• Cindi

Beyond your Budget? The Cost of Healthy Eating

The first reason someone often gives me of why they are not improving their diet is that they don't know how. In this information age, I sometimes have a difficult time understanding this. Yet, at the same time, I realize too much information can be overwhelming and a common response to being so overwhelmed is to not respond at all. That, along with the seemingly endless number of new diets, superfoods, and "facts" that come and go, leave many people unable to decipher what exactly "healthy eating" is. One day they are following the doctor-recommended, research-backed, low-fat diet, and before you know it, they find out that low-fat diet may actually be causing them to gain weight. I understand the confusion and spend a great deal of time helping my clients wade through the myths, "research", and trends so they can develop a healthier eating plan that they can stick to.


It's the second reason - "healthy food costs too much" - that makes me cringe; especially when those words are coming from someone who hit the drive-thru for breakfast or had to rely on the company cafeteria for lunch.

I know prices vary among locations and companies, but I am guessing a drive-thru breakfast must cost around $5.00; and I have yet to find a place that serves a decent lunch for less than $7.00. Yes, I am sure they are out there, but let's go with the $7.00 lunch in this example. Five bucks, seven bucks, doesn't sound like a lot until you begin to add it all up. Five dollars per person for breakfast for a family of four comes to $140.00 per week! That $140.00 could buy a full week's worth of groceries for many families.


Recently, I spent some time browsing around a local grocery store to find out if junk food is really that much cheaper than it's healthier counterpart. I have always thought junk food was outrageously priced, but since I don't buy it, I thought I might be wrong. I'm not.


Same store, same day - completely different foods. No, I did not choose organic, fresh-from-the-farm, non-gmo healthy foods, but I also did not use those guidelines when I snapped photos of the junk food. I cannot imagine the cost of junk food tagged healthy because it is organic and non-gmo!


A bag of potato, depending on the flavor, costs anywhere between $4.50 and $5.25 per pound! Sure, the bag only costs $2.50, but some only contain 7 ounces. Often, a 10 pound bag of potatoes sells for half that! Imagine all of the meals that could be accompanied by that bag of potatoes. I am guessing the chips might not last more than a day.


Let's look at the prepackaged burgers and chicken sandwiches - only $1.25 each! But, they are only 5.1 ounces - and that includes the bun. A full 16 ounces would run about $4.00, more than twice the cost of the boneless, skinless chicken breasts. And, on that same day, 80% ground beef was on sale for $1.99 per pound. So, for about 4 bucks, you could buy 3 packaged sandwiches, or 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of chicken breasts. And, you would still have some money left over to buy a cheap package of buns!


Forget the $5.00 chips and buy the $2.00 pound of broccoli instead. Four bucks for the meat, two bucks for the broccoli and for $6.00 you have the foundation of a healthier meal for 4, for less than $2.00 per person - and you would still have some meat leftover!

Take-out and drive-thru meals add even more to the cost. The $1.00 burger on the dollar menu might seem like a good deal, until you learn that the burger patty on a McDonald's burger is only 1/10 of a pound. Is a burger from McDonald's really worth $10.00 per pound? Many people refuse to buy a good cut of meat for $10.00 per pounds, but have no problem paying that same price in a drive-thru! And many are appalled to think of paying $10.00 per pound for grass-fed, organic, all natural beef, but somehow the McDonald's version is OK.


Yes, food can be expensive and often accounts for a large part of your weekly budget. But if you think you are saving money by avoiding healthier foods, take a better look at what you are buying. Check the price per pound; consider the lack of nutrients and the abundance of fat, sugar, and sodium; and think about what the junk is doing to your health and your waistline, and then tell me why you can't afford to eat healthier.



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