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Why Is Healthier Food, Also More Expensive Food?

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Old 12-19-2009, 02:48 AM   #1
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Unhappy Why Is Healthier Food, Also More Expensive Food?

Alright, 3fc. This may sound like an excuse to eat non-healthy foods, but I am at a complete loss here.

I am considered low-income. I receive foodstamps. (if you don't know what those are, basically I get a card from the government with a set amount of money on it that I can only spend on food)

I spent almost all of my foodstamps on health foods for groceries. It is now the 19th, and I don't get foodstamps refilled until the 7th. I have barely anything in my house to eat. As a matter of fact, even after I went grocery shopping I had barely anything!

Part of the reason "poor" people are so obese/overweight, is because we can't afford to be healthy!

Someone here has to have been in my position, right? You must know what I can do? The only solution I have come up with is to buy what I can afford (to keep my house stocked with food), and just eat much less of it, and exercise more. (not going dangerously below my calorie intake level, mind you)

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Old 12-19-2009, 04:56 AM   #2
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so, I don't receive food stamps, but I got myself into a pretty bad financial situation a few years ago, plus my husband paying a huge chunk of money for child support (which, I totally agree with, don't get me wrong!!), we have very little money to spend on groceries.

we buy a lot of things in bulk or on sale like pasta, rice, couscous or a couple pounds of chicken breasts at a time to be frozen or fish (a kilo of salmon or tilapia is way cheaper than just buying a few fillets) or a huge lot of eggs. Some veggies and fruits that are more expensive than when in season we buy frozen. The things we only buy fresh are veggies and fruits when necessary and we change what we need based on season.

I have no idea how much you receive or what you buy as "healthy" foods. Pre-prepared and packaged is always going to cost more so we prepare almost everything ourselves. You are right with smaller portions and more exercise but obviously you want to get your fruits and veggies in too.

Do you cook? Making soups yourself and freezing portions for when you want them are much cheaper and healthier than pre-made soups (assuming you don't dump as much sodium in or use preservatives), finding ways to use up leftovers (I use leftover pasta in salads with tuna or eggs or even cottage cheese) means you can make things in bulk and then have them on hand to make lunches or even dinners. Making your own pasta sauce is easy and can also be done in bulk (and tinned tomatoes are more than perfect to use and can be cheaper than buying fresh). That way you could take a Sunday for example and then just cook and pre-make and portion things out for when you need them during the week.

Like I said, I don't know what your amount is, but we really also have limited funds for food. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself and wish I could have a treat or something extra, but honestly? Living this way has also helped me to lose the weight this time around. There have been no take-outs or calls for pizza - making my own chinese is healthier and I just whipped up some pizza bread the other day that was diet and wallet friendly.

I hope you find a solution or that I could help you just a little bit
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Old 12-19-2009, 06:04 AM   #3
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We're OK now but there have been some times in my life ... And old habits die hard!

Yesterday we were in WalMart and little hams were $5 each. I bought 3 and put them in the freezer. I'll slice them later and take then with my salad in my lunch.

Actually, I'm going to back waaay up here and ask for a few more personal details. Are you buying groceries for just you or are you feeding a family? Do you have a freezer? Crockpot?

Of course you can just eat smaller portions of whatever you have! That's the beauty of calorie counting, WW points or just plain old fashioned portion control.

While a lot of us assume that whole, organic and fresh are important, you may just have to do the best you can. A lot of us do. There are perfectly good green beans out there that aren't Weight Watchers brand or Milly Slimly's organic specialty Pork tenderloin isn't near as expensive as I had assumed.

You also have a few weeks to plan and scheme. Read lots. Ask questions (like this one ) Wander through stores where you might not normally buy food. I've found perfectly good tuna in the weirdest places. Do you get sales flyers?

Hang in there. You'll get some good advice here.
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Old 12-19-2009, 06:14 AM   #4
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I've had to figure out how to buy better foods while on a budget, a tight budget.

I make a menu every week out of the sale ads.

I buy fruit once a week, whatever is on sale. (this way it doesn't go bad).

FROZEN VEGGIES! I buy a lot of frozen veggies, when it is on sale I buy it.

Hmmm, I will think more about it.
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Old 12-19-2009, 06:42 AM   #5
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You may simply be buying more food, and more protein foods.

When figuring out how much you spend, be sure to consider how much you spent each week on fast foods at McDs, BK, Taco B, Pizza Whatever...

Also, a box of Mac & Cheese is always going to be cheaper than chicken breasts. They are just different foods.

Canned tuna (water packed) is a fairly inexpensive protein source if you shop for buys. Eggs are good also--you can usually get a dozen eggs for under $4, even if you shop free-range.

As the other posters have said, buy in bulk and with foods like meats, freeze what you won't use immediately.

It will take some time and planning on your part, but you can do it. And you will be eating better. It's not uncommon for obese people to be undernourished at the same time.

Good luck!

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Old 12-19-2009, 06:49 AM   #6
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I get around the high cost of produce by buying frozen, when I'm making the stuff where texture in the final dish doesn't matter. I make a lot of soup and veggie curries, and honestly, with much of that stuff, you want the veg to be pretty soft. It also almost begs to be cooked in bulk and frozen for later meals. I also have the advantage of having the time to cook just about everything from scratch, so I'm not spending money on packaged food. Again, not pushing the vegetarian thing, because that's just me, but replacing some of the animal protein in your diet with pulses and beans can really knock some money off your grocery bills, and those things can stretch smaller amounts of meat, while adding fibre and plenty of protein to your meal. (I'm thinking chili, as an example. Load it with beans and frozen veggies, and a fairly small amount of meat, and you've got a lot of food for a fairly reasonable price.)
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Old 12-19-2009, 08:30 AM   #7
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I'm with the previous poster. We spend $50 on groceries every week. No chips, no soda, no processed foods. Everything is green or a fruit or ... tofu. I am not employed, so we're living on one income. Every Saturday, we go to the walmart supercenter and Costco. We get great deals on fruits at costco and we're both major fruit eaters. The Costco membership pays for itself in a year, but it's not absolutely required to save money. At Walmart, we get bell peppers, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, green onions, tomatoes (in season), baby carrots, plain NF yogurt, part-skim mozzarella cheese (some weeks), 1 doz eggs, 1/2 gal skim milk, bananas and maybe a pomegranate or two. We also get our frozen veggies here as well. Granted, different parts of the US have different price ranges for the same foods. I would put most of your grocery bill into frozen foods. You can buy in bulk (saving some money).

Another way to decrease spending is to cook your own food. I cook for my hubby and myself and I have made a wide variety of dishes so we have at least 4-5 dishes throughout the week. That's about a new dish everyday, which means we don't get bored easily. We eat out once a week because I want a break and so does hubby.

Everyone's budget is different. You might end up combining some of the ideas mentioned here to make your own plan. It is a process of trial and error. I used to buy veggies neither my hubby or I liked and it would end up going to waste. So now, I really think about what I'm going to make during the week before I buy. Basically, I have a weekly plan for food.

Good luck - it is frustrating but you do get the hang of it eventually.

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Old 12-19-2009, 08:40 AM   #8
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I try to eat fairly cheaply and I've read some basic ideas of those who do live very cheaply. Some of the things they cite eating are oatmeal, rice (and other grains) and beans/legumes. I tend to eat a lot of those things naturally because of my chosen diet. I also bought a book called "More with less" and someone here recommended it. You might want to see if your library happens to have it. It talks a lot about how to eat fairly healthy but doing it cheaply.

I know other people here have mentioned hillbilly housewife
http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/

and I've mentioned before my favorite blog of a woman who feeds her family (her and her two sons) on $3.33/day. She doesn't always include recipes but it is good to see what type of stuff she is eating:
http://melomeals.blogspot.com/
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Old 12-19-2009, 08:43 AM   #9
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I totally feel for you. Overall, healthy food IS expensive, and food in low income neighborhoods is usually een MORE expensive. I'm starting out in my career and in a kinda expensive area, so I've gotten really cheap with food.
It becomes like a hunt! I used to shop at an Aldi when I lived near one. Maybe you hae a discount store like that in your area.

Another poster mentioned looking at the adds. Be flexible with what you eat. I base my meals for the week on what's on sale. I eat a lot more beans and less animal protein. I also cook meals that can stretch the meat a lot farther. Like right now I stirfry chicken with frozen broccoli (because the stirfry mix is like 3x more expensive!). And you have to cook from scratch a lot more. It's just a lot cheaper. Casseroles and soup are great too, because you can get away with throwing in whatever you have.

I like this site, because she gives prices AND calories: http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com...cipe-list.html

We don't know how many people you're feeding or dietary restrictions or how much your budget is or even what you like to eat but we definitely have ideas if you're looking for some. Feel free to message me!
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Old 12-19-2009, 09:00 AM   #10
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Lot of useful tips here.

To answer to original question, I think healthier food is more expensive because of the natural producing processes involved. (Such as using organic fertilizer etc)

Try buying in bulk when you can. Also cut down on unnecessary snacks and drinks.
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Old 12-19-2009, 09:19 AM   #11
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I (respectfully) disagree. I think it's more of a social issue. It takes a lot more to process junk than to harvest whole foods.

Sugar is addictive, and they know it. They make it affordable, because they know you'll keep buying it. It's also supply and demand. Healthy foods are WAY more expensive in lower-income neighborhoods where people may not have been educated on healthy eating- if they're avaliable at all. So maybe even if I wanted healthy foods, who wants to ride a bus way out of the way to get to affordable veggies.

I'm not implying that the OP may live in a lower income neighborhood. Please don't take it that way. I'm just passionate about ALL communities having access to healthy foods.
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Old 12-19-2009, 09:54 AM   #12
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There definitely is a social issue involved in getting healthy foods and it does depend where you live. In urban areas, there have been some studies that certain neighborhoods may not have grocery stores because the grocers don't want to be there. So in order to get groceries, the people of those neighborhoods either have to rely on convenience food or they have to travel outside of their neighborhood.

All things being equal though there are some certain issues in the US that make certain things cheap (corn products) and other things not so cheap. It is because corn is heavily subsidized in the US so everything from pop tarts to coke to beef industry benefits from that. It would be nice if all farming was subsidized so that it would create a more even playing field but certain industries lobby heavily to keep corn subsidized.

That being said, I do think that most people can find means to eat healthier on a limited budget but it definitely takes work.
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Old 12-19-2009, 09:57 AM   #13
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I have a friend who receives food stamps and there is not even enough for her to spend 50 bucks a week on food...it's more like 20 bucks. Of course benefits range greatly depending on your situation. But how can one eat healthy on 20 bucks a week?

My suggestion would be to look into Angel Food Ministries(google it) they provide a lot of food for little money and they always have a fresh fruit and veggie box, they do indeed take food stamps and it's a good way to stretch your dollar. You can get well over a months worth of healthy food for about 100 bucks. BTW there is no income requirement all you have to do is order and go pick up your food.
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:18 PM   #14
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Does your town or city have a Farmer's Market? Although I am unfamiliar with the availability of farmer's market in the wintertime in cold climates, I do know that, when the weather is nice, the price of produce at these farmer's markets can't be beat. And the produce is fresher than at your grocery stores. Probably less pesticides too.

Also, I have taken to baking bread in my bread maker. I just bought several pounds of whole wheat flour and a few pounds of 9 grain cereal, and that, combined with yeast and a few other staples, will make a lot of loaves of healthy whole-grain bread. The bread maker I found at a thrift store for less than $10 - the best investment I ever made. Works perfectly too.

I found whole chickens, about 4 lbs each, for $2.50 at a local Wal-Mart. They were "Manager's Special," whatever that means. Those chickens went a long way - I shredded one, and had chicken tacos that fed 5 adults, then had enough left over for chicken salad for 4 adults and had enough left over for soup.

Speaking of soup, that is a fabulous thing too. Beans are pretty inexpensive when you buy them dried, and they bulk up a soup very well and provide lots of fiber and protein, and make any soup hearty. Use a base of stewed tomatoes, also cheap, and add in whatever you want. That soup will last a long time. Lentils are an excellent choice too.

Oatmeal is another great low cost choice. I put xylitol on mine to sweeten it, but that might not be available to you. Maybe put a bit of sugar on it, not a lot and add milk. I think that oatmeal is beyond yummy, and you can get those big containers of it for next to nothing.

This web-site also has an amazing thread about slow-cooker ideas. You can probably make yummy slow-cooker meals for next to nothing, and they are very convenient.
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Old 12-19-2009, 02:03 PM   #15
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If you are receiving food stamps and healthy eating is a priority, I'm not sure what kind of health store you are buying from. Are you buying organic, fair-trade? That can seriously limit your budget. You can still get healthy food that is, although not organic, still nutritious and wholesome.

There IS a huge social issue with affordability and accessibility to healthy food for lower income people, and yes, if it's cheap we're gonna buy it. And when so many people buy their product, they can afford to decrease prices and still make profit. My neighborhood has a McDonalds, Subway, Quiznos, Starbucks, fried chicken joint, pizzeria and a fish and chip place, all within a block of my house. If I want to go to a grocery store I have to take a bus. There is OBVIOUSLY a problem with that. And I really feel for you, it's very hard to try and get healthy when you hardly have the resources to do it.

There's a way around it, kinda, and I learned that while in college with virtually no $$ for food most of the time and working closely with people who were running the student food bank. This wasn't decades ago, I'm talking 2008.

My grocery list would include things like dried legumes, brown rice, buckwheat pasta, peanut oil, herbal teas (instead of juice), yogurt, frozen peas, canned corn (unless in season), rolled oats, and seasonal fruits and vegetables, because they're cheap when in season. Potatoes, carrots, celery, turnips, mushrooms, leeks, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, apples, pears, peaches and plums are usually good choices around this time of year, and most don't spoil quickly. It changes year-round though, so you can vary what you eat too.

There was a lot of good advice on this thread, I hope you find what works for you
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