In the past several months, three new juice bars have opened within a short walk from my apartment in Brooklyn. I consider these juice bars great additions to the neighborhood, but I always feel slightly guilty when I shell out upwards of $7 or $8 for a fresh-pressed green juice.
I'm not one to shy away from making things at home — I've made my own butter in my stand mixer; I generally make yogurt each week unless I'm traveling; and I love making ice cream, bread, and pickles from scratch, too — so I figured it might be cheaper to support my occasional green juice habit by juicing at home. Let's take a look at the math.
What Juice Costs: At the Juice Bar
First of all, I probably buy green juice twice a month. Sometimes more often, depending on my schedule. But for the sake of argument, let's say that I bought one green juice per week, with an average cost of $10 including extras and tip. That's a $40-per-month habit. It's not exorbitant, but it also adds up quickly.
What Juice Costs: At Home
Now let's look at what it takes to buy all the ingredients to juice at home. I priced out two different recipes: I chose the Balanced Green Juice recipe from Serious Eats and the Greens 3 recipe from Juice: Recipes for Juicing Cleansing and Living Well by Carly DeCastro, Heidi Gores, and Hayden Slater, founders of Pressed Juicery.
I did my shopping at Whole Foods, knowing full well that it was the more expensive option than some other chain stores, but they have good, organic produce.
Here's how the prices broke down:
Balanced Green Juice - $3.80 per serving
- 1 medium cucumber - $1
- 4 medium kale leaves - $1.28
- 1 cup cilantro - $1
- 1 large apple (Fuji) - $1.59
- 1 1/2-inch piece ginger - $0.48
- 2 limes - $1.60
- 3 celery stalks - $0.66
Greens 3 Juice - $5.17 per serving
- 3 kale leaves - $0.95
- Handful of spinach - $0.20
- 1 head romaine - $3
- 2 celery stalks - $0.44
- 2 small cucumbers - $1
- 1 bunch parsley - $2
- 1 Fuji apple - $1.59
- 1/2 lemon - $0.99
- 1/2-inch ginger $0.16
So when totaled up, the Balanced Green Juice costs $7.61 per recipe and the 3 Greens Juice costs $10.33 per recipe. Each recipe makes enough for two 16-ounce servings, bringing the costs to $3.80 and $5.17, respectively. Seems like a bargain, doesn't it?
That's until you factor in the cost of the juicer. While we're not reviewing juicers in this post, there are a range of options and prices out there; you can spend as little as $25 or as much as $500. I have a higher-end model, the Hurom Elite Slow Juicer, and it works wonderfully, but is a major investment. Keeping in mind that you get what you pay for; if you want a juicer that will last, you'll probably end up spending a significant sum on the appliance.
Of course, if you have a good blender, you can also just blend and strain. It's a bit more labor intensive, but works just as well.
So in deciding whether or not it's worth it to buy a juicer, here's what it comes down to: Yes, when thinking just about ingredients, it is less expensive to juice at home. Even if you are buying produce specifically just to be juiced and not coming up with your own recipes based on fruits and veggies you have leftover.
But the upfront cost of the juicer (and the time it takes to clean it) is a significant investment. If you are drinking juice more than two times per week, it's probably worth it. If you are only stopping at the juice bar once or twice a month, keep it as a healthy treat. After all, it's far better for you than stopping at the bakery.