how much does a green smoothie cost?

Jumping the gun . . . drum roll please . . . I just might be opening the first-ever Green Smoothie Bar!

Yep, I have an interested party who already owns the perfect facility to try the concept out here in Utah County (then roll it out in other places if it finds traction). I’ve had SO many people tell me we should open a GreenSmoothieGirl shop. I don’t want to run it, but I want to have a place for people who want to skyrocket their consumption of fresh greens/fruit but don’t want to make GS themselves.

Here’s the OTHER cool announcement that isn’t in my book . . . or anywhere else . . .

In order to gather cost information, I purchased (from Costco and Good Earth) greens and fruit at retail prices, made a blenderful, and broke down the cost per ounce. I think you will be amazed at what I found:

A 96 oz. blenderful (in addition to water/ice):

Organic chard ($.66) 1/3 of a bunch

Organic kale ($1) 1/3 of a bunch

Spinach ($0.85) 22% of a 2.5-lb. bag

2 cups frozen mixed berries ($1.66)

2 oranges ($0.83)

2 bananas ($0.42)

2 Tbsp. raw/organic agave ($0.28)

= $5.70 for 72 oz.

That’s 7.9 cents per ounce.

A quart of green smoothie (my recommendation for adults) is then
$2.53

And to think that the biggest resistance I get from people is, “IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE!” How much is a Starbucks latte? Twice that much? How about a Power Bar? About that much. A Happy Meal? These are things people don’t think twice about spending money on.

For about $2.50 you can get 12-15 servings of RAW GREENS AND FRUIT in your diet. Amazing.

Would you spend $1.25 a day for your child to have a pint of green smoothie, 7 servings of raw greens and fruit? So her only serving of fruits or vegetables isn’t ketchup or French fries like most American kids? The ketchup and fries will cost you that much.

All the excuses just disappeared.

Power foods? Really?

I saw a People Magazine article last week about 10 “power foods.” They listed agave, along with the aggressively marketed, uber-expensive acai and goji berries. Now I’m not going to diss  acai and goji, which are certainly high in antioxidants.

But if you’re trying to adhere to a budget, do you really want to pay $10 to $60 a pound for these “power foods” from thousands of miles away from your home, when you can buy oranges and apples for $0.69/lb.? Their antioxidant levels may not be as high, but they’re wonderful foods grown close to home that won’t break the bank, and IF YOU EAT THEM REGULARLY they can be an important part of an aggressive anti-disease and pro-energy healthy diet.

Not too exotic, I know. And if you have lots of discretionary income, great. Eat interesting little berries from mountain ranges all the way across the world. (I do really like goji, though I justify the cost only now and then.)

But meantime, common sense suggests that if you stick to greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains grown near you, you’ll be JUST FINE.

As for agave being a power food, no way.

WHAT?! You offer agave in the group buy and it’s in your recipes, GreenSmoothieGirl! WHAT. ARE. YOU. SAYING!

My friends, it is much preferable than sugar. If you get a reputable brand that certifies it to be raw and organic, you should use it for treats that are alternatives to junk food.

But no concentrated sweetener is a power food–except maybe honey, because of its pollen content and anti-bacterial properties. (Still really high in calories. Use it sparingly.)

Anyway, I rolled my eyes at the People article, so mainstream and dumbed down. But I guess nobody wants to hear that boring old broccoli, or almonds, or raw sweet potatoes, are power foods. Yawn. We want something NEW!

People are always writing me, “What do you think of Dr. X’s heart-disease preventing supplement?” “What do you think of emu oil?”

I haven’t studied every new, well-marketed product out there. But keep in mind that for every drop of something-or-other you can squeeze out of the poor emu, or every new pill full of “natural” stuff, there’s a bunch of people sitting around a boardroom strategizing on how a study they pay for can “prove” that you simply must have it to heal 30 different maladies.

I don’t mean to sound cynical. Try it if it’s in your budget. But now and then I like to pull everybody who might be listening, back to the straight and narrow road. That is, simple, whole, unadulterated plant foods. Those we KNOW will heal us and prevent all the awful things we’d rather not die of. If you’re reading the Emu Oil ad online while eating your second Hostess Ding Dong of the day, an examination of priorities might be in order.

Just my $0.02.

raw food made easy: new vids on the site

How do you make decisions about whether to buy organic or not? What do you choose in the greens section of the grocery stores where you shop? How much do you pay? What do I do with the rest of the plant when I buy root vegetables? What are some new things you can put in your smoothies when you get bored?

Check out my two new videos now on the site addressing these issues and giving you a tour through the produce section of one of my favorite local stores:

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/videos3.html

My favorite part is where I randomly (I did not plan it, I promise) make friends with an elderly shopper named Elizabeth and sell her on raw food made easy with the green smoothie habit. (Don’t chase people down at your grocery store who look like they need help. They won’t appreciate it. But when you are making a video in the grocery store with a film crew, and someone expresses interest, open your mouth and start talking, because you just might be in her path for a reason that day!) :-)

some thoughts on organizing a co-op

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: I would like to get better prices on the whole foods you recommend than my small-town health food store provides, and I wouldn’t mind making some money for my effort. But I don’t know how to start. Help!

Answer: Organizing a co-op is a great idea for anyone wanting to save money and eat right. It’s especially great for stay-home moms who like to interact with people, get good deals, organize, focus on preparedness and nutrition, and (if you want) earn some money and have a long-term, repeatable source of income. There’s a lot of job satisfaction in it, because you see people building a high-nutrition food storage and getting prepared against emergencies, and you make good friends along the way. Because some of them know a lot about nutrition, you can learn much from them.

You may know someone who might want to form a co-op in their area to forward a link to this blog entry that contains tips about forming a co-op.

Yesterday I got a call from Sally in Portland, who has a 3,000 lb. almond order in advance of our kicking it off. When I called her back, having this question on my mind, I asked her what advice she would have for you. What she said, as I’ll summarize here, is my experience, too, although she was smarter and more hardworking than I was, starting my co-op. Actually I didn’t even set out to start a co-op, and I’m sure other co-op organizers  who read this blog will relate. I just got some friends to go in with me on something I wanted to obtain at a low cost with group buying power. The group just kept getting bigger and bigger!

Sally said she doesn’t even make any profit in her co-op, just likes helping people and getting better deals for herself. (I did the same thing.) She started hers as a preparedness group, tapping into that group of people, which, incidentally, is the entire base of LDS (Mormon) people in your area. Some LDS folks will make an announcement about a group buy at church and put it in the printed bulletin. Then, she said, with high-nutrition items like the truly-raw (unpasteurized) almonds, she has tapped into a second group, the raw foodist / earthy-crunchies, a group that my web research proves is growing massively.

A lot of people on her list in the beginning weren’t even interested in nutrition any more than the average person. Sally educated them! She is going to have an almond party and teach people how to soak/dehydrate them and make fun snacks. (She has also done this with quinoa and other items in her group buys.) She makes handouts and sends emails with great information. Some people in her co-op live too far away to regularly buy with the group, but just want her information! I told Sally she’s welcome to use a 12 Steps or Crunchy Snacks recipe collection recipe to hand out to her buyers (anyone reading this is welcome to do this–all I ask is that you credit the source).

Sally says, “People who care about eating right or preparedness FIND ME.” My experience parallels Sally’s. I have, however, never tapped into the “preparedness” people. I have never tracked down people to join my list, but you could certainly start that way by just asking around and finding people.

Sally said, “Every time I do a buy, my list doubles.” I agree with that as well.   She started her organization a year ago and has a few hundred on her list now.

Sally is rather ambitious, educating people as well as providing them healthy food at low prices. I know other GSG.com readers who promote the products we do in our group buys with local craigslist ads, and who talk to their neighbors and people at the health food store to build a list. As Sally said (I second this, as well, with my observation that people want to be led toward a healthy lifestyle), “Eventually people have come to just trust me, and they buy whatever we offer in group buys.”

If you want to automate, make a simple web site with an order form. Take checks received in advance of your placing the order, or (these will charge fees) make it really simple by taking credit cards using authorize.net. (You get a discount by being referred by another authorize.net account, and you’re welcome to use GreenSmoothieGirl.com.) And you can take PayPal. Just a tip: more people have credit cards than PayPal accounts.

For the raw almonds, I suggest reselling them for $4/lb. That way if your order is 1,000 lbs., you will earn $1,000 for your efforts. Last week in this blog, I listed all the other items and prices that we are adding to the buy this year, including raw honey and raw agave.

Sales tax (but no shipping) will be assessed for Utahns in the local buy. Shipping (but no sales tax) will be assessed for everyone else. If you send a check, only ONE check per order, please. (Last year I had a nightmare to keep track of a dozen checks for one order, sometimes!) So if you are doing a group buy, have people make checks out to you, and you make a check out to GNGB. (That’s GreenSmoothieGirl Nutrition Group Buys.)

So you’re trying to get kids to eat right!

You’re raising kids (or maybe helping with your grandkids)?  You and me both, my friend!  I’m raising four—two boys and two girls. They all have different personalities, interests, and temperaments. Your kids are “picky,” you say? I get that. I’ve got two kids like that.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I have picked up an arsenal of wisdom, not just from my experience, but from sitting at the knee of other parents who are doing a pretty dang good job. My next book I’m writing is about teaching kids to eat right.

I know what it’s like to work and try to fit healthy cooking in around the cracks in my time. And I’m a single mom, too, so honestly, I can relate to your challenges on so many levels.

I did a YouTube video on things that really help if you’re raising small children—see video 6 on this page:

http://www.greensmoothiegirl.com/videos/videos-page-1/

A few tips might help you, too:

First, make lists and post them inside your cupboard to consult when you’re making a grocery list or deciding what to have for dinner.  Those lists should include favorite nutritious menu ideas, recipes, and ingredient lists.

And make a list of simple whole foods to have on hand that you observe each of your children enjoying.

Second, don’t be afraid to let them in the kitchen to make their own stuff, with you just providing the ingredients.  And let them experiment—as the family green smoothie chef, for instance.  (You can give them a recipe and ask them to follow it.  Ask them to double it, and they’re exercising the “math brain!”)  Owning a kitchen project gives a child a sense of accomplishment.  She’ll make a bigger mess in the kitchen than you would have, of course, but you’ll be glad you allowed it, when it’s all over.

Third, develop an arsenal of much healthier treats that you make or buy, that your family enjoys.  That’s the worst thing, when we start eating fried and corn-syrup- or sugar-sweetened treats.  Ch. 11 of my 12 Steps to Whole Foods program is all about treats, the kind you don’t have to feel guilty about.  If your relatives (or ex-spouse) are open to it, you can send those treats instead of the ones they serve.

Fourth, praise them for their good choices and give them a lot of positive feedback for their kitchen creations that involve whole foods.  Make sure you point out when they seem to have more energy or a more sunny mood as a result of their good choices.  Keep it POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE!

And here are some additional tips from the site:

http://greensmoothiegirl.com/getkidstoeat.html

May your efforts pay off with children who support you and learn to love good, natural food!

To Your Health,

–Robyn

national study on grocery budgeting

How much does the average family spend on groceries?   Nationwide, according to the USDA, here it is:

 

Two adults:

$361 thrifty / $459 low-cost / $569 moderate / $711 liberal

 

Two adults and 2 kids under 11:

$603 thrifty / $779 low-cost / $974 moderate / $1,182 liberal

 

Spending for my own family, which includes 4 kids, two of whom are teenagers and all of whom play at least one competitive sport, puts me in the THRIFTY to LOW-COST range.

 

So much for these excuses for not eating nutritious whole foods:

 

“I can’t because I’m a busy, single, working mom.”

“It’s too expensive.”

 

Truly, I believe that the reason nutrition hasn’t gone out the window since I’ve been a single mother is that I had good habits and a repertoire of recipes and ideas in place.   These are what I try to give you with my 12 Steps program.  

 

And I don’t overspend on groceries (I spend about $800/mo.) because what I spend on produce is offset by what I DON’T spend on processed/packaged food and meat.   While I do like a bargain, I don’t have the time or the interest to clip coupons, drive all over town, or obsess about the budget.   Also, while 12 Steps gives lots of tips, the top two that save me loads of money are (1) summer gardening, and (2) my large freezer that allows me to store produce, seeds, nuts, and more.

 

See http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodCost-Home.htm for more info about these nationwide averages.