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How to Save Money on Raw Foods

The following is a short excerpt of my monthly Raw Vegan Mentor Club newsletter available in full for my members only. The full newsletter contains detailed charts on how to know exactly which raw foods are the best bang for the buck, and more tips to save you literally hundreds of dollars each month on your food bill. To sign up and immediately download the newsletter, along with over $1200 of bonus gifts (yours to keep no matter what), click here.

My first point is simple: there is no doubt whatsoever that a raw food diet costs more money than a cooked vegan diet, or even an unhealthy SAD.

You heard me correctly:

Eating a raw food diet does cost more money!

Before we get into the details of a very simple simple designed to save you a ton of money while eating raw foods, let’s examine why a raw food diet costs more money.

At first, it would make more sense to think that eating fruits and vegetables would save you money, because these foods are so easy to grow compared to the labor-intensive animal products.

The main difference that makes a raw food diet more expensive is calorie density. Fruits and vegetables are extremely nutritious, but have a low caloric density. That means that to get a certain number of calories you might need in a day, you need to eat more volume.

Every human being needs a certain number of calories every day to maintain his or her weight and energy. If you eat below that amount, you will lose body fat. If you eat above that amount, you will gain body fat. It’s a simple equation that works extremely well for weight loss, but is often underestimated.

Let’s say you need to eat 2000 calories a day (to pick an average number that’s easy to calculate). How much would it cost you to get those calories from typical foods?

As you know, rice, beans and potatoes are very cheap, especially if you buy them in bulk.

For example, a 50 pound bag of long-grain rice at Costco costs around $18. Once cooked, that will yield over 100 pounds of cooked rice.

Each pound of cooked rice will give you about 590 calories, so your big bag of rice for $18 will be enough for 59,000 calories, or enough for 29 and half days. So for less than $20, you can eat for an entire month.

Now you could say that no one could live on just rice. Point taken. How about adding some beans to the equation?

A 25 pound bag of pinto beans might cost around $14, if you know where to shop. Once cooked those beans will probably double in weight, at least. But let’s be conservative and double that to 50 pounds of cooked beans for that bag.

Each pound of cooked pinto beans will give you 650 calories, so your bag of pinto beans will give you 32,500 calories, or enough for over 16 days of eating, for just under $15. Combine half rice, half beans and you’ve got a diet that costs you less than $30 a month, or about $1 a day.

What about potatoes if you buy in bulk? Same deal. Your monthly cost of living only on potatoes will be just over $1 a day.

I know, I know, at this point you’ll argue that no vegan actually just lives on rice and beans, or potatoes.

But my point is that if you made the bulk of your calories these foods, you could get by pretty cheap, even if you added some extras like vegetables, salads and fruit.

Why do you think the rest of the world lives on staples such as rice and beans (Latin America), rice (Asia), potatoes (Peru) or millet and corn (Africa)? Because they are cheap, reliable, easy and relatively healthy sources of calories and nutrients!

Even if you didn’t buy in bulk, you could still get buy pretty cheap eating those foods.

Why a Raw Food Diet Costs More

A raw food diet costs more because most of the calories will come from fruit, or fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds. Greens must also be consumed, but they provide negligible calories.

As we’ve seen, a person still needs to get their calories. And if you’ve been following what we’ve been doing here at Raw Vegan, you know that the best source of calories in the raw food diet is fruit.

Now even if you got cheap bananas at 66 cents a pound, your daily cost for 2000 calories would still be $6.43 a day. That’s just under $200 a month.

That’s certainly not as cheap as the $30 a month it would cost you to live on rice and beans, but it’s not bad either.

If you decided to get lazy and get your bananas at Whole Foods, or live somewhere where bananas are expensive, and ended up paying $1.49 a pound for organic bananas, your cost for 2000 calories would be $12.78 a day, or $383 a month. Again, not too bad for a raw food diet.

However, nobody lives on just bananas! Raw-foodists also consume foods such as romaine lettuce, celery, nuts and seeds, exotic fruits, organic apples, seasonings, superfoods… which are all very expensive ways to get your calories.

Focus on Inexpensive Sources of Calories

The greatest way to save money on the raw food diet is to focus on inexpensive sources of calories.

In our examples, we’ll stick with a 2000 calorie diet.

First, we must acknowledge that variety is important, both for nutritional variety and the psychological satisfaction we get out of eating.

However, if you try to simply divide everything you eat in a certain number of fruits and vegetables, your bills are going to add up.

For example, cherries are great. In the summer, there’s nothing better than feasting on Rainier cherries.

However, they tend to be expensive, and $5 a pound for those cherries is usually a good deal.

A pound of cherries, once you take in account the pits, will give you around 250 calories. Your cost per calorie will be relatively high, as it would cost you $40 a day to eat only those cherries if you wanted to get 2000 calories.

Let’s also consider blueberries, which yield only 230 calories per pound. If you get them at $3 a pound (good deal), it will cost you $26 to feed yourself.

But as we’ve seen, cheap bananas — when they’re not even at rock-bottom prices, will cost you only $6.43 for 2000 calories.

If you buy oranges at Costco in bulk, it will cost you around $9.81 to feed yourself for the day, eating only oranges.

Avocados are usually $1.99 per avocado. You will need 7.22 avocados to get 2000 calories, so it will cost you $14.36 a day eating only avocados! (Note: This is NOT recommended!)

We could keep going but I think you’re starting to get the point.

Once you know which fruits are low in calories, and which fruits are high in calories, and which fruits are a great deal — you can focus on eating mainly those fruits that give you a great cost per calorie, and then supplement with other fruits for variety.

Don’t just blindly pick fruits at the supermarket. Look for the right deals, and know what’s going to bring you the most for the buck.

This was a short excerpt of my monthly Raw Vegan Mentor Club newsletter available in full for my members only. The full newsletter contains detailed charts on how to know exactly which raw foods are the best bang for the buck, and more tips to save you literally hundreds of dollars each month on your food bill. To sign up and immediately download the newsletter, along with over $1200 of bonus gifts (yours to keep no matter what), click here.



Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.


Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.