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Help with Plant-Based Cost Cutting



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HIKELUV
HIKELUV's Photo Posts: 177
6/25/13 9:03 A

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I'd look into a local Oriental grocery store. My girlfriend who is Chinese taught me this. Their produce is much cheaper than the regular grocery store, and all the condiments are a fraction of the price (soy sauce, rice vinegar, etc.). They also have large bags of rice for very little money.

As for cooking, I'd invest in a pressure cooker and explore bean cookery. Dried beans are a fraction of the price of canned, and so much more delicious when you cook them yourself. You can put them in soups, bean dips, bean salads, etc. The pressure cooker helps them cook very quickly. I live in a smaller space, so use a Fagor model that is also a crock pot and rice cooker. I love that multitasking!

Overall, cook it yourself. Visit the library and look for yummy recipes. Or look online - there are tons of resources. Anything you cook at home will be much cheaper than buying premade, processed items at the store. I like the comment below about TVP. I so agree! We use it to make great sloppy joes and taco filling, and for the cost of one bag of the frozen crumbles I can make three meals with TVP.

Winners do daily what others do occasionally (Pete Thomas).


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55IN2013
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6/23/13 12:58 P

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If you are not brand loyal, there is always at least one form of tofu on sale at the the grocery store...often for as little as 1.25 a block and there are all sorts of assorted textures for use grilling, or stir frying or adding to smoothies.
Beans are cheap and a good source of protein.
Quinoa seems pricey, but it cooks up and fluffs up a lot and makes a ton and is a great protein source.
I agree with others, try to buy fruits in season for the best deals (veggies too), check the farmers markets, and plant some things yourself too!



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ICAMP2
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6/23/13 7:47 A

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I just wanted to add to what everybody else is saying... I agree check farmers markets, lots of rice, beans, fresh fruits and veggies. I am a single mom feeding 7 children (4 foster, 3 bio) a 90% organic diet so I know it can be done !

The HUGE thing I didn't see on here is to look up Azure Standard and see if they have a drop in your area. If they don't, contact them and find out if they may be able to create one. They are an organic whole food company out of Oregon but deliver all over the country. Basically you make one big order and they drop once a month to your area. You show up and pick up your order. They do bulk and regular size as well. The beauty is, they are often cheaper then standard items at the store.

Each month I focus on "stocking" a certain area, so... 3 months ago I stocked up on whole wheat flour, I bought 25 pounds for less then 14 dollars. I bought bran for muffins, lots of rice, organic pastas (watch the sales, they are often 2.00 a box) and other items. The next month I bought a lot of staples, a gallon of organic olive oil (will last 3 months) for under 20 dollars. They often have produce sales, I got a 40 pound box of organic apples for 19.00, this month I bought several organic watermelons for 5.50 each!

You can't beat them for quality and price! Again, you don't have to buy in the bulk size, I do because we have a large family but they offer all different sizes of items.

Katrina from Oregon

BLC Navy Ninja

www.fatmomwogging.blogspot.com

My rambling blog about absolutely nothing terribly important.


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MAGSMAGS77
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6/21/13 8:54 P

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Hi there :)

This is my first year growing veggies..super exciting, but still a lot to learn. What is the "drip system" you mentioned in your post? I'm a little worried my raised bed is not draining properly. We started late in the season, so it's all new to me!



AGILECAT
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6/21/13 4:31 P

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Leafy greens are inexpensive--I just bought a huge batch of beautiful collard greens for $.99. I chopped some and added them to a veggie stew made with black-eyed peas, canned diced tomatoes, 1 diced carrot and some frozen green beans. The big leaves make a great bed for fish or other entrees, and are also great sautéed as a side dish with a little lemon and olive oil.

My main advice is don't over-buy...wasting food of any kind is a costly habit.

Eat to fuel your body, instead of working out to offset calorie consumption.

Courage comes from the Old French for "heart". To be courageous literally means to do something heart-felt.


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CHARLOTTE1947
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6/21/13 3:55 P

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I would like to make the point that proper food storage prolongs the life of fruits and vegetables. Sometimes we have no choice but to buy produce in quantities we know we won't use immediately, and we throw things in the frig without another thought, only to discover them mushy or moldy later. For example, cukes, oranges, eggplant are best stored on a counter top, and onions need to be stored away from potatoes. All berries are best stored in the frig. in a single layer, unwashed.

I found a chart somewhere online ("What to Store Where: A Handy Chart") that is posted on my refrigerator. I check it before I pack away my produce for later use. If you can keep your produce fresh another couple of days, you'll do better at getting your money's worth out of your purchases.

"The only way to hurt your body is to not use it." Jack LaLanne


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ITGALLO
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6/21/13 1:01 P

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Veggies and fruit are cheaper than meat, in money and in health.

Ilene
RNY 01/03/11
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COPPERFIRE952
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6/21/13 6:49 A

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My husband and I don't stick solely to a plant based diet, but in the summer, we do focus a lot of our meals on fruits and vegetables which we grow in our own garden, forage for (wild blackberries, raspberries, apples, etc.), or purchase locally. We are blessed with a large amount of land where we've been able to put in large gardens and start our own orchard, but I've helped several friends with very little space start growing.

When you don't have a lot of space I recommend growing vegetables that give you the most return for your time, money and space. Things like tomato and lettuce are extremely easy to grow in containers and can save you lots of money since they cost a lot at the store, while other things like potato take up lots of space and aren't that expensive to begin with, so if you have a small garden, you can skip them. I also have literally saved myself, friends and family hundreds of dollars over the last few years growing all my own herbs. They are extremely easy to grow - many are perennial and they make everything else taste better!

An added bonus - gardening is great exercise!



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JENNIW29
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6/20/13 6:23 P

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I have been plant strong for a year and a half now and loving it. Here is my two cents on the subject!

Buy in season and local when you can. Farmers Markets and CSAs can be great ways to save money. Try to make sure the Farmers Markets have produce that is actually grown locally. It will taste much better! CSAs can be trickier and more costly if you aren't an adventurous freggie lover. You may get things in your box each week that you have no idea how to prepare and so it might sit around in your fridge or on your counter and go bad.

Try to avoid meat & other processed substitutes (cream cheese, cheese, etc.). They are expensive and not that great for you. For ground beef, I will have some Morningstar or Boca crumbles on hand if they go on sale, but I have found that TVP, lentils, or mushrooms can be better substitutes. Try to find ways to make the substitutes yourself, there are so many resources and recipes online for plant-based substitutes: cashew cheese, seitan, etc.

I find it is imperative to have a list of staple/pantry ingredients along with their best prices. That way if you are at the grocery store and notice canned black beans are on sale for 69 cents, you stock up. You probably will find another sale before you run out. And in the interim, you don't have to pay $1 or more for them.

I shop at a couple places: Trader Joes, Whole Foods, local co-op (great for bulk products), local grocery store, etc. I do the bulk of my shopping at the local grocery store, but make runs to the other stores, probably once or twice a month. I have found that things like soy milk, almond milk, tofu, etc. are way more expensive at my local grocery store. But at Whole Foods or Trader Joes these items tend to be more affordable because that is what they regularly deal in so they have store brands or are probably getting better wholesale prices. Sometimes you can also find better produce deals at these type of stores. Asian markets can also have good deals on produce and tofu (my local Asian grocery has tofu about 30-60 cents cheaper than Whole Foods or TJ's). If I am already there to pick up a specialty ingredient, I stock up on tofu and peruse the produce section for deals.

Menu planning and sticking to a grocery list! Impulse buying (except off the best prices list) is a money sucker. If you don't know what you are in the store for, you will get sidetracked and all of a sudden you have a full cart or basket when you went in for only one or two things. Target used to have a statistic that the average customer impulse buys $50 per trip. So the fewer times you enter a store, the less the temptation to impulse buy. But that being said, I always peruse the entire produce section and often will go down the aisles where my staple items are. Sometimes, there are unadvertised manager's specials that will be worth it to stock up. For menu planning, there are so many great food blogs and recipes online and your local library probably has a decent selection of vegan and/or vegetarian cookbooks. I like to plan my menu around the weekly produce specials at the grocery store. Also, prepare a couple go-to 3-5 meal plans with corresponding grocery lists. That way if you are pressed for time to plan for the week, you can just grab one of these lists and go.

I am not sure that I am saving that much more money now by eating a plant-based diet than one with animal products. Produce can be expensive, but so are meat and dairy products. Over the long-term my costs are probably much lower because of reduced health care costs. I think the biggest immediate savings has been in dining out. It is just harder to eat this way outside of the house, we maybe go out once or twice a month. When we didn't really care what was going into our bodies, we ate out at least once or twice a week.

I also think I have realized time savings in grocery shopping. I usually only have to visit the produce section and a couple of the middle aisles and occasionally the frozen section, instead of all those plus going up & down most aisles for processed foods, the meat section and the dairy section.

Edited by: JENNIW29 at: 6/20/2013 (18:29)
Jennifer
St. Paul, MN
Central Time Zone

Everything should be made as SIMPLE as possible, but not simpler--Albert Einstein

TAKE REST, a field that has rested yields a bountiful crop.--Ovid


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SEWSWITHHOTGLUE
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6/20/13 2:46 P

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Our family is growing a garden. If we produce more than we can eat, the food is either frozen or dehydrated.

"Someone who is busier than you is running right now."

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ZELDA13
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6/20/13 12:11 P

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I will make a lot of meals that might usually include meat, like chili, stuffed peppers, etc. and substitute a blend of beans, lentils and usually kale or spinach and spices. The spices can be sweet, spicy or whatever I feel like that day. I often make a double batch and freeze one for a quick meal later in the week.

Alice

04/15/2014 190 lb

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.

“Why shouldn’t my health be the most important thing in my life – it doesn’t make me selfish, just smart!” - Joe Downie


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FLUFFYBUNNY81
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6/17/13 5:50 P

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We garden!!! We're total rookies in year 2, but we have tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, mint, eggplant, gourd - all easy stuff :D just made sure they are on our drip system and they are pretty much self-sufficient...nothing like going out to pick dinner or a snack...

One day, one meal, one workout at a time.....


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DIDS70
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6/13/13 9:10 A

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as the PP said, the biggest cost is waste. I am on a vegan raw diet and fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds are my staples. I sprout seeds and legumes. I make interesting salads.
I find that my food costs are way down. I don't buy the processed crap and when i do choose meat (yes I still eat some occassionally) it is always 100% grass fed.
Buying in season and from Farmers markets or joining a CSA will bring costs down. I do frozen fruit but I don't like frozen veggies-- those have to be fresh.
the waste comes from not eating the produce in time. But when i actually consume the fruit and veggies there is no waste. Even when I juice, I don't waste the pulp. I add some flax seeds or other seeds and dehydrate them into crackers or veggie chips.

:)


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KJEANNE
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6/12/13 10:31 A

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I have been vegan for several years. I have found that my biggest cost for a plant-based diet is WASTE! I buy too much and end of throwing away too much. Once I got my buying habits under control, I saved a lot of $$$$$! Why buy a bag of 10 oranges when I only needed 3 for the week? When I plan my meals and buy what I need I have less waste. Less $$ in the trash.

I also buy at the local Mexican and Asian markets along with my local Farmer Markets.

I don't have a garden and have no desire to start one. I also prefer to eat my produce fresh (not frozen and canned) but will freeze some fruits to add to green smoothies, rather than throw the overripe fruit away.

Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.
African proverb


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KNITTY_JESS
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6/12/13 9:02 A

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Both growing your own vegetables and buying in bulk is much cheaper. I've bought from Sam's Club quite a bit. Eventually I'd like to get our freezer chest going because all of those vegetables can be divided into bags and frozen. I also have slowly started canning. That helps preserve good sales and grown produce. Plus, gardening is a great exercise. emoticon

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.

Arnold Bennett







Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/t opic_change.html#ixzz187A3wMeH


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SARAHTHENERD
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6/10/13 8:07 A

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Lots of great advice on this awesome thread! This is probably not a new thought, but my husband and I have found that though a lot of produce can be pricier than we can afford, some produce is always cheap, namely carrots, potatoes, and onions. Those three vegetables can be the basis for myriad meals: soups, curries, stews, roasted w/ olive oil, potato salad, patatas bravas, etc. The list goes on an on what can be made with those as the main feature. We buy the 5 or 10 lb. bags of these, which usually amount to less than $1 per lb, even for organic (which is especially important with potatoes!). A 5lb bag of carrots will last for weeks in the fridge, even with u eating carrots about every day. That's a lot of fresh produce for very little money!
We've also started growing a vegetable garden, which costs a bit up front (buying materials to build a raised bed, including top soil, and some gardening tools), but has (and will continue to) saved us money already: the single seed pack of mixed lettuces ($2.50) has given us delicious fresh salad since late April- we've eaten salad almost every day since the late spring and haven't bought lettuce at all!
My other big tip is buying non-perishable items online. A lot of people have talked about buying dry beans and grains in bulk to save money, which is so true. I've found that the prices are often even lower when you buy in bulk online. Amazon has an impressive selection of bulk non-perishable, organic, whole foods like beans, oatmeal, flours, grains, etc. With Amazon prime, shipping is free.
Finally, I'll submit a recipe for a really, really cheap, easy, and healthy recipe for meat-free split pea soup:
In the morning, sautee in 2 tbs. olive oil a diced onion with 43-4 diced carrots and 3-4 diced celery stalks (or replace with more carrots if, like me, you often have carrots on hand but not celery), and 2-3 garlic cloves, until all is browned. Transfer to a slow cooker. Add 8 cups of broth of your choice (we use homemade chicken broth, as we're not vegetarians but pursue a mostly plant-based diet and practice meat thrift; just put a chicken carcass in the slow cooker the night before with a few chopped carrots and onions and a bay leaf, cover with water and strain in the morning).
Add 2 cups of dry split green peas, 1 cup of yellow split peas (or more green peas), and 1/2 cup red lentils. Add 1-2 bay leaves and sprig of thyme (optional). Cook on high for 4 hrs or on medium for 8 hrs. Salt and pepper to taste. Bon appetit!



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RUSSELS8
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6/8/13 4:01 P

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If possible grow your own fruits and veggies! It saves a ton of money and you can burn calories while weeding and harvesting your crops. There is nothing more satisfying than sitting down to a meal that you literally created. Herbs are exceptionally easy to grow on your windowsill. Things like bell peppers, french beans and tomatoes can be grown on trellissed planters on your deck. Things like lettuce and cabbages, radishes, carrots, parsnips etc can be grown in vertical planters either by using pallets or old 2liter bottles (helps with recycling) strung up and hung from your roof outside.


"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."  -Kahlil Gibran


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BANDITDAN
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6/8/13 2:39 P

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What I do:

Buy in season, IE corn on cob as little as .25 cents a ear in spring/summer.
Hit 2-3 grocery stores weekly for the different sales. I can almost always find a store in my area with Broccoli at 1.49/lb (about .50 to .75 cents off normal) Asparagus at 1.99/lb vs 2.99 to 3.99 lb, strawberries for 2-2.50 a lb in spring summer.
Buy beans in bulk, cook your own, save money and added sodium.
Buy bulk rice. Buy your own tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers, make your own salads, fresher and usually cheaper than the bag stuff. I buy the bags in summer when stores use them as a loss leader on sale.

I found that as I added and ate more vegetables to my diet, my overall weekly cost went from $75 to around 45-$50 a week, shopping for two in their 50's. Fresh produce is almost always less expensive, than when you buy a lot of meat. Our average meat portion went from 6-8 ounce to the norm of 3-4 ounce once we added fresh veggies, that's most of the savings there I'd bet.


God is great, beer is good, people are crazy.

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DAWNGW
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6/7/13 2:09 P

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Like others have said, vegetables and fruit are not more expensive than meat. If you're shopping for organic and hard-to-find items then yes maybe that will be more expensive in the long run.

Beans & rice, when together, create a "complete protein", here is a better explanation: http://www.fitsugar.com/What-Complete-Protein-Inquiring-Vegetarians-Want-Know-165298
-- and they are sooo cheap!

There are lots of options of going plant-based, and it's so good for you! I am not a vegetarian, but I feel better when I eat less meat and more veggies. I always notice that when I buy meat at the grocery store, the overall food bill is way higher than if I just get veggies/fruit only.

Yay for Trader Joe's too, you're going to love that when it's in town.

"Life has no limitations, except the ones you make." -Les Brown


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NASUKOSAN
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6/6/13 12:12 A

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About tofu, does anybody have a receipe for Tai, green curry made with tofu? I live so far from the restaurant that I can't get it as often as I wish.
Because I no longer drive I cannot shop easily for fresh vegetables, buying a weeks-worth at a time means they soon looose their freshness, so I buy frozen, I've read that because they are frozen immediately after picking they are almost as good as fresh, and I find it easier to measure out just enough.



CHOMPSKY
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6/5/13 11:56 A

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As a vegan on a budget, I can offer the following, much of which has probably already been said:
1. Tofu - I buy 4 blocks at a time from Costco and each block is 5 servings (for me, anyway). That's 20 meals' worth of protein for $6.50.
2. Beans - super cheap if you buy them dry in bulk, but still cheap if you buy canned.
3. Buy in season - this isn't always fun or interesting (especially if you live in a cold climate, like I do), but it's cheaper.
4. Find a fruit/vegetable stand - grocery store produce is expensive, even at cheap grocery stores. Farmer's markets (at least where I live) are a joke. If you can find a farmer's market that hasn't turned into a haven for rich people who have caught the organic/local bug, then go for it. Otherwise, explore your area for locally owned produce stands.
5. Avoid meat replacements - in addition to being way too expensive, they aren't all that healthy. I keep some veggie burgers and veggie dogs in the freezer for that odd occasion that someone wants to have a BBQ, but other than that I don't really eat them.

Hope that helps, and keep it up!



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COUNTRYCHICK33
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6/4/13 5:31 P

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I find that buying at local farmer's markets and local farm stands during the season is a huge savings. If fresh is too expensive for something I want then I get the frozen version.



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TEVIKO
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6/4/13 2:20 P

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@Kelly_R I thought the same thing about juicing and the amount of F&V's needed. Turns out it's not that bad. One of my favorite juices uses approximately 4-5 good stalks of kale, one cucumber, one green apple, two stalks of celery and some ginger root. The result is between 20-25 oz. of juice. I jar up 8 for breakfast and drink the rest right away.

Another quickie if I need to fill a jar for the morning but don't want to put in a lot of effort or clean up is two medium tomatoes and 2 carrots for about 10-12 oz..



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HEALTHY-SPARK
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6/3/13 11:53 P

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Eating healthy certainly is not going to be cheap unless you start growing a lot of your own foods. On the other hand, it doesn't have to be more expensive either. You mentioned Whole Foods -- and while I love this store, I don't shop there routinely because I don't think their prices are competitive with my local farmer's market store (Sprouts). I like to buy a combination of fresh and frozen fruits/veggies, depending on what is on sale and what is in season. And if berries on are super sale, then I'll stock up and freeze some, for example. For protein, I love fish -- and good fish is often expensive where I live. But then I just tell myself that okay -- this is worth it to me to pay more and eat good fish. And it always ends up being less expensive (and cooked better) than going to a restaurant. I think eating fresh whole foods takes a little more thought and planning -- but it can be very budget friendly.

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass -- it's about learning to dance in the rain."

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CANDACEMM
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6/3/13 12:06 P

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The recipe for Black Bean Chili looks super simple! I'll have to give it a try!!!



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FIT4MEIN2013
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6/2/13 9:37 P

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Tonight I made black bean chili. I covered 1# dried black beans with water and boiled for 1 hour then set off heat for 1 hour. I added 1 quart of canned stewed tomatoes, 1 chopped onion (or 1/4 c dried onions) and a packet of chili seasoning. I heated it through until my onions were rehydrated (I used dry), then served with baked tortilla chips, which I also make myself. Delicious! emoticon

Jaynee-Pacific Time Goal reached with 130# loss, 138# total loss

Exercise, eat, track, repeat!!



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QUEEN3510VA
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6/1/13 5:04 P

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Thanks for sharing that link. The vegan lunchbox loaf site is awesome. I just cooked some black beans and was going to make burgers but will try it with brown rice, nutrional yeast, sunflower seed (ground), veggies and see if hubby likes it. Thanks again!

FOCUS - Finishing - One's - Commitment - Unto - Self


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TEXREX
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6/1/13 12:07 P

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If you can find a cookbook by the Seventh Day Adventist, you will find some great tasting recipes. I spent a couple of months w/veggies...

You won't find better recipes!

I forgot my mantra...


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KELLY_R
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6/1/13 4:42 A

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This is a great thread. :)

I've never juiced before, but I can only imagine it can require a large volume of fruits / veggies in order to get a single portion. That could certainly get expensive.

I can tell you that when I became vegetarian several years ago, I was absolutely floored at how much cheaper my grocery bill got. I wasn't paying several dollars per pound for chicken breasts or pork or steak any longer. Instead I was paying cents per pound for stuff like beans, and rice, quinoa, tofu (items I would consider real meat replacements - not Boca Burgers, etc.)

Get yourself some good vegetarian / vegan cookbooks.

Also learn about batch cooking - you can cook large meals on the weekend, portion them out and have them during the week. This is how I treat most of my fresh veggies - they get included into a batch-cooked meal or two (like soups, lasagna, casserole). The only really fresh veggies I keep around throughout the week is mixed salad greens and tomatoes that I'll have for dinner or small sides to my batch-cooked meal. This way you use up your fresh veggies without their going to waste.

I agree with the other suggestions... buy what's in season - that's cheaper. Buy local (CSA's), that can be cheaper, too. Frozen in bulk is good (so long as you have the freezer space).

Step away from the fake meats - they're highly processed and expensive. I only eat those rarely any more. If you're hankerin' for a burger, you can make your own veggie burger from recipes in cookbooks or online (good ones are made with beans), or really treat yourself and grill up some portobello caps that have been marinated in a nice balsamic viniagrette mixture. Now those are awesome.

Good luck!

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QUEEN3510VA
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5/31/13 9:01 P

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all very great tips. Keep them coming. Thanks

FOCUS - Finishing - One's - Commitment - Unto - Self


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BEACHYDREAMN
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5/31/13 1:25 P

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My husband and I have been 90% plant based for over a year. We eat no soy or meat replacement products, ever, ever. I use mushrooms for that, and beans as well, depending on the recipe. For example when I make sloppy joes, the recipe I use (from Post Punk Kitchen) calls for Seitan but I use mushrooms instead. We eat grass fed lean meats from WF a couple times a month only and that's because despite my efforts, I have a severe b12 deficiency and while my physician supports plant based, I haven't been able to raise it with supplements like nutritional yeast etc. I always know when I'm pushing the levels because I literally crave the (red) meat but again-it's only a couple times a month and, we use it more as a garnish than a full meal.
I can't give suggestions on keeping low costs past what others have suggested. Buying fresh produce (yes fresh, because we don't do processed foods...when I say vegetarian or plant based to people- I literally mean that. We don't eat processed foods. no pre-packaged meats, snacks, "meals" etc.) fresh can be expensive (and meals=time consuming) but I have noticed over the year that it's getting less expensive...because we don't do pre-packaged/processed. We're not wealthy, my husband is a cop and I don't work due to a chronic health issue, but we make it work because we have to. It will take a little time to even out your grocery bill but it you do it right and consistently and hang in there, you can do it!
I'd rather spend the $$ on good, healthy food than medications and dr. visits and despite my health challenges, I am off all my pain meds and muscle relaxers, inflammation is waaaaay down and I'm getting better.
We love it and I have so many recipes that every single day or weeks and weeks I can make a different daily menu. Congrats on your decision and good luck! It'll be worth it!

Edited by: BEACHYDREAMN at: 5/31/2013 (13:36)
What you feel about another person, what you think or say about another person, what you do to another person...you do to you.


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77QUEENBEE
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5/30/13 1:14 P

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Congrats on a great choice!

I just have to say that as a vegan, feeding a family of six with organic, unprocessed food may *seem* more expensive when you're just looking at your produce bill now as opposed to before. But I always try to remember what we're *not* buying, not spending money on (drive-thru, restaurants), etc. Our only real food bill is produce and any bulk grains/beans. There's nothing from the "inside aisles" of the store. Okay, virtually nothing - occasionally I'll buy some canned tomatoes. To help mitigate expenses we do buy some things at Costco - so surprised at the great offering of organic stuff there! Amazon.com is another great source.

We also do bulk cooking once a month - we triple or quadruple some favorite recipes (chili, soups, curries) and freeze or can them so that we have go-to meals. This not only saves money but time.

Good luck!!



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FLAMMARI
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5/30/13 1:09 P

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Thanks so much for the tip. I will look around my area (south of Boston) to see if they have a similar program.

Marian



NEWKID54
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5/30/13 12:19 P

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I have started to build my menus around the Moveable Market. It is a project that uses the leftover crops from farm fields to distribute to the public. For $10 I get around 60 pounds of in season fresh produce every Saturday. This past week I got 2 plastic grocery bags filled with wonderful tomatoes, cucumbers, melon, red peppers, green peppers, a copious amount of zucchini and another grocery bag filled with green beans. That's just one Saturday. Then I spend some time Sunday cleaning, cutting, freezing and roasting the veggies-----ensures I have no waste. It's been a God send. I would look around and see if there is anything like this in your area. Many of the universities have coop programs.

Also, buy frozen when it is on sale. I buy frozen berries, peas and corn by the case when they're on sale.
I hope this gives you some ideas



CHARLOTTE1947
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5/29/13 6:02 P

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I just have to say it.

Is produce, in season or frozen, cheaper or more expensive than diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol medications?

Spare no expense, and relish the beautiful flavors that nature provides, all the while losing the killer weight. Has anyone ever complained about the high cost of a 32 ounce soda? It's only when you actually begin cooking and eating produce that you notice "the high price." But you know in your heart where the real price lays - in your health, or the lack of it. Eat as if your life depended on it.

"The only way to hurt your body is to not use it." Jack LaLanne


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WEETOM86
WEETOM86's Photo Posts: 6
5/29/13 2:55 P

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This way of eating is also how my husband and I choose to eat. To keep our costs under control, I usually pick the least processed form of that veggie-based item. So instead of canned beans ($1-2 for 10oz can), I buy dried beans ($1 for 16 oz bag which yields 8-9 cups of beans!). Instead of bagged salads, I buy a whole head of lettuce. Instead of baby carrots, a bag of whole carrots. These all take more work, but the price difference adds up over time.

I've also found that I can use beans and lentils to help stretch my Tex-Mex meals and meatloafs (when I choose to eat them) further. You've probably noticed that I'm a huge fan of beans. Since I buy dried, I prepare the whole bag according to the package directions, drain them, let them dry, and then freeze them in 1 cup portions in sandwich size freezer bags. After that, they are just as easy as using a can of beans.

The last thing I do to stretch my veggie budget, is to buy slightly damaged produce or produce that is almost on its last leg at the grocery store. My store discounts these and has a special bin for them. When I get home, I go ahead and break them down and freeze them in small bags. So while I haven't had a fresh banana in a while, I do have an abundance of frozen bananas that I can add to smoothies, breads, and "milk"shakes.



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THOMPSON3815
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5/29/13 9:01 A

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Make lunch every day .



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SUSANK16
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5/29/13 6:34 A

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Not sure I can help with this one but my daughter took me to a farmer's market where we had some wonderful organic foods. We looked for the good "deals". Just need to comment that fresh is so much better it is worth looking for.



CLAIREGROVER
CLAIREGROVER's Photo Posts: 207
5/28/13 11:48 P

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Check out Engine 2 diet website for some great plant based recipes. More "homey" ideas:
Chicken noodle soup w/o noodles or chicken. Warms you right up.
Chili w/o meat. The Sparkpeople veggie chili recipe is actually my favorite, and so low-cal.
Back when I did eggs, the Garden Veggie Frittata on this site was delish.
Use lentils w/ taco seasoning instead of ground beef in tacos and taco salad!
Squash is your friend. I'll often bake half a squash and have it with "butter" seasoning for lunch. Steam an artichoke.
Steam up a mixture of veggies for lunch. Broccoli, Cauliflower, carrots, and asparagus is my favorite.
Don't forget your favorite salads - broccoli salad, cole slaw etc. can all be a healthy part of your plant-based diet, if you tinker with the dressings a bit to make them more healthy.



A little hard work never hurt anyone. A little pain or hunger never hurt anyone. I am stronger than my desires.


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KENDILYNN
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5/28/13 10:37 P

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I find a lot of my recipes from Pinterest. I search "vegetarian" and I can spend hours scrolling through recpies from all different sources. I'm no expert, I'm not even a real vegetarian, I just really like cooking meatless as often as possible and "vegetarian" recipes tend to be designed in a more balanced fashion than just leaving the meat out of a traditional recipe. I would say that I buy fairly mainstream fruits/veg, but I do have a great oriental market where I can get specialty stuff for way less than the grocery store, so I get to use exotic ingredients more often, like baby bok choy, sh!take/oyster mushrooms, baby eggplant, thai basil.

FLAMMARI-- msg me and I can send you the link to my Pinterest food board. It's not all vegetarian, but it has a lot of fairly simple veg recipes with lots of fresh ingredients.

Edited to add: HAHAHA It wouldn't let me spell "sh!take" correctly because it flagged it as profanity. :)

Edited by: KENDILYNN at: 5/28/2013 (22:38)

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FLAMMARI
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5/28/13 10:28 P

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Thanks! Lots of great ideas.



SKINNYYENNY
SKINNYYENNY's Photo Posts: 109
5/28/13 10:04 P

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We have done the same thing - actually forgoing all red meat (beef, pork) and only eat poultry and occasionally fish or shrimp. I really do not like meat substitutes at all - they are expensive and often full of sodium and frankly I just can't tolerate the taste or texture.

I like to stretch our meat options by by using beans, rice or other starches. We often eat turkey tacos, using about 4 oz of turkey and black beans, you hardly realize you are cutting your meat portion.

We eat a lot of beans in general. Garbanzo or edamame are great in salads, and kideny, pinto and black beans are ideal for anything Mexican as well as in wraps.

Quinoa is another great alternative. Tons of protein and super inexpensive and filling.

To save on non-meat items:
- buy dried beans and cook them in bulk and freeze them for later use - you save tons vs canned beans.
- fresh veggies are cheapest when they are at their peak so buy in season
- stock up on frozen veggies on sale and look for coupons online
- cheese is freezable, so buy on sale and freeze

Slow and steady wins the race.


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FLAMMARI
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5/28/13 6:55 P

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I wish to eventually switch to a plant-based eating plan after having seen the video "Forks over Knives" and some of Dr. Joel Furman's tapes. However, I am not a fan of curry. Does anyone have any other recipes to get someone started in this direction? I would prefer to use more of the mainstream, as it were, fruits and vegetables and maybe slowly add more of the lesser known produce.

Thanks for your help. I am so new to this so I hope I replied in the correct manner.

Marian



CLAIREGROVER
CLAIREGROVER's Photo Posts: 207
5/28/13 5:46 P

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I also haven't found veg to be more expensive than meat. For goodness sakes, baby back ribs were $12/ pound at my local grocery store last weekend! A small beef roast is around $8 these days. I can buy a LOT of lettuce with $8. I'll get lettuce, anasazi or pinto beans, some canned beets, zucchini, carrots, sunflower seeds, avocado, for that $8 and eat that with some balsamic vinegarette for several meals. Mmmmm. Curry has really helped me with being more plant-based. My biggest issue was feeling like I could never eat anything warm. I'm going for plant-based, not a raw foodist, at the moment. You can pack an awful lot of veggies into a delish curry, and feel totally warmed up and satisfied. I omit white potatoes from my curries. Sub sweet potatoes, or just add extra veggies with a lower glycemic index. What a great new adventure you're on! Looking forward to hearing about your progress.

A little hard work never hurt anyone. A little pain or hunger never hurt anyone. I am stronger than my desires.


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JENJENT
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5/28/13 1:36 P

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In regards to juicing, which I do on a regular basis, we use cucumbers to "bulk" up our veggie and fruit mixes. This time of year I can get huge cucumbers, usually 3 for $1 at the produce markets and they really add to our beet, kale etc recipes, less sugar and calories than using more fruits to produce the juice too! Hope this helps!



BIGMAMA4U
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5/28/13 12:06 P

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Try

Dr Furhman and
Vegetarian Times

both online



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HACK_HACKER
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5/28/13 10:42 A

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There are so many great suggestions here! I second everyone who said to buy dried grains/beans and cook at home more often. When I was living alone, my entire food budget was about $60 per week as a vegetarian--that consisted mostly of fresh and frozen vegetables, beans, grains, and whatever I use to make baked goods. Now that I'm living with someone else (a non-vegetarian who's totally okay with cooking anything meat-based separately from my food), we spend about $100 per week, split between us. I suspect the cost will fall as we streamline our process.

One suggestion I have is to do all the fancy vegetarian stuff yourself, instead of buying it pre-made. I make seitan out of whole-wheat flour, which means you have to plan it out a day in advance; but it really doesn't take more time than making it from vital wheat gluten. That's important because gluten is crazy-expensive on its own. If you're using a few cups of it to make seitan, I believe the expense is about equal to meat.

I also sprout my own beans and grains, which boosts their protein content. It's really easy to do if you keep a few empty glass jars around: just sanitize the jar, soak the beans overnight, then drain the beans and add them to the jar. Cover the top with some cheesecloth secured with a rubber band and keep it upside-down, preferably at a tilt so that air can get in and excess water can get out. Rinse the beans a couple times a day so they don't develop any bacterial slime. I can get chickpeas to sprout in a couple days with this method, and I make it into some wonderful protein-packed hummus! If you can get regular, unflavored yogurt cheaply, you can make your own Greek yogurt with cheesecloth. Granola bars, soups, vegetable broth: all cheaper when you make them yourself.

Don't underestimate the ethnic food aisle, which tends to contain cheap grains and specialty foods like seaweed and miso. That section of the store is packed with flavor and nutrition, and it's cheap because demand for that food is lower than demand for potato chips and hamburger. Other underused foods that are valuable for vegetable-based diets: dried split peas (11g protein per serving!), frozen soybeans, unsalted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, brown rice, and ground flax seed.

And lastly, oatmeal is SO much cheaper than processed cereal, and it's much better for you! Buy it in bulk and eat it every morning with different fruits, spices, nuts, or seeds for variety. I've been doing this for two years, and I'm still not tired of it.

That said, I haven't found a cheaper alternative to my need for a protein supplement. I don't get the full 60 grams every day unless I include a half-serving of whey protein powder, which is really quite expensive. If you buy it online in 5-pound jugs it's a little cheaper, and certain natural varieties will have a smaller serving size so that you get more out of a container. It's also important to get brands that don't contain an inordinate amount of heavy metals (check out the Consumer Reports article about that) or sugars. I've found a good brand, but I'm open to suggestions from other vegetarians about how they get cheap protein!



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TEVIKO
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5/28/13 9:27 A

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@Haloaynie Sounds like you received some good info to your question. What I've been doing is looking up a few new recipes each week on recipe websites like SparkRecipes, Allrecipes, etc., or do a general search for a specific dish I want to try (meatless meatloaf, eggplant, vegetable quesodillas, etc.). I print them out, put them in a binder and give 'em a try. My biggest challenge right now is multiple trips to the store. I used to have a good idea of what I needed to buy each week for all my meals. Now that I'm cooking new things and it's not as second nature, I find that I am usually buying for only 2-3 days. As I learn more and more I'm sure that I will be able to get back to my usual once a week main shopping trip.

@everyone else. Once again, thanks for all your information. I asked for cost-saving hints and received sooooo much more. I am overwhelmed by all the suggestions, some of which I've already put into practice and others I will look into a little bit at a time. This thread has been added to my favorites list for future reference.

After two weeks I can tell that my food bill, at the worst, will probably be no higher than it was before, and once I really get rolling will, indeed, shrink. One of the highest costs right now is stocking up on items that have long term use. For example, I'm trying some recipes that call for spices, beans, rice, wheat germ and other ingredient that I don't have. While the initial cost is high for the individual meal, I have a lot of the ingredients left over and will not need to purchase them again for future meals. Replacing those items as they run out will probably be staggered and not result in such a high cost on a weekly basis.

Edited by: TEVIKO at: 5/28/2013 (09:27)

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DETOX55
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5/27/13 10:47 P

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Hello HALOANIE - I will message you privately with recipes later this eve! Have a great day...



AYZERIA
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5/27/13 8:30 P

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Here is a resource I really love for fresh fruits and veggieswhile I wait for my garden to come on. www.bountifulbaskets.org/ Bountiful Baskets is a non-profit food co-op for families that want to have more fresh produce for less money. I love it! I buy 2 baskets a month to feed my family of 5, and only spend $30.
A regular basket is $15 and has about a 50/50 mix of fruit and veggies. You can upgrade for an additional $10 to the all organic mix.



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HALOAYNIE
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5/27/13 5:46 P

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Would you care to pass along your recipe for the Daal? I LOVE the stuff, but have not ever made an awesome batch myself.. I would love to try your recipe though!



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DETOX55
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5/27/13 5:38 P

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OK, so I don't live in the US, but I hear the same sort of talk downunder...and I hear it on my frequent travels around the world...

There seems to be a misconception that fresh fruit and vegetables are more expensive than processed foods, meat, dairy etc...

It's not true!

You can't look at the cost per kg/pound of fresh produce and compare it to other products.

The reality is fresh produce weighs less than say, meat; therefore the overall cost of buying enough food to make a nutritious vegetarian meal is WAY less cost (if you choose to "pack your own" and don't buy the pre-packed stuff).

I can make a super healthy, absolutely delicious spicy vege daal that creates enough for all my lunches for the week for less than the cost of buying meat for one weeknight dinner...

Which leads me on to the other key point in this...if you're going to move towards a more vegetarian diet, you're going to need to learn how to cook differently...if you're used to an old fashioned western diet of "meat and 3 veg", you'll have to learn how to introduce different sources of protein to ensure your meals are filling and nutritious...not to mention more tasty than the god awful vegetables most people serve up when they rely on meat as "the main event" on a plate...:-)



FLOWERS4MIKEL
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5/27/13 2:51 P

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If you don't have a Costco membership, get one. They have bulk organic frozen veggies and fruits that are SOOOO much cheaper than grocery stores. They also have various fake meats throughout the year, which seem to change every few months.

Go to farmers markers, flea markets, and CSAs to buy produce directly from farmers. Much cheaper, fresher, and benefits your local economy.

Buy dried TVP or TSP instead of fake ground beef "crumbles" if you plan on buying that. It is SO much cheaper than the frozen stuff and all you have to do is add water and seasoning. Great for making taco "meat". You can get it at Wholefoods in bulk section or Bob's Red Mill. You can also buy it in bulk online. Try to buy ORGANIC or at least Non-gmo soy products when you buy fake meat.

Use coupons! Quorn, morningstar (I dont like this brand b/c it is gmo), beyond meat, gardenburger, and gardein all have coupons throughout the year online. Check out their website and mambosprouts. com for coupons.

Make your own "fake meat". Tofu is super cheap -- learn how to cook it. Bad tofu is BAD, but good tofu is quite delish. Seitan is really good too -- buy vital wheat gluten and make it yourself or buy it pre-made.

Eat BEANS! They are sooooo cheap. Buy canned beans if you're in a hurry, but try to make time to cook dried beans since they are so inexpensive.

GROW A GARDEN!!!! Plant Fruit trees! If you have any amount of land, or even a patio, plant your favorite veggies. I have 1/3 of an acre and I have 2 vegetable gardens, 20+ pineapple plants, and 20 fruits trees. Who needs lots of grass to mow anyway?!

I've been fully vegetarian for quite a while now and my grocery bill is at least half the price it was when I ate meat. (I also do not buy very much processed food, and make many staples myself).



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HALOAYNIE
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5/26/13 6:30 P

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I also like salads when its warm and soups and stews when it cools. Our weather has been so messed up around here that I am craving all of it! I do love a soup and salad meal too though!



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BRAVELUTE
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5/26/13 6:23 P

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PS I tend to go for salads Spring, Summer, Fall. When it gets cooler I will fix veg stir fries, soups or stews.

And if I happen to want a cooked dish for a meal when it's hot, the grain bowls usually win, because they can be either frozen, or heated since everything is already cooked. I will also fix a stir fry with home sprouted lentils or other seeds.

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