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How about a raw food diet for the economically-challenged?

Hey, everyone. So, I’m spending like forty to fifty bucks twice a week for all these damn fruits and vegetables. On a couple of occasions I’ve read posts from users who mentioned the expense of the raw diet and I always winced when other users responded— “Yeah, it may be pricey. But what is your health worth to you?”

I feel that this response isn’t very helpful. It leaves the person who is having trouble paying for the diet not only stressed about cashola but then also feeling bad because he or she isnt paying for what’s ‘important.’

I think I’m going to have to augment my diet with some brown rice or maybe brown pasta or something. Is anyone else using “fillers” in their diet?

Now, come on—I’m not talking mayonaise and tootsie rolls here—I’m still a very healthy dude. So, I would like to know how you all balance out the expenses and would like some input on some fairly benign “cheats.”

Thanks, and don’t give me any of your naggage.




  • I make veggie soup sometimes. Mostly I boil water and add whatever spices I’m in the mood for, turn off the heat and toss in whatever veggies I have… mostly just to warm them up.

  • I balance the costs by getting my greens from the reduced produce they put out in the morning at my Co-Op. I can get a mixed bag of greens for like 1.09 (3- 4 bunches sometimes). The store is on my way to work so I check almost everyday. And although I haven’t had beans in about 2 weeks – I love canned beans: mostly black and black-eyed peas.

    Boy, I feel better – I hope they don’t take my RAW card :)

    And sometimes I buy processed nuts and Bocca products, my hubby works for one of the large food companies that’s trashed on this site – so I get a discount – Whew, glad I got that off my chest. No throwing things people.

  • Rad, thanks. I would also like to add that in addition to eating non-raw food, I am not above marrying for money.

  • coconuttycoconutty Raw Newbie

    One of my fillers on occasion is ezekiel bread (sprouted grain bread). No joke, there was a point in time where I ate nothing but sammiches for over 2 weeks straight! LOL. breakfast lunch and dinner. It was by choice though, I just couldn’t stop LOL. All I had to buy was a couple loaves of bread and then every few days buy some arugula, tomatoes, cuc’s, and onions! Changed things up every now and then with various other ingredients. It really did end up being pretty cheap for those few weeks though!

  • You crack me up – Zooey Glass. Keep your humor it will help when you marry!

  • Oh, man. I LOVE Ezekiel bread. The raisin bread is amazing.

  • greeniegreenie Raw Newbie

    Whoa, a confessional, guess it’s my turn. I feel like logging in with another user name so I can be even more anonymous. I haven’t been so good at staying raw lately. I’m raw at home but when I eat out I just stay vegetarian. I even eat cheese occasionally, and the random tofu sandwich. There. Off my chest. Whew.

    My raw kitchen isn’t that expensive. I don’t eat that much any more, for one thing. Sometimes dinner is just a nice juicy carrot. Perfectly satisfying. Sprouts, grated veggies, some dressing, the occasional pate, dates, fruits, green smoothies, crackers. It gets expensive when I have people over and feel obliged to get fancy. Also, I’m not a fan of the so-called superfoods, $40/oz pond scum, etc. which strike me as so much snake oil, or raw gurus who strike me as snake-oil salesmen. Young whippersnappers. Maybe I’m just getting old and snarky. Not much life in anything once it’s packaged, so what’s the point?

    When I first went raw back in the early ‘70s, I did it with a much simpler diet. No salt, no oil,no spices, nothing whatever that was packaged. Nothing dried. I’d eat mono fruit during the day, usually just 1-3 apples because they were easy to carry in my purse, and a large raw vegetable salad at night with a little avocado and some lemon juice smashed up as a dressing. I lost weight like crazy, and it wasn’t hard on the wallet. IMHO we make an awful lot of complicated food for fear of—what? hunger?

  • angie207angie207 Raw Master

    Zooey – I hear you on the tight wallet. AND on marrying for money ;) How would it be to be able to buy all the best raw food I wanted and never have to worry about what it cost?! Okay, back to reality: Black beans are super cheap for the nutrition they give you, if you can’t afford to get everything you need from raw food. In my opinion, it’s better to have some beans here and there (or baked potato, or whatever feels good for you) than to run out of money and have nothing left to eat for the last week of the month because you were determined to only eat raw food. :)

  • LOL I love this post!! Yeah I think that money/time/energy and these feelings of shame (the raw police are gonna stone me) are the major obstacles for many NORMAL (whatever that is..I guess SAD diet people would cover it) people from making serious improvements in their diet. I would love it if we all lived in tropical regions and ate all natural and seasonal diets. But unfortunately and for basic survival we have had to learn to dry and preserve and use grains and legumes and the ever popular staple of the poor…potatoes!! I think the kety to eating economically without having to forage for greens and knock on that lucky “neighbor” door with the fruit trees who lives four streets down from you, and asking if you can “help them out” by taking that pesky fruit off their hands (this drives me crazy…people with fruit trees that dont eat the fruit!!!)...ok anyway I digress where was I oh yes..on a budget…Forget about meals and fancy stuff..just eat salads, green smoothies and season fruits..bananas are cheap (not seasonal but thanks to MODERN TECHNOLOGY available year round) and high in enzymes..the whole point of the raw food diet..ENZYMES..which brings me to another point..whan not able/willing/desiring to eat all raw foods supplement with a cheap bottle of digestive enzymes (trader joes has em for 3 dollars all fruit enzymes). The point of the raw foods diet for me isnt to become a “we of the raw foods lifestyle are better than you of the not raw lifestlye” its to become as healthy as my environment, social standing, economic, intellectual, spiritual and all those other privileges that we have that enable us to even have a computer, the free time and resources to eat a healthy diet. Im just grateful that my biggest worry is what percentage of raw I am today..most of the world is grateful to have ANYTHING to eat!!!

  • if i had to go non raw for a filler id go for brown rice or some simple plain yoghurt. They were my previous staples.

    Otherwise if i want a cheap filling meal, a tablespoon of peanut butter (i buy good stuff, 100% nuts, not certain its raw but is cheap) mix with a bit of water so its milky, cut up one bananna in it, add a handful of sultanas. Enjoy, always full after, and always full for a while.

  • EnjoyRaw- your sense of humor is wonderful! :) (Same for you Mr. Zooey!)

    Sorry Zooey, I don’t have much to offer you in the way of saving money as I am one of those people who was lucky enough to marry for love and get a little bit of money along with it (not that he doesn’t work hard for it! ) ! ;) I work so I can pretty much pay for my lovely raw foods (yeah it’s freakin’ expensive!) and my horses and dog costs. //But I come from a freakishly poor white, but loving, background so I can at least say I am constantly grateful I have the opportunity now to be able to afford better (organic) foods and lifestyle that supports bettering my mind and helping my family, friends, and others out, too!//

    And I totally hear ya on the Ezekial Raisen Bread!

    Canned soups are pretty cheap and hearty. How about peanut butter/nut butter and celery sticks? That’s satisfying to me as a meal a lot of times. Like others have mentioned- beans- only maybe bean burritos, for something different occassionally, besides just beans? What a bout cereal with rice milk? Hmmm. Trying to think of more econically conservative stuff… Like you mentioned- rice. Lentils in the bulk section. Spaghetti sauce (yeah the cheaper stuff) and noodles? And then like others have said- look into co-ops, farmers’ markets, grownig your own, or trading labor with local farmers for the produce. There are a lot of groups out there who do that- can usually find them through your local farmers’ markets/co-ops.

    And what about buying non-oraginc fruits/veggies when crunch time hits. Still surely better than not eating them at all!

  • angie207angie207 Raw Master

    If you have time/opportunity/whatever it takes to sprout, that is a good way to get some fresh food with tons of enzymes. Sometimes I do it, and other times life is too crazy and there is no way, but when I can, I do it regularly. I sprout lentils (add to salads – very filling), alfalfa sprouts and buckwheat (use in recipes or dehydrate the sprouts and put them in salads for some crunch and extra protein). Another thing is a lot of times I just try to buy and eat a lot of whatever produce is on sale that week (I found cauliflower for a dollar a head the other day, so I bought 2 and I am adding it to all kinds of stuff.

  • ambikalee, the spiritual optimist… i wholeheartedly agree. i fall off the raw wagon periodically and am ever grateful that i never have to worry about myself or my family going hungry in this land of nutmilk & honey!

  • angie207angie207 Raw Master

    aspire – Crunch time? I guess I’m permanently in that mode :) I hardly ever buy organic for the same reason I recommended beans. I don’t want to end up with no food for a week because I ate organic the 2 weeks before that. :) Regular spaghetti sauce on zucchini “noodles” sounds like it might be a decent compromise… I guess I missed out on something – I never tried the Ezekiel raisin bread :)

  • queenfluffqueenfluff Raw Newbie

    I have no super great advice either. :) Right now, my bf and I can hardly pay our rent – and we are charging all our food to credit cards right now! One thing you might want to try but you careful doing it – is foraging. You would be surprised at what you can get free and raw that you can use.

    We just moved to Northern Cali and my bf is finding tons of fennel, mustard and other greens and herbs just by going jogging on the trail here. Last Sat, we went to a free class on Edible wilds and went picking in an East Bay park. But like I said, some stuff is poisonous so you have to know what to pick. Go with people who know what to pick first.

    ambikalee – Yeah! What is with those people with the fruit trees overloaded with fruit? There is stuff rotting on the ground. My bf and I want to make “midnight” runs to take all that poor unwanted fruit. Those trees would be picked dry if I had those trees! I look on craigslist to see if anyone is giving away their fruit. One time we called a person who was giving away oranges off her tree and she hung up on us! All those people with the free fruit don’t know how appreciate what they got!

  • Lady Le HarleLady Le Harle Raw Newbie

    Oh goood golly, I have been struggling lately with the ol wallet! Today I was so tired at work, it had me thinking about having more money to be able to buy more variety, organic, superfoodey style eats for more energy. I have access to a lot of nourishing herbs at my work so I drink these as teas all day. They give me a boost (although they are trace elements). So these are my non-raw helpers. Apples, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, pears and walnuts are quite cheap here in the southern hemisphere. I usually load up my basket with these and make a maaaasive salad. Avocados are your friend!! Eat them. They are cheap too. I make soups, guacamole, puddings etc out of them. In fact, I had quacamole for dinner 3 weeks in a row as it was the only thing I could afford to fill me up. I wish us all abundance – overflowing gardens, wallets, fridges!! May the future Mr Le Harle be supportively abundant too:) (I am not above marrying for money either, tee hee hee!)

  • Well as a person that spends 500 a week on food I guess I am not the best one to chime in on this subject, but I do have to say that raw grawnola is really cheap http://goneraw.com/recipes/688-Grawnola- with almond milk that you could substitute for pecan milk since pecans are lighter then almonds and you get more bang for your buck http://goneraw.com/recipes/99-Almond-Milk. It seems that no one has mentioned sprouts which are cheap as hell, and there is a great salad on here called spinach and red mustard greens with chickpea dal (http://goneraw.com/recipes/3339-Spinach-and-Red…) which is damn good. And there are some others this is just for starters to see what the rest of the gang comes up with now. The only thing I can say is if I can make this happen and it’s three of us, I have faith in you guys to be creative and make it work. Cooked food plus Raw food taste and makes you feel like crap after a while. So I have no choice but to eat this way as I have went to far.LOL hey zooey just a little naggage at the end hee hee

  • omshantiomshanti Raw Newbie

    zooey hilarious as always! hmmm, cheap organic produce? walmart, cheap produce.any non organic kind usually if you dont go all fancy like pineapples and coconuts, asian markets a good bet here, peel all non organic stuff and viola, health with budgetary constraints. i find mixing cooked with raw miserable on my bloated belly.( this from recent experience) even a little bit of rice or my down fall lately some fries….ducking and peaking from under my computer desk….phew ok, now i feel better! it happens, usually i try to stick to raw, with few exceptions but there are exceptions…rice on sushi, rice wrappers on thai spring rolls, not to mention peanut dipping sauce… and coffee mate in my tea if im feeling the need for really creamy comfort…you know nut milks are just to heavy and dont get ubber creamy like the chemically laden coffeemate( vanilla ;) anyhow thats my confession, its expensive and we should do what we can and not kick our own asses (or anyone elses) who is health concious enough to live a certain way.

    the soap box is now available!

  • Wow, thanks, everyone. Great help. Thankfully, I’m not so strapped as all that, but just looking in the long-term. I didn’t know about those enzymes, Ambikalee—thanks! I will look at all your links later in the day—

    By the way, are you guys really saying that mixing some long, grain brown rice with a raw diet makes you feel crappy?

  • The general rule of thumb is one should not mix cooked food with raw food while on this diet because cooked food causes the stomach to produce acid which doesn’t mix well with the raw foods and can create indigestion.

  • I don’t supplement my diet with cooked foods, now, but I can definitely see myself doing so once I’ve been doing this whole raw thing for a while. I am starting to try to minimize how much I spend, because as others have said, eating like this can get really expensive.

    For me, the stores I buy produce at at both about 25 minutes away, so I try to do a lot of shopping at once so that I don’t have to make multiple trips during the week. The problem that then comes up is trying to balance less frequent trips with not buying so much food that some if it goes bad. To try to minimize wasting food, if things are getting too ripe, I make a big shake with whatever it may be. Also, normally I eat really simply, because I find myself spending a lot more when I make the more elaborate recipes. I eat mostly plain fruit, or something like a banana, a pear, and raisins with a pinch of sea salt in a bowl—that’s one of my favorites. The most complicated thing I make is usually a big salad at the end of the day with some “splurgy” things like sundried tomatoes, but mostly it is a means for me to eat the shit that would otherwise sat around too long and gone bad. This is long and boring. One last thing, I know where I can get the cheapest things; spinach is cheaper for me at my small store than it is at whole foods, as are grapefruit, carrots, celery and pears, and most nuts and seeds.

    So: I try to minimize trips to the store, minimize wasting food by putting ripe stuff in smoothies before it goes bad, eating mostly simple meals, and knowing where things are cheaper. Also, I eat out less than once a week and don’t buy drinks and stuff when I’m out.

    I don’t like rice, or potatoes too much, so if I were to add cooked foods to my diet, it would probably be oatmeal in the morning.

    I need to start more carefully tracking how I spend my money—thanks for the topic and let us know how it works out for you.

  • All of these suggestions are excellent, which is why I like this place :) Shopping seasonally really is a great route to follow, as well as sticking to your local foods. It sounds so cliche but local and seasonal is less expensive for a reason. We have to stick to a budget as well, I am staying home to care for the kiddies so we look to pinch pennies where we can. The problem is I like raw, my family not so much lol, so we shop for two menus. I supplement my dinners with cooked portions of the family’s food to keep it adhesive. I also strive to create meals in bulk, using inexpensive veggies and grains. I do like beans, and wild rice! I usually make a list of what I need and the meals I will be making for the week, then shop with a really stringent list. When I find a good deal, I will pick up extra.

  • elizabethhelizabethh Raw Newbie

    quick tips: -sprout! sprout sprout sprout! -use everything in your fridge before you make a trip to the grocery store -buy only thin skinned fruits and veggies organic, avocados and bananas can be conventional, no biggie -maybe join an organic coop in your area? -grow your own food, economical and funn -use buckwheat groats, cheap and makes a great base for salad and crackers or cereals depending on what you mix it with

  • sarawsaraw Raw Newbie

    I didn’t read all the replies, but I am finding that eating some raw, leads to eating more raw. I ate cooked foods (minus meat) over the weekend, and I ate some corn and bean tortillas last night. Once you keep eating cooked stuff, it is SO HARD to keep eating completely raw. I think the diet is really only expensive in the first few weeks as your body adjusts to the diet. I know that I eat a LOT less now. Some cheap ideas sprouting your grains!! You can buy a lot of quinoa for next to nothing. I can’t eat a lot of grains, but I do this one. cabbages are dirt cheap. At leas they are here. Don’t make all those dehydrated meals with nuts, and hard to find ingredients. Also, have a plan for all your food. Make a shopping list after making a menu. Buy ingredients that you will use with the majority of your meals. Lets say that you have one meal that needs one ingredient, and it is not in your budget, then scrap that meal until you find more meal ideas to use that ingredient. Also, nothing goes to waste this way. This week I am going to challenge myself to a cheaper raw menu this week. I will probably do mostly green smoothies. I Have also been getting closer to having a damn garden in my diningroom… I was eyeballing a green house the other day as well. Do I have money for a green house?? hahahaha.

  • WinonaWinona Raw Newbie

    To keep costs low, I buy conventional produce in winter. In summer/fall, I purchase from a coop – $19 per week for a huge share of organic fruits/veggies! Sprouting sounds like a great idea as well.

  • spiritedmamaspiritedmama Raw Newbie

    To keep costs down, we buy anything with a peel at Sam’s Club or Costco. It may not be organic, but at least it’s raw and I feel better knowing I can take the peel off. Greens we get from the CSA that we pay in to, as well as some other seasonals. I save up money and buy nuts in bulk from our local health food store (right before Augst I bought 25 pounds of raw almonds and I still have about half of them left!). Also, buying cheaper nuts and seeds, like sunflower, to use in replacement for the more expensive ones. Let’s see…what else do I do…oh…I had a garden last year that provided us with all the lettuce, and other veggies that we needed to make salads everyday (1-2) for the entire summer!

    But really, I found that once I had been raw for almost a year, my diet changed dramatically, as did the cost. I used to pay through the nose to make all recipes from the raw food books, etc. and then my body changed to wanting a green smoothie for breakfast, veg. tray with raw dip for lunch, and a nice big salad for dinner. On occassion I would make something fancy, but by that point it didn’t break the bank like it used to.

    Hope this helps!

  • worleyhimself2worleyhimself2 Raw Newbie

    keep things simple

  • omshantiomshanti Raw Newbie

    spirited mama, my taste have changed so much as well, i went through a rough patch where i was so bored with my food, and myhubbys looked much more tastey by comparison, so then i got busy making fancier meals for myself, and that helped but the cost went up a bit…i need to get rid of flaxseed( not nice to my belly) so my stand in is the expensive chia seed. ive already dumped alot of nuts and focus more on seeds however my new fav:hemp is not cheap!

    i usually shop at farmers markets butthe jimbos and sprouts are a common whole shop place with cosco bringing up the rear as hubby is not raw. its still pricey 80 to 100 a week and im not happy… i do waste alot less as in the begining i was enamored of greens and they would go bad before i could get to all of them. i do try to eat seasonally but here in socal what does that mean? teehee

    zooey, for me personally and it could be jsut bad food combining but when i mix cooked with raw i feel like a toad and a bloated on at that…we wont even discuss the gasseous emmisions…. thats jsut my personal experience…

  • Worley—thanks, that’s just what I’m going to do—it simple and kiss some of these pineapples goodbye. I just hope that I can come up with a substitute in my green smoothies that will have the same effect. As I wrote before—the kale is amazing w banana.

    Om—I think soon I will have to post a topic on gas. I bet that gets even more responses than the poop topic.

  • pianissimapianissima Raw Newbie

    i think that in the long term raw is cheaper because your appetite decreases significantly, along with doctor’s visits, a need for chemical products on the body, etc…

    also, i see a LOT of “economically-challenged” people paying BIG bucks for soda, sugar cereal, take-out meals, coffees on the run, candy/power bars, pasteurized juices, alcohol… they all add up.

    for info on the best cooked food to eat i’d read natalia rose’s RAW LIFE FORCE ENERGY. (i’ll paraphrase: steamed veggies and cooked whole grains are perfectly fine, but AFTER a raw salad, and only at night. she “measures” food in terms of “life force”, not enzymes… and steamed veggies win over raw nuts.)

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