I’ve been under the radar, although I shouldn’t have been.
Sprouting seeds and beans for greens has been a prominent activity here (I always keep a store of seeds and beans, and it’s about time for me to replenish the entire store, as I have been relying on it for my green vegetables and protein almost exclusively)
I’ve also been exploring food pantries (the answer is “the vast majority do not offer fresh vegetables”, and the only one which should, i.e., my CSA contributes fresh vegetables to them, is very restrictive as to which poor may participate).
As far as getting fresh vegetables goes, I’ve been very frugal. Having eliminated smoothies (far too veggie-intensive) for the time being. Sauerkraut, as you might imagine, is a big item on my menu most days (I can take a big cabbage or two and ferment the sauerkraut in three days, and have daily sauerkraut for up to a month or two). I do buy vegetables, but I try to buy things that are a)cheap/seasonal, and b)likely to provide more than one meal.
I shop Fairway in Manhattan (they are offering more and more organic vegetables even on the “mainstream” floor). Their prices are highly competitive, and, sometimes, their prices on raw organic nuts actually cheaper than those for non-organic raw nuts in other places. I notice the prices on everything, even the things I don’t buy, for when I go to other markets.
Then I go to the greenmarket at 14th Street and see if they have anything I want at a cheaper price than I could have gotten it at Fairway.
If I am visiting a friend, and I see a supermarket along the way, I stop in to see what the prices are like (I scored a lb. of collards for $.79 today when I went to visit a friend’s church in the Bronx — never mind that I will probably never make the 1-hr. trip there to get more vegetables at rock-bottom prices — You have to figure out cost, and your own rate-per-hour at some point)
There is a really nice co-op, Flatbush Food Coop, in Brooklyn, that I am planning to join this week, because they are like a regular supermarket, but all organic, with very competitive prices. (Of course, I will have to work out with them how and when I can do my coop work service, since my schedule is so erratic, and so likely to change at a moment’s notice – I’m hoping that they have evening slots on Saturday and Sunday nights– those seem to be about the only times that I don’t suddenly get work). The commute to shop is worth it if I can save some money, and being a co-op member offers vast discounts. Above and beyond all of that, this co-op allows one to join with a partial payment, and pay off the membership over a year.
So! What is my advice on maintaining a frugal raw diet?
First, stay as organic as you can. If you have buy non-organic, at least avoid the items on my Eat Only If Organic list.
Actively practice price-comparison. Watch ads, and travel around if you have to (if you have the time and ability), where lower prices would still be reasonable given the inconvenience/travel costs. (I am lucky, living in New York City, and having an unlimited monthly subway pass – the only issue I have to figure in is time/inconvenience, and, since I am an ardent reader, this most often becomes a moot point. You who must consider gasoline costs must factor that in, although, still, often, the commute is worth the effort).
Make things that you can eat more than once, by varying the combination, or by altering them. For example:
- I use sauerkraut “as is”, then I also put it into other creations. I add it to my raw beets, to soups, and, also, I mix it in with my cashew “chicken” salad and “tuna” salad. I also mix it in with sprouts, and put it on top of pates and burgers.
- Marinated collards or kale debut as is, but, later, they combine with seaweed salads, and, often, toward the end, I mix them into pate combinations.
- Marinated beets are good as is, and later, I add them to seafood salads, sprout mixes, pates, and, sometimes, to smoothies. I also dehydrate leftover sometimes, and use them as sprinkles on salads, or rehydrate them with wakame seaweed to make a delicious salad.
- My big splurge has always been LaraBars. I can get them for about $1.25, usually. Nevertheless, recently, since the company has changed hands, and I cannot get any answers from them, I make my own: dates/cashews/almonds + grated coconut + a drizzle of coconut oil = coconut bars….. dates/almonds/cashews + mashed bananas = banana bars….(I tend to do equal amounts of cashews and almonds, ground up, then add enough soaked, pitted, and chopped dates to make a thick mixture in the food processor – 4 – 6 dates, usually) I dehydrate at 110 degrees for @ 24 hrs.
I haven’t been making crackers recently, because of the price of nuts, but I still do use nuts fairly frequently in pates. (I feel a splurge coming on… I need crackers cheeze.