Renegade Health Radio: How to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill

Monday Jun 9 | BY |
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RHR-Blog-Cover-Graphic In this podcast:

  • How Fred is able to eat a super-healthy diet on just $100-150 a month per adult.
  • Exactly what to put in a green smoothie that will save you at least $5 per smoothie.
  • Why buying in bulk isn’t necessarily the best way to go.

Click the play button to start the call:


Subscribe to Renegade Health Radio on iTunes. Click here—and leave us a comment. TRANSCRIPT:

Kevin: Renegade Health Radio. Kevin Gianni here with Frederic Patenaude. Frederic.

Frederic: Hi Kevin. Hi everybody.

Kevin: So Frederick, a couple of weeks ago you let the proverbial cat out of the bag.

Frederic: What do you mean?

Kevin: You preempted something that we had talked about that actually put it onto the Universe’s paper.

Frederic: Oh yes, when I wrote – well you kind of wrote something to the Renegade Health list but I was the one who was writing it behind, I guess we have to tell you that. But it was about you doing videos Kevin.

Kevin: Yes it’s true.

Frederic: Getting back on the YouTube wagon.

Kevin: Getting back on the YouTube wagon. Well let me start where I really want to start on this. So I was recently at an event and we were talking about just health and getting the message out to more people. And I was really struck pretty solidly about the idea of connection. And in this case with Renegade Health it’s re-connection because for a lot of years we did videos and I think we connected with a lot of people by doing those videos. And the Podcast was one way to start re-connecting so you guys could actually hear my voice again and then we could introduce Fred’s voice as well to Renegade Health. And then I’m at this conference and I’m sitting there and I’m saying to myself, “You know what? I’ve got to do videos again.” And I think it’s coming from the right decision in terms of it’s not a thing where, “Oh, you have to do videos Kevin.” And Frederick will do some videos too so I think that will be fun. But it’s coming from a position of, “What are we here for, what are we really doing?” And I think that in an internet space it’s not like you walk into your local hardware store, your local health food store, and you say, “Hey mister health food store owner, tell me what your favorite Omega3 supplement is.” We don’t have that same connection anymore but when you have videos, pretty easy to look at a video and tell if someone is trustworthy or not. And I think that’s something we have that in some cases with some other audiences and some other experts. And again we don’t like to call ourselves experts, but I think that we are trustworthy and we want to continue to prove it to you, and video is one way do that. So we’re going to do videos again. And plus I’m slimmer now so I don’t have this self conscious kind of thing in front of a video camera, I mean even when I was like 160 pounds, people would say that I looked fat.

Frederic: Who was saying that Kevin?

Kevin: Oh I don’t know the crazy fruitarians. But even then you have the self conscious thing. So I’m ready, I’m willing, they’ll be coming soon. I can’t wait to reconnect with you in that way particularly; all you YouTubers who are out there asking for these videos. And every time we post one of these Podcasts we get comments, “When are you starting videos again?” Well we’re on it, we’re doing it, it’s going to be awesome.

Frederic: What’s going to be the first one Kevin?

Kevin: I want the first one to be an introduction with Hudson because I think that he is actually playing a very interesting role in our breakfast preparation. And I think I would like everyone to see what exactly that is. I’m not going to give it away but it’s really cool and really interesting, you guys will like it.

Frederic: Cool. Well now you’ve announced it twice.

Kevin: I know, now you’re really making me do it.

Frederic: You got to do one.

Kevin: Awesome. Well today we’re going to be talking about something equally as cool and maybe even cooler for you because it’s going to save you some money, who doesn’t want to save money? Fred do you like saving money?

Frederic: Oh yeah, I do, yes.

Kevin: Well saving money for what? What’s the purpose? Saving money to actually do things that you really love and appreciate, right?

Frederic: Yeah, I think money is like one of those things where we have to earn it, and we don’t always have control over how much we can earn but we always have control on how much we’re spending. And maybe you go through – I go through periods of spending more and less and so on. But right now I’m saving up. I’d like to maybe settle my roots somewhere at some point. So maybe get a little down payment ready or something like that. So yeah, I’ve been saving some money and saving some money on groceries is one big thing that I like to do.

Kevin: Yeah and look, I mean we’re not Dave Ramsey here so we’re not going to give you financial planning and tell you to compound your bills and pay off your car, and then take that money and pay off your mortgage and all that sort of stuff. I mean that’s like financial sort of stuff. But we’re going to be talking today about ways that you can save money and eat healthy. So save money on healthy foods as well as maybe some tips. I don’t know, maybe Fred, you have some additional tips that are outside of that space that help. But let’s talk about groceries to start, let’s just rock with that because I know a lot of people are into that.

Frederic: First how expensive can it be Kevin to eat like an organic healthy diet? I mean on the spectrum of spending, I know personally that it’s possible to spend a lot of money, even if you’re not buying wine and stuff like that, just like as a raw foodist I was spending a ton of money on fruits and vegetables. Like I remember my monthly budget for fruit was close to – not just fruit but fruit and greens and so on was like $700 – $800 at some point, for a single person. So just buying a lot of fruit and high quality fruit, organic, etc… So it’s a lot money, I mean when you think about it it’s a lot of money to eat healthy. I mean I know if you start eating out in good nice restaurants that serve organic food it can really add up.

Kevin: It’s so true. One of the things that I started doing because we do spend a lot of money on food, we almost consider it as like health insurance kind of thing. We have a very minimal health insurance kind of plan where I think there’s a $4,000 deductible or something like that. But we look at the money that we spent on food as a little bit of a health insurance. So instead of paying $400 or $300 for our health insurance we pay about $100 a month for each person. But then we spend most of that money on food and in our own personal health plan. But one thing that we started to save some money as well because we are looking to buy a house, and we’ve lived in one of the most expensive housing markets on the planet, which is the Bay Area. And so we have to save a lot of money to get a house and it probably won’t happen in the next two years it might even take longer than that. But what I started to do when we are shopping in the grocery store for produce is we use to just kind of go and just buy whatever we wanted. So if we wanted cherries, we bought cherries. If we wanted apples, we buy apples. If we wanted bananas, we’d buy bananas. And we would just go and get it and run. But what we noticed is right in front of one of the grocery store produce areas is this – and we go to the Farmer’s Market too but we live close enough to a grocery store we don’t have to do big shopping sort of things we can buy – go once or twice a week or three times a week even. But there’s this entire like crates, I don’t even know what it is, it’s this display of all different types of berries. And what I noticed is over the last maybe like four months I’ve been watching as the berry prices fluctuate and I never really took notice of this. But there will be times when the raspberry prices would drop pretty significantly and these are all organic but the raspberry prices would drop pretty significantly and there are times – the cherries are now starting to kind of come into season, not fully into season, so their prices are dropping too. And then you can see the blueberries, you can see their price raise and then drop again. So instead of just buying the fruit that we wanted, for say, I just started to follow – I just looked at all the prices of all the organic berries and I just buy the ones where the prices were dropping or lower. And it’s one of those things where you just don’t even notice but I mean there could be a swing between the most expensive berries and the least expensive berries, particularly if you include cherries. You’re talking it could be a $5 or $6 or $7 price difference between cherries that aren’t in season, $14.99 per pound, or cherries that are in season and in total and absolute excess, surplus, and those are going down to like $2.99 a pound or something like that. So we just started to look at the cheapest berries, organic berries, and then get those – cherries or berries – and get those instead of having to go and just pick whatever we wanted. We save a lot of money doing it.

Frederic: Yeah definitely. I mean you got to know your prices, that’s one that when I was researching, the book that I wrote on living on $100 a month on a plant based diet. I researched all the prices and some people like they receive the flyers at home and they throw it in the trash or recycling. But I like to look at those just to get an idea of the stores that around that are advertising, and the stores that I may not know about, and the prices that they’re advertising and so on. So right now I’m trying a new experiment – I mean it’s actually the exact same experiment that I did a couple years ago but I’m just doing it right now. So my food budget is $150 a month that I’m trying to follow. That’s for groceries and eating out is separate. But I don’t eat out that much. So that’s kind of the budget I’ve been shooting at. And to accomplish it it’s not as easy as it sounds. I mean not at all because that’s like what, $5 a day or something like that. So I mean the first tip that I really incorporated this year is to never waste anything. Because you think sometimes, I mean there’s food, and then you’re not eating it that you’re just wasting that food, right. But you’re actually – you have to buy new food for the next meal. So it’s like you’re wasting an opportunity to kind of use something that you haven’t. And instead you’re buying something brand new that you don’t really need. I use to buy a lot at once and I stopped doing that because I only buy Staples in bulk because I live in a city, like you Kevin, and it’s easy to get produce regularly. Instead of having to buy everything all at once in bulk and then wasting some of it because you’re not eating all of it. So never wasting and then buying the Staples that don’t go bad, like rice, then you can buy those in bulk and you can save a lot. But for produce what I do is I look at loss leader so a lot of supermarkets and health food stores, etc… they advertise certain items to get clients in. And they often – the deals are so good that they don’t actually make money on those items. But imagine that you only buy those items for produce or mostly you focus on those items and then you figure out what you’re going to make around those. So let’s say they’re advertising – I don’t know – eggplant for $0.99 a pound and it’s usually $2.99 a pound. And then you buy a bunch of eggplant and then you think, “Hey, what can I make with the eggplants?” Instead of what most people do is they look at a recipe book and they think, “Hey, it’d be nice to make chili this week. Let’s go buy everything we need to make chili.” And then you buy everything at full price. So it kind of forces you to be creative because you look at what’s on sale and it’s usually what’s in season, so it’s better, it’s fresher, and then you organize your menu around it. So you don’t actually need to receive those flyers in the mail. You can just go online to the websites of the different stores around you and look at what they have on sale. And once you know the prices that the top price you’re willing to pay per item. So maybe like you said Kevin, berries you’re willing to pay up to $2.99 or $4.99 a pound or whatever it is, but you decide what the price is per item. And then you look at it and you say, “This is too expensive.” like, “I’m not going to pay myself more than – I don’t know like $1.99 for bunch of celery.” I mean sometimes they sell it for way too much. There are prices like this that you can figure out overtime because you’ve seen them go in and out of season and in special and so on. I mean that’s kind of what I do to save money and that’s what I recommend to people. Is you decide what your Staples are and then you make a menu around it. And then you find stuff that’s on sale and you make stuff around it. So you don’t have to clip coupons or you don’t have to buy all this package food that’s on sale just to save money. You just buy great produce that’s cheap and then you make a menu around that.

Kevin: I think something that is really important to mention around this topic Fred is something that I just talked to Dr. Williams about on the phone. I was interviewing him for my book and I’m really trying to get into what the Caro eat which are native Peruvian people and they have a few Staples, they their potatoes, there’s a lot of different varieties of potatoes. But they have their potatoes, they have their corn, they have their alpaca, they have coco leaves. And those are kind of what they eat, that’s their Staples. But what Dr. Williams also mentioned is that in season they eat all different types of things. So there’s a certain time of the year when berries are season. There are four or five different berries that they eat. There’s a certain time of the year when there are different greens in place and they eat those all throughout the time they’re eating their Staples. But they’re also eating these foods seasonally as they come in. So the reason I’m mentioning this is because I know that there are some of you out there that are saying and we’re going to get into what Fred eats for that $150 budget a month because that’s really important. But you’re not going to starve and you’re not going to deprive yourself in most cases nutrient wise because you don’t have to eat berries every day, you don’t have to eat kale every day, you don’t have to do this to be extremely healthy. And so I think that our mindset of more is better, needs to take a backseat to the actually reality of these Caro for instance can live, at least back when they were not being influenced by American foods, Western type diets, they can live very long eating berries seasonally, eating them just generally around once a year during a certain a month to two month period. So it’s very important to think about that in that way so you know that you’re not freaking out and becoming neurotic. Because you can’t buy berries but you know they’re healthy and I just not going to live long because I don’t have the money kind of thing.

Frederic: And I think that having the system for saving money is something that you can use to do the degree that you want to use it. So right now let’s say I want to save some money for something, I’m going to be like more restrictive for awhile in my choices. I’m going to be just more careful, right, but I don’t have to do this like every single month for the rest of my life. I can have months that I spend some more money or indulge a little bit more. And I think it kind of goes in the direction of what you were saying Kevin that native people eat the same kind of foods most of the year but there are periods of abundance where they just have more food available and more variety. So you can do that in your life as you can have months where you just maybe have a more Spartan Diet and eat simple meals over and over. And then periods where you just indulge in the abundance of the autumn or the summer. I mean when autumn comes I’m not going to be like, “Hey, I’m not buying those super awesome squash because they’re like $0.29 a pound more than I should be paying.” I’m going to say this, I want to get what’s in season, what’s great, what’s fresh, what I love to eat. But there are periods of the year that I can spend less and that’s how you do it, you set your boundaries. And that way I think you enjoy it more too because if you eat cherries all year round, and sometimes they’re imported from like Israel or someplace far away, I mean are you really enjoying your cherries because it’s not special when you’re buying it all the time. But when you buy it in season and it’s local, and it’s harvest time, I mean, man those are good. Those are really special.

Kevin: I want to know maybe a little bit more about what this $150 budget a month or maybe even like $300 budget a month. I think that’s probably something that people are a little more comfortable with around in terms of just having a little more variety at $300 but between $150 to $300 what does this look like, like what are you eating are you eating just rice, only rice and beans all the time or what kind of flexibility do you have?

Frederic: Well you have a lot of flexibility but you have to find a few Staple foods. For me beans cooked from scratch is something that I like to eat, and they’re incredibly cheap and easy to make. People buy beans in the can, right, I mean they’re very expensive that way because you’re paying for the packaging and you’re paying for everything. And if you buy dry beans even organic beans they’re so cheap, I mean they’re so cheap to make. I pressure cook them, right. So like for example black beans, you throw them in the pressure cooker for half an hour and they’re done. If you don’t have a pressure cooker it’s about two hours, you don’t even have to soak the small beans like that. Bigger beans you’ll have to soak them the night before. But I mean beans are kind of the central core of the strategy. So you have a Staple food like that. And then you have other vegetables like we have root vegetables, squash, etc… You just have to set a price for them. So what’s the right price to pay for these foods? So maybe you buy organic potatoes in a 10-pound bag because it saves you money. Or sweet potatoes, I see them on sale for $0.99 a pound. So I know if it’s more than $0.99 it’s probably too much. Organic sweet potatoes maybe it’s more like $1.99 depending how organic you want to go, you decide what the price is, right, approximately. It’s going to take you a few experiments to figure it out but there are – let’s say you have a few those Staple foods that are very healthy and they’re cheap then you decide what those are. For me maybe it’s beans, sweet potatoes, potatoes, squash those are like my favorite things, right. And rice I don’t eat like all the time but I like either brown rice or white basmati rice. I buy those in large amounts. So it’s very cheap when you buy them in bulk like that. And then you have all the produce you add on top of it. So at that price it’s really a vegetarian diet because as soon as you add like some meat and so on it’s going be closer to like the $300 month figure that you were talking about, like especially organic meat and so on. But this gives you the basis of a diet, so the structure of your day to day diet. And then you can be very creative because the fruits that you’re going to buy are going to be cheaper. And for example maybe every day you make a green smoothie while in the past maybe you made a green smoothie with mangoes and papayas and organic berries. And then you figure out, well it’s I just put $8 worth of produce in that smoothie, right. So maybe for awhile you’re going to make a cheaper smoothie, maybe you’re going to put a pear, banana, and some romaine lettuce. And then it turns out that your smoothie is costing you $1.50 now or something like that. It’s still just as good, I mean, you’re blending everything up. So you’re not really tasting the individual foods. So I think for foods like smoothies and so on, I mean I don’t put my precious fruits in there anymore, like the mangoes and the exotic fruits that are more expensive. I like to savor them more than just throw them in a smoothie. So it’s kind of a strategy you figure out. If there’s something that you’re eating every single day like a smoothie well make that food cheaper with cheaper items that just as healthy, right. And so that’s one strategy. And then like I said you buy the stuff that’s on sale and in season and you like the vegetables and the produce and the fruits, and you make stuff around it. So maybe instead of eating organic blackberries every single day, let’s say they’re expensive; you’re eating them once a week. And then the other days you’re eating something that’s maybe not as exciting but it’s still really good, maybe it’s diced pear that you put in whatever you’re eating in the morning whether it’s a smoothie or I don’t know like oatmeal or something like that. So there’s all kind of – you buy almonds in bulk or nuts in bulk you had a handful. If you’re not buying pre-processed, pre-made food, everything is going to be cheaper. And then once you kind of have that figure in mind, let’s say it’s $300 a month, that’s $10 a day. Then you realize, “Hey, if I’m eating out today and it’s a nice restaurant, I’m going to spend like $50 per person. That’s like a 5-day budget.” So maybe you’re going to reconsider that and then go to a place that’s not as expensive or not order as many things. It’s just awareness, right. You keep track of your expenses and then the menu can be whatever you like. In the book I talk about how to figure out what your Staples are, what is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay per item and then you can add things on top of it. So let’s say you eat what I described like the vegetables and so on, the beans, and then you want to add – for your dinner you want to add like some salmon or something. Or you want to bake a fish in the oven. Or you want to make some organic chicken or something like that. Then that’s just added on top of it and it’s going to add, of course, to the day but overall it’s not going to be – you’re still going to be saving a lot of money, right. Then there are other tips if you’re not going to eat a vegan diet to save money. Some people say you cook the entire chicken and it saves you money instead of buying individual parts. And then you have enough for the week and so on. So there are all kinds of ways but it’s a matter of being creative. And I like what you mentioned about the seasonal berries because there’s also – once you set yourself a target, like that, it can be kind of fun and challenging to try to meet that target. So let’s say right now there are blackberries that are wild, I mean those are free, right. You can harvest them and in Montreal we have a big Italian Community and they would go and pick dandelion at this time of the year, right, and make salads and make stuff out of it, right. And then you think maybe I could learn to do that, maybe I could be one of those Chinese people that you’ve seen picking up mushrooms in your area. And then even though you’re not Chinese you’re going to try to be Chinese for that day because they know how to do it, maybe you can ask them, with mushrooms, you have to be a little careful but you know what I mean. You can find all kinds of ways to do this. I even found out recently that there’s a project in my area to encourage people with lower income to eat vegetables and fruits. So they have this super cheap weekly box of fruits that they’re not making any money on, fruits and vegetables. I think it’s like $7 a week. So maybe there’s something like this in your area and you can take advantage of it. So I think once you have a target and then you set your mind to it, it can be fun. You’re not going to be feeling deprived if you set it as a goal for, let’s say, a month or two months and you say, “I’m going to do this for this month.” And then you’re going to find all kinds of crazy solutions to make it work.

Kevin: There’s a website that I found awhile back on Renegade Health and man I’m trying to find it right here. I think this it it’s called Edible Cities, that’s it. Edible Cities and so what this is, is a crowd source style website where people put in the location of mostly fruit trees, at least that’s what I see here. So apple, avocado, blackberry, cherry, plum, grapefruit, lemon, loquat, olive, orange, persimmon, plum, rosemary, well bushes too, so people actually put in trees that provide these fruits that are either readily available just for you to take. Or if they’re in someone’s yard then maybe you can go knock on their door and ask them. And just about right now the loquats are starting to get ripe here in Berkley, and we’ll go out and we’ll harvest some of them that are kind of in the median of the street like they are – not in the median of the street but like between the sidewalk and the street. And they’re pretty much fair game for most people. Sometimes people if they don’t want you to pick their fruit, they’ll have signs on their fruit trees. But this is just another place to go I know that they have listings in a lot of different cities. So if you don’t live in the woods where you can go and harvest some dandelions or some of these things, mushrooms, before you harvest mushrooms really make sure that you know what you’re doing. But if you live in the city you might be able to use a website like this to be able to help you find some free food and free food is pretty awesome. I know that we need to wrap up Fred but I wanted to say three quick points here. $100, $150, $300 maybe your budget is like $2,000 a month on food and you’re just like, “I don’t even – like $100 I wouldn’t be able to eat.” Well I mean if your budget is that high I’m sure that you can shave off $200, I’m sure that you can shave off 10 percent of your budget and then you can save that money. If you save $100 a month that’s $1,200 a year, I mean if you have a family of four that’s a plane ticket somewhere for each one, a round trip plane ticket. If you save $200 that’s $2,400 that you can save and what you could you use that for. I’m sure you could find something interesting enough to do that with and I think that you should turn around and take that money and use it on blood testing because what you’re going to do once you get your blood testing, you’re going to one find out if your diet is okay. So then you can continue to eat it or you need to change it. And two you can decide if you really need to take all those expensive supplements. Maybe you’re taking a whole bunch of Vitamin D which isn’t that expensive but maybe you’re taking a bunch of expensive supplements and you look at your blood test, and you’re perfectly fine. You don’t need all those supplements you can save yourself $30, $40, $50, $60 a month just by turning that around. And you can use the extra cash leftover to buy a berry breeze because that’s going to help you save money by prolonging the length of the produce, how fresh produce stays in your refrigerator.

Frederic: Good stuff Kevin.

Kevin: You got it. So go out there and save some money. Our challenge to you is to see if you can save $100 on your grocery bill this month.

Frederic: Get creative and cherish your tips at

Kevin: You got it. Take care. And enjoy the saving and the eating and the healthiness that you get from it.

Frederic: Bye.

Kevin: Bye.

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Christa says:

    so glad to hear you will be doing videos again….thanks

  2. Veronika says:

    I was looking for a website that lists Brooklyn fruit harvesting, and found The Falling Fruit project, which maps trees all over the world:

  3. Dana says:

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, guys; I appreciate every one of your podcasts 🙂

    I would be interested to learn more about the edible cities website. How can one find out a more exact address of a living city in a particular neighborhood?
    I live in Orlando, FL, and I see on the map that there should exist something in Winter Park, FL, and Orlando, FL, but I have no idea how to find the exact place…

    On the same line of thought, I have checked out in the past the findaspring website, but all the springs I had found on it and called up didn’t turn out to have any ‘drinkable’ water (or at least this was the message delivered to me), so I gave up although this is another topic of my interest: how to get fresh clean water straight from the spring? I am originally from the mountains in Romania and my folks are always driving to the closest spring in order to refill their drinking water bottles, and the water quality is so good…and most of all free..:)

  4. Lilija says:

    Great podcast! Love you guys and so happy to hear of coming videos 🙂 What I am sometimes puzzled about is the consumption of superfoods. Some of them can be rather expensive (like reishi, chlorella, spirulina, goji), whereas others, like aloe vera, honey, homemade wheat-grass juice, hemp seeds, can be very inexpensive or even free (home grown aloe vera). I try to focus on less expensive and local superfoods, however I’m still sometimes thinking if maybe I am missing on something very important by not consuming enough of the more expensive ones, that are so often promoted in different health websites. I guess 80/20 rule applies here, however it would be great to hear from you on this perhaps on some future podcast – how to understand what or how much is really needed regarding superfoods /herbs. Because, if not careful, these can really add too much to monthly food/supplement bill.

  5. ilse says:

    Hi Kevin, you were the first raw foodist that I’ve find on YouTube back in 2010 so YES, do those videos again (with Fred-P :-D)

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