Reducing the High Cost of Low Carbing
From time to time, I receive emails from individuals who wish to criticize me for using ingredients in my recipes that are "too expensive" as though I was somehow personally profiting from the high cost of low-carb supplies. All I can reply to this is that I feel the same sting in my wallet as everyone else does when I must pay $8 a pound for Maltitol, or $4-5 a pound for almond flour, cocoa butter and all the other specialty products that I keep in stock in my pantry.
No question these things are pricey and since many are still unavailable except by ordering from a website, there's hefty shipping costs added in as well. Yes the low-carb WOE is costly and the only answer that I can see to the problem is to patiently wait out the process of all things low-carb eventually becoming mainstream. When distribution finally catches up with demand, we will see a reduction in product cost. It's the natural progression of supply and demand. The more demand for the products, the more enticing it is for investors and retailers to jump into the fray, creating more readily available supplies. It just takes time.
Competition is the consumer's friend. I do see light at the end of the tunnel and the inevitability of low-carbing becoming conventional, and I believe the low-carb way of eating is here-to-stay. Of course, that means eventually more and more products will show up in the local grocery stores and restaurants.
Indeed, it has already begun. Even the fast food restaurants have jumped on the bandwagon and are now offering "low-carb" menu items. I think it is safe to say that this is a telltale sign. The success and longevity of these forward thinking marketers will depend on the numbers. If the new "low-carb" products sell well, there will certainly be more to come. The more there are, the cheaper the price -- simple Economics 101.
When I started low-carbing, more than four years ago, I stumbled across SplendaŽ and purchased it online, at a premium price plus shipping I might add, a solid year before it hit the grocery shelves. But no one heard me whining about the cost because it was what I needed at the time and I was quite happy to get it. And now I can buy many low-carb products at my local health food store, like the Keto Low-Carb Bread mix that I use to make Chicken and Dumplings.
We define our priorities and make our choices. Since there isn't much we can do about the way we, as consumers, are manipulated by the marketing and availability of products, from diamonds to pharmaceuticals to sugarfree sweeteners, we do what we have to do. However, there are several strategies I use for keeping the high cost of low-carbing to a bare minimum.
For one thing I purchase in bulk. If nothing else, you can save enough per unit cost to cover the shipping costs. Many website sellers offer free shipping for bulk purchase, on top of per unit savings. If you don't happen to use as much almond flour or vital wheat gluten as I do you could create a buying consortium with other low-carbers and purchase to share.
Another angle is more about budgeting and your own determination to stay the course. You must decide what is more important to you. Personally, I have found that, although low-carb products do indeed add to my grocery and supply costs, since I no longer buy and stock the old high carb products, those costs can be factored in and deducted from my total grocery budget even as I plug in higher numbers to purchase low-carb. What I save on not buying potatoes, pasta, rice, flour, sugar and junk food sort of tames the big hurt of purchasing the low-carb products.
And finally, sometimes all we need is a little perspective. Gourmet cooks never count the cost for premium ingredients. Real vanilla beans impart a rich yet delicate flavor to my low-carb version of Vanilla Bean Custard when I want to do it right. But of course I also have no problem using the less expensive vanilla flavoring instead of the high priced real thing. In the end, however, you get what you pay for.
It's a choice. It boils down to this, I am willing to do whatever it takes to stay low-carb, even if I have to take nips and tucks in other areas of my lifestyle? This might mean fewer nights eating out or passing up that great pair of shoes on sale at the mall.
Life is all about choices. Rent a movie and make a Fiesta Chicken Pizza for way less than dinner out and tickets. And while I am waiting it out for the marketplace to catch up with the growing demand for low-carb ingredients and products, I find ways to make-do with what is available. This includes diluting the less expensive high carb ingredients to reduce the carbs per serving in decadent recipes like my Mocha Tapioca Pudding in Chocolate Cups.
Fortunately, the more we low-carbers buy, the stronger and more appealing the marketplace becomes for producers to decide to invest in and sell to us. Ironically, probably the best strategy we can put in motion to affect and bring down the high cost of low-carbing is to buy low-carb!
In the meantime, we can still be happy and grateful for the abundance of products already available to us. Did you know that a root called Jicama, available in most grocery produce sections, is very low-carb, rich in vitamin C and could be used in place of apples? Combine these with apple flavored sugarfree syrup, the Life-StyleŽ Low-Carb Bread and you can make a low-carb version of one of my all time favorite winter desserts, Brown Betty.
I'm always willing to try new products, especially if they are less expensive, and when I find one that stands out, I shout its praises and tell everyone I know. Spreading the word, both good and bad, is the best way consumers can make change in the marketplace, not only in the quality of products but quantity and price as well.