We love all these jewels of nature so much! They have so many benefits for our bodies and our hearts. All these colors, these shapes of fruits and vegetables that attract us naturally according to the unconscious needs of our organisms. Listening to nature and letting it do its thing, what a joy! However, the wallet can also have its say. If having a challenging time with that, listen to these few tips that will hopefully help you reconcile both your budget and need for nice and fresh vegs.
Indeed, when we understand why the quality of our fruits and vegetables is essential, and that to buy them organic is essential, this conviction remains anchored. We want to stick to it no matter what.
That’s why when, in my previous career as a buyer for a chain of organic supermarkets, we realized that the socio-professional category of our customers was no higher than that of the customers of any other supermarket, I was very pleased. The cliché of the “bobo” who buys organic because he can afford it is over. Eating organic is indeed a choice and even a personal commitment. We know why we do it and we measure how necessary it is to do it.
One day I saw an interview on TV with a former World War II resistance fighter. The journalist asked him “what does resistance mean to you today”? He answered, among other things, that it was the fact of buying organic. This touched me a lot and stimulated my will to support this agriculture, respectful of the planet. Indeed, we also (only?) vote by the wallet.
I started to eat organic when I was very young, thanks to my family. But when I became a student, with 200€ per month to live in Paris after rent and transportation, I was a bit short. Nevertheless, I continued to eat organic as much as possible, with bags of apples, carrots, lentils and of course pasta (wholemeal ;)). It was non-negotiable for me.
When I switched to a living food diet a few years later I noticed an increase in my food budget. Part of the reason for this is that it is cheaper to buy rice or other grains by the kilo, by cooking it and swelling with water it easily makes up several meals.
But I know why I made the choice to eat raw every day. It is the way of life I have chosen. And no matter what my budget is or will be, I know that I will do everything I can to stick to it.
So over time I’ve developed a few simple tricks that allow me to keep my diet completely plant-based and alive without blowing up the counters.
Here they are:
1. Make sprouted seeds:
Yes, when you think about it, it’s the same principle as pasta: almost the same price per kilo and you prepare them by filling them with water! Except that: what they give to our body is a thousand times more nutritious!
For the most nutritious, choose green or brown lentils, so simple to make, cheap and delicious, or mung beans, very quick to sprout and hearty.
2. Buy in bulk:
This is the department to favour! This is where the prices per kilo are generally the cheapest. We buy exactly the volume according to our budget or what we need. On the other hand, we avoid plastic, which is good for the health of the planet.
3. Make regular price surveys
This is probably a professional deformation due to my former job as a buyer, but I find it very useful! Make a chart on paper or on the computer with the foodstuffs you buy most often or that cost the most, with the price per kilo per supplier: the organic stores near you, the online suppliers, the market, the producers near you… This way you will make more thoughtful purchases, optimize your trips and save a lot of money!
This is especially true for groceries (nuts, seeds, cereals, legumes, oils…).
4. Find local producers
They are often cheaper on their products than in your organic grocery store. If you are lucky enough to have organic farms near you, don’t hesitate to find out more about their products and where they sell them (directly at the farm, at the market, in amap, producer’s stores…).
5. Buy online
For products that can be kept (groceries) you can sometimes get much better prices by buying from some online platforms. Some of them offer a paid subscription system which then gives access to the catalog or even a discount up to 15% of the total. I calculated that on what I bought last year, and deducting the subscription price, I had saved more than 10% on their already very good price list.
It also allows me to buy in big bags of 5kg to 10kg, which means less plastic, if any (paper bags and string).
I also appreciate the commitment of these companies whose packages are made of recyclable materials (paper and cardboard to cushion the items together).
6. Eat in season
It seems obvious but when you go to your local market gardener, the cheapest prices per kilo are those of fruits and vegetables in season. For me, this stimulates my creativity because I’m always happy to let nature decide for me what I’m going to grow, and it’s always a joy to find fruits or vegetables that come back on the stalls as the sun continues its race towards the beautiful days (or the short days).
7. Everything can be eaten!
The advantage is that with raw vegan food we know how beneficial it is to keep the skin! Did you know, for example, that you can eat a kiwi just like an apple? That the skin of bananas is edible (smoothies or infusion)? That the skin of watermelon can be cooked (lacto-fermentations)? Many antioxidants, vitamins and minerals are found in or near the skin of fruits and vegetables. You might as well keep everything!
– Think recycling: when you cook, keep the edible parts that you don’t want to use for a juice later.
– Think dehydrator: for some dishes I peel carrots, zucchinis, sweet potatoes, I mix later the peelings with a little tamari and curry, in the dehydrator 24h and I have beautiful chips that everyone loves!
– For vegetables that are starting to spoil: their appearance is no longer desirable in a salad, so what the heck, we recycle them into crackers!
– You make a carrot or beet juice: keep the pulp for your salads or dehydrated preparations!
– And the pits: keep them and the next time you walk in the nature throw them away! Who knows, in a few years you might taste the fruit.
– And the rest: compost it if you have, it will feed the earth which will feed you in return, the loop is closed!
8. Take advantage of special offers at the produce shops
Sometimes when they have surplus production, they offer very attractive prices. Take advantage of this and make raw preparations that can be kept: dehydration, lacto-fermentation, or freezing for future smoothies for example (bananas, strawberries, peaches, apricots…)
9. Conventional fruits and vegetables with less pesticides
This is also a possibility. When they are in transition to organic, the farms are subject to a three-year period during which their products are not yet certified, but the production methods are applied (in France at least). Therefore, they are usually a little cheaper.
In addition, some non-organic plants have the reputation of containing less pesticides than others. These are the “clean fifteen” as opposed to the “dirty dozen“. These lists are established in conjunction with the US Department of Agriculture, through regular national analyses.
Although the plant protection products differ from country to country, I find that this still gives an interesting indication.
The “Clean Fifteen
The Dirty Dozen
10. Eat local fruits and vegetables
Indeed, what comes from our local lands has a much lower transport cost. You only have to look at the prices per kilo of cashew nuts, macadamia and other coconut and cacao oils to realize this. These products enrich the possibilities of raw cooking of course. And I have no qualms about buying them when I know that the well-being and integrity of the producers have been respected.
However, to reduce the budget you can try substituting some of the ingredients in your favorite recipes with more local ones, such as cashews or macadamia nuts with sunflower seeds. It may not be quite the same delicacy (just may!) but for your everyday recipes it will do just fine.
I hope you enjoy these tips, feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below if you have any! 😉
And I’d love to know what YOUR tips are for making the most of your plants budget! 😉