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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Extra juice for less dough

While she's no healthfood freak, The Bargain Queen does enjoy a fresh juice from time to time. And even Mr Bargain Queen can occasionally be persuaded to substitute his coffee for the fruity stuff.

But why spend money on juice when water can quench your thirst just as well?

Here's a few ways that juice can save you money, if you get the right stuff:

Juice is full of vitamins, and if you're getting enough of these nutrients through your diet, then you won't need expensive supplements.

Being healthy is a bargain. Fewer expensive trips to the doctor, and less missing work or dipping into your sick-leave.

Reduce snackiness. The extra nutrients in juice can prevent cravings for expensive and nutritionally bankrupt junk food.

So what's the best-value juice in terms of cost and nutrition?

Well, to begin with, we're talking about juice. Real, fresh-squeezed juice, from real pieces of fruit. Not cordial. Not from concentrate. Not adulterated with preservatives or sugar or synthesised vitamins.

In the supermarkets, you'll find these kind of fresh juices in the refrigerator aisle. Since they're a fresh product with no preservatives, they have to be kept cool and drunk within 1-2 weeks. They are pretty high in nutrition, and $5 per 2L bottle is about right for the good-quality brands (in Australia anyway).

The plastic or UHT bottles you buy off the shelf are generally made from concentrate. While these usually taste pretty good, they're not the same nutritionally as the fresh-squeezed stuff. All those extra weeks or months spent on the shelf, often in non-lightproof bottles, means the vitamins can seriously degrade. So even though they cost about half of the fresh brands, it's questionable that you're actually getting value.

What about cafe or chain-store juices? Well, these have the advantage of being freshly-made to order from real fruit, but they're seriously expensive. A single serve in a juice bar can cost you as much as the 2L bottle of fresh stuff from the supermarket. Not exactly Bargain Queen material.

The happy medium? Home-juicing! It's time to either dig up that juicer that's been sitting unused in the bottom of your cupboards (stuff you've bought and haven't used is costing you big-time, naughty), or sniff around eBay for a cafe-style model. You need a heavy-duty one, because it will be durable enough to handle anything, and will last you ages.

We use a Breville cafe-style juicer (A$130), and it's seriously useful. We have tossed in every kind of fruit imaginable, skin, leaves and all, and it doesn't skip a beat. It sounds like a jet-engine taking off, and I think it could probably juice a tree. And it's easy to clean with no fiddly bits or brushing required.

If the juicer is beyond your means at the moment, it time to start hinting to your friends and family for your next birthday...

So, having got the expensive bit out of the way, how much money will it save you?

Well, we yielded 4 litres of yummy apple, carrot and celery juice for $7.30.

2Kg of Juicing Apples - $2
2Kg of carrots - $1.80
Whole stick of celery - $3.50

The same amount would cost a whopping $32 from a cafe!

As for the supermarket brands, well you would pay $10 for 4 litres, so you're only saving a few dollars a throw - but then again, supermarket juice isn't as enjoyable as the stuff you squeeze yourself, and at home you can choose whatever combination of fruit you feel like - grapes, oranges, apples, pears - choose what's in season and it will be cheap and plentiful! Although it will take a while to pay off your juicer this way, we think that the health and enjoyment you get from home-juicing your favourite blends are well worth it.

For your home-juicing, don't buy your fruit at the supermarket, because they only sell stuff that looks most presentable for eating. If you ask the local greengrocer, they can give you bags and bags of the misshapen or damaged fruit for juicing. If you feel squemish about funny-looking fruit, just remember, that's what the cafes and supermarket brands use too.

PS - To save even more, rinse your juicer right after using it! It's quick and easy, saves you heaps of time cleaning dried bits bits from the machine, and makes your machine last longer.

So that's the juice on, er, juice.

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  • At 7:26 pm, Blogger The Bargain Queen said…

    Some extra juice tips:

    1. Over-ripe fruit makes great juice. Anything in our fruit bowl that's past its eating prime goes into the juicer instead of going to waste... grapes, pears, peaches, etc all make tasty juice.

    2. Juicer 'sawdust' is brilliant in compost (i.e. the waste that comes out the other side). Because it's chopped so finely, it breaks down really quickly so it can be added to the garden sooner.

  • At 6:55 am, Blogger Scarpediem said…

    I swear by my Breville juicer, too, although I recall paying slightly more than you mentioned (or maybe double? triple?) for it, and you need to peel oranges, core peaches, etc. Of course. The juice, however, is kick-ass! I love the apple-carrot-celery combo, too (I sometimes add a hint of cinnamon) and also the orange-carrot-beet combinatin (mmmm!) I never buy juice at the supermarket. Never. It's a rip-off, and God knows what else they put in there!

  • At 12:16 pm, Blogger The Bargain Queen said…

    Thanks for the tip - I'll have to give orange-carrot-beet a go!


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