the original food diet | the cost of groceries + learning where to shop

the whole foods store: convenient but pricey

I couldn't be more excited to report that the original food diet has rocked my world. The first 10 days were incredibly difficult, but the last week has been nothing short of amazing.

I'm in love with it. Call it the honeymoon stage; whatever it is, I've never been this excited about the food that I eat.

Last week I couldn't find a single food that I enjoyed. This week brought a complete turnabout- I've tried a new food almost every day and I love them all!

This week I tried red lentils, tempeh, polenta, leeks, kabocha, napa cabbage, corn grits, tamari {soy sauce without wheat}, red miso, bok choy, carob powder, tahini, chai tea, and medjool dates, and I still have new foods waiting in my pantry and fridge that I haven't tried yet: black quinoa, millet, fennel, ginger root, daikon, and more.

The craziest thing happened- everything tastes amazing now! Seriously. I loved food before, but it seems that my taste buds have come back to life {and I didn't even know they were dead!}.

That list of strange new foods did come at a price, though. This week, we spent close to $200 on groceries {including everything for the kids}.

I stocked up on several items, so I think we can stretch those groceries to last two weeks or more. Some of the high price came from things I will have for a while, like brown rice, and large jar of tahini, and two 2lb. containers of medjool dates.

As with any newbie, I'm making mistakes along the way. I really bought too much at the whole foods store; but the good news is that I am learning {and you get to learn from my mistakes too! ha!}.

Here's what $52 gets you at the "whole foods" store:

Not so impressive, really. But I found carob powder at 9 p.m. on a Friday night. That's why I paid a little more than I should have for it.

I love the convenience of the huge whole foods store, but I balked at buying a little container of red miso for $10.49. That's when I did some investigating, and asked an employee if he thought I could get it somewhere else, like the asian food store, and he was kind enough to even give me directions. That's customer service! {oh, and I bought the very same container at Drug Emporium for $3.65!!!} :D

We've even made new friends along the way. I met the sweetest Israeli vegetarian girl working at the whole foods store.  She knows her stuff, and in two weeks we've run into her four times!

We can ask her anything, and she'll know the answer. And it's awesome to talk to someone who understands why you don't want even a little bit of high fructose corn syrup or meat. :) She even knew where to find specific items I couldn't find otherwise. I just love her! :)

The key to saving money, as in regular grocery shopping, is to know where to buy each item. I didn't know that I could save a ton on daikon, ginger, and bok choy by buying it at the asian store, and I didn't know that I could save 50 cents off each pound of squash, and $1 off a pineapple by buying it at the Mexican food store.

Oh, and here's what $16 will buy you at the Mexican grocery store:


The $200 {take a deep breath, sweet frugal shoppers! heehee} we spent this week did feed others as well. We made dinner for my dad's birthday. He converted to the plant-based diet on his 57th birthday! {yay, dad! Happy birthday! :D}.

Who said you can't have an awesome meat-less birthday dinner? :)


We had grilled zucchini and squash, black beans, corn on the cob, guacamole, green apple salsa, pineapple, cantaloupe, roasted garlic new potatoes, and for the birthday dessert:


Okay, so it doesn't look so appetizing {you can tell by dad's face!} but it sure did taste good! It was a raw "cookie" bite made from medjool dates, carob powder, sesame seeds, oats, and coconut. It was amazing!


This week was definitely part of the learning curve of living on the original food diet, for sure. We are finding out all kinds of new things about food {like where to buy each item}, and our minds are changing about what we eat and why, and even better, we are changing what the kids are eating too.

I've never been this excited about healthy eating!

It might cost more than chips, bread, granola bars, and cereal, but I can honestly say the extra cost is worth every penny. It's food that makes you feel good, instead of bloated, or sluggish, or anxious {that's how corn syrup left me feeling}.


I'm excited to hear your story: how did you incorporate healthy foods in your diet? Do you find yourself shopping at five different stores too? :)



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48 comments

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting your excitement about taking the first steps to feeding your family healthy, quality foods. We began about 1.5 yes ago after some revelatory videos and some common sense. One of the best incorporations we have discovered is our weekly "box" of local organic foods offered by any local CSA or community supported agriculture. Here in SoCal we subscribe to Abundant Harvest Organics. I discovered many of the veggies you mentioned never having before heard of things like a daikon radish! CSA's are all over so I hope that is useful to your readers. This has helped us both menu plan as well as keep costs down and support local farmers.

Jenny Wagner said...

when you asked for websites for food recipes, i completely forgot about www.peasandthankyou.com

Janene said...

I'm totally baby stepping into this arena--but I use http://www.farmfreshtoyou.com/index.php to have organic fruit and veggies delivered weekly to my door: ) Also, just found an amazing crockpot recipe that is delicious for your oatmeal: http://www.theyummylife.com/blog/2012/01/271/Overnight,+Slow+Cooker,+Banana+%26+Coconut+Milk+Steel-Cut+Oatmeal and finally. baked kale chips are my kids favorites currently: http://www.shutterbean.com/2010/kalechips/

crystalwoolever said...

Mandy, I just watched the most awesome informative show on Netflix called Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, he's a Texas firefighter who goes around educating people about how to eat a plant based diet. I LOVED how educated he seems to be and his recipies look yummy!!! His website is
http://engine2diet.com/

Lsunutt said...

I manage to find a lot of organic foods at Big Lots for a lot less than you'd pay at Whole Foods or any grocery store. And no, it's not past the expiration date or anything. They also have an international food section that usually has healthier/more natural foods since a lot of the gunk added to foods in the U.S. is not allowed in other countries.

Rema Burghul said...

Wow! Love all of of your posts Mandy! I have become interested in trying a diet like this ever since I started reading your posts about it. My only worry is how I would stay full without eating meat! lol My family and I do eat a lot of the things you mentioned on a regular basis, like chick peas, tahini, different kinds of beans and nuts, lentils, and dates, but I still feel like I need some sort of meat along with those to get enough protein to feel full. When you first started the diet, did you feel hungry a lot until your body got used to it? Do you increase portion sizes of the things you eat, or do you just eat more often throughout the day? Would love to hear your tips! Oh and also, where/how do you watch the Forks Over Knives documentary? Is it on Netflix? I would love to watch that too!

crystalwoolever said...

I am getting more and more excited about you and your family doing this. Its inspiring me to try again. When I tried it no one else was doing it, and everyone thought I was crazy. Reading how all that gross stuff makes you feel is exactly what I feel. I think i'm defiantly going to try again...Thanks for the inspiration :)

Oh an P.S. those cookies look delish and so does your dad's birthday spread.

Dearlylovedmist said...

I just ate chocolate chips melted in heavy whipping cream drizzled on top of a banana. Feeling guilty now. ;) Seriously, your diet is very interesting to me. It actually sounds very good (well, for a day at least!). I love trying new things!

Tori Sanchez said...

Mandy, this is awesome! I recently watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives, knowing it would be on food, but not sure exactly what about food. It covered research on the plant-based whole food diet, like what you're doing! Amazing finds, and amazing health changes in people who changed to this lifestyle from eating meat and processed foods. I thought of you immediately and am glad I can keep up with someone I actually know who is venturing into it!! Thanks for the updates :D.

Elizabeth said...

New subscriber to your blog! My family and I eat mainly veg ( sometimes we have fish) and my daughter almost never gets ill. If she does it's because I allowed her to have some dairy ( after she begs me for some) and she gets the sniffles. Giving our kids such nutritionally dense foods is such a gift. It literally gives them life!

Gina said...

Sounds great but I think it seems overwhelming. I guess you just have to push through those first overwhelming days though to get to the rewards...better tasting food and more energy, etc. :) Living in a rural area I would be hard pressed to find some of the foods. Could you share your specific recipes? :) Oh, also how are you getting your protein? I know that is always an issue with plant based diets. Thanks for sharing!

Ulrika said...

I recommend looking into buying some items online in bulk. Look for raw food stores et.c. :) You can also look at raw food webpages for more cooking inspiration.

Brenna said...

Hey, you had a banana in there. Don't feel guilty. I just splashed some creamer in my coffee and feel guilty for that now too.

CJ said...

Take a look at the charts on this page http://www.buzzle.com/articles/vegetables-high-in-protein.html
and there are a few more items listed at the bottom without the protein content mentioned. Getting enough protein is really not a problem at all if you have a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Protein does NOT equal animal sources. Where do you think grazing animals get their protein from? :)

CJ said...

Sometimes I wish I didn't live in such a rural area...asian markets, mexican markets, farmer's markets. *sigh*
I do not think that the majority of items for sale at our very seasonal farmer's markets are even a good deal. I read on various blogs about the great foods bought at farmer's markets and for a ridiculously low price. :(

Pam Howard said...

Good for you! It's amazing how we can quickly retrain our taste buds isn't it? If I eat well for an extended period of time, I don't even WANT some of the junk others are eating. I think a willing mind and planning are key - I'll be anxious to follow your journey.

Sjfourroux said...

Have you ever heard of Azure Standard. Its a co-op type business, it delivers once a month. I get all my produce and oats and just about all my health foods there. There are times you can get 20lbs of organic apples for $10.00.

Sheila Payne said...

This is fun letting you go through the transition and blog about it. It is inspiring. OK. I hope you will in the future give us recipes that tell us what to do with foods I have never even heard of--daikon, tempeh, kabocha. Red miso I have heard of but that is where my information about it ends. So if you had tried all these foods you are talking about today on week 1, are you saying you would not have liked them? BUT since your tastebuds have had some time to reset you do like them? Please tell us lots more.

Becca Voeltner said...

Mandy! $200 for a family of 6?! that is INCREDIBLE for a real food diet? We have been eating this way for a while and I am a bit shocked...how on earth are you doing that? Would you consider breaking down the daily meals for you and the fam? giving your recipes, etc? You mentioned no meat, but do any of you eat dairy/eggs? If not, I echo another readers' question...what is your go-to protein? I'd love to hear - we spend substantially more than that and my husband is usually still hungry :)

Danica Davis said...

I am so glad I read this. I am a curly haired vegan Christian Mama. My kids eat a little animal protein (I allow them cheese or eggs one night a week) and we try to not eat processed food or sugar. The dessert looked amazing!! Have you tried tofu mousse? Or tofu cheesecake? YUM!!!! (silken tofu blended with a flavor and stevia for mousse refrigerate for cheesecake put in graham cracker crumb crust and chill) If you have a local coop or csa or farmers market that is the place to find local good whole food. I save a LOT when I buy from the CSA.

Courtney S. said...

I'm so glad you are sharing all this! It's great stuff! I'm in the midst of a whole food, plant based diet and I found your website a few weeks ago and I have been eagerly following. I ran my first half marathon at the beginning of the month and did fine (finished), but didn't feel great while doing it. I think I had been eating way too much processed food and meat thinking I needed to bulk up for longer runs. So after the race, I did a week of detoxing and started a whole foods plant based diet. It's been going really well and when I have done a few shorter runs, I feel great. Thanks for your encouragement and honesty about your journey as well. Keep up the great work!

DawnR. (Rn4jchrist) said...

Sounds like you are doing awesome!! I find the hardest for me is breakfast! I've been doing smoothies... Do you any other breakfast ideas? Keep up the good work!! We too realized all the "greens" are way less at the Asian markets!!

FiveToeDiscount said...

I wanted to mention Vitacost to you as a lot of what I see you purchase can be bought online for much cheaper - I just started buying from there 6 months ago and everything is much cheaper then our local stores (the steel cut oats are 1/2 price compared to our stores!). I love all their nautral body product prices as well. Shipping is free over $49 so I always buy a lot to make it worth it! I LOVE their raw honey, maple syrup, chia seeds (read up about them....it's an AWESOME super food!), steel cut oats, and basically everything! If you are a new customer, you can get $10 off your first order by using this link http://www.vitacost.com/Referee?wlsrc=rsReferral&ReferralCode=60123975

Danica Davis said...

Oatmeal- you can do anything with that, add peanut butter, add bananas and maple syrup, add blueberries and cinnamon; Quinoa- similar stuff to Oatmeal; baked sweet potato- add cinnamon and honey or maple syrup ; fruit cut up add nuts and flax (add flax to oats and quinoa and baked sweet potato too), a tofu scramble ( can you eat tofu on this?) it is similar to eggs especially with the black salt that adds that sulfur tastes to it.

mandyBH said...

I haven't, but I'm definitely going to check it out! it sounds awesome! Thank you!

mandyBH said...

Wow girlie! a half is a big deal! way to go! I'm glad you're on this journey with me! :D

mandyBH said...

Thank you Danica! We do oatmeal and maple syrup, and corn grits in the mornings. We pretty much stay with the same breakfast every day. I love Danica's ideas!! I'll probably be adding in tofu after the 40 days are over. So much fun doing this with you girls!!

mandyBH said...

I haven't done any baked things other than a basic granola {oats and maple syrup}, and I definitely need to check into the coop! thank you for your comments!! :D so exciting meeting you!

mandyBH said...

Hey Becca! :D I understand about the husband- my best filling meals include lots of beans and potatoes. We don't eat any dairy or eggs or meat, and our main protein comes from all kinds of beans and nuts. Right now we generally eat a lot of pinto beans, rice, squash, and black beans, corn, potatoes, carrots, and chick peas. I've been pleasantly surprised at how cheap and filling all of those are. The bulk of our bill has been specialty items like tahini, carob powder, dates, walnuts etc, and I'm hoping that will go down since they last longer. We have lots of greens too, and we eat a lot of shredded coleslaw mix/cabbage for salads {seriously way more filling than iceberg/romaine}. I hope that helps! :D

mandyBH said...

I think I would have liked them before, but I never would have made them without doing the diet. I had no interest in them if that makes sense? :D I hope to share more recipes soon! my husband keeps telling me I need to write this or that down! :D heehee. Oh, and the Japanese food you listed was inspired by recipes in the kind diet book by Alicia Silverstone.

mandyBH said...

It's so true!! I think about a bakery cupcake and it makes me feel a little nauseated now! lol!

mandyBH said...

I understand! I'm just learning there are online coops that ship too, like Azure Standard. It might be worth a once a month trip to the big city? maybe?

mandyBH said...

thanks michelle! I'll check it out!

Michelle said...

Like Ulrika, I recommend pricing those same ingredients online to see if there's someplace you can get them from cheaper. Vitacost.com has many of the same products as Whole Foods, but at much cheaper prices, and if you meet the $50 minimum to qualify for free shipping, that's a bonus. It will take a little advance planning, however, since with the free shipping, in my experience, they send it on the slow boat from China. LOL Well, not exactly, but I've waited I think close to 10 days for my shipment, which in these days of e-commerce, is a pretty long time. But there may be other sites that carry a good selection, so check around. =)

mandyBH said...

thank you! I'm wondering if Amazon has good prices right now... :D

mandyBH said...

I hope to share some recipes soon! I have several new favorites. We mostly eat oatmeal, and lots of beans and nuts for protein, as well as lots of grains, potatoes, corn, chick peas, black eyed peas, edamame, as well as soy nuts. I hope that helps! :D

mandyBH said...

I'm so excited to see where it takes us. Our kids are almost never ill either {praise Him!}, and I'm hoping to slowly change their palates to all veggies! :D

mandyBH said...

We just recently watched it too! We liked it! I'm excited to see where the plant-based living takes us! :D It's been a crazy ride so far. :D lots of love to the Sanchez family! I miss you, sweet friend!

mandyBH said...

You should totally go for it! And I'm totally jealous of your banana. I might have to go eat one right now {sans the toppings! lol!}

mandyBH said...

:D You should go for it! I'm planning to keep it up after we are done, so you won't be alone! :D

mandyBH said...

I've been surprised at how much lighter I've felt when I don't eat meat. I eat whenever I get hungry- which is far less than I did when I ate granola bars and cereal and breads. I eat as much as I want of beans and potatoes, and to some degree nuts and dates too. I love avocados too now, so with all those things I really don't feel hungry often. I eat more when I have heavy workout days so that I will have more energy. This diet has been so cool because I don't have to watch what I eat anymore- it's really self-limiting and very filling. :D I watched FOK on Netflix- it was awesome!

Pieper said...

What are your thoughts on shifting to a diet like this while pregnant? I am pg with my 3rd and have always enjoyed eating whole, but my appetite is SO large (even when not pg), I think I've tricked myself into believing that I NEED animal proteins and empty carbs to fill me up, which I know isn't really true. But, I am not a large person so I don't have 'excess' weight to lose per say.

Also, what advice would you give to someone (me :)) who is living near in-laws who eat the standard american diet and won't budge much at all in terms of diet (and many times is defensive about what I choose to allow/not allow the kids to have), and in turn, feeds your kids things that you don't. I feel like many times I am even more "strict" with what I allow them to give my girls bc I have learned that if I give an inch, a mile is usually taken. In addition, my hubby 'likes' the idea of a better diet, but temptation is usually too much for him to handle.

Thanks, Mandy!

Mary@Finding Healthy Hope said...

this is so exciting!
i am TOTALLY with you on the tasting everything! i LOVE veggies and i am so excited to eat good stuff!
i went to a friends last night, and ate 'regular' like i used to, and i am SO SICK to my stomach today!{didn't want to be rude and refuse her food...that is her love language and she is amazing!}
i have a recipe to share with you for a sweet treat.
it's halvah and it's DELICIOUS! it incorporates tahini, ground almonds, honey, carob powder, and vanilla. such a great healthy 'dessert' and my kids love it, too! :)
have a great week!

Pieper said...

Oh and check out Green Smoothie Girl.com. This would be a wonderful addition for you and your family's new diet! Raw plants being the main source of food and she does it in the form of smoothies. I have her e-book "12 Steps to a Whole Foods Diet" if you would like to peruse it- even has a recipe chapter for dinners (she doesn't completely live off of smoothies- ha!). Anyway, she has very good information!

Candace said...

Mary, where is the Asian Grocery in East Texas? I lived in Norman, OK for a bit and drove the 25 minutes to OKC to shop at a large one, but I didn't think that there was one in the same area as Fresh. I did discover a middle Eastern/"Asian" grocery on Hwy 64 across from The Oil Palace in a gas station. That was exciting. I missed all of the foods that I could buy at the Lebanese market in Norman.

Candace said...

Oh, sorry, but if you prefer to keep the geography a little more secret so as to not elude to where you live please email me, CandaceProsser@gmail.com

Jenniferkindle said...

it's so exciting to hear how this is working out for you. It takes much planning and is so difficult to do that living so far from any store that carries anything good!!! It is inspiring, perhaps one of these days I will be a better planner and eat better.

Renee said...

I live in central pa and family of six so need to figure out meals that are filling and since we don't have azure co op was wondering if there is one similar? Is there a specific place for recipes for main meals,desserts, snacks? I guess what i m trying g to get at is budget yet nothing we would get tired of or my meat loving husband would get upset about. Any suggestions? He's also a major processed cookie eater aka areas butter butter...they got to go but have to make things taste as good if not better. Reneechiolanbrown79@yahoo.com thanks guys Renee mama to 4- also would love to know weight loss tips to drop 30 to 40 lbs I'm 5'4. Any help great appreciated and feel free to email!