May 19, 2012

Raw and Whole Food on a Limited Budget

This post is part of a reader Q&A.  I'm more than happy to answer your questions about my weight loss process (or anything).  My email button is on the sidebar.  Just please remember that I am not a doctor, dietitian or a nutritionist.  These answers are absolutely specific to me and my personal journey.

Question: How can I eat raw and whole foods on a limited budget?
This is a great question and I've had quite a few inquiries about this topic.  As many of you know, my son Charlie has medical bills out the wazu and my husband is the only employed member of our family so that I can stay home and take care of our boys.  We, like most American families, have to spend our dollars wisely. So here are some of my thoughts in no particular order:

1. It only appears that you are spending more on your food.  When I shifted my diet to include higher quality whole foods I paid more for the food, but I bought less.  It all came out in the wash. You can spend $2.50 on a bag of potato chips or your can spend $4.00 on a bag of organic Gala apples.  The upfront cost is more, yes.  I don't know about you, but I can put away a big bag of chips in one sitting.  It's a lot harder for me to eat five apples all at once.  So for a little more money, I get a better quality snack that lasts longer and makes me feel great.

2. Eating cheap junk food will cost you more money in the long run.  Heart attacks, diabetes, and worse are really expensive. And sometimes they cost you your life.  I'd rather fork over a little more money now and stay out of the hospital later.  The pay off of good nutrition is a life time of better quality years and more of them!

3. Plan your meals and pay less.  I wanted to save money on my grocery bill so I read a book called America's Cheapest Family: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half.  The book is not geared towards organic whole foods, but you can apply most all of the concepts to whatever you're interested in buying.  This book has helped me serve nutritious, raw and healthy cooked meals and snacks to my family for about 400 - 425 dollars a month.  Not bad for a family of four.  If you want more details, you can read about it HERE and HERE.

4. Invest in good quality kitchen tools.  Yes, they are expensive and they are absolutely worth it.  I bought a cheap juicer at first and blew it out in six weeks.  Luckily I purchased it at Bed, Bath and Beyond and they have a fantastic return policy. I also had a very generous family member with a Costco card who bought me a Vitamix for my wedding anniversary. So if you have something on your wish list, share it with family!

5. Prepare only one serving per person.  I have cultivated a habit of preparing just enough food so that everyone has one healthy serving. This has saved our family lots of money.  It also has the added benefit of cutting back on portions, "seconds" and food waste. Americans waste far more food than we are aware of. The other benefit is that our family takes more time at the table to enjoy our meal and our conversation.  No one has ever gone to bed hungry.

6. Buy cheaper produce.  I know this sounds like a no-brainer.  Last February, I bought a beautiful mango for 4 dollars.  Once I got it home, I thought "I am an idiot".  So don't be silly and buy out of season tropical fruit.  Buy the inexpensive stuff.  Here is my list of go-to produce and raw snacks.  I always have these items on hand and have learned to make a bunch of different delicious meals using these basic ingredients.

Bananas (I can get them for about 44 cents a pound)
Apples (by the bag is cheaper than by the pound)
Carrots (whole, not in little weird baggies)
Romaine Lettuce
Celery (again, buy it whole and not pre-chopped)
Avocados (I get these at the Mexican food market "Fiesta" - 3 for a dollar)
Sweet potatoes
Almonds (raw and in the bulk section is cheapest)
Walnuts (raw and in the bulk section is cheapest)
Dates (not the fancy kind - just plain dates)
Sprouted Grain Breads
Brown Rice and Quinoa

When I began eating this way, I explained to my husband that our grocery bill was going to go up a bit.  Without missing a beat he asked, "How much money would you pay to lose 75 pounds by next year?"  I shrugged my shoulders.  Then he said, "I bet you'd pay a lot more than you're going to spend on better groceries."  When ever I get down about the cost of pesticide-free lettuce or wince at the price of raw almond butter, I remember his words. If you are serious about getting healthy and losing weight, you'll need to make a little investment. Cut back on other expenses if you have to, but start to make your health and well-being a priority.


Hani said...

Great advice! I'm curious where you get the best deal on dates. I've started making date bars for the girls, and they really love them. It's nice to be able to give them what they consider to be a treat, and to know that they are actually quite healthy!

Sarah @ La Maison Boheme said...

I can get raw pitted dates in the bulk section for about 2.89 at whole foods and sometimes as low as 2.29 at Fiesta Mexican Market. Of course the nicer Medjool Dates and other more exotic varieties are going to cost more.

natalie said...

Love this post. For us, I thought I'd spend more switching our meat but we end up eating less because of the good quality; and when I eat it it's a tiny side item that i know was fed well and the people who took care of and butchered the animals were treated fairly. It goes with your post about the documentaries--once you start learning about your food what you buy and eat starts being way more meaningful. chocolate is another thing I've been hesitantly researching lately--i say hesitantly because once you know you can't go on ignoring it. Makes making those chocolate chip cookies a special thing since it's gets pricier... getting healthy is easier. ;)