This weekend I went to Jack's Fruit Market, a little local fruit & meat market chain in our area, for some of my grocery shopping. I don't normally shop there, but I needed to stock up on clean tortillas (the only ingredients are corn, water and lime) and Jack's stocks the Vargas brand made locally in Saginaw, Michigan. We also had a $35 gift certificate for Jack's that has been hanging around since Thanksgiving. My husband's work gave these out so people could get a turkey. This vegan household got tons of tortillas, pure maple syrup, potatoes, and apples for $35, beats a turkey any day!
Speaking of potatoes, Jack's had TEN POUND BAGS OF POTATOES on sale for, get this.... 99 CENTS!!! That's right, ten pounds of locally grown potatoes from Bay City, Michigan for under a dollar. Which leads me to this post about saving money by eating a healthful plant based diet. It's a win-win for sure.
I sometimes have people ask me how I can afford to eat this way when I am doing a cooking demo or showing typical meals that we eat. They ask when they see all of the fresh produce that I use in every meal. I am usually taken aback a bit. How do we afford it? This way of eating is CHEAPER than a typical meat and dairy laden Standard American Diet (SAD). Cheaper by far. I haven't bought any meat in years, but last I heard meat prices were going up like crazy and I bet the same is true of dairy. Yes, we take our savings and use it to upgrade to organic produce and some fancy ingredients, but you certainly don't have to.
Even organic produce can be very reasonable. Every year we join a CSA (community supported agriculture) share where we sign up over the winter and then get a bushel of fresh local organic produce delivered every week for approximately 20 weeks over the summer and fall months. Our CSA farmer is based in Clare, his produce is all organic (he is working on certification). We have toured the farm and can see exactly how our produce is raised. So, right now we are getting a huge bushel basket of veggies & fruit every week for about $16 per week. Saving money for sure. Check out Central Michigan CSA if you're interested in more details. This picture shows a typical week's CSA share:
Back to our lowly potatoes. I also get a lot of questions about eating 'CARBS'. Aren't potatoes unhealthy? Shouldn't I avoid too much starch? Too many carbs? Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a big difference between whole plant food starches or carbohydrates and processed & refined 'carbs'. I totally agree that nobody needs to be loading up on sugar, white flour, unhealthy baked goods, refined pasta & rice, etc. Nobody will tell you that those processed junk foods are good for you. However, whole foods the way Mother Nature designed them, including potatoes, rice, and whole grains ARE good for you.
I studied with Dr. McDougall and have a certification in The Starch Solution. This is a book and theory about basing our diets on starches, such as our lovely 99 cent ten pound bag of potatoes. I won't get into too much detail, but the theory is that healthy human populations have survived for thousands of years with starches and vegetables as the center of their diets. Think rice & vegetables in Asia, potatoes, corn & beans in Latin America, wheat & barley in the Middle East, etc. Starches and plant foods have been the center of these cultures' diets and only recently have we been affluent enough to add all of the rich foods to our Western diet and this rich Western diet has rapidly increased our rates of chronic diseases. We need to return to the starch and vegetable based 'peasant' diets which kept entire populations trim and free of chronic lifestyle disease for centuries. See, I could go on about this forever...
Here are some great articles with more information if you are interested:
Why Starch Should Be at the Center of Your Plate, article and video from Dr. McDougall.
Why Whole Grains Should be a Part of Your Diet, article on Forks Over Knives website.
And to complete the topic of healthy plant based eating on a budget, this is a great article from my mentor Dr. McDougall about eating plant based on $3 per day. He did this experiment a few years ago, but he was also shopping in California which is a bit pricier in general than mid-Michigan. With some great grocery store sales like 10 pounds of potatoes for 99 cents, getting your produce for $16 per week and watching for other bargains, you can easily eat this way for $3-5 per day. Lose Weight, Feel Great, AND Save $$$. Win-Win-Win!
Cutting Food Costs, a great article from Dr. McDougall's newsletter that shares details comparing a plant based diet to a meat & dairy laden SAD diet and to eating out. It gives great money saving tips.
I am going to get in the kitchen this week and make a huge batch of healthy vegan German Potato Salad with those cheap delicious potatoes. And some baked Potato Wedges with malt vinegar and Vegan Mayo - Simon's favorite way to fill up on healthy starches. That man can put away a lot of potato wedges!
Let me know what your experience has been saving $$$ with a healthy plant based diet. Feel free to ask me any questions. I am happy to share our experiences.