Sunday, October 23, 2011

this one's for scratch (and anyone on a budget)

a reader posted this comment on yesterday's blog entry: I immediately began seeing results and was so motivated. Then the reality of the cost of this made me stop. I found it to be very expensive! Would you mind sharing any tips on keeping the costs reasonable? 

i think i spent nearly $100 in my first few days of juicing, plus the cost of the juicer itself. i was really worried about how i would afford to keep doing this. but i learned and adapted along the way.

1. i bought too much produce starting out. i thought i would want to be uber-creative and have 3-4 different juices every day to keep things interesting. eventually i learned that i was fine with the same juice all day every day for a few days in a row. so much of what i bought the first week went bad before i could juice it because the produced netted more juice than i expected, and i dank less than i expected. when you stick to one or two recipes at a time, you tend not to over-buy.

2. watch for sales. i will go to 2 and sometimes 3 different stores to get what i need, depending on what i plan to drink. if aldi has a sale on lemons and carrots, i go there, and then hit giant eagle for kale and cucumbers. check the sale ads on sunday and then determine what you can juice that week for the lowest cost.

3. freeze it. if you get a great deal on something, make extra juice and freeze it for later. sure it's ideal if you can drink it right away. but the reboot nutritionist said it's fine to freeze it for up to a month. this can be a time saver, too. make a huge batch over the weekend and you don't have to touch your juicer again for a week!

4. i have a great farmer's market in my town. unfortunately, this will be the final week for that. i was also blessed to have many friends with gardens who gave me lots of overstock. i also read somewhere about someone who talks to the produce managers at her local stores, and they will sell her boxes of produce that are not fit for the shelves anymore. she juices them right away and freezes the juice--and gets a HUGE box of produce for $5.

5. i cheat. i have purchased a LOT of bottled juice at my local health food store. in place of "mean green," i drank bottles of lakewood juice's "lean green." i purchase a case at a time (6 bottles) to get a 10% discount, which makes them about $4 a bottle. a bottle plus some edamame or an apple, seeds and nuts will get me through my day, and i can't make a batch of mean green for $4. i also love the r.w. knudsen low sodium very veggie juice. i gently warm it in the microwave and eat it with a spoon like tomato soup. i could never make a juice this good, this easily for $4-$5. buying these bottled juices made my life so much easier. but be careful...i am so sick of "lean green" right now that i can't even force it down. use these to supplement, not as 100% of your juice.

6. i eat. if you've been following along at home, you know that i juiced for 18 days, then went to new york and ate the big apple. and the big thai meal. and the big cupcake. after that i never completely went back to long periods of juice only. but i have learned how to use healthy foods to supplement what i do with juice. except for the 2 weekends when i have completely let myself go, i have lost weight every single week on this modified plan. eating some simple raw foods like edamame, hummus or unsalted roasted sunflower seeds helps to fill me up, meaning i need less juice. sometimes i'll chop up an entire head of iceberg lettuce or a whole bag of baby spinach and mix it with a little bit of olive oil, then drench with red wine vinegar and top with the sunflower seeds. this is a huge meal that contains under 150 calories and costs under $2 to make.

7. i keep in mind what i used to spend on food. it was nothing for me to pick up a fast food lunch 5 days a week. subway cost $8 for a sandwich, sun chips and drink. wendy's was nearly $7 for the salad i loved. taco bell was $5 for the big beefy box. so that was $25-$40 a week just for lunch. not to mention snacks from the machine at work, a mid-afternoon run to mcdonald's for a $3 frappe or mocha. then the weekend would hit and i'd routinely be at dinner with friends, easily spending $30 on a meal, drinks and tip. i really think that on this plan i am probably saving money compared to the way i used to eat.

8. making other sacrifices to afford this diet will save me money in the long run. consider this paragraph from The annual cost of being obese is $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man, according to George Washington University researchers. Being overweight, meanwhile, costs $524 for women and $432 for men. Driving up the price-tag are employee sick days, lost productivity, short-term disability, emergency room care, and even the need for extra gasoline. One reason the costs are higher for a woman? Past research suggests larger women earn less than skinnier women, while men's wages don't vary based on their weight, the study authors say. The report also averages in the economic value of lost life, since obesity can lead to earlier death—which brings the annual costs up further to $8,365 for women and $6,518 for men. 

did you hear that, ladies? our fatness is reflected in our wages! fat dudes can still get good jobs and hot chicks if they are smart and have decent personalities (or decent bank accounts). but fat chicks, no matter how smart or personable, just have a tougher time getting ahead. 

9. juice in-season. different fruits and vegetables fluctuate in cost depending on your geographic location. find out what's nearby and in season, then plan your juices around that quarterly. when i started juicing i could get cantaloupes bigger than my head for $1.50. now if i can find them at all they are small, hard, and $3-$4.

10. i don't have another tip, but who could leave a list at only 9 items? i guess i'd just say to try making a list of the things you spend money on, and see where you can cut back for awhile. if you smoke, now is a great time to quit and use that money for your health. if you buy coffee every day, pick up a box of herbal tea and drink that instead. as for me, i make my warm lemon water my morning beverage. if you drink alcohol, cut that out while juicing for obvious reasons. manis? pedis? unplanned shopping trips? top of the line shampoos and perfumes? food, clothes and shelter for your kids? ok, you can't skimp on that stuff. but just keep in mind that your life is worth splurging on.

i have read that the cost of juicing runs most people an average of $14 per day. that amounts to $840 in 60 days. i'd say i'm doing it for closer to $10 a day. which would be a lot of extra expense if i was still buying all of those lunches and frappes. but for me, it has not really been a hardship. if you can't afford the cost, try doing all juice just 3 days a week, and eating as healthy as possible the other days. this should still give you results.

if anyone has any other tips or questions, please leave a comment below, or feel free to email me at good luck, scratch. hope this helps!


  1. This is great, thanks so much! I was doing just what mentioned in #1. While I am grateful for the help found on the reboot site, if you follow their menu plans, you can go broke! When I read #3, I heard angels sing. That's all I needed to hear really. I didn't know you could freeze and that will make all the difference. Again, thank you and I'm so glad I found your blog!

  2. i had the idea that juicing would be a quick thing i'd do before work in the mornings. boy was i wrong. i think i spent 2 hours juicing on my first day. you will see some hardcores who preach "don't let your juice get more than 30 minutes old before you drink it." come on. when i juice, i make the next day or 2 and put it in a pitcher and it's fine. and a good tip for freezing is glass mason jars. they even make the ones with handles. each night you can pull out a couple and put them in the fridge to thaw, then take them with you in the morning. i should probably be more concerned about BPA's, but i would also use empty 16oz water bottles and fill them about 3/4 full.

    i'm glad you asked! keep me posted on your progress please!

  3. Amy - I've been enjoying your blog. I also did an 18 day juice only fast then ate the equivalent of the big apple too. Only, I've had a really hard time changing habits - I gained back all the weight I had lost(22#) and am still trying to get back to being healthy. I really appreciated your information about the cost of being healthy. That's eye opening for me. Thanks for taking the time to blog and sharing your journey.

  4. jill, i can so easily identify with you. there have been a few times post-NYC that i was ready to give up. i gained 5.5 pounds in one weekend and so easily could have kept going up. as i mentioned, i have lost the same 20 pounds 3 times since january of last year! just remember that the time will pass whether you are dieting or not, so you might as well spend the time getting healthy. it doesn't have to be all juice all the time, either. i think it's harder to do this a second time, or to restart after eating the first time. dig deep for all of your courage and willpower and i know you can do it! we have a great supportive facebook group at

  5. Thanks - I requested to join the group!