Monday, May 25, 2009

Eat Simpler, Save Money

I recently took a look at my monthly food expenses to see if I could cut back at all on costs but was very happily surprised. My average DAILY tally for food is….. $4.50. That’s less than most people spend on ONE meal eaten away from home.

How I do it:
I buy produce on Saturday mornings at the local farmer’s market a few blocks from home. I’ve found that I can buy organic there for a fraction of grocery store prices.

I enjoy the farmer’s market because I go to same stalls weekly, am always greeted with a smile and a hello so I feel that my purchases are appreciated. It feels like people are less hurried, I like the free entertainment, and I feel like I’m more connected to the planet because I buy directly from a local farmer. If you go to the market the last 30 minutes that it’s open then the prices are drastically reduced though there is less of a selection than earlier in the day. Whatever the farmers don’t grow I’ll buy at Trader Joe’s, a health food store or (ugh) the big food chain. I buy what's in season or on sale so my food varies weekly.

Since last August I’ve been trying to eat mostly raw (recognizable) food. I say mostly because I try not to beat myself up about the occasional ‘slip’. I want to enjoy my meals while still eating healthy food so sometimes I will have some freshly baked bread or add cooked beans and brown rice to my salad.

This month I bought:
1x month = $30.80/4= $7.70 wk
6.00 Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
5.25 raw honey
4.00 old fashioned oatmeal
1.80 raw sunflower seeds
4.50 raw walnuts
4.00 raw almond butter
1.25 nutritional yeast flakes
1.00 flax seeds
3.00 raisins

2x month = $15.70/2= $7.85 wk
2.00 carrots (8)
6.00 apples (4 lbs)
.50 cilantro
.70 radishes
.70 scallions
.80 celery
5.00 avocados (5)

4x month (this varies according to what’s in season) = $15.60 wk
.80 cucumber
1.60 sprouts
4.30 oranges
3.00 yogurt
.80 lettuce
3.00 tomatoes
2.10 bananas (uh, no, not locally grown)

$7.70 + $7.85 + $15.60 = $31.15/7 = $4.45 day

Every 3 to 4 weeks Jeff and I will eat out. Sometimes we enjoy sashimi/seaweed salad/sushi or maybe a ploughman‘s style meal of fresh bread, olives, hummus, smoked salmon, lettuce and cheese made from nuts instead of milk. I find that I’m enjoying eating more simply rather than spending more time cooking than it actually takes me to eat it. I also enjoy knowing that the food I eat is fresh, I feel better physically and, surprisingly, that I’m saving money too.


  1. I'm de-lurking here to thank you for this awesome post. My family and I are always so sick of people complaining about how expensive it is to eat healthy. And here you are, eating mainly fruits and vegetables for $4.45 a day! Seriously, this post should be on every news website in the world. Cheers for accountability!

    Thank you for keeping it real!

  2. Chesapeake,

    Thanks for the comment. I thought that eating like this would cost more too. I did the calculations a couple of times because I thought I'd missed something.

    Well, not everyone wants to eat like this. There are no flashy advertisements for these foods, they are certainly not the easiest things to find on many restaurant menus so socializing while dining out with friends is more difficult, possibly not the easiest things to find in the winter in some states, and it requires a little planning so that I get enough calories for the kind of day I've planned (desk job vs hiking).

    On the plus side though, I don't suffer from food allergies anymore, I have a ton more energy, I really enjoy the taste of food now that the processed stuff is gone, and I was soooo happily surprised that it's way less expensive to eat this way than I'd thought it would be. I'm very glad that I made the change.


  3. Good morning Jeff and Arlene -

    You guys are making excellent progress - I am so excited to watch the walls go up! I will be in San Fran the weekend of June 12th, and was wondering if you are accepting visitors to your work space? I'd love to chat about your tiny house building experience and see what it feels like inside.

    This might be an odd request since we've never met, so feel free to say no so long as you keep on with the blogging - it's great and very helpful!

    Natalie (Portland, OR)

    PS - I'm trying to comment from my google account but it's not working. Please feel free to contact me directly at

  4. That is pretty cool. I was wondering just what sort of dishes you make with those ingrediants.

  5. Grant,

    Thanks for the question!
    Since my answer won't fit in this comment box I'll write a blog entry about it for you. It'll be posted shortly.



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