Shoestring Meals - I KNEW eating healthy foods was costing me more!




misskimothy
12-07-2009, 08:05 PM
I had a feeling that my food budget was going up up up with my new healthy eating regimen. I thought maybe it was just me and poor shopping habits, until I came across this:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/a-high-price-for-healthy-food/
It costs about a dollar and a half for 1000 calories of energy dense calorie rich food vs over eighteen dollars for low calorie low energy dense foods.
Like the author says "Veggies and fruit are now becoming luxury items".


garnetrising
12-07-2009, 08:28 PM
Well, fancy that. XD It was something I'd noticed, too.

mkendrick
12-07-2009, 09:24 PM
Psh, that's not just something I "noticed," that has been one of my main obstacles in dieting.

I'm a poor college kid, and I barely had room in my budget for a few boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese, some Wonderbread and bologna. I've actually had to take on extra shifts to pay for my diet, and I don't eat extravagantly at all. I buy chicken when it's on sale, bag-o-lettuce and iceberg lettuce and mix them, maybe a cucumber, the cheapest fruits I can. I do manage to eat a balanced diet of 1100-1300cals of nutritional whole foods, but it has taken a lot to be able to afford it.


jazzang
12-07-2009, 09:25 PM
I've noticed this too... and its not good!!

paris81
12-07-2009, 09:29 PM
Thanks for posting...it was amazing what some of the nay-sayers had to say! I mean, yeah, you can eat lentils every day of the week for cheap, but first you have to know that they exist (which I did not until I roomed with a vegetarian after college), then you have to know how to cook them (which still intimidates me, although I plan to figure it out during winter break), and then you have to want to eat lentils all week long, which is ridiculous!

misskimothy
12-07-2009, 09:33 PM
I think that there are alot of people who will disagree with our experiences but thse are poeple who can shop once at big box stores cause they have cars and storage areas in their homes, or have big-a$$ freezers for those enormo-salmons on sale at Costco. They live in areas where there are a number of places they can shop and they have a car and go from store to store for the best buy or better yet, can go to a local farm (!) for fresh produce cause they have the time and money and location to do so. Kind of hard to do when you're frozen in for 6 months of the year -easy to do if you live in California or Texas. They don't realize that while it might cost alot later in heath care, I gotta eat today.
I have to rework my budget. I lost alot of weight by cutting down the amounts I ate in a serious way thru WW cause there if I add up my points, I was able to manage. I'm cooking way more fresh foods and eliminating processed foods but man my budget is tight tight tight. Might have to take another job just to eat better!

RealCdn
12-07-2009, 09:34 PM
See, when I see articles like that I do seriously wonder where they get their numbers from. I often make meals for two people with 1lb of protein (1.49-3.00) with a few added ingredients (spices, etc.) veggies and a salad. I don't work out every detail, but for the two of us I know that we do NOT spend $450 a week on food. I do have a big freezer, and do shop at Costco..... however, WalMart is where I buy greens that last us a week for $4. What I don't do is buy diet food, as it's usually higher priced just because it's highly processed and people will pay more for it.

(I'm using 2 x 1800 at $18 for 1000 cals which would be 64.80 a day and 453.60 a week.)

What I do remember is that when I ate junk food is that I would routinely spend $5-10 a day on crap... and still ate my meals.

nelie
12-07-2009, 09:38 PM
I disagree because my bills have gone down but then again I don't eat meat. Beans and other legumes and whole grains are inexpensive, especially when you buy in bulk. Also, I don't buy most of my veggies/fruits from supermarkets, especially certain super markets, I'll go to the asian market where I can get 5 grocery bags full of fruits/veggies for $20. In season/sale items are also often cheaper at Whole Foods than at my grocery store (I can buy apples for 99 cents/lb at Whole Foods, organic even). Whole Foods and other similar health food stores also sell grains/legumes by the bulk which is cheaper. 1 box of quinoa is $4.99 at my grocery store but $1.50/lb at Whole Foods.

I've also bought foods at farmers markets or on a couple occasions, I've gone to the farms for certain products.

JulieJ08
12-07-2009, 09:39 PM
I think that there are alot of people who will disagree with our experiences but thse are poeple who can shop once at big box stores cause they have cars and storage areas in their homes, or have big-a$$ freezers for those enormo-salmons on sale at Costco.

:shrug: I don't think so. I do none of those things. I've never spent even half of what they say on food per day. Something is strange with their figures.

mkendrick
12-07-2009, 09:42 PM
misskimothy, you and I are in the same boat.

I keep hearing "buy in bulk! it's cheaper!" First of all, I don't have the money to buy $200 worth of meat to last all winter. Second, I don't have the room to put meat bought in bulk. Third, I'm also cutting out unprocessed foods, and unprocessed foods go bad much quicker than canned and boxed stuff.

My weekly grocery bill went from $25-ish to $40-50. That doesn't sound like a lot, but for a starving student, $40 every week is a chunk of change!

misskimothy
12-07-2009, 09:44 PM
I know that I can eat a serving of pancakes from a mix and half a box of KD for dinner and lose weight and it costs me approximately $1.50 for the day. This is my reality. I have no car to cruise from Walmart to Costco and back. I have little to no storage and my fridge is a small fridge with a microfreezer on the top. I am trying to shop better, but a huge box of greens from a place like Costco is usually just at the point of going rotten where I live. They sell things on or just before the "eat now" date, so more often than not, I wind up throwing most of it out. So I don't buy them anymore. Buying fresh food in bulk is great if you have alot of mouths to feed, but what if you are on your own? My menu is posted on the WW site because I really am making the effort! No processed foods or minimeals on there now, but the COST! OUCH!!! And when I think I could lose weight on around $1.50 per day??? Makes me go HHHmmmmm...

Electrical bills are gonna suck this year because my home isn't well insulated, but try getting the landlord to do something about it is ridiculous. I only have so much money and trying to get fed on top of it is going to leave me with some interesting choices to make. Salmon? Or Heat? I work full time and go to school. Finding food bargains is easy if you are say on public assistance and have nothing else to do all day but cut coupons and cruise the stores. What's a girl to do?
Sigh

mandalinn82
12-07-2009, 09:46 PM
Yep, per calorie, on food cost alone, you could eat a 1200 calorie diet of corn and soy-based junk food for less cost than a 1200 calorie diet of fresh foods.

But.

1. This is based on supermarket prices, not on in season, locally obtained produce. At end of market, I can get 6 lbs of in season apples for 3 dollars, or a bunch of celery for 25 cents. Supermarkets are rarely the least expensive place to buy anything EXCEPT junk food. Markets and farms are a completely different price point, if you're buying directly from the farmers and in season.

2. You won't be full on 1200 calories of junk, so your total diet cost may not change much...my personal experience is that it takes easily 3 times as many calories of junk a day to keep me full and satisfied as it does of vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Research backs this up - whole foods have a higher satiety factor. So if you can be satisfied on 1200 calories of veggies, but not satisfied until 3000 calories of junk, even if the veggies cost a little under 3x as much, you're still ending up about the same. Take potato chips...1200 calories of potato chips is less than a full-sized bag (about 75%). Or, 4 of the two-packs of Little Debbie nut bars. That'd cost about the same as your 1200 calories of healthy foods, and I'm betting you'd be a lot more full with the good stuff than with the junk. Even three times that, if it didn't make you throw up, wouldn't be as satisfying as a good meal of healthy food, at least to me.

3. This obviously doesn't take into account the health risks of eating junk food, resultant prescriptions, medical care, etc. Which is a whole different discussion.

What I'd be curious about...if we're talking about calories/dollar, why did they pick veggies as their benchmark. What about dried beans and rice? They're filling, have protein and fiber and minerals, and are pretty much lightyears ahead of potato chips and nutty bars...and probably cost about the same or less per calorie, depending where you buy them, as the chips. I'd also be curious exactly what veggies they were choosing...some things like carrots are a lot cheaper than out of season bell peppers.

It's really interesting, but personally, my grocery bill is lower now that I'm getting healthy foods from alternate sources and eating a lower number of calories. Considerably lower, especially if you consider eating out, which I don't do anymore.

nelie
12-07-2009, 09:52 PM
I also just reread their figures, wow! I spend $200-$300/month on groceries for my husband and I, which at the high point is $10/day and trust me, my husband and I aren't eating 500 calories each. I just posted somewhere else that my husband eats 3000-4000 calories/day and I eat 1500-2500 (low/high days).

If I take my low day and my husbands low day and take the high figure for a months worth of groceries, I get $2.2 per 1000 calories and their figure was $1.76 for 1000 calories. so my estimate is slightly higher but again that is a worst case and I have to say that I've had more 2500 calorie days in the past 6 months than 1500 calorie days (ugh).

And actually a more accurate figure would go for the middle so if I say I ate 2000 calories/day and my husband ate 3500 and we spent $250 in groceries, that would be $1.51 per 1000 calories which I think is a fair estimate.

misskimothy
12-07-2009, 10:25 PM
This:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/health/nutrition/04well.html

and if you are from Canada:
http://northumberlandnews.com/news/northumberlandcountynews/article/139983

Things that make you go hmmm...

nelie
12-07-2009, 10:32 PM
One of my favorite blogs, a woman spend $100/month on groceries for herself and her two teen sons.
http://melomeals.blogspot.com/

mandalinn82
12-07-2009, 10:38 PM
This is part of why I was so glad that the WIC program put in new guidelines that allow for fruits and veggies. It's a start, at least.

I will definitely agree that eating fresh foods costs more, but fresh is an ideal of healthy...not the only option. Note that the folks living on a dollar a day weren't subsisting on what the originally quoted article called "junk" - they were living on the staples of a low cost diet that are also fairly healthy...oats, beans, lentils, nut butters. These things do take time to prep, and knowledge that is currently lacking (one of the reasons I think cooking should be taught in school to everyone...read another really interesting article about how it is essentially becoming a spectator sport, instead of something people actually do...think Iron Chef or Top Chef). I think a lot has to be done also to get healthy food sources (rather than convenience stores) into areas with higher poverty levels.

My point isn't that it's easy to eat a healthful, less expensive diet, but that it is possible with basic equipment and some knowledge (and again, I acknowledge that many people may not have basic equipment or cooking knowledge and that is a different issue that requires different solutions).

Hillbilly Housewife is also a great resource: http://healthy.hillbillyhousewife.com/index.htm

nelie
12-07-2009, 10:49 PM
I think the original article saying fruits/veggies cost $18.16/1000 calories is definitely bloated. I wonder what they were buying for that. If you calculate that out to 2 people eating 1500 calories/day, that is $1600/month in groceries. During the summer when I was eating a lot of fresh fruits/veggies, I was reading up about raw foods and reading how much people spent when they were eating mostly fruits/veggies (and some other stuff like nuts). Although the cost seemed slightly elevated, it certainly wasn't that elevated.

misskimothy
12-07-2009, 11:00 PM
I dunno - Public Health researchers over 370 grocery stores for a peer-reviewed article? For the University of Washington? Sounds pretty believable to me.

garnetrising
12-07-2009, 11:03 PM
$18.16 / 1000 calories of fresh anything is NOT bloated up here in Alaska. And I'm sure there are many other places with inflated rates for fresh food, too. Places where getting vegetables and fruits from a farmer aren't feasible. Certainly not year-round. But, that aside, there are quite a few things you have to take in to consideration. First of all, are you actually consuming 1000 calories a day of fresh fruits and vegetables and nothing else? What I'm gleaning from the article isn't that it costs you that much to eat 1000 calories a day but 1000 calories of things like fruits and vegetables. And, quite frankly, 1000 calories of nothing but fruits and vegetables is A LOT of fruits and vegetables. You consider they average any where between 30 and 90 calories a serving depending on the fruit/vegetable and how it's cooked. A serving of broccoli, for example can be as low as 30 calories. Even at two servings a day, it would still take you 16 days to hit 1000 calories on broccoli alone. The point is that the broccoli, corn, apples, what have you is still, generally going to cost you more per serving than your standard snack food. The catch twenty-two is that standard snack foods would likely end up costing you more in the long run as they just don't fill you up as well.

JulieJ08
12-07-2009, 11:03 PM
Uh, yeah, there's *a lot* of ground between spending $36 a day for food and rolling your own tortillas and a year's supply of meat.

Articles that greatly exaggerate one or both sides are rarely helpful.

MisfitRycher
12-07-2009, 11:12 PM
I'm a single mother to an 11 year old who eats pretty much nonstop... Or he would if I let him! hehe

I find that a single 2-lb bag of carrots and a single 2-lb bag of petite potatoes is enough starch and vegetables to go with our single servings of meat. Fills us up without wasting food or overdoing the calories... And one meal for the two of us has an average cost of -roughly- $5. Not bad, eh?

Now if my rent didn't take up half my income I could probably get more than 2 lbs of potatoes, 2 lbs of carrots and one bag of pre-mixed coleslaw a week to go with the meat we eat... But you make do with what you have and hope for the best. Unfortunately for me, I keep forgetting I'm supposed to be losing weight so I hit the 7-11 just up the road for their cheap junk food. :^:

beerab
12-07-2009, 11:20 PM
That picture it looks like a high priced store to me. Personally for the most part I think that's bunk- unless you live in an area where you have limited stores and really are forced to shop at 1-2 places, most people should be able to save money eating healthier. That being said it's not EASIER to save money- I spend a LOT more time in the fridge, prepping food, making healthy meals, etc, but overall I believe I save at least $150 more a month- before I would EASILY spend $200 a week, now I spend more like $100 a week on groceries.

For one- you probably eat a lot less than you used to (I know I do!), another thing is that a lot of people don't LOOK around. You don't have to go to the chain stores- mom and pop grocery stores are still around, farmers markets are still around, and so on. Even in areas where fruit is more seasonal you can change it up and eat the foods in season to save. Heck if you are really struggling you can probably find programs in the area that will help you out- even get some food stamps for staples like milk and grains and so on.

Someone mentioned perishable foods go bad faster- my advice to that is buy smaller amounts of that food- go to the market a little more often if possible. Or take the time to do thing to make your veggies last longer. I will put paper towels in with my produce like romaine and anything that tends to get slimy from moisture- that helps SO much believe it or not. If you can't do that then buy veggies/fruits that last longer- apples, oranges, zucchini, and many other veggies and fruits last a lot longer than bananas, lettuce, and so on.

Also buying in bulk, you can buy a ton of veggies and stuff and then prepare them- once they are say in a large stew you can eat that stew for a few days and that way your food won't have gone bad either. I LOVE to make a pot of some sort of stew with my crockpot and then

Cooking lentils is SO easy- put your lentils in, a TON of water, some salt/pepper and any veggies you want, and set it on the stove, once it bowls turn it down and let it simmer a few hours (this is how I do it). Check on it periodically and add more water until the lentils are as soft as you want them :)

nelie
12-08-2009, 10:08 AM
I dunno - Public Health researchers over 370 grocery stores for a peer-reviewed article? For the University of Washington? Sounds pretty believable to me.

It was 370 foods, not 370 grocery stores. Also, when searching for the article, came across this blog post which is interesting if nothing else, showing some of the American Dietetic Association's bias.
http://agriculturesociety.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/american-dietetic-association-refuses-to-acknowledge-benefits-of-organic-food/

Also, it looks like that article is 2 years old and I found the abstract from 2 years ago.
http://www.adajournal.org/article/PIIS0002822307018007/abstract

And for some foods, I can really understand it.

1 lb of greens has 104 calories so you'd need a about 9.5 lbs to get 1000 calories from greens. Prices for greens vary but if I inflate it up to $3 (greens cost me between 80 cents to $2/lb), you'd get $28/1000 calories.

And the bias can show based on what supermarket you shop at. There are certain super markets I don't go into because they are expensive. Here in the DC area, I find Giant to be expensive for produce and other items. If you try to buy organic produce at a regular super market (vs some place like Whole Foods), you also tend to pay more.

MindiV
12-08-2009, 10:38 AM
We've got one store (town of 3,500). Unless you want to drive 80 miles round-trip to the north or 50 miles round-trip to the southwest, you shop at the one store.

The other day I had to go pick up a few things, and my purchases focused mostly on veggies. I needed red bell peppers for a recipe. They were $1.89 EACH. So I got the green...they were 29 cents each, but half were spotted and all were half wilted. I had to cut parts of them off to use them, but I got them. Heads of lettuce: I needed two because my husband is taking salads in his lunch. $2.09 each. Squash? $2 a pound.

Produce isn't cheap here at ALL. So when we can't get out of town to shop, we certainly pay more...

MisfitRycher
12-08-2009, 10:46 AM
I hear ya about the produce prices, Mindi... My son and I both love green grapes, but I don't buy them very often because they're usually $3 to $4 a pound. Apples are much cheaper and they last a lot longer... But every now and then I want a little variety in our fruit bowl. You know? I don't buy oranges because:

1. They're hideously expensive ($5 for a 2lb bag? Come on!)
2. They're these teeny tiny little things (I want an orange I buy to fill my hand.)
3. They never have them on a stand with a set price per pound (I hate waste.)

The bracketed comment on point #3 is the main reason I don't buy a lot of produce... It usually goes to waste before I can use it. Especially cucumbers. That really sucks because I really want to eat more vegetables but I can't do that if it's too expensive or if it just goes to waste in my veggie drawer. :(

misskimothy
12-08-2009, 10:46 AM
Yup. I hear you. And I find it weird that there really isn't much acknowldegment of the realities that alot of us face. Instead, it is "well you don't know how to shop" or "well, the study is flawed" or "well, out here in freaking California I can get cheap stuff year round" or "well, I find it easy". The sad reality is that alot of us face obstacles every single day. Alot of us live in areas without cheap produce. Alot of us have bills to pay and can't afford to eat the way others can. Alot of us are time pinched. Sometimes it would be nice to hear "jeez, I had no idea. I feel pretty lucky that my situation is different" instead of "eat beans and lentils every day. I don't have this problem (and neither should you so you just aren't trying hard enough)."
MindiV, you've done so well! I feel your produce pain! $5.00 for romaine lettuce. $3.00 for the spring mix. $1.00 a lemon. $$3.00 for 8 oz of mushrooms. Megaboxes of veggies that rot within a day of purchase. This is my reality, too. I manage, but just barely.

MindiV
12-08-2009, 10:51 AM
The problem of food going to waste is getting better for me now that my husband is on board with losing weight and eating better. Before I'd have trouble making it through fresh greens and veggies because I was the only one who would eat them. Now we get through what I buy simply because we BOTH eat it, and he's able to eat about a TON more than I can...

MisfitRycher
12-08-2009, 10:57 AM
I had a LOT of trouble with my teeth up until recently... So eating raw vegetables was out of the question for me. I used to be able to cut and eat a raw carrot without even batting an eye. But lately it's been "reach for the chips because they break in shipping so I don't have to bite down on them" instead of "you know what? I want a carrot with ranch dressing to dip it in today". Money had a lot to do with that too... But now that I've gotten my teeth taken care of, I'll be buying (and eating) a LOT more of the veggies I had to go without! Even if it DOES mean buying a 3lb. bag of full grown carrots that I have to cut and peel instead of a 2lb. bag of baby cut ones.

(A little side note here... I have extensor tendonitis in my right thumb, so it's not always easy for me to peel and cut things.)

nelie
12-08-2009, 11:15 AM
misskimothy - I used to live in California, so I can acknowledge that there are regional differences but I do think a lot of people have figured out how to eat inexpensively and healthfully for their area. I would expect metro Seattle to be similar to my area or other areas I lived where it basically isn't California :)

I remember the first time I walked into a Colorado grocery store after moving from California, I walked out without buying any produce. I still rarely buy citrus fruits because they are expensive. When I visit California though, I eat tons because its cheap and widely available.

Having said that, for me, learning how to eat inexpensively and healthfully was partially learned but also growing up I was used to eating non packaged stuff.

Also, being that we are in late fall/winter, my own buying habits have switched quite a bit than they were in the summer. I was eating lots of salads in the summer but I don't really plan to have another salad until March/April sometime unless it is eating out and I happen to have one. I would rather not pay the price for salad veggies plus being cold, salads chill me more so I don't want that.

I feel for those that don't have a lot of options.

Of course I wish our agricultural politics would change up a bit so that produce would be cheaper but I also think even if you aren't eating a lot of produce, there are lots of options for healthy eating.

QuilterInVA
12-08-2009, 11:34 AM
The point everyone is missing is its not just the cost of food. Unhealthy eating leads to future health problems. Use the money to buy food or pay the doctor.

JulieJ08
12-08-2009, 12:13 PM
I dunno - Public Health researchers over 370 grocery stores for a peer-reviewed article? For the University of Washington? Sounds pretty believable to me.

It's helpful not to ignore the end results. You can't possibly be saying that $36 a day sounds like reasonable estimate of what it costs to eat healthy. Therefore, something somewhere is very flawed in their process or reasoning, or at least in the way the NY Times spun the story.

I found the entire original report here:

The Rising Cost of Low-Energy-Density Foods (http://farm.csumb.edu/site/Documents/farm/cost_of_bad_food.pdf)

mandalinn82
12-08-2009, 12:20 PM
And I find it weird that there really isn't much acknowldegment of the realities that alot of us face. Instead, it is "well you don't know how to shop" or "well, the study is flawed" or "well, out here in freaking California I can get cheap stuff year round" or "well, I find it easy". The sad reality is that alot of us face obstacles every single day. Alot of us live in areas without cheap produce. Alot of us have bills to pay and can't afford to eat the way others can. Alot of us are time pinched. Sometimes it would be nice to hear "jeez, I had no idea. I feel pretty lucky that my situation is different" instead of "eat beans and lentils every day. I don't have this problem (and neither should you so you just aren't trying hard enough)."


Gosh, I'm really sorry you felt unsupported - that sucks and wasn't my intention, though I can see how my response would land that way if you were looking for a response along the lines of "yeah, this is so hard on a budget". The issue is, for many people, "healthy food costs too much" is an excuse used to give up on healthy eating. I can't speak for anyone else on the thread, but my goal wasn't to dismiss the challenges that those with tight budgets face (because it IS a lot harder to cook healthy foods inexpensively, and that's just one of the multitude of additional challenges that individuals here may face in weight loss...others include obstacles like PCOS, family situations, depression, thyroid disorders, injuries that prevent exercise, etc)...it was to respond to a study that felt somewhat discouraging to me about whether good nutrition is possible on a budget (I know very few people who could afford to pay $36 a day for healthy food, though again, I do think that estimate is high) with my own experiences and knowledge about how one can make healthier choices than corn chips or mac and cheese with the same grocery bill.

None of that, though, was meant to dismiss the challenges associated with having a tight grocery bill and trying to eat a healthy diet...only to provide my insight and knowledge about ways that, though challenging, it can still be possible.

JulieJ08
12-08-2009, 12:46 PM
The sad reality is that alot of us face obstacles every single day. Alot of us live in areas without cheap produce. Alot of us have bills to pay and can't afford to eat the way others can. Alot of us are time pinched. Sometimes it would be nice to hear "jeez, I had no idea. I feel pretty lucky that my situation is different" instead of "eat beans and lentils every day. I don't have this problem (and neither should you so you just aren't trying hard enough)."


Hmm, I fully agree that there are great challenges, and I *love* threads that address them helpfully. I just think it's strange to expect any other response than you got when posting an article that claims $36 a day is what it costs to eat healthily. Perhaps leaving out the hyperbole would get you the response you were looking for? I don't mean that with sarcasm - I genuinely think you'll get a better response.

beerab
12-08-2009, 01:26 PM
I agree with manda- I hope my post didn't upset anyone either. I know not everyone has the same access to healthy foods- but definitely IMO eating healthier takes a person being more involved in planning and preparing your food regardless.

I have a friend who grows a lot of her own produce, you know, just enough for her and her family, and usually a lot more- could that be a feasible option for anyone? Definitely gardening takes a lot of work but IMO it's good exercise and eating foods from your own yard rocks! We have different fruit trees at home and I love that I can just walk outside and pick from them :D I don't have time now but we used to grow all sorts of stuff, green beans, radishes, tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, etc.

Tarisaande
12-08-2009, 01:54 PM
I believe general interest articles sometimes word things in a way that gets confusing, but the article doesn't say it costs 36 dollars a day (2000 calorie diet) to eat healthy, it says that it costs $18 dollars for 1000 calories of low energy density food. As the low energy density foods are fruits and vegetables, and are the foods people are usually missing from their diets to make them healthy, that is the relevance of this calculation. The foods that make our diets healthy (balanced and complete) are too expensive for many to buy.

As to if it really can cost 18 dollars for 1000 calories of vegetables, it is EXTREMELY possible.

I'm going to use frozen broccoli as an example, because I remember the approximate price and calories. And this is a CHEAP vegetable.

1 pound of frozen broccoli costs ~ 1.29 at my local cheap grocery chain, for the store brand.

85 grams , 30 calories per serving

454gm/pound divided by 85 grams = 5.3 servings

5.3 servings times 30 calories is 160 calories

divide 1000 calories by 165 (calories per pound) , multiply by 1.29 (cost per pound) you get $8

$8. For a cheap vegetable, at a cheap grocery chain, for the store brand. That price increases steeply from there if you get something more exotic, like bell peppers, or don't have a cheap local chain, etc.


How much is that if you ate 1 serving of broccoli a day in a week?

7 servings times 30 calories/serving * 8 dollars /1000 calories is $1.70 per week.

Doesn't seem like much, but thats just 1 serving of vegetables a day, right? And it's recommended we eat 5 servings of veggies a day. You can see the cost start to spiral.


I would also like to say that I live in a Boston suburb, and I don't know where our produce comes from, but it ain't local farms. And farmers markets around here cost MORE than the grocery store. I shop at a chain called market basket, which is local and "inexpensive". Stop&shop is more expensive, shaws/star market costs about 50% more, and whole foods charges in gold bullion. At least Trader Joe's has made a comfortable home around here, as it is only moderately more expensive than market basket for certain basics.

JulieJ08
12-08-2009, 02:06 PM
I believe general interest articles sometimes word things in a way that gets confusing, but the article doesn't say it costs 36 dollars a day (2000 calorie diet) to eat healthy, it says that it costs $18 dollars for 1000 calories of low energy density food.

I agree! But it made no mention about what it costs to eat healthy, and strongly gave the impression that eating healthy costs that much.

garnetrising
12-08-2009, 02:16 PM
I agree! But it made no mention about what it costs to eat healthy, and strongly gave the impression that eating healthy costs that much.

I read it the same way Tarisaande, actually. That it was only addressing fruits and vegetables.

Tarisaande
12-08-2009, 02:21 PM
I agree! But it made no mention about what it costs to eat healthy, and strongly gave the impression that eating healthy costs that much.


That's what I'm referring to, how general interest articles reword things to make them sound like something they aren't. However the article does make this assertion, right at the beginning

quote: Calorie for calorie, junk foods not only cost less than fruits and vegetables

Being a general interest article, there is the spin that poor people eat more junk because it's cheaper, yadda yadda yadda.

The following quote includes both fact, from the survey, and general interest twisty-talk

quote: higher-calorie, energy-dense foods are the better bargain for cash-strapped shoppers. Energy-dense munchies cost on average $1.76 per 1,000 calories, compared with $18.16 per 1,000 calories for low-energy but nutritious foods

They combine the fact, that low energy density food is more expensive, with a throw-away "common knowledge" (but incorrect) statement that claims that the rest of the food out there that is cheaper is also junk food ("munchies"). When an individual reads such an article, their personal knowledge of food and nutrition will determine whether they take it at face value, or realize that they are mixing fact and fantasy in the same breath.

nelie
12-08-2009, 02:25 PM
What is also interesting about that study is the top 5 items in the cheap high energy density/'unhealthy' category are all fats including lard and olive oil. Of course olive oil is high energy density but I wouldn't lump it in the same category as lard.

kaplods
12-08-2009, 04:04 PM
When it comes to eating healthier on a tight budget, it's not about being able to do everything that someone else is able to. It's finding a way to do better than you're doing now. Maybe you'll only save $1 a week. That's $1 you can spend on something else (and if you save it, it's $52 you get to spend every year). Maybe that $1 will inspire you to find another way to save another dollar. Maybe you can't save $1, but can save 25 cents.

When talking about food budget, it's about pennies before it's about dimes, before it's about dollars. But it's hard to look at the pennies, because even when you have very little money, it can seem like too much effort to put into saving so little. But truly, as the saying goes - if you watch your pennies, your dollars will take care of themselves.

I've eaten healthfully, weight-consciously (and not) on crazy-small budgets, and I've eaten poorly (as well as healthfully, weight-consciously) on a very generous budget - and probably every combination in between. I started collecting resources on eating and living cheaply (not always healthfully) when I was in college. I kept those books, even when I didn't need them - and when I needed them, I'd pull them out.

Eating without regard to health on a very generous budget, was the easiest. Hubby and I had good jobs. We worked hard, often long hours, and we ate in restaurants almost every day, because it was easiest and we could afford it (and we loved the hedonistic, "gourmet" lifestyle). Hubby can be a bit veggie-phobic so I'll only speak for myself. I wasn't getting short-changed on nutrition. I was eating mostly high-quality - even "healthy" foods, but too much of a good thing, isn't healthy. I ate a lot of veggies and fruits, but fat, sugar, and starch levels more than counteracted the healthfulness of the produce.

Eating healthfully on the crazy-small budget, was by far the most difficult. So difficult, it would have seemed impossible if I hadn't put a great deal of effort into studying the subject. It started with a book called "The Tightwad Gazette," that I bought at a garage sale. Then I began reading everything I could get my hands (er, eyes?) on - books, magazine articles, online articles... I searched on amazon.com -reading all the reviews and suggested reading lists and made a list of books I wanted to read. I checked them out from the library, ordering those that weren't there through interlibrary loan.

I found a way to own those that were the best resources. I'd put the books on my "wish list" at amazon and I printed out the list and took it with me to garage sales, thrift stores... or bought from amazon when I had the money (I never spent more than $5 for any of the books I bought - including shipping).

I tore articles and recipes out of magazines (if the magazine was mine) and copied them, if they weren't. I printed stuff I'd found online. During some of this time, I didn't have a computer of my own, but my sister would let me use her computer. I'd buy reams of paper for her (about $4) to offset the cost of the ink, and as a thank you (It was cheaper than paying 10 cents per page at the library, though sometimes I did that too).


If I hadn't collected all the eat-and-live-cheaply resources (over a span of about 25 years), I also would have said that losing weight on a healthy diet was impossible to do cheaply. I now believe it's possible to do almost anywhere IF you have the knowledge, the desire and the determination (and aren't picky or squeamish).

Some resources weren't very useful to me in terms of their specific tips - but did help me see that my situation was a lot better and easier than I'd imagined. Luckily, I've never had to resort to the advice in books such as

The Art & Science of Dumpster Diving by John Hoffman
or

How to Survive Without a Salary: Learning How to Live the Conserver Lifestyle by Charles Long


I believe it was the latter that advised even apartment dwellers to raise their own animals for food (pigeons on a rooftop, rabbits or guinea pigs in the basement or in an extra bedroom). Feeding them scavenged food from grocery store dumpsters.

I'm not willing to raise rodents in my home for food - but reading about it (and other equally strange ideas) did help me learn to think outside the box.

I do re-use ziplock bags (but don't wash them in the dishwasher - but maybe I should).

I try to always buy the cheapest option that is feasible (quality and preferences have to go into this equation - because an item that falls apart the day after you buy it, isn't the cheapest. If an object is useful, but you find it hideous, and hate it every time you see it, it's also not a bargain).

I save money on non-food items, to free up more food budget. I shop thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, discount stores...

Do you have to read the thousands and thousands of pages of money-saving
ideas to live better, more cheaply (including diet-wise)?

Absolutely not. You start with one tip that sounds doable, and you do that. It doesn't seem to make much of a difference, because it's only one tip, but then you try another, and maybe another... and soon you're saving money (or you're getting more for your money).

Is it doable for everyone? Absolutely not! But, by reading all this stuff, there's not a person who couldn't come away with something useful.

jendiet
12-08-2009, 04:07 PM
Paris, here's how to make a good pot of lentils.....

all you need is a bag of lentils
chicken broth or bouillon
rice (optional).

boil 8 cups of water to 1 bag lentils. 1 lb bag
when boiling add lentils, turn heat down
add chicken broth/bouillon or granules to taste.
cook lentils until tender. can vary. just after 10 min..keep testing.

when done, add to rice. brown rice is better but more expensive. Lentils are a good source of fiber and protein. If you make a lot ahead of time, it cuts down on your cooking time for your busy week. Lentils are kind of chewy when cooked "al dente".

kaplods
12-08-2009, 04:18 PM
There are also a lot of threads here on saving money while dieting. Usually the Aldi discount grocery chain gets mentioned in them - so if you put Aldi in the search box, you'll find them (that doesn't mean you have to use the store, it just helps you find the threads that discuss saving money).

bacilli
12-08-2009, 08:15 PM
Of course there are differences in where you are and what you have available.

That being said, since we don't buy any meat products or dairy, our situation is a bit different than most people's. However here in Indiana, the closest Whole Foods/TJ's is an hour away, so we mostly shop at Kroger. I plan our meals around what is in season and what is on sale, and I freeze everything I can when I can find a good price. I blanched asparagus this spring, froze peppers from my garden for cooking, etc. And my "garden" was a 6ft by 2ft plot of dirt and several containers, we don't have a huge amount of land anymore. Our coat closet doubles as a pantry for when we make the trip to WF/TJ's and stock up on shelf stable items.

Eating healthy can be more expensive, but it doesn't have to be as expensive as that study shows - if you're able to eat in-season.

We probably spend less than $100/week to feed both of us and our dogs, including toiletries and the occasional meal out. We used to spend a LOT more than that when we bought Mt Dew, Doritos, pizza, etc.

catherinef
12-09-2009, 05:23 AM
I was thinking about this thread while making dinner last night. I made an Indian stir-fried cabbage dish, and looking at my main ingredients, for produce, I had a head of cabbage (dead cheap) a large onion (again, pretty cheap) and three cloves of garlic (yup, cheap). The other ingredients were olive oil and spices.

I'm getting maybe three meals out of this dish, and looking at it, guess where the bulk of my calories are coming from? The olive oil. This is not an unusual kind of meal for me, and I do eat a huge amount of produce (vegetarian that I am), but I'm by no means consuming 1000+ calories worth of produce every day. I'm consuming the bulk of my calories in the stuff that accompanies the vegetables (grains and pulses and a bit of dairy, mainly), or the stuff I am using to prepare the vegetables (that would be the olive oil, at least in this case.) So, in my own particular case, a straight cash-for-calories comparison just doesn't hold. I'm actually eating pretty cheaply. No, good olive oil isn't cheap, but a bottle lasts me forever. A quid's worth of dried pulses or grains is a couple of meals. So, yes, produce is pretty darned expensive -- although frozen veggies can be pretty cheap -- but by buying in season and eating them with other, cheaper, more calorie-dense things, healthy eating isn't any more expensive for me than the alternative, and in a lot of ways, it's a fair bit cheaper.

DixieAmazon
12-09-2009, 07:58 AM
I love lenitl and spinach soup. You can skip the lemon (pricey sometimes) or use Real Lemon and skip the zest. I have used other veggies too.

Lentil Spinach Soup Recipe

2 med. onions
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 T. vegetable or olive oil
3 cups water
1 tsp. salt
8 ounces dried lentils (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 tsp. lemon juice
10 oz. spinach, chopped (about 4 cups) [or] 1 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed

Cook and stir onions and garlic in oil in 3 qt. saucepan over med. heat until onions are tender. Stir in water, salt and lentils. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Stir in lemon peel, lemon juice and spinach. Cover and simmer until spinach is tender, about 5 minutes. 4 servings (about 1 1/4 cups each. 260 calories per serving.)

Madriver
12-09-2009, 11:37 AM
For me, it definitely does cost more to eat healthy. Way more! The costs are related to the large amounts of produce I eat and produce can be expensive.

I don't just eat one serving of broccoli. I eat multiple servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits, every day. It adds up. My produce bill is quite high.

As far as beans and lentils, sure, they're cheap. However, if I eat too much of them, they pack pounds on me. I can't eat bowls of lentil soup or else I'll put on weight. But, I can (and do!) eat bowls of fresh produce.

It can be very hard for a person on a limited budget to get the recommended 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Tomato
12-09-2009, 12:52 PM
I definitely agree that eating healthy is a lot more expensive than eating non-healthy. Recently, I actually posted about the ever increasing cost of food (not just produce) on another forum I frequent. I was shocked, during my last grocery shopping excursion, how much a head of romaine lettuce was, etc.
I also try to buy organic if I can so that also adds a pretty penny to the final bill. Even though I don't live in a small town, it's not a metropolis either. We don't have any independent produce-only smaller stores, only big chain grocery stores and I admit I shop at the slighly more pricey one because it is 5 minutes from my house and I can stop there on the way from work or from the gym. But I also know that saying it is slightly more expensive is relative - I may pay more for one particular item but less for another item (than in another store). I guess I could try to shop at Price Chopper or Food Basics but neither is close to me.

Another thing that drives the cost of groceries up is that I try to get into myself a decent amount of protein since I lift weights. The easiest way to achieve that, with a low caloric footprint, are lean meats (such as fish or chicken breast). Having meat twice a day is quite costly.

I did start buying frozen veggies but it will take some trial and error. For example, the first bag that I bought turned out to be 60% carrots, 25% cauliflower and 15% broccoli florets (my estimate only). Not that I don't like carrots but I would have preferred 60% broccoli.

Serval87
08-18-2010, 02:58 PM
I disagree because my bills have gone down but then again I don't eat meat. Beans and other legumes and whole grains are inexpensive, especially when you buy in bulk. Also, I don't buy most of my veggies/fruits from supermarkets, especially certain super markets, I'll go to the asian market where I can get 5 grocery bags full of fruits/veggies for $20. In season/sale items are also often cheaper at Whole Foods than at my grocery store (I can buy apples for 99 cents/lb at Whole Foods, organic even). Whole Foods and other similar health food stores also sell grains/legumes by the bulk which is cheaper. 1 box of quinoa is $4.99 at my grocery store but $1.50/lb at Whole Foods.

I've also bought foods at farmers markets or on a couple occasions, I've gone to the farms for certain products.

Maybe where you live there are nice places to shop, but in my little TN town there is only Kroger, Food Lion, Save-a-lot, Aldis, and Walmart. I try to find the best prices in those stores, but their selection of healthy foods are limited and pretty expensive, and we do not have a farmer's market or butcher or anything like that, though sometimes people have vegetable stands on the side of the road, but because of our low income we buy our food with foodstamps, so we wouldn't be able to purchase them. Also, I wouldn't know how much they want for them. I guess I could look sometime out of curiosity and maybe spend a little money if it were a good deal.

Of course, when the weather gets cold my dad will sometimes get a deer and share a bunch of the meat with us, and in the summer they share their garden with us, but the garden is basically gone now thanks to the heat, so now it's back to shopping at the stores again.

mandalinn82
08-18-2010, 03:23 PM
I've recently cut back our grocery budget further to bulk up our savings account (we had to replace our roof so it took a big hit), and have been unable to get the farmer's market due to scheduling concerns. So we've been re-testing our money saving strategies.

A big one is never going into shopping with a pre-conceived notion of what we're eating. We go through circulars, find the ones with the best deals on produce (since that's where we spend a lot of our money), look for the cheapest produce items, and base our meals around that. That means if there's a really good price on, for example, squash, we have a LOT of squash that week (grilled in planks one night, chopped and roasted and tossed in a pasta another, stuffed with couscous a third, etc). We never go in saying "we need broccoli", then look for the best price on broccoli, since even the lowest price might still be relatively high. Instead, we go in, find the produce that'll be the cheapest, and form as many meals around it as we can. One week, Romaine lettuce was ridiculously cheap, so we pretty much ate salads all week, with a variety of other stuff that was either cheap in cans (beans, tuna, etc) or other sale produce.

Once we've got the produce part down, we look at the rest of the meal - what is on sale in the meat department, in canned goods, etc that we can combine with the cheaper produce? We've made red beans and rice costing less than 50 cents a serving using on-sale chicken sausage, dried beans, and dried brown rice, plus spices. Inexpensive and tasty! Throw in some of that cheap squash, some cheap carrots, and an onion, and you've got it made.

There are definitely ways to keep it inexpensive (OK, not as inexpensive as Top Ramen and Kraft Mac and cheese, but close) and still healthy. Usually it takes a lot of prep work and circular skimming, though.

Serval87
08-18-2010, 03:44 PM
Haha, yeah, I remember when we used to live on Ramen. Not the healthiest choice, and boy did I get sick of that stuff. A while back I made a really hearty vegetable soup that was pretty cheap. I combined several bags of mixed frozen vegetables, a bag of dried lentils, beans, and a huge can of sodium-free tomato juice. I put it in the slow-cooker, and we ate on it for several days. I miss my slow-cooker; it messed up. I think I'm going to splurge and get another one.

nelie
08-18-2010, 07:20 PM
You can make that recipe on the stove. Also, you might want to check any thrift stores you have to see if they have slow cookers available.

I also tend to go to the store without any expectations. Not too long ago, we went to the grocery store and my husband wanted broccoli but it was $3.99/lb!! Last week, I was at Whole Foods and organic broccoli was $99/lb so I bought 5 lbs. He was pretty happy.

I've definitely been cooking a lot more dried beans lately as well which is cheap and I love millet which is generally cheap if you can buy it in bulk.

ValentineNicole
09-05-2010, 03:39 PM
I *know* I spend a ton more money eating healthy than unhealthy. And that entirely ignores gym fees!! So far today, I have had 512 calories. Let's look at the breakdown:

Nonfat yogurt x 2 - $1.00 (50 cents each)
Low Carb High Fiber Whole Wheat Tortilla - 32 cents (3.16/10=32 cents each)
2 oz all natural turkey breast - $1.25 (($10/16)*2=1.25)
1 tbsp Walden Farms Zero calorie russian dressing - 16 cents (3.16/20=.158)
1/4 cup Arctic Zero ice cream - $1.12 ($4.50/4=1.12)
Walden Farms zero calorie chocolate syrup - 16 cents (3.16/20=.158)
Cool Whip Free (didn't realize this had corn syrup - eep!) - 4 cents (1/25=.04)
Samples - Free (while shopping, 2 samples of healthy choice meals + babybel cheese, counted as 100 calories)

Grand total: $4.05

Meaning I spend over $8 per 1000 calories. Yikes.

nelie
09-05-2010, 03:46 PM
All those are prepared foods though which is where the cost comes in. Healthy doesn't necessarily mean low calorie but 'diet' processed foods and speciality foods will always cost more.

mandalinn82
09-05-2010, 03:55 PM
To illustrate what Nelie just said, for $30 at the farmer's market I just bought (all pesticide free, if not certified organic, since the growers are small and local):

5 lbs of mixed stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, pluots)
2 watermelons at $2 a piece
4 lemon cucumbers
6 red bell peppers
10 lbs of zucchini (that's enough for us to grill for the BBQ, plus one other day, and to throw some in a taco salad later in the week)
3 lbs of asian pears
Bunch of basil
3 bunches of long beans (enough to do a stirfry one night, plus a side another night)
2 lbs of heirloom tomatoes
6 ears of corn

That's my fruit and vegetables for the week, which is the biggest part of my food budget by far, plus veggies and fruit to take to my mom's for a labor day BBQ. I'll add in whatever lean proteins I can get on sale, and whole grains/beans as necessary, plus a very few processed foods, and end up with a weeks worth of breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner for two for around $80.

ValentineNicole
09-05-2010, 04:18 PM
All those are prepared foods though which is where the cost comes in. Healthy doesn't necessarily mean low calorie but 'diet' processed foods and speciality foods will always cost more.

Mmmhmmm, but it's the same with the produce around here. And really, define "processed food"... nonfat yogurt and all natural turkey breast are hardly "convenience foods"

I eat only all natural foods 90% of the time, which will obviously cost more. But even with produce, my farmer's market apples are $3 for 6 (50 cents for 80 calories, or $6.25 per 1000 calories

Cucumbers are a bit cheaper - $2.00 for 8, but at 30 calories each thats $8.00 per 1000 calories

Tomatoes come in buckets with roughly 6-7 large tomatoes for $4. Lets be generous and say 75 calories a tomato, since these are pretty big...That's $10 per 1000 calories

Organic chicken breast is cheap than turkey breast - let's say $6.99 a pound on average. That's about 750 calories total, or $9.33 per 1000 calories

I don't see how you figure it's cheaper to eat healthy...


ALSO, convenience "healthy" foods can actually be cheaper than fresh produce, more often than not. I could spend $1.10 on a can of healthy choice or Amy's soup on sale for 250-300 calories, or I could spend $2.00 on half a ball of mozzarella and .75 on a large tomato and drizzle them with .15 of balsamic vinegar for $2.90 the same 300 calories.

nelie
09-05-2010, 04:28 PM
If you go by calories, then you'd probably have to say nuts are the cheapest things out there :)

For me, I know I spend less eating healthier as my grocery bill has gone down even though I eat a bunch of organics. Right now I'm at the point where most of my produce is organic but its also summer, winter may change things. I buy a lot of basics, veggies/fruits that are in season/on sale, bulk nuts, legumes, grains and spices. I rarely buy anything that comes in a package and when I do, I expect to pay more. Overall, my grocery bill is between $200-$300 month for 2 people. Lately, I've been closer to $300 right now and looking to cut it down a bit.

ValentineNicole
09-05-2010, 04:43 PM
If you go by calories, then you'd probably have to say nuts are the cheapest things out there :)

For me, I know I spend less eating healthier as my grocery bill has gone down even though I eat a bunch of organics. Right now I'm at the point where most of my produce is organic but its also summer, winter may change things. I buy a lot of basics, veggies/fruits that are in season/on sale, bulk nuts, legumes, grains and spices. I rarely buy anything that comes in a package and when I do, I expect to pay more. Overall, my grocery bill is between $200-$300 month for 2 people. Lately, I've been closer to $300 right now and looking to cut it down a bit.

Nuts are definitely good. I need to figure out a way to add them into my diet. I don't *love* them (or really like them much, lol), but you can't argue the health benefits and cost for healthy fats. I love beans and lentils, but I don't cook them as often as I ought to due to time constraints! I'm debating trying some canned beans for the occasional snack to lower the budget a bit ;) I don't eat grains (save for low carb whole wheat tortillas!), but I can imagine whole wheat ones would be cheaper, too.

I'm not saying my situation is the end-all, be-all for healthy eating + cost, haha, but it does hurt a little sometimes ;) But who wouldn't pay a few hundred extra dollars a year to look incredible and feel amazing? Some people drop that on a single massage or great outfit!!

nelie
09-05-2010, 04:49 PM
I eat beans every day. One thing that can help is a pressure cooker although if you buy brown lentils, they are pretty quick cooking. 20-30 minutes from unsoaked dried to cooked. I use a pressure cooker and cook most of my beans in (except lentils since they are so quick cooking). There are many beans that don't need soaking such as black eyed peas and adzuki beans. So although black beans are one of my favorite, even if I don't soak them in the morning, I can cook my black eyed peas in my pressure cooker and in 20 minutes I have cooked beans.

And I don't mind paying extra for certain things but I really don't think most people have to. For instance, my favorite salad dressing is $6 bottle but I've also made my own salad dressing at a fraction of the cost.

mandalinn82
09-05-2010, 04:53 PM
Then again, black beans cost this week in my store 99 cents for a 12 serving bag, with 80 calories per serving. That's $1.03 for 1000 calories.

Brown Rice is currently running $4.19 for a 19 serving bag, with each serving has 150 calories of whole grain goodness. $1.47 for 1000 calories.

nelie
09-05-2010, 05:33 PM
Millet is one of my favorite grains, it is usually 99 cents/lb for organic but quinoa is another favorite and usually costs $1.50/lb. For me, I buy the organic beans and they range in price, usually from 99 cents to 1.99, depending on the bean.

JayLei
09-27-2010, 04:00 AM
I tended to let a lot of produce go bad until I did two things...
1) I tossed the crisper drawers from my fridge. Now all my veg sits out in the open staring at me when I open the door.
2) I finally used the "green bags" my Mom bought me ages ago. I was skeptical about an "as seen on" item, but they really do keep my greens longer.
Incidents of slime are much more rare now, saving me lots of cash.

ValRock
09-27-2010, 04:07 AM
Hmmmm I don't know.

I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I spend far less on my food now than I did when I was eating junk.

CloudySky
10-07-2011, 04:51 PM
We spend twice as much a month eating healthy. I could do 100/week for a five person household eating unhealthy, and now do 200/week eating healthy.

lin43
10-07-2011, 06:05 PM
Well, I've always spent about $150 - 200 for each week's food for just my husband and me (and my two dogs---their food is expensive). Then, again, I buy organic meat & dairy, and I will only buy really good quality ingredients. I am blessed that I am able to afford to spend that much on food (even though my salary isn't that great & my husband is retired), but to me, food is a priority. I'm not rich by any means: My car is a 2004 Honda that runs well but has no automatic anything and has a dent on the driver's side. I shop mainly at TJ Maxx & Marshalls and wear clothes until they don't fit anymore or have noticeable damage on them. So, I don't have money to throw around, but eating well is very important to me. In fact, if I were to lose my job or somehow otherwise become destitute, one of the things I would miss the most would be buying quality food items.

Overall, I do think with some effort, it could be just as cheap to eat healthy as it is to eat unhealthy, but it takes more time to prepare those healthy, cheap items (e.g., dried beans, rice, etc.), and/or one must be very organized to figure out how to prepare cheap, healthy foods in a way that doesn't take all one's time.

Munchy
10-13-2011, 10:14 AM
I think I spend the same regardless.

pluckypear
03-18-2012, 04:57 PM
I think that there are alot of people who will disagree with our experiences but thse are poeple who can shop once at big box stores cause they have cars and storage areas in their homes, or have big-a$$ freezers for those enormo-salmons on sale at Costco. They live in areas where there are a number of places they can shop and they have a car and go from store to store for the best buy or better yet, can go to a local farm (!) for fresh produce cause they have the time and money and location to do so. Kind of hard to do when you're frozen in for 6 months of the year -easy to do if you live in California or Texas. They don't realize that while it might cost alot later in heath care, I gotta eat today.
I have to rework my budget. I lost alot of weight by cutting down the amounts I ate in a serious way thru WW cause there if I add up my points, I was able to manage. I'm cooking way more fresh foods and eliminating processed foods but man my budget is tight tight tight. Might have to take another job just to eat better!

I totally agree!!!!! Not only am I spending more but am spending more time shopping. I do not have a car and I live in a big city. Even to get to farmer's markets is a major pain. I work full time and farmer's markets that are open during the week will be closed, even if I had the energy to take transit there and haul the food home. I will go on Saturday mornings but to be honest we have a short growing season anyway. I shop across the street at a major grocery store and pick up fruit and veg when and where I can throughout the week. If buying fresh and eating anywhere near the required servings of fruit and veg I cannot shop once or even only twice per week.
And I do eat lentils and dried beans and do not buy diet foods that some people alluded to as expensive. I buy fish which is expensive but healthy. The crap foods are the cheapest. To buy good quality whole grain organic bread can be as much as 7 dollars a loaf, good old wonderbread you can sometimes get for a dollar. sigh

pluckypear
03-18-2012, 05:14 PM
I also wanted to add that if someone has the luxury of perusing circular(s), and the time to shop at several different locations they may save money. But again if one is shopping at one location most of the time due to key transportation is walking and to save time because working everyday in a physically demanding job and working out 3 evenings a week, attending board meetings and so forth time is limited. And since when is eating carrots and potatos considered healthy?
To eat healthy we are to have about 4 servings or more of veg, and of fruit, which includes tropical, stone, berries and cool weather fruit.
I do admit that I spent a ton of money on ordering out and buying junk before and so I am saving that way.
And I am spending the money to eat healthy. But I think it is important to acknowledge that really eating healthy for some people is beyond their means. When I shop most veg cost 3 dollars or more (rapini, kale etc.).
But this being said I appreciate all that has been said and will make the lentil spinach soup found above. :)

mandalinn82
03-19-2012, 11:32 AM
o buy good quality whole grain organic bread can be as much as 7 dollars a loaf, good old wonderbread you can sometimes get for a dollar. sigh

Yes, but to make good quality, whole grain organic bread costs less than Wonderbread (I worked out my costs once, and it was about 45 cents a loaf), and isn't particularly hard...no special equipment required. So again, I'd argue that you get any two of cheap/fast and convenient/healthy. If you put time into it, you can get cheap, healthy foods on the table. If you don't want to put the time into making your own breads and etc, you can get cheap/fast food, but it won't be healthy, or you can get healthy/fast food, but it won't be cheap.

threenorns
03-19-2012, 11:53 AM
anybody who's ever been on welfare knows that.

that's why the lower in the annual income, the higher the risk of obesity.

poor families have to decide if they're going to spend 99c on two med apples or a box of KD.

working poor also have to factor in time: many work grinding hours so it's a choice between "simmer for 30min until reduced" or "open can, heat to serve".

mandalinn: i bake bread and where i live, baking home-made bread costs about 3x the price of a loaf.

and yes, i factored it all out myself too using basic ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt, plus hydro.

pluckypear
03-19-2012, 12:38 PM
Some of us will just have to agree to disagree. Some of us really do not have time to bake bread. And yes we can opt out of that healthy bread and eat some other healthy carb for sure. :)
However there is a huge movement that has been perpetrated by the media and a 'health/green culture' that does not acknowledge their privilege at being able to purchase high cost healthy, local, organic food and to mask the rising costs of such.
I am all for the green culture and I am privileged enough to purchase healthy foods most of the time. What I see is that many people who work full time as does their partner(assuming they have one) and may or may not have children and have other responsbilities cannot make their own bread, travel to several stores to shop etc. That type of lifestyle is rare or only possible for some.
Yes we can get some cheap healthy foods but not many and not often. And it is more difficult, I am not saying more worth it, just more difficult. And there is a reason for that. There is a reason why crap food like mac and cheese is cheap and available. It pays to keep people fat, unhealthy and powerless.
This being said I am committing to going to the farmer's market every Saturday and will report my finds and cost.

mandalinn82
03-19-2012, 12:50 PM
I do know that food costs vary depending on area, so again, for my food costs it makes sense, for others it may not.

I would venture that every area has SOME healthy food that is less expensive than junk food (either in smaller ethnic markets, or farmer's markets, or grocery outlet type stores, or even grown in a container garden). But I do agree that time is an issue, particularly for the working poor - the dishes you can make inexpensively with a slowcooker (which is a cost that some working poor may not be able to afford, although thrift stores often have them for a few dollars...though you can get the same effect leaving an oven on all day with a pot of food inside it) would get pretty tedious after a while (although a diet of junk food day after day would get tedious as well, I imagine). Another huge issue is that those in poor urban areas often live in food deserts - that is, there are no sources for healthy, fresh food within a reasonable distance. Without transportation, and in unsafe neighborhoods, walking or riding the bus to get healthier foods may not be an option at all. If the only food you can safely access comes from a convenience store or a fast food place, obviously that will affect both your health and your costs.

For the very poor, there are all kinds of serious logistical barriers to making your own healthy food - hard to do with no stove, or if the gas has been turned off for lack of payment, or if you don't have any pots and pans or any way to afford them.

I brought both of these up earlier in the thread, and they are major issues to be sure, that won't be easily solved. Those are both separate issues from the original question being posed in this thread though, I think, which was more "does a healthy diet, per calorie, cost more than an unhealthy diet". It may, and there may not be a lot of choice around that for some people with logistical-type problems (including those I summarized above). But it really doesn't HAVE to for most people.

pluckypear
03-19-2012, 06:37 PM
Agree with much of what you said but not sure it I would say 'most' people. I know for me I plan to eat the healthiest food that I can afford to buy. I am currently using only dried beans, lentils and so forth, not canned. I would like to get away from foods that come from halfway across the world but that is another issue.

LAgreeneyes
03-29-2012, 05:46 PM
I disagree because my bills have gone down but then again I don't eat meat. Beans and other legumes and whole grains are inexpensive, especially when you buy in bulk. Also, I don't buy most of my veggies/fruits from supermarkets, especially certain super markets, I'll go to the asian market where I can get 5 grocery bags full of fruits/veggies for $20. In season/sale items are also often cheaper at Whole Foods than at my grocery store (I can buy apples for 99 cents/lb at Whole Foods, organic even). Whole Foods and other similar health food stores also sell grains/legumes by the bulk which is cheaper. 1 box of quinoa is $4.99 at my grocery store but $1.50/lb at Whole Foods.

I've also bought foods at farmers markets or on a couple occasions, I've gone to the farms for certain products.

This is exactly what I would have posted. Same thing for me.

pluckypear
03-29-2012, 09:43 PM
Where I live there is one Whole Foods and it is in a wealthy part of the city. I do think I can eat a healthy diet on budget with limits. However again there is elitism in some expectations that everyone can. Not everyone owns a car, not everyone drives, many people live in areas that have one place to buy fresh produce and it is over priced. Not to mention people that are 'stuck' due to enviroment/poverty and mental health issues. Not uncommon.

Vladadog
03-30-2012, 09:48 AM
My overall food bills went down when i gave up junk food - soda, chips, candy at the gas station are expensive. Yes, the weekly "at the super market" bill probably went up a bit because I was buying more fruits and veggies. But I never bought my junk food at the super market anyaay, those costs snuck in every day at vending machines and every time i got gas.

However my food bills went back up when I decided to try to eat only organic (and for meat/dairy/eggs - only local, pasture raised). But it's a cost I can currently afford. It still is probably cheaper than my junk food addiction...

texscrapper
04-11-2012, 09:51 AM
I think this is hard to determine right now. I don't know about you guys, but grocery prices have SOAREDin my area. I am spending about $30 per week more to feed my family of 5 than I did a few months ago. I don't blame this on healthy eating, I blame it on prices rising.

In the last year, the same 2 poundbag of shredded cheese has gone fro $5.96 to $11.96 - almost DOUBLE what it cost before. Banannas have gone up .10 per pound. Lettuce has risen almost .50 per head. Eggs, milk, and bread have all gone up as well.

I do have the luxery of having a large freezer. We also raise beef cattle, so we always have very lean beef in the freezer. I live an hour outside of Houston, so we have several grocery stores in the area. My husband sells beef at Farmer's Markets, so we also have the option of buying there.

I do think that location plays a HUGE part in grocery expenses. I also think it is cheaper per person for me to feed my family vs someone who lives on their own, or with just two in the home. I can purchase in bulk (or larger packaged items) before things go bad.

Although my grocery bill is higher, I do think that MY FAMILY spends less while we are eating more healthy. We have leftovers that get eaten vs nothing left, or leftovers going bad. I feel like I can only blame rising costs on our increased grocery bill, not healthy eating.

LAgreeneyes
04-11-2012, 10:10 AM
I think this is hard to determine right now. I don't know about you guys, but grocery prices have SOAREDin my area. I am spending about $30 per week more to feed my family of 5 than I did a few months ago. I don't blame this on healthy eating, I blame it on prices rising.

In the last year, the same 2 poundbag of shredded cheese has gone fro $5.96 to $11.96 - almost DOUBLE what it cost before. Banannas have gone up .10 per pound. Lettuce has risen almost .50 per head. Eggs, milk, and bread have all gone up as well.

I do have the luxery of having a large freezer. We also raise beef cattle, so we always have very lean beef in the freezer. I live an hour outside of Houston, so we have several grocery stores in the area. My husband sells beef at Farmer's Markets, so we also have the option of buying there.

I do think that location plays a HUGE part in grocery expenses. I also think it is cheaper per person for me to feed my family vs someone who lives on their own, or with just two in the home. I can purchase in bulk (or larger packaged items) before things go bad.

Although my grocery bill is higher, I do think that MY FAMILY spends less while we are eating more healthy. We have leftovers that get eaten vs nothing left, or leftovers going bad. I feel like I can only blame rising costs on our increased grocery bill, not healthy eating.

You're right about the pricing. I, like you, don't have to buy meat in the store. I have my own chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, sheep and goat. So, I have meat and eggs whenever I want it and I am about to purchase a milk goat, so I will have fresh goat milk to drink. My meat and eggs are raised in my back yard, so I feel that it's a better quality than store bought.

The only things that I really buy are fruits, vegetables, cereal and limited snacks. I still have veggies from last year's garden and I have a garden now. I live alone so other groceries last me a long time (mayo, ketchup, cheese, etc.), so that is only purchased twice a year.

When I see items are on sale, I stock up. That save me a few bucks in the long run.

veggiegirl123
05-23-2012, 09:59 AM
For me it just depends on the time of year. During growing season it's way cheaper to eat healthy here because the farmers market and local orchards/farms start selling to the public. I can go to my farmers market and leave with three overflowing grocery bags of veggies/fruit for around $20. In November, at the grocery store, I can get one bag. We have several U Pick farms nearby and I can pick blueberries and strawberries for a little over $1lb. Same in the fall with apple season-I can get pounds of apples for super cheap.

I'm a vegetarian but my family eats meat and we buy a share of local grass fed beef, which is another help. It works out to $2.50lb for steaks, ground beef, etc. We don't have a spare freezer so it's a challenge to get it to fit in our freezer, but we manage to do it somehow! I also shop at Aldi which is a cheapy store, but selection is not great (though they've just started carrying some organic items yay!).

We're a family of five and our weekly grocery budget is $100. That includes all my daughter's packed school lunches and 2-3 packed lunches for my husband. It's definitely tight but I'm looking forward to June, when I can start buying locally again-my grocery budget will go much further for a few months :)