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One of the biggest myths about eating well, and eating raw vegan in particular, is that it costs the earth. But allow me to reassure you that you do not need to be a mega-rich yoga-doing celebrity with millions of followers online and the same amount of money in the bank… I’m certainly not. Not that I’m bitter…
Raw vegan can be low-cost, making it accessible to everyone. Sure, if you insist on eating 2 packs of medjool dates at every meal with a few organic avocados thrown in, although I can’t imagine that combination tasting anything but absolutely awful, it’s gonna cost a bit. But that isn’t what raw vegan is about, and isn’t going to give you the myriad health benefits that come with a raw vegan diet done properly.
16 TIPS TO EAT RAW FOOD ON A BUDGET
Here’s 16 tried and tested tips for eating raw vegan on a budget. And for one of the best kept secrets of the raw-vegan-on-a-budget-world, make sure you read until the end! I guess it’s not so secret anymore…
1. Eat Low Fat Raw Vegan, or 80/10/10
If you’ve read literally any of my other articles, you’ll know that there’s nothing I love more in the world (including my own family) than a raw vegan dessert. Often comprising of ingredients that can be costly – like cashews, coconut oil and medjool dates – they shouldn’t be top of the list if you want to do raw vegan on a budget. And for optimum health, for that matter. Something I do keep having to remind myself…
Raw vegan can be as decadent as any diet (can you say raw millionaire’s cheesecake?!), but to squeeze every drop of health benefit out of the diet – including reversing heart disease, reversing diabetes and fighting against cancer – and avoid breaking the bank, the 80/10/10 diet is a must. Read my article on the 80/10/10 lifestyle for the full lowdown, but essentially, this epic way of living simply involves eating 80% carbohydrates, 10% proteins and 10% fats.
Luckily, there are no calculators or AP math qualifications needed to follow this diet, which has been proven to support the prevention of cancer… just a heck of a lot of beautiful fruits and veggies!
And that’s it. No counting calories, no counting micros, and no counting coins. Because, despite what the meat and dairy industries try to brainwash us into thinking, we can get plenty of protein, and raw produce is not expensive. At least if you know how to buy it…
2. Buy in bulk
One of the greatest things about raw vegan lifestyles, and the 80/10/10 lifestyle in particular, is that it doesn’t involve calorie counting. Praise the health Lords.
Sick of trying to follow restrictive diets that involve counting everything from calories to milligrams of fat to the amount of carbs you should be eating depending on your star sign to the number of grapefruits you can humanly consume in one sitting? Etc, etc… Never fear.
And because fruits and veggies contain relatively few calories, you’re gonna need plenty of them to fill your body with the endless vitamins, minerals, and energy-boosting carbs contained in these little miracles of nature.
So I’m not talking a bunch of bananas and a punnet of blueberries at every shop. I’m talking a trolley full of rainbow produce, to keep you and the family energized and ready to tackle the week. So buy in bulk.
Wherever you shop, you’re pretty much always gonna get a better deal for buying more. Large amounts of fruits and veggies are nearly always much better value for money than smaller ones, and it’s the same with nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Ever noticed how a ‘snack pack’ of fruit or nuts and seeds can cost you anything up to 4 dollars or more, the same as what a big pack will cost you. Annoying isn’t the word! Go for the biggest sizes possible to get the best value, and check the price per pound to ensure you’re picking the best product.
3. Find the discounted produce shelves
If there’s one thing I love almost as much as raw vegan desserts, it’s bagging discounted produce.
Nearly all supermarkets and even grocers and outdoor markets will have a discounted produce section, or a time where they need to sell produce quickly. You’re probably already aware of yours, but if not, just ask a worker at your local, and they’ll point you in the right direction. Alternatively, follow the beaming, golden light of those beautiful yellow discount stickers… there you will find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Unless someone’s already put it all in their cart. If so, it was probably me. Sorry.
Different grocery stores discount produce at different times of course, but as a general rule an hour or two before closing is a good time to try to bag a bargain. And it might seem like a pain, but if you can get a bunch of avocados for 50 cents instead of 3 dollars, why wouldn’t you? Not that I ever spend my weekends and evenings going from store to store looking for reduced produce. Nope. Never.
4. Look for special offers
My local supermarket has a 5-a-week deal on fresh produce, where they choose 5 items and take half off. I’ll take them all, thanks.
And it’s pretty much the same at every grocery store – look at the end of the aisles where the fresh produce is and there should be loads of offers to take advantage of, from buy one get one frees to discounts to bulk buys. My advice is, fill your cart with the offers, and leave with the smuggest smile on your face whilst munching on one of your 64 apples. Who’s laughing now, supermarket conglomerates?! Still them, really.
5. Go to Aldi
If you’ve never been to Aldi before, you must go. Immediately. Or after you’ve read this article and made a list, anyway. A relative newcomer to the supermarket market in the US, Aldi is known and loved across Europe. A German business, Aldi prides itself on providing the basics at great value prices.
Now you won’t be getting your coconut aminos, spirulina and acai berries from Aldi, but what you will get is an abundance of fresh and frozen fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds at fantastic prices. Many see the store as an add-on to their usual shopping routine, as they don’t tend to stock much branded produce. But as raw vegans on a budget, that doesn’t really concern us. What we’re after is lots of fresh fruits and veggies at decent prices. And Aldi certainly delivers.
They even stock some organic produce.
But the main reason I go there is the prices. Last week I bagged three watermelons from Aldi for $3.49 each, whilst my other local supermarket was selling them for an outrageous $7.99! Suffice to say, I carried my watermelons outta there like a proud new mother. I did tell you I liked a bargain.
Add Aldi to your weekly routine, and see your dollars stack up. And if you can get any reduced produce from Aldi (it’s rarer, but it does happen), then you win my undying respect for the rest of time. And please let me know what time you got said bargain. Thanks!
6. Buy in season
This one isn’t so obvious, but buying in season can make a huge difference to your weekly grocery bill. When you buy fruits and veggies that are in season, especially if they’re in season locally, you’re probably going to spend less.
It’s a simple supply and demand issue… people want blueberries all year round, but there’s fewer of them in the winter, so prices are hiked. In the summer, you’re likely to see offers and great prices on large punnets. You’re likely to see better prices on things like asparagus and snap peas at the moment: both great spring veggies.
7. Grow your own
A great, and surprisingly fun, way of going raw vegan on a budget is to grow your own veggies. It’s become increasingly popular over the years to do so, considering the endless lists of toxic chemicals haphazardly sprayed on to our produce. Of course, when growing your own, you’re eating completely organic, just without the price.
For most people, it’s hardly realistic to grow all of your own fruits and veggies – good luck growing your own bananas anywhere north of Tampa – but some produce is super easy to grow, regardless of where you live.
Herbs are especially easy, even with very limited space, and can actually save you a heap of money. A pack of herbs at the supermarket can cost anything from a couple of dollars to 7, yet seeds normally cost no more than a 2 bucks, and, when looked after, can last for years!
Moving on to veggies, those that tend to be the easiest to start with are peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and zucchini. Which, incidentally, will make you a mean raw spaghetti dish… just without the fertilizers. There are so many guides online to getting started, like this guide to growing your own fruits and veggies for beginners!
8. Get sprouting
It might sound odd at first, but sprouting is way more fun that it would have you believe. And it doesn’t involve any kind of human illness, despite how it sounds…
Sprouting involves munching the sprouted seeds of plants before growing them. That’s it. And they’re so easy to grow yourself, even in an apartment. A true superfood, sprouts are absolutely choc full of vitamins, minerals, protein and enzymes, doing wonders for your body and jazzing raw dishes right up!
Add a new texture to a salad, whip up some chickpea hummus or even make your superfood smoothie super superfood-y with some broccoli sprouts! Trust me.
Check out my guide to sprouting for how to get started!
9. Pick your own
Some produce requires lots of land to grow. Planting strawberries in a compact NYC apartment might be tricky, to say the least… If you’re not fancying growing your own, why not pick your own?
There are loads of pick your own farms dotted around the country, from berries to pumpkins. It’s a great way to spend the day with the family and you normally get way more bang for your buck. Plus, kids love it.
Just don’t be tempted to eat them on the way around. Being put in jail for stealing berries is the least cool way to commit a crime, ever.
You can search for pick your own farms near you using this super handy site!
10. Plan your meals
It’s surprising how much of a hit your wallet can take if you don’t plan your meals. And I’m speaking from experience. Fall into the ‘Ooh I fancy (insert beautiful raw dish here) tonight. I’ll just go to the grocery store to get some (insert beautiful raw ingredients here)’ routine at your peril. Before you know it, you come out with a jumbo pack of mixed nuts and raisins, a few organic mangoes and 5 coconuts. Or you do if you’re me.
There are quite literally thousands of amazing recipes online for raw vegan deliciousness, which of course, tell you exactly what ingredients are required.
Decide on what you’re having for each meal for the next 3 or 4 days, and write down the produce you’ll need. When eating raw vegan, it can be a bit trickier to do a week’s shop on one day per week, given how quickly fruits and veggies can turn if they’re not used. This is of course a good thing; there’s a reason why cookies, chips and processed garbage can last years without appearing to decay: they’re pumped full of toxic preservatives. Not exactly something you’d order on a menu.
The best way for me is to shop for 3 or 4 days at a time, to ensure that your produce stays fresh and you’re eating incredible meals. The last thing you want is wasted on dollars on fruits and veggies that go off before you can enjoy them… Not that that ever happens in my house, with 2 very energetic children!
11.Buy raw food staples
Your first taste of raw veganism may have been with some super fancy sweet treat like raw chocolate truffles, or a beautiful raw pizza slice. It’s not all lettuce, contrary the stereotypes! These things are amazing to munch on the odd occasion, but sticking to a budget and eating these every day might not only make you feel less energetic than you should, but also a little, teeny bit broke.
Nuts, seeds, superfood powders like Maca and Lucuma and fancy berries like goji are fantastic ingredients, but they come with a hefty price tag. To do raw vegan on a budget, it’s best to stick to the staples. Foods I buy every week (that leave me enough money to pay my mortgage) are zuchinnis, tomatoes, cucumbers, mushrooms, bell peppers, bananas, grapes, apples, oranges, raisins, dates (not the medjool kind!) and almonds. Maple syrup tends to be one of the cheaper sweeteners, and growing your own herbs is definitely the cheapest way to season your dishes. Depending on what I plan to eat that week and what’s in season, I’ll get other ‘fancier’ ingredients as and when I need them. And of course, I buy bulk where possible.
If you ever find yourself winning the lotto though, I advise you buy all of the medjool dates, goji berries, raw vegan truffles and raw vegan cakes you can possibly get your hands on. And if you have any left over you need help with, I am at your service, because I am a lovely person.
Check Out ThriveMarket for Pantry Items
If you are searching for items to keep in your pantry, or cheap deals on nuts, seeds and trail mixes, you can shop at ThriveMarket.com for the latest deals. They have some incredible deals all year, along with offers of 20% off on the first few orders.
If you spend more than $50 on the site, you get free shipping anywhere in the United States! You will find some great deals on nuts, seeds, nut and seed butters, and other pantry items. They even sell beauty and health products, supplements and pet supplies!
12. Make substitutions
Making substitutions for cheaper ingredients is also an incredibly simple way to stick to raw vegan on a budget. Fancy adding some texture to a salad? Try sunflower seeds rather than expensive cashews. A combination of pretty much any fruit in a smoothie will be delicious, so instead of exotic fruits like mango and papaya, bananas will make it sweet and creamy, without the price tag. Dried fruit, because of its higher sugar content, is great for quick energy on the go. Instead of reaching for the goji berries, which can set you back upwards of 20 dollars for a pack, choose dates and raisins instead.
I remember when my husband unwittingly ate a whole pack of my organic goji berries once. He claimed he didn’t know what they were, but they were ‘pretty good’. To say my patience was tested that day is an understatement, and I’m still surprised to this day that we’re still married…
13. Re-use leftovers
Food waste is such a crucial issue right now, that reaches far beyond having an economic impact; it’s contributing to the destruction of the environment. In fact, every year worldwide, 1.3 billion tons of food that’s still perfectly fine to eat is wasted. This fact is truly horrifying, and shows us just how crucial it is to prevent food waste.
On a more light-hearted note, being vegan is a fantastic way to care for and protect the environment, as is using ‘leftovers’ to create new dishes! Take juice pulp, for example. When using a juicer, which tends to leave loads of leftover pulp, instead of throwing it away, take a look at these 20 ways to reuse it, including making a raw pizza crust, ‘pulpsicles’, and even your own DIY skincare. Going vegan means you’re already a superhero for the animals, your health and the environment, but using leftovers means you reduce your carbon footprint even more, and save dollars in the process. Everybody wins. Literally.
With scraps that can’t be consumed like carrot peelings and banana skins, a great way to reuse them is to compost them! It not only saves waste, but’ll encourage you to start growing your own veggies. Which, incidentally, is also a great way to keep kids occupied, without the use of a screen.
14. Organic vs Conventional
So you’ve probably already heard of the dirty dozen, which isn’t some kind of horrifying baked good. The dirty dozen is a list of 12 fruits and veggies that, where possible, you should buy organic. This is because these foods, when not organic, are often smothered in toxic pesticides, harming the environment and your health.
EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™
As long as your budget allows, look for the organic options when it comes to these fruits and veggies, to minimize your intake of harmful chemicals.
15. Invest in high-quality equipment
If you’ve read my other articles on equipment, you’re probably sick of me moaning about the uselessness of cheap equipment; suffice to say, it grinds my gears (although it certainly doesn’t grind my food).
Investing in high quality equipment, from juicers and blenders to spiralizers and knives, is so crucial to saving money.
If anyone tells you there’s anything worse in the world than a lumpy, half blended, total mush of a smoothie, they’re lying. Apart from the destruction of the earth and the murder of innocent animals and stuff, of course. You will waste more money in the long run by being tricked into purchasing value equipment, which will not last, and make creating raw vegan dishes of deliciousness a chore rather than a pleasure.
Read my guide to the raw vegan kitchen equipment essentials for everything you need to know about how to prepare your kitchen for raw vegan culinary excellence.
16. Shop wholesale produce
Remember I talked about the best kept secret to doing raw vegan on a budget? Well, here it is. The holy veggie grail: shop wholesale produce.
Here’s how to go about getting the best deals on bulk-bought produce.
To get started, it’s really as simple as Googling wholesale producers near you. But try to do as much research as you can about the wholesaler before you call them: find out if they have decent ratings, if they sell to the public, and if you need a business ID. Giving them a call to check this information and get to know them as a business is the best way to do it.
It might sound like a pain, but in return, you’ll get boxes and boxes (and more boxes) of beautiful fresh produce. So it’s probably best to get your friends and family on board with your produce hunting, and split the cost. It’s a great way to buy your fruits and veggies, and it means savings for everyone! You’ll be spoil for choice… and by the prices.
If you’ve been intrigued by the raw vegan lifestyle for a while, but thought it’d be too costly, or maybe you’re already raw vegan but falling (as I have so many times) into the trap of spending a fortune on unnecessary ingredients, simply follow these 16 tips for shopping raw vegan on a budget. Before you know it, you’ll be saving money like a coupon Queen! Just without the need for coupons…
Leave a comment below if you think there’s any tips I’ve missed, and let me know your raw vegan on a budget hacks! And I hope you have a great time searching for bargains, and saving dollars…
And the best money saving tip of all: hide all organic goji berries from greedy partners. Preferably in a locked safe.