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The Cost of the Raw Food Lifestyle

rosehebrewrosehebrew Raw Newbie

Here is a post that I put on my blog that I thought may be useful here. If anyone has any comments on this please jump right in. I get many questions asked to me about the cost of a raw diet so I thought that I would just address that issue today. The cost of organic food can seem high in contrast to non-organic produce and in reality it can be about 30% more than conventionally gown produce. Also a really raw olive oil is more expensive than off the shelf cold-pressed olive oils that are in fact heated up to filter them. In this lifestyle you do have to learn about how your food is produced. Another issue is that eating real un-processed raw food is more expensive because you are not buying cheap flour, corn, bad veggie oils and high fructose corn syrup or sugar. OK, here is my big “but”. I have medical insurance that of course I pay for but my co-pays are 15.00 a visit so you can tack one of those on a month because of medication checks and also 10.00 worth of gas to get there from where I live. Add on to that prescription drugs at 15.00 for each so that was at least 60.00 a month. Also, SAD eaters tend to buy a lot of junk food and restaurant food and that can add up to even more than the medical costs. I also do not use any supplements because I believe they are actually unnatural and counter productive to health so I don’t spend the huge amount of money for these that some people do. For some reason when people estimate their food costs they seem to leave out these huge costs. I guess that they just do not see that what you eat today builds your health for tomorrow either positively or negatively and that is going to impact their bank balance. Now let’s talk about the cost of food preparation. Both SAD eaters and raw foodists need a very sharp knife so we will not count that. I have bought a 210.00 food dehydrator because I wanted something crispy for a change once in awhile and you do need to make your own dried fruit (even raisins) because the ones in the store are not really raw. On the property I live on I have a number of fruit trees so I went for the larger model so I would have the room when harvest came in and when certain things are in season locally. I also plan on springing for a 350.00 high speed blender. Raw foodists use them because they are not really just a better blender but a whole different kitchen tool. It is like comparing a Honda to a John Deer tractor. They both have four wheels and are called a vehicle but they are used for different things. With a high speed blender you can make raw nut and seed butters (to buy them is just too pricey for many) and do a variety of raw soups and green smoothies which many raw foodists use to pleasantly take in lots of raw greens. If you look at it though in reality a range is much more expensive than this but it can be an issue for people because usually people already own a range. If you do buy the dehydrator and high speed blender and don’t stick with this lifestyle you will find that they have a good resale value unlike some things. To sum it up, with the saving I enjoy not spending my money on medical issues, junk snack foods and restaurants; I think I am way ahead on the food purchases for my lifestyle. As far as the kitchen equipment, you can do the math, it is much less expensive and I won’t even add the power issue. www.adashofrosemary.blogspot.com



  • iknikn

    intersting topic! I was wondering too, how much other “rawists” spend on food a week? I go to the local farmer’s market every Saturday and spend about $40 on fruites and veggies. I spend about another $20 per week in the health food store. I’m the only one in my family (of 5) who is raw. We buy about another $30-40 worth of non-raw food. So we are approximately $100 per month.

  • KhaasLadkiKhaasLadki Raw Newbie

    I also have wondered what the average cost of raw diet is per week. I’m not 100% raw, but I eat a LOT of raw foods and I spend between $20-30 a week for myself (I am limited on what I can buy though because of my jaw), and my family can spend as little as $70 to as much as $200 a week. Plus they eat out a LOT – my dad spends about $10 a day for food for just him! I rarely eat out – usually a smoothie from Jamba Juice which is only like $4 so…

    For me it’s actually cheaper to eat this way, minus when my jaw feels good and I buy all these expensive veggies!! But that’s not very often. :-)

  • melaverdemelaverde Raw Newbie

    Agreed! It may seem expensive at first but on the long run I believe you save a lot of money and you get a better health in return!

  • ikn & Khaas Ladki… where do you live? i’m curious, bc where i am, even going to the farmer’s market every weekend, i can not for the life of me keep my raw groceries under $100 per week… even living on essentially all produce with no nuts and no fancy supplements… and right now i’m just a family of one and one cat!!

    i think if i were to start planning out what i eat ahead of time it would help me keep costs down… but oh man wow do i hate doing that!

    if anyone has any tips specifically for LA on how to keep the price of organic produce from adding up, i’d loooove to hear it!! and if anyone has tips for the same in NYC, i’d love to hear that too…. i have friends there who are constantly complaining about not being able to afford to eat the way i do bc of this, and i would love to be able to give them some advice!

  • iknikn

    Hi dorian don’t

    I live in Florida. I don’t plan either, just buy whatever is in season.

  • KhaasLadkiKhaasLadki Raw Newbie

    I live in Texas. Wow – I thought it was expensive here! $100?! Goodness…

  • bittbitt Raw Starter

    my best advice to save $$ is to shop around. i went through a thing of not wanting to drive to get my food but then I realized by traveling a bit more I can save tons of $$. Yesterday I went to the Asian market and got: one melon, 3 young coconuts, carrots, a cucumber, pepper, ginger, lime, and probably some other stuff I am forgetting now for only $17. At Whole Foods would have cost $30 probably. Today I went to a U-pick where I got several bunches of greens (like 6-7), 3 pints of berries, squash and peas for $19. These were my best bargains yet. We have also searched online and buy things like nuts and seeds in bulk. Oh we also go to Trader Joe’s and we can get cheap bags of frozen mangoes (not heated before frozen, we checked), and produce like avocados, lemons, oranges. So I suppose this is a bit more work than one-stop shopping but in the end it is cheaper this way.

  • angie207angie207 Raw Newbie

    ikn & Khaas Ladki – Consider yourselves VERY fortunate! I eat a lot of raw foods – mine is more around $100 a week when I am NOT eating raw olives, expensive nuts, premade raw foods, etc. and not all my produce is organic! But the medical costs (which were paid through my health plan) went down by $500 per month within the first four months, by spending about $200 more per month on food. Now, I buy things in bulk & save money, so it’s a difference of only $150 more than I used to spend. How much is my extra energy & time (I sleep two hours less per night now) worth? To me, a lot more than $150 a month! Besides, with my family’s cancer rate, I’m saving a lot more than that for the future. :)

  • los angeles, as the saying goes, is far more of a massive ‘suburban sprawl’ than a typical city, so the amount of driving it would require to get out to farms or to particular markets very far away, what with gas prices here being around $4.50 now and climbing daily, would end up costing at least just as much. and there just isn’t good public transit here. and i know my friends in new york would complain that with all the walking and up and down stairs to the subway with large crowds, it really isn’t possible to carry more than a bagful of groceries across town.

    angie – i soooo hear you on the expensive “extras”. and one thing LA most definitely does not lack is an astounding array of widely available every kind of imaginable raw garnish, spice, supplement, spread, sauce, chocolate truffle, confection, etc!! can you believe that the Whole Foods in my hometown in MA doesn’t even carry a single brand of raw caocao powder… and every one here carries not only several brands and forms of it, but raw granola and bread, too?! but, like you, i also save tons on medical expenses now :) and my $100/week would also be when i’m not eating any of the other goodies and just produce

    bitt – i find that Trader Joe’s produce, at least where i am, tends to start going bad after just a day or two… and often where i am it looks in pretty bad shape to begin with, maybe just the cons of living in a crowded city where everything gets picked over in five mins. but that’s great to know that their frozen mangoes are really raw!

  • bittbitt Raw Starter

    yeah Trader Joes really varies, we only do the dates, citrus and avocados from there. We asked them and they said all their frozen fruit has not been blanched but the veggies had been. Also Trader Joe’s has some almonds from Spain too. Just don’t get the regular ones.

    Angie I too have not always done organic. Anything with a peel I think is ok to have conventional (aside from bananas due to labor issues). It sucks because I don’t just care about myself I care about the environment but I have to sometimes fill up on melon and stuff to save $$.

    I’m still waiting to not spend a ton on medical expenses. I still have to take a treatment of herbs, etc for 3 more months.

  • lzhptlzhpt Raw Newbie

    We had a post about this not long ago. Didn’t Ardesmond win the who spends the most? I still hover around $400/week. Less now I think. It’s summer. I’m eating less and biking for my groceries so it all has to fit in 2 paniers!

  • Great topic- I am the only raw foodist in my house hold of four. I probably spend more on some special things like agave nectar and cacao nibs every now and then. I have gotten my family just about weaned of off meat so that makes the grocery bills for their SAD diet go down. I am lucky enough to live near a farmers market. The produce is very inexpensive for example I get a small bush of basil for $1.00 (other herbs too). I also invested in those green bags to prolong the freshness of the produce. For myself I probably spend about $40-$50 per week being RAW.

    I agree that in the long run that this way of eating will save $$ on medical costs.

  • WinonaWinona Raw Newbie

    You folks don’t spend much on raw food. I spend $100-120 per week for a household of one and pets, plus $40 in raw restaurant food. I buy only organic, and I use nuts/dates/oils – no superfoods. And that’s in spite of having a CSA share! Upstate NY is pricey. In Atlanta, I was able to go to the farmer’s market and spend only $80/week. Darn guinea pigs are eating me out of house and home. I share fancy salads with them. We each nibble on either end of a carrot and meet in the middle.

  • Cut costs in other areas as well. kill the tv, cable, the bells and whistles cell service, get rid of any extra vehicles, buy 2nd hand everything (people in our society buy stuff, clothes, etc, and then decide they don’t like it and send it off to the second hand stores – i have bought so many “2nd hand” clothes from thrift stores that still had the new tags on them. or at the least looked like they’d been worn once). save money on entertainment—more money for food: borrow books/dvds from the library, go for walks, to the park, have potlucks, and share with friends. every bit counts and can be redirected to yummy food.

  • KarmyngirlKarmyngirl Raw Newbie

    I’m actually giving a seminar, “Raw LIFESTYLE on a Budget.” The seminar will be held Sunday, July 20 from 11am to 1pm at Jesse’s Cafe, 139 Brighton Ave, Long Branch, NJ. For more information, e-mail me: inshapeforeverfit@mac.com.

  • WinonaWinona Raw Newbie

    mamamilk – i’ve done most of those things. it saves a lot on bills when most of my entertainment is in the wilderness!

  • KhaasLadkiKhaasLadki Raw Newbie

    Oh my gosh Winona – I hear you on the Guinea Pigs! My sister got two for ‘free’ a month or two ago, and they eat as much as another person! I don’t know that I would share my carrots with them, though. ;-)

    I love finding good bargain stores. There’s one near us that is not exactly a secondhand store (although there are some clothes that are secondhand), it’s mostly overstock! It’s really neat, they stock after lunch on Wednesday, so on Thursday everything in the store is $1.75 (including a brand new PRADA purse that I snatched. Don’t care for Prada but hey, I can sell it later!), then each day it goes down 25 cents until on Wednesday everything in the store is a quarter! And it’s the size of a grocery store, too. Pretty awesome.

  • I wrote about this on my blog a few months ago too (not specifically all raw, but for healthier eating in general because so many of my friends don’t even think they can buy organic or whole).

    Here’s the link—http://www.bradybunchmom.com/2008/02/cost-of-he…

    I echo the minus the medical expense part. I used to be on about $50 worth of allergy and asthma medication per month, plus the $15 co-pay to see my internist often to try to get more help and answers for my asthma. (It was get really bad).

    I also see that when I eat raw, I eat a lot LESS than I did before. So even though the quality of food I buy may be more expensive, if I”m eating less, that helps to even things out too. I’ve even seen with the rising food prices that I don’t make things with nuts as liberally as I did before (and am just fine! :)) I’m also dehydrating or freezing free food (apples from my tree in the fall or blackberries in the summer) whenever I can. At the end of the summer, I plan to plant more fruit trees to help provide more of that. And I’m growing more herbs.

  • For me.. my weekly budget is $125.00 for a family of four. I am about 80% raw 20% cooked vegan right now, and the family is about 25% raw. I shop local farmer’s markets, Trader Joe’s, and Sprouts and usually I do ok. :) Our whole family doesn’t eat red meat or dairy, and that has saved a bunch. I don’t buy lots of fancy raw food items.. just what is on sale at the time. Seems to work well for me. :)

    Dorian, there are lots of co-op’s that sell organic produce wholesale. Down here in San Diego, a large box of organic, fresh, local produce is about $30 a week. I am sure they have options like that in L.A.

  • angie207angie207 Raw Newbie

    Yeah, Ardesmond was the big winner!

    I guess I’d better clarify: I DO use oils (which I now can get cheaper in bulk) and I eat lots of certain kinds of nuts, but I don’t often (if ever) buy the nuts that are $10 or $15 per pound. I guess I also think of sunflower seeds as nuts – I use those often where I used to use cashews or almonds. I have a garden, too, which is starting to feed me now, as well as grapevines & blackperry bushes growing over the fence from the neighbors! That helps a ton! I also buy some of my produce at Costco, when they have it, and that helps, too. They sell big one-pound containers of organic Spring Mix for about $4, and sometimes they have organic berries, apples, etc. – although I haven’t seen much organic fruit there lately. I buy avocados there, too, because I understand avocados are usually not sprayed anyhow, and they are soooo much cheaper there than anywhere else.

    Karmyngirl & NonDairyQueen – Thanks for the links!

    RawSarah – What kinds of things do you eat, for that small amount? Or do you all just not eat much in general?

  • AziahAziah Raw Newbie

    i think i have you all beat. i swear i am at the grocery store 3 times a week and spend about $140 every time. Course, I am buying for myself and two kids…but still! The bulk of my buying is, of course, ffv. I also seem to go through flax seed, agave, nuts and juice like it is nothing. Now I am as close to 100% raw as possible…my kids are closer to 60% raw. In addition to raw they also eat eggs, organic chicken breasts, and sometimes applegate farms hot dogs and alexia organic fries. What really seems to cost a lot is they go through Tropicana oj and Bolthouse farms juice like crazy (they go through juice too fast for me to make it fresh every day). But organic ffv is rare and pricy here…I am in upstate, ny.

    I also find I will make a recipe, like Ani’s donuts was the most recent, and the kids won’t like it and I only will eat a small amount so stuff like that can go to waste (which upsets me to no end)...

  • I live in Northwest Indiana. I mostly shop at Meijer. They do have some organic, but not all produce there has an organic offering. I get everything organic that they offer. I am doing 80/10/10… so I’m not buying any nuts, seeds, oils, etc. No supplements. Maybe an occasional avocado, but no more than 1 per shopping trip. So all my food is just stuff from the produce section. I find I spend about $125 a week on food for just me. (My fiance buys his own food). When I ate a SAD diet, I spent about $80-90 a week. So I’ve definitely noticed a difference. My medical costs don’t change (birth control every month), so that’s about 30 bucks a month, but I’ll always have that.

    Now, I did have to have a giant soft-ball-sized ovarian cyst removed back in October, and even after insurance, it still cost probably around $500 for medical expenses. Would I have had the cyst if I had been eating 811, who knows, but I’m hoping that investing more money now in quality produce will help to offset any future medical problems and expenses. It still is a bit hard on the pocketbook, though.

  • angie207angie207 Raw Newbie

    Aziah – What is ffv? fresh fruit & veggies? Ardesmond said he spends around $500 per week for two adults & one child – all raw, all organic. Sounds like you’re close on his heels, though! Do your kids like smoothies? The whole fruit seems to fill better than juices, and frozen fruit may not be as expensive as fresh? I keep the freezer stocked with fruit – either bought frozen, or extra bought on sale & then frozen. Then I blend them up together with a date, banana, or a little agave, & my son lives on those, some days. If your kids aren’t raw, & you have time, I like to make whole grain muffins, waffles, etc. for my son from flour I grind from a mixture of grains. I make a batch of muffins, & he eats it for a few days, & it’s pretty cheap. I’ve actually started figuring the costs of some of his favorite foods, & figuring out how to get him good nutrition & taste for less money. I have been surprised by the numbers. I used to give him organic corn chips with a bean & cheese dip, because beans are so cheap. Then I figured out how much the chips were costing me, and I make other things more often & just do the chips once in a while. But, then, I’m not as busy during the summer as when I’m in school, so I have time to do stuff like that. I’m keeping a list, though :)

  • I agree with angie – for the non-raw parts of our eating, i’ll make big batches of pancakes or “cookies” with oats, quinoa flour, ground flax, a little honey and mashed banana for the kids. they also do lots of smoothies, and big platters of fresh fruits and veggies. i also give them eggs and occasionally wild caught fish.

    aziah – the fries, hotdogs and juices are killing your budget. its amazing what the kiddos can really do without. my kids drink filtered water…. pure clean h2o. juice gives too many sugar spikes and no fiber (unless its green juices/smoothies) any foods that are pre-prepared are budget killers. its hard i know, because we have busy lives and need to feed our families – but it can be done as high raw as you want and done well without taking all our money or time in the kitchen. we like ani’s donut holes. ; ) but even that is just an occasional treat.

  • AziahAziah Raw Newbie

    ffv – fresh fruits and veggies

    as for the chicken and dogs and fries…they probably eat one breast together a week and maybe 3-4 hot dogs together a week (1.5 to 2 each at a time). fries are about 1/4 bag once a week. they really don’t eat too much that way. yep…the juices are bad. they drink oj and carrot juice (only natural, none with processed sugar). they drink a LOT of water and smoothies too but my little one does twice as much juice. I am not one of those moms that pacify their kids with juice, i just give it to them because they are both very thin little girls and I figure they need the extra calories. as for going 100% raw with them, I did it for a month with them and they begged and cried for eggs and chicken. I figure they must need protein to want eggs and chicken (something they hardly ate when not raw) and are not getting enough hemp so I allow it. I am not as strict with them with all their food intolerances. i already have to avoid all grains with them..beans seem to cause them a problem too so I avoid them. i just thought about it and another thing that seems to cost a lot is prepackaged dried fruits. I buy these out of convenience because like the juice we go through them so fast I can’t keep up with them with my 5 drawer dehydrator.

    mamamilk – i would love to know what your little ones eat typically in a day. A typical day for us is raw fruit and nut cereal w/almond milk, raw almond butter and honey sandwich, dried and fresh fruit, smoothie, chicken breast and then oj and carrot juice of course ;0) and my kids eat like there is no tomorrow…when they are awake they are CONSTANTLY saying “momma! i’m huunnnnggrrry! i’m thirrrrsssty!”...I swear they put away enough food for an adult man. I don’t even sit for my meals because I am constantly getting them food and drink.

  • In the past, I have spent as much as lzhpt…all on fresh produce, and especially in the summer. Now I try to limit my spending by fasting occasionally and cutting down on organic purchases.

  • bittbitt Raw Starter

    as for juice I used to drink OJ at lot. Now I squeeze 2-3 oranges and add water and ice. It’s so much more delicious and it is pretty easy with a hand-juicer. Here is the one I have:


    I am sure the kids could figure out how to do it themselves.

    I also have fun with mint water and lemon water.

  • I have 2 young boys and hubby and me. I am 100% raw, DH is trying to be but still slips up, and my boys are about 30% raw, rest vegetarian.

    We spend about 200 a week on groceries in NYC for the whole family. I am trying to get it down to 150. We have a CSA delivery of 44 dollars, and the rest I spend at WF and farmer’s markets. We eat mostly organic, some tofu for the boys, some milk, juice, fruits veggies, nuts (I try not to eat too much to save $$).

    NYC is nuts!!! I try to watch out for bargains, like WF had strawberries for 3 buck for the big container, so i bought 3.

  • I don’t buy all organic… so that helps with my limited budget. I just try to buy the top 12 offenders organically because that cuts down on almost 90% of pesticide consumption. (Google for the complete list.. but mostly strawberries, peppers, apples, spinach and most soft stone fruit.) I also only buy things on sale.. so my diet is very seasonal. We are loving pineapple and cherries and watermelon right now! Also, I am a budget shopper, and we only pay with cash, so if I run out of money at the store.. I put stuff back… :)

    Angie…. I eat fruit or a smoothie for breakfast, and I usually have a huge salad for lunch with nuts or an avocado. The salad actually fills me for a really long time. Dinners are still weird.. sometimes I will eat a salad, or make some version of a raw dinner (walnut tacos, stuffed mushrooms) and sometimes I will eat cooked vegan (I am still transitioning) I guess I just don’t eat very much. Maybe my metabolism will kick in after a while and I will have to spend loads of mula at the store too!!

  • MOTHMOTH Raw Newbie

    At LEAST 100 $$ a week for me…sometimes it’s more like $140. Almost everything I buy is organic.

    I’ve been fasting off and on though, and that seems to help my food bill tremendously.

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