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The Price of Eating Healthy

June 26, 2012

As with everything in life, there is a major concern with eating healthy…how much it costs! Everyone knows it is more expensive to eat healthy than not. Shopping at places like Whole Foods or Fresh Market can really hurt your wallet and some people simply can not afford it…. or can they?

I have definitely increased my grocery expenses in the past year. I am in no better or worse position than the average middle class family to incur this added expense. So how is it that I CAN afford it and others can’t? My argument is about priorities.

Everyone complains about not having enough money. Some can’t afford to live in a big house. Others can’t afford to own an expensive car, or send their kids to private school, or travel, or buy expensive clothing and purses. And for each person that complains about not affording something, that person has an expense the other can’t afford. The mom who can’t afford to drive a nice car, but her daughter goes to an expensive private school. The couple who can’t afford to own their own home, but travel to exotic places.

My point is that we are all spending money. It is a matter of choices and priorities what you spend your money on. Some spend in on True Religion jeans, others spend it on dining out at the latest “IN” club or restaurant, some spend it on golf, others spend it on cigarrettes. We all make these choices.

So what about food? I tend to think that there is a perception about food that it should not be expensive because it is a basic necessity and not a luxury. Not everyone needs a GUCCI purse, but everyone needs to eat. Its the same reason we all complain about Gas prices. Why are these basic needs bleeding our wallets to death?

My view on this is that food is no longer treated as a basic need. We have such an oversupply of all food products that what we eat has become a luxury. Groceries are stocked to their capacity. We have so many choices, and we constantly abuse this privilege and over consume food which leads to the problems we are facing with our weight and health. So in order to please the masses, greedy companies choose to use the cheapest ingredients they can find (i.e., corn syrup) to make the biggest possible profit on the quantities of food they sell. AND WE ALL BUY INTO IT.

We buy into the convenience, the pre packaging, the perceived value (look I can get 2 boxes of Lucky Charms for the price of one!) But there is a price to eating this stuff that we don’t necessarily calculate in our monthly budget. For example, the price of weight loss products that we are constantly buying to try to lose weight; the price of the medicine we use to treat the conditions that our bad diet causes (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, etc.), the price of wasted food…how many of us buy tons of soda because we got such a good deal on it, and a couple of weeks later realize the soda is completely flat and has to be tossed. Or the bread is moldy, or the chips are stale. We buy cheap food and therefore we don’t care that much about it, so if we go out to eat all weekend and on Monday have to throw spoiled food away, we don’t pay much attention.

I have adopted a different strategy towards the food I eat. My husband and I buy expensive food. Organic fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, expensive meats… all pricey. HOWEVER, in my house, we eat what we buy. We do not throw away spoiled food because quite frankly we can’t afford to!  If I cut up a few slices of an organic apple for my salad, and I have the other half of the apple remaining, I toss it into my smoothie instead of putting it into the refrigerator to turn brown and find it a week later. We eat out less. We typically don’t go out to eat for lunch, and we don’t order food during the week because we make enough food to always have left overs.  I hope to be able to say that in the future, our biggest savings will come from our medical bills….Of course, that remains to be seen!

Part of the biggest problem with healthy food is the vicious cycle we’re in. Healthy food is expensive so we don’t buy it, but since we don’t buy it continues to be expensive. What if all we bought was the expensive stuff and the grocery stores were left with all the junk food? They would definitely start ordering less of it and more of the good stuff. And the more good stuff they get, the cheaper it gets.  So what if we all bought what we needed. Meat, fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts, and grains? But we left on the shelves the unnecessary stuff. The chips, the sodas, the frozen food, the cereal boxes…what if we eliminated the crap.

In the meantime, I try to SAVE by:

  • buying from a coop –
  • buying from Costco or BJ’s since buying in bulk is cheaper. (I buy here the stuff that won’t go to waste like the greens for my salad because we use it every single day. Organic chicken because it remains frozen. Organic frozen berries for the same reason.
  • my friend and I actually shared our Costco purchase this week. We split the walnuts, the kiwi, the yogurts for the kids. We split the cost and don’t have to worry about the kiwi going to waste. We are going to do that again!
  • For whole foods, I actually found an awesome way to save 10% on all my purchases. (Check this website out and see how you can donate to charity and save money on your groceries. This is awesome!!!
  • And of course, the traditional coupon. Whole Foods is coming out with more coupons and sales and I take advantage every chance I get. For example, once in a while they sell their wild caught salmon for 7.99/lb which is even cheaper than Costco. I buy as many pounds as I can and I keep it in my freezer. I know I have salmon once a week for the next few weeks and I got a great deal.

We have decided that even if we have to sacrifice in other areas of our life, we will not sacrifice what we put in our bodies or our children’s. Food is fuel and we want to put the best fuel in us as we can so we can run a long healthy life! So the next time you think you can’t afford healthy food, just remember priorities.

What are your priorities????


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One Comment
  1. Anonymous permalink

    I shop at Whole Foods…God bless my parents!!

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