Eating healthy/raw while on a budget

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

Eating healthy, especially a high raw, high fruit diet is so important for how we feel mentally and physically. But it can get a little more difficult if on a budget, but that doesn't mean you can't do it!

For the first year of me eating a high raw, fruit based diet I was on food stamps and the first 2 years me and Phillip were together we were on a very strict budget, including on and off food stamps. It was only until around 6 months ago that our financial situation started to change and we were able to be a bit more flexible with our budget, but we still try and stick around $150 a week for our family of 5.

I am going to share with you my top tips for eating healthy on a budget with some meal plan examples, grocery list example and more.


My first tip is: Shop around!

Most grocery stores have weekly ads every week where new items are on sale, which includes produce. Take a look around at all of your weekly grocery stores and see which place has the best deals for certain items. If you want to get the most out of your money, you might have to go around to multiple different stores because store A may have mangos for $1, but their tomatoes could be $2 a pound but store B has $2 mangos but $1/pound tomatoes. So some stores might have better deals on one item, but not on another. When we were on a strict budget we would sit down one day a week before grocery shopping and write out exactly what we were getting at each store before we left so we knew how to buy for our budget appropriately and we wouldn't buy anything that wasn't on our list.


My second tip is: Keep it simple!

Now if you're on a strict budget don't expect to be eating lavish smoothie bowls and salads with crazy ingredients, your food will have to be simple. When I first started eating high raw at least 50% of what I ate was bananas. I had to keep it extremely simple and limited to bananas and in season produce. My salads were also incredibly simple, as were all my meals. This might be a huge turn off to some people, but food isn't here to overly excite us or entertain us. Its okay for meals to be simple. You will have to work on getting over your food addiction and emotional attachment to food to reach the point where eating simple foods is okay with you, but if you really want to make this lifestyle work even with your budget, being okay with simple meals is an absolute must. Eating simple and sticking to what you can afford will still make you feel fantastic. You don't have to eat a specific fruit to gain the health benefits of this lifestyle, you just have to eat any fruit you can.


My third tip is: Farmers markets!

There are some farmers markets that accept food stamps, and some not only accept food stamps but they also double up your food stamp dollars. For example, if you give them $20 in food stamps, they will give you $40 to spend at the farmers market. This is an incredible deal and can help you get some amazing produce for a good price! Another way to get good deals at farmers markets is to ask around at all the stands and see if they will sell you their bruised or 'bad' produce at a discount. I have had success doing this before and have gotten peaches, apples, pears and more for a huge discount. Be friendly, talk to them about your situation and see if there is anything you can work out. I am sure they would be more than happy to help you out while making some money off the produce they would most likely be throwing out anyways.


My fourth tip is: Find a wholesaler!

So if you're on food stamps or on a small budget, a wholesaler can help you out a lot. Of course you won't be able to use food stamps at a wholesaler, but if you are able have a little bit of extra money to spend each week you can stock up on 1-2 items in bulk that will be your main calories for the week. I get a lot of questions about how to find a wholesaler, especially one that sells to the public. When I first got into buying from a wholesaler I first googled 'produce wholesaler Portland Oregon' (that is where I lived at the time) and a whole list of different wholesalers popped up. I emailed and called all of the ones I could find and asked them to email me over their price list and I saw which ones had the best deals. There price list is either going to change weekly or daily so you will want to always get a new price list before ordering. Now finding one that sells to the public could be difficult, but what I used to do was tell them that I was a business and they never asked for proof. So if you are worried they may not sell to you because you're not a business, you can just tell them you are. Since you would be ordering a small amount of produce, you will most likely have to pick it up from the wholesaler itself. But some may deliver to your home.

Just like the farmers market, you can ask around at wholesalers too to see if they would ever sell you their ripe produce at a discount, it's always worth a shot.


My fifth tip is: Eat in season!

Eating in season produce is so important. If a fruit is out of season it is going to be around 2-4x the price it is when its in season. So make sure that you are only buying produce that is currently in season, my only exception is bananas and pineapples because they always seem to be the same price all year round.


My sixth tip is: Buy dried and frozen over canned or fresh (only applies to those not wanting to be raw)

Now if you aren't not worried about being 100% raw and want to eat some cooked food as well, buying beans/rice/legumes that are not already cooked are going to be so much cheaper than anything canned or pre made. Same goes for vegetables, frozen vegetables are incredibly cheap compared to fresh. Of course fresh is best, but if you are on a budget sometimes you just have to do your best and eating frozen veggies/fruits is way better than not eating any at all. Dried beans and legumes are some of the cheapest foods available to us and super calorie rich.


Those are all of my tips for eating healthy/raw on a budget.


What a days worth of food could look like for raw on a budget:


Meal #1: Smoothie made with 8 bananas and 2 cups frozen strawberries


Meal #2: 600-1000 calories of in season fruit


Meal #4: Salad made with 1 head of lettuce, 1 tomato, 1 cucumber, 2 stalks of celery and a dressing made out of 1 avocado (or 1 zucchini,) 1 bell pepper, your favorite spices and lemon juice.


What a days worth of food could look like for high raw on a budget:


Meal #1: Smoothie made with 8 bananas and 2 cups frozen strawberries


Meal #2: 600-1000 calories of in season fruit


Meal #4: Lettuce tacos: 1-2 cups of rice and 1-2 cups of beans mixed with 1 chopped tomato, 1/2 an avocado and your favorite spices. Put everything into lettuce leaves and enjoy.


Grocery list for raw on a budget (for one):

20-30 pounds of bananas

Large bag of frozen fruit

5-7 heads of lettuce

2-3 pounds of tomatoes

5 cucumbers

4-7 avocados (or 4-7 zucchinis)

10-20 pounds of in season fruit

1 head of celery

4-5 bell peppers


I hope that all of these tips are helpful to you. This is what worked for us when eating healthy/raw on a budget and hopefully it will work for you too. Just focus on doing your best and remember that if you can't (or don't want to) be 100% raw, plant based foods like oats, potatoes, beans, rice and vegetables are some of the cheapest foods we have access to. There is definitely a way to eat healthy while on a budget. <3





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