL.

    Vegfean: I am not “under the assumption”. I am talking reality here. I know what I buy, and I know how much it costs. I watch expenses too and only buy stuff on sale. But when I eat that much fruit, it seriously makes a dent in my wallet. Do you live in NYC? Are you eating 811?

  • Also, just a not:

    I used to eat like 75% raw and I bought a lot more things like organic bread, chips, snacks and such and such. I have found that it is cheaper for me at least, to eat all organic raw than it is to eat organic cooked.

  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    Nycgirl – One of the most famous foragers apparently does foragers in Central Park. (or at least he used too – not sure). His name is “Wildman” Steve Brill.

    Why wouldn’t you be able to pick anything there? I don’t think that is true.


    You are lucky – I wish Wildman would come to California,

  • Vegfean, I think it depends with the amounts of fruit and veg people eat. I know with 811 it is a lot. I also think it really depends on where you live. And btw, queenfluff, good shout out about Steve Brill. I recently posted about the dangers of foraging for mushrooms, but don’t believe he does that. I’ve heard nothing but good things about him.

  • nycgrrl, here’s an idea. I would be happy to email you if I happen upon any bargains at WF or in the greenmarket, as I live right near Union Square. That might save you some money on the ‘ol metrocard. Anyway, my email is mlowy@bodylinkspeechtherapy.com. Us NY sistas have to stick together!

  • queenfluff: yes, steve brill is great!! I can definitely get stuff in central park, but on a daily basis homeschooling with 2 kids? probably not. But he’s definitely a great teacher!

  • mon46-that would be great!! which WF are you near? Are the sales all the same throughout the city? i go to the new one near tribeca.

  • The thing I am working on, is I want variety in my fruits—is that not possible if i want to keep the budget low? I can do oranges and bananas, but i do love the mangos, cantaloupe, watermelon etc….blueberries…raspberries (forget those, too pricey! 4 bucks for a tiny container)....strawberries: 4 bucks a container…that’s one part of a meal for me…Grrr…okay, now I am just venting..

    I appreciate all the sympathy, and I know it will work out! We’re cutting expenses in other areas of our lives too so that we can continue to eat healthy. Oh, and I menat to say, I do think the boys being vegetarian and not raw contributes to our bill being higher for sure. I don’t think it’s all “raw’s fault’ LOL!

  • nycgrrl, I’m near Union Square. I actually don’t know if the sales are the same throughout the city; guess we could ask at the info counter at our perspective stores. What ‘hood do you live in?

  • bittbitt Raw Newbie

    I totally get it. it’s not cheap here in seattle, but better than NYC! i do think the farmer’s markets might help but i went to one in brooklyn a few months ago and it wasn’t much cheaper! my cousin belonged to a co-op in brooklyn but you had to be a member to even walk in the door. and you had to work there too. but i wonder if there are any buyer’s clubs or anything like that for some staples.

    as for fruit, have you checked out any asian markets? I just got a case of young coconuts from an asian market for less than half of what whole foods charges.

    as for berries, I only buy them from the farmer when i season. but what is pretty good is taking a big bag of frozen berries (you can get on sale or in bulk) and just letting them thaw out as you want them. they are still quite yummy.

    regarding not being able to grow in the city, if you have light you can grow. at the very least you can grow your own herbs which make salads much more yummy in my opinion. even my cousin living in a van has a little basil plant.

    I think it would be cool if you could get your kids in on the action as part of their homeschooling. Learning about botany, etc. Just a thought.

    We are also cutting other expenses and bartering or freecycling to get new stuff if we need it. But we finally got our food budget down last month! Yippee!

  • beanybeeganbeanybeegan Raw Newbie

    Just my two cents. ...Just forget 811 and buy more veggies than fruit. Many times we follow the crowd and don’t listen to what our body is saying. I go buy the H.A. diet but I am at 100% raw, not 85. I also eat solids in the morning. not just juice, and I hit heavier on the nuts, grains and legumes. Life is to short to forget why we are raw in the first place.

  • “Life is to short to forget why we are raw in the first place”

    we all have different, and various reasons for going raw…....

  • bitt: you’re definitely right about the berries. I don’t really buy them anymore. I do grow herbs for sure….got some basil and dill coming up right now! And yes, we’re doing a whole section on food and diet this year with the kids—they’re gonna love it-and it will be VERY different from what would have been taught in public school LOL!

    beany: I hear where you’re coming from, to be sure. But I really want to give this 811 thing a try, as I find my athletic performance better when I do try it.

    rawk n roll: that response was really frickin’ rude, you know?

  • Actually, nycgrrl, I forgot about coops. There used to be 1 on 4th Street in the east village. If it’s still there, it might be an option. I’m not sure the Park Slope coop will accept anyone from another borough.

  • MOn-yes, I know that one—DH gets produce from their sometimes as it’s near his work., Actually, WF isn’t that bad if I watch out for sales, my issue right now is the volume of fruit i am trying to eat, and its cost. Of course, I will probably end up following el-bo’s advice (don’t I always, elliot :)) and stop eating the more pricey fruits like watermelon, melons, berries etc. My only concern would be the effect of a lack of variety of fruits on 811. I think I will track it all in cron-o-meter to see. I might continue to incorporate a small amount of quinoa and millet (started doing that a few days ago) and see what happens to my body.

  • greenghostgreenghost Raw Newbie

    nycgrrl—just want you to know that there are a lot of people out there (myself included) that feel the same crunch as you. Buying real Raw Olive Oil, Raw Sesame Oil, Raw Cacao, Raw Nuts… Plus purchasing Organic vegetables & fruits is VERY expensive.
    No offense or disrespect meant to Vegfeen, but the expense is as you said a “reality”.

    PS: It is OK to vent about these things too.
    Also wish to send a quick thanks to the people who have contributed good ideas on how to save $$$... :)

  • greenghost: thanks for the empathy. I really appreciate it. I want to do what’s best for my body and my family, but financially, it’s hard for us. I am cutting out any non-essential raw foods, definitely no more superfoods (those REALLY hurt the wallet…e3live anyone?), cacao, and nut butters (i make my own for my kids). Also, i know that living in Manhattan is a big factor. When I visit my mom is Florida, her grocery store has prices on produce that are about 25% lower than here in NYC. My husband and I are working to save enough to get out of the city and move somewhere with a more reasonable cost of living (and more nature!) within the next couple of years. Thank you for your kind words. i know it will all work out, and we just have to be careful about what we buy. It does help that the boys are eating lower on the food chain than they were just 5 months ago—more fruits, grains and legumes. Processed foods of any sort are so much more expensive!

  • greenghostgreenghost Raw Newbie

    no problem nycgrrl – I just felt I had to say something. I live in NY, but not NYC and I find prices to be really looney and often difficult to manage. I can only imagine what it is like in the city.
    Wishing you and everyone all the best. – Cheers!

  • UMMMM, YEAH! We feel it….

    We talked about this on another thread recently and discussed all the areas that we can reduce expenses in life in general to not only allow for more flexibility for buying fresh healthy foods, but finances in general. There is sooo much we just don’t need, that we think we need! Since I was a teenager (I’m 37 now) I have evaluated my needs vs. wants when it comes to material things. and it is personal for everyone. We all have location, lifestyle, professional, etc. differences that call for adjustments in what we buy, own, and how we need to use our resources….

    nycgrrl: that is so cool about incorporating healthy eating with your kids education. we homeschool too and last year we were doing stuff about that and had all these things written on our white board. some friends came over for dinner one night and happened to see it and they brought up the fact that “all the stuff over there on the bad food side of the board is what we eat….we need to eat stuff on the ‘healthy food’ side”. man, it opened up a great conversation! best to you in that – it will spread, if not by you, then by your kids!

  • thanks mamamilk! i hear you about reducing expenses elsewhere. We’re working on that too. I use this cool online software called mint.com which tracks your expenses so I am pretty aware.

    mamamilk-how old are your kids? that’s great you’re homeschooling! We call ourselves “the healthy family” and we’re doing a big chart of healthy foods. My eldest at 6 already knows all about transfats and McD’s and doesn’t hesitate to tell his friends too…LOL…

  • bittbitt Raw Newbie

    NYCgrrl, we were cheering about lowering our monthly budget from $900 to $750. And that’s for 2 of us. So you are doing great if you can get 4 people under that! And that is really cool you are teaching your kids about food. you’re an great mom. you too mamamilk!

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