I am sometimes asked if my diet (high raw vegan, about 95%) is terribly expensive. My usual reply is that I don’t know, as I am among the 10 worst shoppers in the world. The issue for me is to buy foods with high nutrient density, mostly organic, in ways and places that fit with the rest of my lifestyle. Truly, I don’t think my way of eating is any more expensive than anyone else’s, especially given that I don’t eat meat, drink alcohol, or buy any processed food – well, very little processed food.
I do believe that on either large or modest food budgets, we can eat poorly or we can eat well. In these days of ubiquitous pesticides, genetically modified foods, and questionable soil conditions, it’s more important than ever to eat the right foods in order to maintain physical health and a high level of immunity. So, I may pay the higher prices for produce, but have good clean food to show for it, and I don’t buy low quality foods that have been highly compromised, and which, I might add, come at a very high price for their “convenience.”, but certainly not for their nutritious superiority.
Of course, it makes good sense to be a more discriminating shopper than I am, for sure. Just don’t sacrifice relative cost for nutrient dense, life-giving food.
Here are a few tips to help you eat in a way that you can develop and maintain the energy and vitality to function on a high level – with peak performance, as it were, and still honor your budget.
1. Take advantage of seasonal produce and sales. For example, eat lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables during the summer when they are plentiful and inexpensive. Try some new varieties while you’re at it. Each one has its own set of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and they’re all good and valuable in some way for our bodies.
2. Shop around. Visit different stores and observe different pricing schemes and sale schedules. Visit ethnic markets and local farmers markets, too.
3. Grow some things yourself. I am an anomaly in the Midwest, where virtually everyone has a garden. I’m not a gardener, but even I can plant some fresh herbs in a pot, and occasionally tomatoes.
4. Some produce – apples, oranges, bananas, carrots, and cabbage are available year round and are usually reasonably priced.
5. Get together with a group to purchase your food. Belonging to a food co-op can be a money saver.
6. Eat mono-meals several times a week. A mono-meal is simply eating one food at a meal. So….all peaches, all apples, all greens, etc. Doing this occasionally will give your digestive system a break and help your budget as well.
7. Take some time to learn as much as you can about local foraging. There are many edible, nutrient dense plants to be had probably very close to your home, and are very well –priced. If you have an herbal medicine class, or wild edibles class available to you, it would pay big dividends.
Summer is a great time to experiment with new foods, because they are so plentiful in number and moderate in price. Be creative. You may find some new very fine “bargains!”