Eating Healthy is Too Expensive

People! Step away from your excuses.

I've heard this one so many times lately that it's making me crazy. So, I will try to be gentle. Before you whine about the cost of healthy food, may I pose a few questions:

Do you...
  1. have an iPhone? 
  2. cable or satellite television? 
  3. eat out more than once a week?
  4. go to the movies more than once a month?
  5. have a car that is 5 or fewer years old?
If you answered "yes" to any of those questions, then I will say... clearly, you have "enough" money  and you are capable of making choices on how you spend it based on your values. 

Look, I don't care how you spend your money; I'm not here to lecture you. I'm just merely trying to suggest that eating healthy isn't a money problem. It's a priority problem. 

In the past year, my family has cut processed foods almost entirely out of our diet. *Disclaimer, my teen sons still consume, on occasion: that horrible pasta and "cheese" product that comes in a blue box, milk, tortilla chips, pasta, seasoned rice, and (heaven forbid) some frozen "food" items that I would rather not mention. Even though our diet has shifted from processed to whole foods, our grocery bill hasn't made a dramatic upswing, while our nutrient consumption has.

Eating healthy is not:
Pre-packaged, boxed, bagged, canned or otherwise marketed foods. I've heard it said that if the food has a commercial or advertisement, then you don't want to eat it. (Although the pistachio ads are great-- and so are pistachios!)

Now, are these foods necessarily bad for you? No.
Are they better than the really unhealthy alternatives? Yes.
My point is just that I agree-- these foods are really expensive. But these aren't the foods that you should be eating anyway.

Eating healthy is: 
Non-processed all natural, not boxed, bagged or otherwise preserved, whole foods.  

But again, I will agree that fresh produce and meat can be expensive, if you are comparing it with the typical junk food. But can I ask you to consider this:

Let's talk snacks.

According to the National Fruit and Vegetable Retail Report (yes, this is a real thing!), last week (the week of December 7, 2014) the average cost of...
Fuji apples was $1.20/lb.
1lb. of baby peeled carrots was $1.22.
3lbs. of red potatoes was $2.33.
10oz of baby spinach was $1.93

According to Target's website (on Dec. 13, 2014) the cost of...
9oz. bag of Cheetos was $2.00
Quaker Chewy Granola bars (8 per box) was $2.00
Market Pantry Fruit Snacks (10 per box) was $1.89

See?! It's cheaper to buy... oh, wait.
And then there's the fact that if you're trying to buy snacks for a teen boy (as I am), one granola bar or one serving of Cheetos isn't going to cut it. My sons will easily devour an entire bag of salty, cheesy snack foods. Replace that bag with carrots, and they will eat one serving. Now, given the choice, my sons with take the unhealthy version every time. But some choices have to be made for them-- like going to school, brushing their teeth... eating healthy snacks.

Let's talk a meal: burgers and fries. (Prices taken from local weekly Publix, Winn Dixie and Target ads.)

Typical meal:
(Beef cost varies by location)
Hamburger buns = $2.99 ($2.42 for 6, the price I will calculate for total meal)
French fries = $2.99
Soda (Buy 2, get 2 free-- cost per 2 L bottle) = $1.05
Breyers Ice Cream (1/2 carton) = $2.93
Total meal = $9.39

Healthy version:
Beef = ?
No bun = free
Home fries (cubed, seasoned and baked) 1.5 lbs = $2.17
Premium Salad kit = $2.50
Water = free
Ripe pineapple (4 oz.) = $2.99
Total meal = $7.66

Now, we could have some real fun by calculating the the amount of calories, fat and sugar. But I think it's pretty easy to see that eating healthy has a much greater value.


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