Eating raw can be either super-cheap or super-expensive, or anywhere in between - it depends on what kinds of foods you are buying, where you are buying them from as well as the all-important quality and quantity. The most expensive foods are typically the tropical fruits and out of season fruits, the speciality ingredients from the USA and of course organic foods are generally more expensive than non. The cheapest foods are of course going to be the ones you grow yourself, are given by others or what you'll have plenty of if you take up sprouting for a living! That said, there are always ways and means of getting cut-price produce of the kind you really want, it just takes a bit of time and effort to shop around, and sometimes some clever thinking! But once you've found some good suppliers, tips and techniques, you’re well on your way to saving what can often be substantial amounts of money.
Here follow some ideas which, without exception, will pay dividends, both in terms of time and money...
- Pooling resources with others is an excellent way to save time and money. You can bulk buy from wholesalers such as Suma, pool your knowledge, and also take it in turns to do the shopping or ordering. You’ll also find that when you order with other people you'll likely try new foods you might not have tried otherwise and discover some really lovely new ingredients or main meal staples. And then there's the added bonus of feeling part of a raw food 'community'...
- Grow as much of your own produce as possible. If you don’t have the space or time to get into gardening on any great scale, you can still grow plenty of sprouts and indoor greens which can save you a small fortune (one woman I know cut her food bill by a third by swapping meat for sprouts). Also, as you have already learned, sprouted beans, seeds and grains also supply some of the most live and potent nutrients you will ever find, and for next to nothing in many cases. Look out for a future post on successful sprouting.
- Dehydrate many of your fresh foods which are past their best, but still edible, but which you’re not planning on using before they deteriorate further. Instead you can dehydrate them in a number of ways (slices, chips, marinated then dehydrated, dehydrated then ground into sprinkles and seasonings etc.) and use them later. See a few posts back for mini teach-ins on dehydrators and dehydrating.
- Freeze any bananas that are speckled but not yet black if you’re not going to get through them before they turn. Take the skin off and put in the freezer – within a few hours you’ll have the basic ingredient for a great raw ice-cream or frozen lolly. Do the same with other fresh fruit – most fruits translate excellently into ice-cream or sorbet at a later date.
- One of the very best tips for saving money on a regular basis is to find out when your favourite shops mark down their produce. Typically supermarkets have a day and/or time where they reduce prices on fresh goods by up to 90%, and you can find some real bargains. You just have to know when these days are and what times are best. The quickest way to find out? Just ask one of the checkout assistants!
- Consider advertising or putting the word around that you're looking for organic fruits and vegetables that are locally grown. Lots of allotment growers have excess produce that often goes to waste - connect with them and offer to take the excess off their hands for pennies rather than pounds - top idea!
- Choose to frequent farm shops rather than supermarkets - many reasons why of course, but financially-speaking you can buy fresh produce that is twice as nutritious and half the price from local farm growers - and it's usually not dipped in chemicals like commercial organic produce. This is what I do.
- Call The Fresh Network on 0845 833 7017 and find out what foods, books and equipment are currently sitting in the 'bargain box'. Often we have nut butters and other foods close to their sell-by date that we sell for less than half price, or books that have been damaged in transit on thier way to us that we cannot sell as new. Give Pete a call during office hours and find out what's in there - it may be just what you're looking for.
And finally, don’t forget the food for free options, such as foraging for wild greens in clean parks and woodlands, mushroom, berry and apple picking, and so forth.
Any more ideas? Please do share them with other readers by posting your top money-saving tips in the comments section. Thank you!