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How I Ate Raw on $5/Day

Updated on July 17, 2016

It's NOT Too Expensive To Eat A Raw Foods Diet

I think the biggest misconception about eating raw, is that it HAS to be extrememly expensive. Well, that's just not true. Today, I'm going to share how I ate raw on LESS than $5 a day!

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritonal expert. Always listen to your body and figure out what works best for you!

Here's How I Did It

Below is an overview of the foods I ate, the cost, and calories. Most of the foods were purchased at Costco, Foodmax, or Safeway. I highly reccommend shopping wholesale while on a tight budget! It may not be the best quality in terms of produce, but it will save a pretty penny.

Staple Foods
Cost
Calories
80lbs Bananas
$46.00
32,320
80 Mangos
$26.40
13,600
10 Romaine Hearts
$6.98
500
3lbs Carrots
$3.00
558
3lbs Tomatoes
$9.90
243
10 Avocados
$15.00
3,000
3lbs Cashews
$26.97
7,524
4lbs Medjool Dates
$8.99
4,988
Totals:
$143.24 ($4.77/day)
62,733.3 (2,091.1/Day)
This is based on 30 days!

What Did My Meals Look Like?

I ate similar meals everyday. Here's what some of them looked like!

Breakfast: 7-10 banana smoothies (just bananas blended with lots of water); 10-12 date smoothie (pitted dates blended with lots of water); 3-6 mangos! Yum!

Lunch: Salad (lettuce with carrots, tomatoes, avocado) and cashews

Dinner: Another smoothie

Dessert: Banana "nice cream" (frozen bananas blended with a tiny bit of water) topped with chopped cashews and sauce (sauce- dates and cashews blended with water until creamy and smooth)

Simple Foods = Saving Money

As you can see above, eating an affordable, raw diet consists of really basic, simple foods. Many raw foodies make complex meals with a lot of different ingredients (raw cakes, sauces, pizzas, etc.) I've found eating this way to be harder on my body and my pocket book! Sure, foods like that are great on OCCASSION. It's easy to get caught up making those foods regularly though. Just because it's raw doesn't mean it's healthy. And, it's no secret, that just because it's raw doesn't mean it's cheap. Stick to the basics. Eat a lot of whole foods in their natural state. It'll be easy to thrive eating raw once your mind adjusts to the huge lifestyle chang

I was only eating around 2,000 calories a day. I was pretty sedentary, as well. When I'm more active or on training days I tend to eat more and, therefore, spend more. Most months I eat much more variety as well, adding bell peppers, mushrooms, corn, kelp noodles, etc., to my diet. For this month, though, I cut out all those foods and ate really basic! But even eating more diversity it's still extrememly affordable.

Eating raw, you cut out (most) eating out, coffee products (no more spending $5 on a complicated latte, sorry), and packaged snacks like chips and cookies. I found by eliminating those costs, I actually save money eating a high raw diet! If money is really tight, avoid the more expensive foods (per calorie) like tomatoes and mushrooms and focus on staple foods like bananas and dates. Shopping online can provide some great deals as well! (Especially on dates, nuts, and seeds.)


I found by eliminating these costs, I actually save money eating a high raw diet!

Let's Talk Nutrients

Eating raw on less than $5 a day wasn't hard. However, you'll notice in the table below that there are a few things I was little low on. Compared to the standard American diet (SAD), I ate MUCH better, in terms of nutrition, with this raw, affordable diet. Nothing bugs me more than people critizing my dietary choices, fretting over how defieicent it is or how it's an eating disorder......while they're munching fast food or dead animals. *Facepalm*

Despite consuming higher nutrient levels than most Americans, I was still lacking in some areas, like Vitamin D and B12. I entered the food I consumed into Fitday and created a table based on the information Fitday provided (below).


Nutrition

Nutrients
RDA%
Nutrients
RDA%
Vitamin A
179%
Vitamin E
65%
Vitamin B6
450%
Calcium
26%
Vitamin C
430%
Iron
54%
Magnesium
190%
Sodium
14%
Manganese
270%
Vitamin D
0%
Copper
320%
Vitamin B12
0%
Niacin
110%
Selenium
46%
Pant. Acid
141%
Zinc
72%
Thiamin
102%
 
 
Phosphorus
103%
 
 
Potassium
174%
 
 
Riboflav
143%
 
 

How Do I Avoid Being Low In Some Areas?

Here's a list of all the nutrients I was below 100% in and ways to bring those numbers up without bringing the spending up!

Vitamin E - Almonds, sunflower seeds, and spinach are all great sources of Vitamin E. Mix up the cashews with almonds and sunflower seeds and use spinach in place of romaine lettuce.

Calcium - Dark, leafy greens like kale, dandelion greens, and spinach all have decent calcium content. Make salads and mix in some dark greens in addition to the romaine lettuce. Sesame seeds are a bonus! They have 9% of the RDA in just 1 tablespoon. (What I do for calcium is a bit different, however. I have yellow calcite stones that sit in my water bottle. I purchased them for $5 (sourced in the US) and just dumped them into the bottom of my water. It's a great option to look into if you love stones like I do!)

(Note: See below for an AMAZING book I recommend for more info on how stones like the calcite, words, music, and other humans affect water crystals)

Iron - Seeds! Add seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame to your daily nut intake to consume enough iron. Replace a few cashew nuts with seeds and you'll be set.

Sodium - Mix some chard into salads or add ( a very small amount of) raw Himalayan sea salt to your food. I recommend just upping your dark leafy green intake, though, and maybe throwing some celery into the mix as well.

Selenium - This is another that can be found in seeds and dark, leafy greens. Add sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, etc., to your cashew nuts and throw some spinach into a salad.

Zinc - Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds ... EAT YOUR SEEDS

Vitamin D - This one leads to quite some controversy about the vegan diet being safe or sustainable, as it's not heavily found outside of animal products. However, there is a HUGE source of vitamin D FREE to everyone and it's called the sun! Soak up sun as often as you can. It's the most natural way to absorb this essential vitamin. Even in winter the sun is still up there shining, so it's possible to get enough year round. In addition to the sun, add some mushrooms to your diet.

Vitamin B12 - This one is even more controversial than Vitamin D. The problem is, the most natural form of Vitamin B12 is found in the soil on produce. A fresh carrot out of a garden, bits of soil still on it while it's being eaten, will provide Vitamin B12. Most people don't have access to personal gardens where they can eat produce with some dirt still on it (and know what's in the soil too). Other options for vegans include nutritional yeast and fortified products like soy milk fortified with vitamin B12. I would recommend consuming nutritional yeast and then fortified soy milk (or other alternative milks.) The last option I would suggest would be to supplement. There are many different supplementation options on the market, so do your research to make an informed decision.



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Tips For Eating Raw on a Budget

  • Shop Wholesale, like Costco, Foodmax, and Sam's Club
  • Buy low cost, high calorie foods, like bananas and dates
  • Look for sales on specific fruits (like the deal I found on mangos for .33 cents a piece!)
  • Ask your local grocery store if you can a) buy in bulk for a discount or b) take their older/damaged foods off their hands for either a discount or free. Many stores have "old" produce that is perfectly ripe (like spotted bananas) they can't sell.
  • Add a variety of seeds and dark, leafy greens to your diet to avoid being deficient in any key areas.
  • Ask people for their pumpkin seeds! (Seriously, tons of people use pumpkins for Halloween and just throw out the seeds)
  • Get plenty of sun! Soak up your vitamin D.
  • Begin your raw journey as basic as possible. Slowly add variety until you find what works for you, in terms of both health and finances!

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