POST #889
I wrote some useful ideas for frugal raw living a year ago, but now I need to revisit those ideas, and, also, to remember what I learned in Home Economic when I was 13.

If you want to save money, or if you have to save money wherever possible, the first thing you have to do is learn to compare prices.    That is first, over everything else.  Sometimes you will have have to make choices between organic and non-organic.  Other times, you might need to opt for traveling to several different markets to finish your shopping.

When you are shopping for organic produce, raw nuts and seeds, and oils, price comparison is different from the way that my teacher taught me: you don’t see newspaper ads for natural food stores in your daily papers.  If you are lucky enough to be blessed with choices of natural food stores  (perhaps your supermarket offers organic vegetable choices, and, if you are in a larger metropolitan area, there might be two or more natural foods stores into the bargain), you are lucky to have choices of where and how to shop.  Then you have to compare prices.

I live in New York City, where I am fortunate to still have several natural foods stores to shop in (I say “fortunate” and “still” because when Whole Foods came into town, they knocked my favorite, most-reasonably-priced-across-the-board natural foods market right out of business, into the bargain charging much more for much less).

I haven’t gotten around to joining a food coop (Flatbush Food Coop, in Brooklyn, would be my choice, but it is a hike, and, as long as my work schedule is iffy, joining there is iffy, as I would have to be able to schedule member work hours).  Still, they have really good prices, but I have to weigh those prices against the time it takes me to get there and then get home (about 45 mins from work, and then a little more than an hour to get back home – of course, I can use that commute time to read).  I shop mostly in Manhattan, for the prices.  I am also a member of a CSA (find a CSA near you, in NYC), which provides me with 6 months of organic vegetables from June through November, and gives me the feel-good thing because I know I am supporting a local farm.

For the past week, I have been flirting with the idea of making the cashew/kale/coconut flour recipe I picked up from  a website a couple of weeks ago.  It sounds like my raw cashew/kale cheese recipe with the addition of coconut flour. (I have looked at the offers on Amazon, but I wanted to compare the cost of purchasing on Amazon vs buying local) Today, I remembered I had seen a whole shelf-ful of Bob’s Red Mill products (and I had seen that Bob’s Red Mill produces a coconut flour in addition to all the other wonderful things they offer), and I could picture it, but I couldn’t remember where it was.  Hence, I decide to go down to my favorite natural foods market, Integral Yoga Foods, to see if they had it.  Turns out they did, for eight dollars and change.  I also picked up some lentils, for $2.29.  As I left, because it was raining, I decided to take the #1 train to connect to my train back to Queens, but, when I came to 42nd St, my transfer point, I decided to continue on to 72nd St, and go to Fairway.

Guess what! I found that display of Bob’s Red Mill at Fairway, and I found the coconut flour for six dollars and change.  I could have saved $2.00! (Although, ordering in bulk with Amazon Prime, the price might have been similar, and it would be delivered to my door). Still, while I was there, I saw that the lentils were $2.49, as opposed to the $2.29 at Integral Yoga Foods. (Ever the price comparison queen, I realized that there was just really no comparing).  I’ll still shop Integral Yoga Foods for the things they carry that no one else does (today, I noticed that they have kelp granules, which I used to use when I first went raw all those years ago, bulk Irish moss – as opposed to the packaged expensive kind you find on-line, and they also have bulk wakame, as opposed to the packaged kind Fairway carries)

The moral of this story?  If you are on a budget, you need to compare prices.  Sometimes you have to travel around to get the best prices, and, then, you need to look at the cost of your time and figure out how you best save money (in my case, since I am doing research right now, and most of the research is in books which are on my Kindle at  present, riding the subway to wherever I need to go to get the best price is just research time, and I have an unlimited subway fare card – going to Fairway after going to Integral Yoga Foods was one subway ride, and then it was another subway ride with a transfer to get home – all the while, I was reading APE, to learn about how to publish books on Kindle)

So, long story short: shop your shops frequently and be familiar with the prices there.  If it is cost-effective for you to shop a couple of different shops to stock your kitchen (I say cost-effective includes things like gas for the car, public transportation fare, miserable weather, your time… vs how much money you actually have, to spend), then make the rounds.    I now know that Fairway has the best prices on Bob’s Red Mill products, but their sea vegetables are pricey and their lentils cost more than other places.  Their almonds are competitive, but I can get cashews cheaper elsewhere.  Integral Yoga carries bulk wakame,  kombu, and even dried Irish moss and granular kelp, as well as bulk spices and herbs, meaning you can buy what you need, not just what is in the pre-packaged offerings).

All that said, I was sort of tempted by the Rockin’Raw raw prepared foods they had at Integral Yoga Foods, I decided that a couple of pounds of lentils, and ¼ lb of wakame was the better deal).

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