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  1. Hey Lydia,

    One of my concerns is the cost of eating a plants-based, whole foods diet. Do you find that you are spending a bit more, about the same, or a lot more on groceries than you were before adopting this diet? I've always heard that eating healthier means spending a lot of money, but it seems that if you cut out a lot of animal-based foods, it might even out. So I'm just wondering what your experience has been so far. Thanks!


  2. You bring up a good question and something that I know is a big concern for most people. My students tell me all the time they could never afford to eat fruits and veggies - fast food is supposedly so much cheaper (something tells me they haven't done a good amount of price comparing, though. I definitely do NOT find that to be the case).

    I don't know how produce and whole foods got a bad rap for being unrealistically expensive, but they have. It really comes down to 1. Picking your battles, 2. Seeing the big picture (what I'm spending on food I will be saving on healthcare costs down the road), 3. Learning to shop around and decipher between wants vs. needs

    I should probably formulate a whole post on the cost issue - there's a lot to say about it!

    The public computer I'm on won't let me look at our online spending trends, so I will give you an answer on our specific spending soon.

    I feel like we have been spending less, but there's so many variables from month-to-month, so it's hard to say.

    Processed/prepared food and meat and dairy are quite pricey themselves, and so I haven't missed spending my pretty pennies on those. I've found that I usually walk out of the produce aisle with about $40-50 worth of fruits and veggies that will serve as my main food supply that week (and they definitely last all week - it's a race sometimes to finish things before they spoil).

    When I throw on other things (the frozen berries, grains, non-veg food for Zach, plant milks, canned beans, etc) I end up getting up to my normal monthly budget. Certain purchases like nuts/seeds, vegan chocolate, organic non-negotiables like coffee beans, apples, and raw cacao are the splurges. But the staple foods: beans, lentils, rice, frozen veggies... these things cost a mere dollar or two a pop and last for weeks.

    I truly don't find that buying pre-made freezer or commercial non-perishable goods are less expensive than a bag of fruit or a pound of rice. Frozen dinners and meat would cost me $5-6 per item. Those staples I listed above cost about a buck and can be used for multiple meals. Plus, we end up eating at home more and cooking from scratch now, which definitely saves money, too.

  3. As far as the produce, I try to stick to the dirty dozen and the clean 15 - I buy oranic as much as I can from the dirty dozen list(if you google those phrases, you'll find the lists with no problem). But I also pick my battles or go without. If the items on the dirty dozen list are reasonably priced, I go for those every time. If they aren't reasonably priced, I just do without them, make a cut on some other item on my list, or settle for conventional. Sometimes I just allow myself to go a little over and enjoy the knowledge that good food is a good investment. And so even though things like organic apples are always pricey, I'm still okay with getting them regularly. A $4 bag of apples will last me a week or more. A $6 pound of beef gets blown on one meal.

    And sometimes I just compromise. Berries are a big item on the dirty dozen list! The prices for organic frozen blueberries (if you can ever find them!) are too high for me, so I settle for big bags of conventional ones and just hope the nutrients from the berries will outweigh the pesticides. Zach thinks organic cucumbers are too pricey, so I buy conventional and just peel the skin (and sacrifice some of the vitamins, but reduce the residue). In Eat to Live, the author points out that all the studies which show that people who eat large quantities of fruits and veggies lower their cancer risk dramatically conducted these tests with conventionally grown produce, not organic.

    Also, I split my shopping between stores like Wegmans (which I know will have everything I need and has a store brand organic line which means the organic I buy there is comparable to non-organic name brands). Other things, especially conventional things, I buy at Wal-mart which is like the dollar store of food marts! Wal-mart has organic, natural products, too, sometimes for a fraction of the cost. If I use Amazon's online marketplace for dried goods, I can usually shop around for the cheapest price.

    I don't know if that helps. I want to look at our spending trends and tell you if we really have been saving. I'm pretty positive that we've at least been spending the same! I just really find that produce, beans, and grains easily last me a whole week and are cheaper than the typical prices of cookies, cereal or milk. While Zach is on business, I spend even LESS! (Maybe like $11-12 dollars worth of food per day if you divide my grocery bill by 7). So I'm happy with it! I'll be interested to see how things change when little ones come along... but thankfully high-fiber foods fill you up so a little should go a long way!

  4. Lydia, this was hugely helpful! Thank you!