Is Healthy Eating Worth the Cost?

I’ve been inching my way along on my healthy diet journey for a few years now. I went from eating fast food the majority of the time to becoming a vegetarian.  But thorough out my journey, I’ve noticed that my grocery bill has increased with each significant healthy change I made. For example:

  • Eating organic meat as opposed to regular meat
  • Eating leaner cuts of meat as opposed to more fatty meats
  • Eating fresh veggies instead of canned ones
  • Cutting out processed food and opting to cook my own meals from scratch
  • Organic fruits and veggies instead regular fruits and veggies

The list goes on and on. (I’m not saying you must do all of these things to eat healthy, these are choices that I made…)

I usually cook for myself and my boyfriend every week. I will make 2 -3 meals for us on Monday evening and stick them in the fridge.  I spend about $75 every week and a half or so which ends up being about $225 a month. Sometimes it was a little more, sometimes it was a little less depending on what recipes I was making that week. But ever since I’ve become a vegetarian my grocery bill has skyrocketed!  This past week I spent $90 on my food alone which included lots of fresh fruits and veggies, stuff to make vegetarian chili, tortilla soup with Seitan, a few breakfast options, healthy snacks and a few other side dishes. Granted I also paid for things like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, etc. but $90 for one person for one week ?! Holy crap. This made me start thinking about how I needed to adjust my budget to account for my higher grocery bill. Never did I stop and think that I should go back to eating crap to save a few bucks. Unfortunately, this is what a lot of people think…

I could plan my meals better, buy in bulk and cut coupons and that could probably cut my weekly grocery costs by a third or even half, but honestly I’m too busy for that. I will find my occasional grocery deal or online coupons on my favorite savings blog mydallasmommy.com but those savings are few and far between.

I say all of this to say that even though eating healthier will cost you more at the store, it’s worth it!  Either you pay at the grocery store cash register to eat healthy now or “pay” for it later with your declining heath, cost of prescription drugs, surgeries, etc. And its not like health care costs are going down anytime soon. This article from CookTrainEatRace.com says it best.

Today my response to the notion that it is too expensive to eat healthy is to go to the ridiculous since that seems to be the only way to resonate with some people.  I simply ask them what it costs for open heart surgery.  When they look at me dumbfounded I simply and calmly tell them that open heart surgery is the byproduct of poor eating habits.  Now this may not be a direct correlation but it does ring a bell in their heads.  It does say to them that if they don’t change how they go about their eating that they COULD end up in the hospital getting surgery. Time away from work.  Time away from family and friends.  Rehab and having to change your diet anyway.  And the real kicker, without having to say it out loud, is death.

I was reading an article in the online version of the New York Times that was titled Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?  It was an op-ed piece but it made so much sense.  It was within the first few paragraphs that I was enthralled with what the author was saying:

This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs, at the McDonald’s a hundred steps from where I write, about $28. (Judicious ordering of “Happy Meals” can reduce that to about $23 — and you get a few apple slices in addition to the fries!)

 In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home. You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people. If that’s too much money, substitute a meal of rice and canned beans with bacon, green peppers and onions; it’s easily enough for four people and costs about $9. 

Taking the long route to putting food on the table may not be easy, but for almost all Americans it remains a choice, and if you can drive to McDonald’s you can drive to Safeway. It’s cooking that’s the real challenge. (The real challenge is not “I’m too busy to cook.” In 2010 the average American, regardless of weekly earnings, watched no less than an hour and a half of television per day. The time is there.)

There are many misguided reports that try to convince you that people just cant afford to eat healthy, but that’s crap! Where there is a will there is a way.

Here are a few resources that tell you how to eat healthy without over spending:

 

Department of Health and Human Services

Medicinenet.com

 

4 Comments

  • Kenda says:

    Girl you better preach!! Eating healthy is an investment. A simple cost-benefit analysis will determine whats best for you! Amazing articles!!

  • Thank you for highlighting this topic. It is so important for people to understand that they are investing in their health. The ROI of eating healthy is days/months/years tacked onto your life. Is there a better investment?

    I get by on about $50 per week for myself. If you use MyFitnessPal.com you can map out a menu for a week and track your calories in/calories out. I love doing it as I get to mix and match different veggies and then I know what I need to buy at the grocery store and not have waste.

    Thank you again for brining this topic up. The more we talk about it the faster people will get it.

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