Doing The Virgin Diet on a Budget

I designed The Virgin Diet to be practical, easy to use even if you’re stranded at the airport or at your in-laws, and yes, affordable.

Times are tight right now. Food costs are higher than ever yet people are struggling to pay bills, provide holiday gifts, and somehow get a healthy meal on the table every night. I get it: fabulous as it is, organic broccoli and grass-fed, pasture-raised beef just aren’t in everyone’s daily food budget.

Tally up your bills. I believe you’ll find you save money doing The Virgin Diet because you’re not loading your cart with overpriced processed foods or buying those stale coffee shop Danish. You’re also gaining a lean, healthy physique, which is priceless.

To help you create even more value, I’ve provided a dozen strategies to make the most of your food dollar.

1. Buy in season. Asparagus peaks in spring, while blueberries are ripest in summer. Besides being fresher and more likely to be locally grown, produce is more affordable in season.
2. Buy frozen and stock up. Ever regrettably tossed a head of broccoli that sat in your fridge for a week? Frozen foods eliminate that problem and save you money. You can literally buy months of veggies and other foods to store in your freezer, so you always have organic frozen spinach to toss into soups, stews, or to use as a side dish.
3. Less meat, more plant-based foods. In The Virgin Diet, I encourage you to only choose the best-quality meats, like grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon. But they aren’t cheap, especially if you’re trying to feed a family of 4 or more. Rather than buy lower-quality, conventionally produced meats (sorry, but farm-raised salmon is just gross), load your plate with less meat and more green veggies, good fats like avocado, and starchy high-fiber carbs.
4. Start your day with The Virgin Diet Shake. Occasionally someone will write that they can’t afford the pea/rice protein powder in my store. A little math solves that problem, since you’ll be spending about three dollars total to do The Virgin Diet Shake. That’s less than you’d spend on a nutrient-empty, fat-storing muffin or breakfast smoothie.
5. Don’t snack. I have clients total the money they spend at bodegas, vending machines, and other snack ventures. They’re often shocked at the amount. In The Virgin Diet, I encourage you not to snack unless you absolutely must. You’ll save calories and money.
6. Join a farmers’ collective or co-op. More cities now have food co-ops where you volunteer your time for reduced-cost produce and other locally grown and raised foods. Farmers’ collectives provide similar opportunities with grass-fed beef and other pasture-raised foods. You probably have a farmers market during the warmer months, which in LA and other warmer climates is nearly year round, although some cities now conveniently have indoor year-round farmers markets.
7. Shop warehouse stores for bulk buys. Make a list and stick to it, since warehouse stores love to lure buyers with serendipitous bargains.
8. Load your plate with high-fiber foods. Fiber delays gastric emptying, balances blood sugar, curbs cravings, and makes you full faster. What’s not to love? Aim for 2 – 3 high-fiber foods at every meal. Excellent choices include avocado, lentils and other legumes, nuts and seeds, and leafy greens.
9. Prepare ahead of time. If you know you’ll be stuck late at work tomorrow, prep dinner ingredients and you’ll be far less tempted to spike your credit card bill ordering in or grabbing take-out.
10. Make your own. Could you imagine if a little hidden gluten in your favorite spice blend was stalling your fast fat loss and holding your health hostage? Make your own dressings, sauces, spice blends, and other condiments. You’ll save money and know exactly what you’re getting.
11. Try my stoup recipe. My hybrid of soup and stew, called stoup, makes the perfect fast, economical hearty meal. You can even toss leftovers into the slow cooker and voila! You have dinner waiting when you get home from work. Portion and refrigerate leftovers for office lunches.
12. Brew your own. Coffee and tea, that is! Ever tallied how much you spend on those fancy coffee-shop drinks? That doesn’t even consider the stale pastry or low-fat muffin (aka adult cupcake) you grabbed prior to The Virgin Diet. (I hope you’re using The Virgin Diet Shake for breakfast now!) Become your own barista and brew a cup of organic coffee or green tea for far less than what you’d spend at a coffee shop.

© 2012 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Celebrity Nutrition & Fitness Expert JJ Virgin helps clients lose weight fast by breaking free from food allergies.  She is the bestselling author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy, a Huffington Post blogger, creator of the 4X4 Burst Training Workout & co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters. Her latest book, New York Times Bestseller The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days, is out now. Learn more at

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  1. I hope this email finds its way to JJ, and I hope I can get an answer. I have a 32 year old daughter who lives with CIDP, an autoimmune disorder that is basically inflammation of the peripheral nervous system, with resulting weakness in the limbs, loss of balance, pain and extreme fatigue. I am convinced that a change in her diet could have substantial benefits for her. She lives on sugar and carbohydrates. I’m also convinced that JJ Virgin, Dr. Richard Fuhrman and others who advocate “nutrient dense” diets are correct.
    What can I say or do for my daughter that will convince her to try this way of eating. I know her health would improve. Please help.

    • How about asking her just to try Cycle 1, just to see if it makes a difference? Promise her it is only for 3 weeks, and if it makes no difference whatsoever to how she feels, she can go back to her sugar and carbs.

      Carbs, alone, aren’t necessarily bad. Spinach is a carb too 😉 It’s a matter of choosing smart carbs over empty carbs.

  2. I search for great protein powder about every 6 months and each time with more criteria than the previous. My most favorite brand had all the protein was discontinued , so the search is on again, this time with more constraints; gluten and soy free, and, after reading your piece, now no whey either. After catching a segment off a local Public Television fund raiser you did in Tampa, I looked you up to read about your 7 foods and agree with them very heartily. Over 10 years ago I healed myself of Cancer using all the natural remedies I could find and try to keep on a healthy regimen for the most part. I was delighted to read about your entire story as well as your recommended protein powder. However I was disappointed to find that Soy is used in the Mediclear SGS protein powder. You may want to correct that on your blog and website for clarification.

  3. just noticed that the almond butter I purchased contains” dry roasted almonds, organic unrefined cane sugar, palm oil, sea salt” in that order, only had one spoonful before i really read label. I just started eliminating 7 foods you recommended for 21 days. Have I already cheated with that almond butter?

    • JJ Virgin JJ Virgin says:

      Preferably one w/out sugar. But you can have up to 5 g of sugar in a serving.

      • Kristi Adami says:

        Hi JJ!! I’ve been doing your diet for about 8 weeks and have lost about 25 lbs – have another 70 to go…. Can you tell me where you can get Almond Butter without sugar? Seems like they all have added some sugar to it!

  4. I’m finishing up my 3 weeks, but I can’t find anywhere on your site that tells me to symtoms to look for after
    I re-introduce soy back into my diet. I have your book, and it tells me to check the site for symptoms.
    Please help, hurry, I only have two days until soy comes back. Thanks, Nancy

  5. Stephen Curtis says:

    I bought “The Virgin Diet” book. I have started reading it. I have abstained from the seven foods for a week and have lost ten pounds. I really need recipes, however and can’t seem to find J.J.’s recipe book anywhere.
    Where can I find it?

    Thank you,

  6. I just got your book and am so excited….i understand they whey protein powders are no go but what about products like superfoods amazing grass and shakeology? I have both and would be hopeful i could use them before having to buy new stuff. Thanks!

  7. I have ordered the book but now seems like there are so many other things customers are urged to order.
    Book was not available locally so ordered on line. Because I have such an enormous amount of weight
    to lose, I’m a little concerned this is not set up for folks who need to lose a lot. But I will see.

  8. Elia diaz says:

    Hi there. I just heard all about you and bought your book. I also just ordered the chia protein special and I see you offer many other products. So many it’s hard to decide what’s best for me. Can I get advice on what I should order considering my health issues? I have chronic shoulder pain cervical spine arthritis
    , fibromyalgia, early stages of osteoporosis. Slow thyroid. My right arm is numb and tingly most of the time I do take medications. Cymbalta, levothyroxine, lyrica. Multivitamins , calcium citrate. Prescribed vitamin D, omega 3,6,9. And vitamin b complex.

    I just joined Lindora to help me loose 15 pounds. I’ve lost weight before and kept it off for 20 years. But these last 3 years have been hard and I lost my focus. Plus lyrica’s side effect is to gain weight

    Anyway, I’m 50 yrs old , a gramma of two and I want to feel better and with more energy.


    Thank you.

  9. Hi JJ, My hubby reluctantly participated in carb-free diets over the past few yrs & constantly complained I was ‘trying to kill him w/cardboard & seaweed’; then we BOTH watched your PBS special (ordered your book) in Dec. & decided to start it together in 2 days (had to go shopping 1st; it took several hrs to read labels to eliminate all 7 things! & threw out the’ bad’ stuff). Foods we’d eaten in the past: wheat, soy, corn etc, thinking they’re healthy. We did your 3 wk elimination diet & the food was good (no complaints) & now we’re into the maintenance part & are convinced ‘lifers’ & believers! My 63 yr old, 5’8″ body went from 142# to 137#, lost ‘girth in waist, hips, thighs (no more cellulite – yeah!) & lost the love handles too! I have more energy & my size 10 clothes are a bit loose rather than snug. Thank you, THANK you, THANK YOU!!! NOW we actually do eat HEALTHY! Hubby had been ‘inhaling’ peanut butter & now occasionally eats almond butter instead, but he can’t seem to swallow Greek yogurt (I don’t mind most flavors). This new diet has cost us a bit more, but is worth it in increased health (hoping to get him off statins!! Thanks again!!

  10. Bought the book after Christmas. Started the seven day dec. 31st (my 60th b-day.)
    Lost two pounds in two days. Feel fantastic! Then it started getting tricky. The old fashion oatmeal I eat in the morning is not considered gluten free, because it is not manufactured in a gluten free environment. The fizzy vitamin c packet I put in my water has sugar in it. Pad Thai noodles have this sauce on it- who knows what is in it. Even when you say no peanuts. There are some peanut crumbles. Same goes for fun chow noodles and garlic eggplant. They have this sauce on them….with corn starch as a thickener. The rice chips I bought have corn in them. But I am getting better and reading labels and asking questions at restaurants.
    It is pretty interesting, as I am logging everything, and how I feel if I get a negative feeling like a headache or my ears plug up. Very interesting stuff.

  11. Day 7 for me and I feel great. Didnt weigh in before I started but my clothes are not snug anymore. I need receipes so I can share all this with my family and coworkers. My skin is so smooth also.

  12. Please advise if you have an iPhone app . Thx

  13. dawnell says:

    I saw you on TV, and I went to the library to get your book. I thought I should do that and go to Whole Foods and such before I committed to an expense diet.
    I didn’t read about half of the book. I figure if it is going to work you knew what your were talking about the first time you said it and I didn’t need to read it again. But I would have to read the specifics of the elimination plan a few times before buying stuff to eat.
    So I went to Whole Foods, which isn’t near enough to be my regular store, but I figure it was the closest place that would have the things you said we should eat like the grass fed beef.
    It was a disappointing. I knew it was going to cost more than I wanted to spend, but mostly they didn’t seem to have what I asked for at all. The only thing I saw specifically marked grass fed was hamburger meat. When I asked at the counter, they told me that there were about five more beef options (they still weren’t marked grass fed, I’m just supposed to hope he is right), but that was it. Everything else says grain fed. Wheat is a grain, and if corn is a grain, how is anyone supposed to get chicken, pork, turkey, etc….Either these things do not exist, or else they are a secret, or we just can’t get them at Whole Foods and we are unlikely to find them anywhere else (second choice would be Central Market or Sprouts, but both are about 30 miles away. How important is this bit about only eating grass fed stuff?
    I don’t really like beef, I was planning mostly chicken. I like shrimp. I don’t suppose I can have the all shrimp diet. How about oysters. If I’m going to spend this much I might as well eat oysters, and I’m pretty sure oysters don’t eat corn.
    Also, if I decide to do this, I’ll probably need to buy the cookbook, but I cannot find it. Is it something I am required to get from PBS?

  14. Wow! After all I got a webpage from where I be able to genuinely obtain valuable facts regarding my study and knowledge.

  15. Will this program still work, even if conventional meats are eaten instead of the “cleaner” organic?

    I was already doing all the budget suggestions, so a switch to “cleaner” meats WILL bump up my food costs. I’ve convinced myself to pay the extra for shakes the first 3-6 weeks, but more expense than that is a stretch. This week, as I shopped to begin the program, I found prices 3 to 6 times more than what I buy now.

    But I do believe this program is soundly planned and effective, and I believe I can do it. In the past, I’ve tried some partial elimination diets in haphazard fashion, which was of limited benefit. Also, cooking and eating are my favorite hobbies, so I’ve a mental challenge to redirect that energy as well.

    I have spent 6 weeks getting ready to begin: re-reading JJ’s book, setting up a daily plan sheet to time water/meals, making a notebook to hold JJ’s articles and my notes, selecting a food journal, etc. AND…eating the perishable pantry items that will soon be verboten…just could not throw them out, and reluctant to offer on Freecycle. But now tomorrow is the day to begin.

    I’m grateful for the support of the website, in addition to the information of the book and videos.

  16. You recommend the So Delicious coconut milk; however this brand contains carrageenan. Is this ingredient not a concern for you?

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  18. Admiring the time and energy you put into your website and in depth information you offer.
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  19. Natasha Vincent says:

    Is your Virgin Diet Cookbook available yet? I saw one listed on Amazon, but it didn’t have an image. I wanted to make sure I was ordering the correct book. I have searched your site and don’t see on listed….
    Please advise.


  20. I was a vegetarian for 13yrs and after having been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, my Doctor recommended a modification of my diet to include animal protein (sans red meat) Thru the years the hypoglycemia turned into diabetes, I’ve lost a kidney and now have follicular lymphoma (for which I am in a “watch and wait” status regarding treatment. After watching your TV seminar I was impressed and agree with you which and why the seven food items should be eliminated and I now have your book.- I’ve checked your web store and the ingredients in your recommended protein powders, one of which is pure cane extract, which surprised me because sugar is one of the 7 foods to be dropped. Please explain why sugar is in the mix.

  21. nancy tracchia says:

    JJ –

    I was in the market the other day and saw coconut sugar. What are your thoughts on this product?

  22. Jcarlson10210 says:

    Wow! It’s great to hear about this diet. I was very sick last year during pregnancy and went to a naturopathic doctor cuz my Obgyn wasn’t able to help me…found out the baby couldn’t tolerate many foods. Was strict and went from throwing up 2+x/day to none and feeling GREAT!! Also I lost weight while pregnant even though I ate so much I felt sick trying to be sure my baby was getting enough.

    Anyway, I’m glad “my diet” is becoming well known and soon there will be a recipe book I can use. It’s hard to be creative. Hoping the grocery store will also have less expensive “virgin” options as well.

    **Ocean state job lot carries bobs red mill flours, coconut sugar, brown rice cakes, Etc for a fraction of grocery store prices. ***

    Looking forward to receiving the cookbook!! :)

  23. After I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new
    comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same comment.
    Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

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  27. Kristin Wisnewski says:

    I would like my husband to go on the Virgin Diet as he has intestinal problems, but I do have some questions regarding his specific health concerns. At the age of 20, he was diagnosed with a severe case of ulcerative colitis and ultimately had his colon removed. He has trouble keeping weight on, so he is concerned about getting enough calories on this diet. My first question is, do you have any suggestions for “bulking up” without dairy, corn and gluten? Also, he cannot have much fiber, so he can’t eat many veggies unless he juices them. This forces him to exclude the smoothies from his diet, soo, my second question is, do you have other suggestions for breakfast? Oatmeal does work, but another option would be nice as well. Thanks so much!

    • JJ Virgin JJ Virgin says:

      We answer how to gain weight healthily and other breakfast options on the FAQ page on our homepage. For his condition, please confer with your physician before beginning the program.

  28. I TVD shake mix only available online, or is it available retail?

  29. I was looking at the shake recipes and it calls for chia seeds by the scoop. What is a scoop? Also, what is fiber blend? Thank you!

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