Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tips for Going Plant Based - Don't Believe the 'It's Too Expensive' Hype

Yes.. that is almond milk in the bag! (wink)

I'm sort of incredulous when it comes to someone telling me they can't eat healthy because it's 'too expensive'. I'm guessing it's because they think they need to shop at Whole Foods or something.

The truth is that you can save money by eating whole, plant based foods. Dead animal flesh and secretions are expensive. You'll pay $2 to $20 a pound or more for that. Rice, beans, fruit and veggies are considerably lower in cost per pound.

What are your bad habits costing you?

When you look at whether something is affordable or not you need to look at the long term as well as the right here and now. If you start following a plant based diet, the odds are good that you can prevent or reverse any disease that may be in your future. Isn't it better to invest in your health now so you aren't paying for medication, surgery and health care later? Why wait until your doctor tells you that you HAVE to change your eating or lifestyle habits? Why wait until you suffer a medical crisis?  Why wait until you are obese, have diabetes, have heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol? It's gonna happen. Seriously.

Why not start making the change now so you can decrease the chance that you'll fall over dead from a heart attack. Think about your family, your friends, your future. Go into your retirement able to do the things you've worked so hard to enjoy like vacations, golf, family gatherings, weddings, new babies or simply sitting outside on the porch. Don't let your life be doctor appointments and surgeries, 9 medications a day, glucose monitoring and insulin injections, having to use oxygen and a walker, needing a handicapped placard, being out of breath when you walk around the store, scraping to find a way to pay what Medicare doesn't cover on your meds. Stop yourself from being a burden to your children. Start NOW. It's never too late.

Grocery Basics

Here are some local prices for a few items I buy on a very regular basis. The great thing about most of these foods is that they are very versatile and you can make many meals by combining these foods in different ways.  You can make tacos, burritos, wraps, enchilada casseroles and quesadillas from veggies, beans and tortillas. A salad and a baked potato makes a hearty dinner. You can use rice and beans together, hot cereal and fruit, soups, chili and burgers can be made with the veggies, rice and beans. A baked sweet potato or warm brown rice with a little cinnamon and maple syrup can be desserts! Pasta with marinara and veggies is also a delicious option. You can make your own corn chips with corn tortillas too!

10 pack of whole wheat flour tortillas - $1.89 (corn are even less expensive and you get more!)
28 oz Brown rice - $1.09 (11 cups per bag cooked = 22 ½ cup cooked servings)
Standard 42 oz tub of oatmeal  - $1.99 (30 ½ cup servings .. just 7 cents a bowl!)
Malt  O Meal Hot Cereal  - $4.00 (23 single servings per box)
Whole wheat fettuccine (12 oz) – 1.79
Whole wheat sandwich buns (8) - $1.79
15 oz canned beans are .50 to .75 per can depending on type (4 servings per can)
29 oz can of pinto beans - .99
1 lb bag of dry beans, lentils or split peas  - .75 to .99 per lb bag (6 cups cooked per bag)
Red gold salsa (16 oz) - .99
Diced tomatoes –  .67 per 15 oz can (plain) 
27 oz can spinach – 1.59
Box of frozen spinach - .89
Bananas .25 to .45 cents a lb. (At Sam’s they are $1.47 for 8 bananas)
Celery - .99 pkg
Cauliflower - .99 per head
Sweet potatoes  - .59 lb
Russet potatoes  - $3.00 for a 10 lb bag
Green onions  - 2 or 3 bunches for $1
Kiwi – 10 to 50 cents each
Cucumbers  - 2 for $1 or less
Red grapefruit  - $2.50 for a bag of 8
Broccoli - .99 lb
Zucchini – 1.49 lb
Grapes – 2.49 lb (lower on sale)
Apples - $1.39 lb (these can vary greatly based on variety and size. An apple will average .30 to .80 cents ea)

These prices are from a regular grocery store. I can find even cheaper prices at Aldi or a local produce store or you can look at sales at regular grocery stores each week. You can also check local warehouse stores for bulk deals. You can get great prices on grains and beans from stores that offer them from bulk bins. Buy store brand canned, bagged and frozen goods like beans, rice, veggies and grains. Did you know that you can often save money by getting certain products in the ethnic/international aisles? I find that beans and tortillas are cheaper in the Mexican food section!

If you sit down and take a look at all the processed foods, soda, alcohol, milk, eggs, meat, ice cream and pre-packaged convenience foods you've been buying, you'd have a TON of money to use towards whole, plant based foods.

Specialty Foods

There are some specialty foods you may want to buy and those may seem more expensive at first glance but you don't buy those every week or even every month. You can go a few months before you need to buy some of these things so in reality, the price isn't that high when you look at cost per use. Those foods for me are Veganaise, miso, nutritional yeast, sweeteners, flours, vinegars and condiments.


What about organic, you say?

Yes, organics can cost more but you don't have to buy organics and if you want to, you really only need to buy certain fruits and veggies organic. The rest you can buy non-organic. I've also gotten some great deals in the organic section. They tend to mark things down low so it pays to walk thru and take a look!

Dirty Dozen

These are the ones you should buy organic.
They are most heavily sprayed and they don't have any natural protection like a thick skin. 

Nectarines (imported)
Grapes  (imported)
Sweet bell peppers
Blueberries (domestic)
Kale/collard greens

The Clean 15

These are lowest in pesticide and/or have an outer skin that we do not consume.  Feel confident in buying non-organic in these.

Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
Cantaloupe (domestic)
Sweet potatoes

Convenience Foods 

There may be things you like that are more of a convenience to you .. like nut milks and veggie burgers or plant meats like Tofurky, Gardein, Tofutti, and the like. Those can be pricey. You can actually make many of those things yourself easily. For example, I make my own almond milk. It's delicious, has no weird ingredients and it lots less expensive than buying it.

Retail almond milk costs about .66 to .75 per cup (depending on flavor and brand)
My almond milk (sweetened) – .32 per cup
My almond milk (unsweetened) - .24 per cup

I also make my own black bean burgers, soups, specialty breads like foccacia, refried beans, almond butter, pasta sauce, cashew cheese, kale chips,salad dressings, croutons and seitan. It isn't difficult and homemade is so much better! You can even freeze foods to heat up quickly later on!

Bottom line - it only has to be expensive it you WANT it to be. Sure, you can go to Whole Foods and buy their overpriced produce, give in to the vegan junk food or be seduced by the exotic nut butters. You can load up your cart with frozen vegan dinners, fancy veggie burgers and plant meats because you're too damn lazy to cook OR you can shop smart and start cooking!


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