I’ve just dug out my copy of Mattye Lee Thompson’s Frugal Raw (Raw on the Cheap at it’s Finest!), and, yes, I made a good purchase.  (the only complaint I have about this book is that there is no index, so I have to remember where I found this and such, or else annotate each page)

This is an older book, from 2008, but it is apparently so popular that hard copies are going for $40 or so.  Fortunately, there is now a Kindle edition, so, if you want to see a really good collection of raw vegan recipes, you can get it on your phone.

The only drawback I see in this book is that she has recipes that require a dehydrator, and dehydrators are notoriously expensive.

Still and all, the author has a lot of good takes on how to integrate a raw food lifestyle into a family setting (where some may not want to go raw), as well as a number of really good recipes.

(I do want to mention that I am telling you all this out of the goodness of my heart.  I am not affiliated with amazon or any other seller, which is why you don’t find any click-throughs.  If you find something you like in my post, please do your own search on Amazon)

A FAIRWAY VISIT: and a dose of reality (good, actually)

Post #703
I went up to Fairway yesterday (Fairway is an amazing market in New York City, which has just about any food you could possibly want, at very reasonable prices — it is definitely worth the subway hassle).  Dang! They must have been reading my posts! They have raised the price on the organic cashews so it is now more than the price of the raw cashews available pre-packaged downstairs.  Shoot!  And I thought I was so clever!  Oh well. 

Anyway, I got about 1-1/2 lbs. of raw cashews, 1 lb. of almonds, 1 lb. of lentils 1 lb. of of quinoa (wow! The quinoa price has doubled in the past year!) , 1 lb. of sunflower seeds, a red bell pepper, a box of Campari tomatoes, 2 lbs. of lentils, 1 lb. of hull-less barley, and a couple of Lara bars (I don’t think the Lara Bars are still raw, because they don’t say raw on the label anymore, and the company has refused to answer my queries.  I am going to have to break down and start making my own bars).  I also got some dried olives to use with the kale and collards, or just to eat if I accidentally get a salt craving (that happens about once a year — you already know I am not a salt person).  Let’s see… what else did I get – I went round and round and upstairs and downstairs and read all the labels on the vegetables, because often they but organics downstairs.   Oh, yes! I got three bright, shiny (i.e. nice and fresh) jalapeno peppers.  All of this ran me a little over $50.00.  Normally, I might screech at that kind of grocery bill, but…

To be realistic, since May, I have not gone to the supermarket.  I have survived on the beans, grains, seeds, and nuts, I had purchased before my personal financial melt-down in May, the tomatoes I dehydrated last year, and the vegetables I have received in my CSA share box (I am definitely feeling superstitious right about now – this is the second year that I have paid for my CSA in the beginning of May, and my hours have been slashed in the end of May.  I’m starting to save now for next year’s CSA share).  I’ve been sprouting my beans, grains, and seeds, and using up the cashews and almonds (it’s been a couple of months that I haven’t had any of my favorite dishes I make with cashews and almonds, since I ran out, but I still do have some walnuts in the freezer)  $50.00 isn’t that much when I am only doing it about every 5 months.  (Winter is coming, so I’ll have to depend on sprouting seeds more and my next visit to the supermarket may well come sooner (the CSA winter share is not famous for including greens, so I’ll need more grains and seeds to sprout.  I do like to get into making sauerkraut in the winter – the cabbage prices are usually more reasonable than those of any other greens).

 I have never tried sprouting barley before .  I’ve seen it, but I’ve never done it in my own home (I like things that will sprout in jars and do their own thing even if I don’t pay attention to them – love lentils, sunflower seeds, and wheat).  I have still have an old flat sprouter that needs 1 sq. ft. of space and lots of sprinkling – I’ll drag it out.  Wish me luck) This afternoon, while I was reviewing websites, I found some info on sprouting which makes me think I won’t be sprouting – they said you need unhulled barley.  Oh well.  I will put a tablespoon of this barley in a jar and see what happens.

 My kitchen is going to go back to being a garden very soon.  I’ve got lentils, sunflower seeds, quinoa, barley, and a little leftover wheat to sprout!  Oh, joy!  I have some diversity in my diet coming up!

I have some cashews now, and I still have that kale from last week, so I’m going to make my delicious kale/cashew pate and put it on tomato slices for a designer dinner in the next few days.  This is almost as exciting as going to a restaurant when someone else is paying!

FRUGAL CHOICES: Raw Food Lifestyle

You have to eat, right?  And you want to keep raw, or as raw as possible.  And, you’re on unemployment? In grad school? In New York City?  Sheez!  It can be difficult to get food to eat, especially if you are among the working (I just checked out food stamp guidelines, and  –in New York City– you have to make less than $30,000 for a family of four to get food stamps.  I’m wondering if they think we are all living in boxes under the bridge – at $30,000, even if you live in a relatively low-rent neighborhood, you can barely pay the rent, much less buy food, and forget about clothes to wear to that job you’re doing.  For sure, you cannot afford drink anything other than water, and it’s a good thing you quit smoking – there’s no way you could budget that.)

So, you’re on a budget, and you still want to stay raw.  What options are there.

Food Pantries exist, and they are free, and they might not ask you for credentials from God, but…. they rarely have raw vegetables.  They usually offer the kind of things you might find in a “pantry”, i.e., staples like pasta, and canned foods.

CSAs are appearing in communities all over the country.  In my experience, they offer fresh, local, organic vegetables and fruit for a highly reasonable price – my CSA delivers for 6 months (24 weeks), and, if I get both vegetables and fruit, it costs a little under $700.  That is a hefty one time sum, and, unfortunately, it has to be completely paid before the season starts.  Still, over 6 months, the cost-per-week works out to about $25 – for a goodly supply of *organic* vegetables– and I only have to supplement nuts and seeds and beans if I want to make sprouts or cheezes, and, the occasional avocado, and cabbages to make my sauerkraut.  (I’m saving right now so that I can get my share paid before May.)

Greenmarkets are all over New York City.  (I would imagine that they are available in other cities, too.)  It is like having a country roadside farmer’s market right here in the city.  The prices are usually much better than those in supermarkets, the vegetables and fruit are local, , and you can often find things that never make it into either supermarkets or organic food stores.  (My link is for year-round greenmarkets, but there are others in the city which are open only for the summer fall season – google greenmarkets nyc)aveat: greenmarkets are generally cash only.

Food coops are often cheaper than regular organic markets, and even cheaper than supermarkets, sometimes.  If you become a member of a food coop, you must pay a membership fee, and then volunteer a few hours a week as part of your membership responsibility.  In exchange, you get steep discounts on the products  sell.

Then, too, there is comparison shopping.  Look at the organic markets you know of  and are willing to go to, and begin to compare their prices.  If it is worth it to you, i.e., you have the time and are willing to put out the effort, shop at several different stores to get the best-priced items.  (there is one organic store I always check because they put slightly old vegetables and fruit on sale at good prices – you cannot anticipate, but just check in every so often.)

Beyond all this, I suggest that you make a shopping list and stick to it.  Wherever you go, just get those things (unless, of course, you see something you almost never see and really love – my downfall is a particular mushroom – I can’t remember the name, but I know what it looks like, and, if I see it, if I have enough money, I know I am going to get it.)

When you make your list, figure out the things that you really must have to feed you and your family, and get those.  Take note of seasonal vegetables (which are usually cheaper), and get those when they are in season.  If your finances allow, then you get things that are nice to have.  Make a separate list of those, and get them if your finances will allow. (i.e., I dearly love mushrooms, and I make all sorts of dishes with them, but the ones I want are generally sort of expensive, so I don’t get them often.)

Try to get things that you can use several times in the week, or that  you can make into dishes that you can eat the next day as well.

I’m lucky because, years ago, I saved up and bought a dehydrator, so, when I have food that I cannot eat before it goes bad, I dehydrate it, and remember to use it again soon in another dish.  My dehydrator also helps me take advantage of seasonal vegetables– for example, when tomatoes come in in the summer, I can get a lot of

them and dehydrate them to have sun-dried tomatoes all year.

If you cannot find a good inexpensive source of organic vegetables, then go with non-organic vegetables, to stay raw.  Observe, if you can, the list of vegetables and fruit which you should eat only if organic .

The last suggestion I have is to use more sea vegetables (seaweed).  In organic markets, you can often find it in bulk, which  is good because the dried product does not weigh much.  I’m very fond of “wakame”, because it swells up  to about 5 times the original volume when you soak it, and it makes a nice salad, and can be combined in other dishes, stays well in the cabinet, and, most importantly, it is  really good for you.  Arame and hijiki are also good (they look a little like pasta), and they can be soaked and eaten uncooked.

These are some of the things I have learned in the past, and found myself having to apply in the past few months.  I hope they will help you find your way.
If,  by some chance, you lose track of this post, all of the links are also in the heading of my blog.

Frugal Raw Living

I’m back!
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.