The Cost Of Healthy Eating

Occasionally I can keep things to myself, but not often.

Sometimes I just have a really hard time seeing nonsense and not calling it out… especially when it involves food and nutrition.

This is made harder by the fact there are sheer volumes of nonsense involving food and nutrition in the world today.

It hurts my head.

So in today’s episode of “Are you kidding me” I want to explore this thought about a food post I’ve seen multiple times circulating Facebook. I’ve seen it in other forms, this just happens to be the current edition of it.

Ah yes. The old “they make it so hard to eat healthy because it’s expensive ” line.

Let’s not miss they are comparing a cheap carton of fries available at any fast food place to a prepped carton of fruit in grocery store. ( insert eye roll here)

I’m just gonna cut to the chase on this topic.

What you eat is your responsibility.

Really.

I’m not sure why this is often hard to grasp and far to overlooked. Every single day I’m responsible for what goes into my mouth and the foods I feed my body.

Whether it’s optimally nutritional or not, no one is stuffing food in my face but me.

I call the shots.

Why then is this food post shared around like there are victims who have to eat junk food…or let’s just say…not optimally nutritional food?

You..me…we make a choice to what we choose to eat.

We are individually responsible for our food choices. It can’t be blamed on anyone but us.

So yeah, the first step to being real with this is taking ownership of your eating and the foods you eat as well as what you buy at the store or when you eat out.

With that being said….

Let’s get to the intent of this food post.

That it’s cheaper to eat non- nutritional food over healthy food.

Like anything in this world, there are a variety of price points on lots of things, food iincluded.

I may not often buy meat out of the fancy meat counter, but it doesn’t mean I can’t buy good meat in the other areas of the meat dept. I buy lean meats that are on sale and chicken which is always reasonably priced.

I have a budget to operate in, as do most of us. You can still operate in your budget and make good food choices.

Since they use the idea of fries for 1.00 ( obviously at a fast food restaurant) and the fruit is obviously the prepped and packed kind ( you ALWAYS pay more for that service!) at a grocery store I don’t find that much of a fair comparison.

Here’s what I will compare. Our local Wendys restaurant is a fast food place but they also offer lots of healthy options.

They have value menus with those 1.00 fries for sure, but they also offer 1.00 salads too.

I love their “real” salads on the menu though. They are often a tasty mix of veggies and fruit with nice serving of protein added with grilled chicken. I skip the creamy calorie laden dressings and opt for their light choices. Water is always my standard drink.

I can’t help but note….the salads are similar in price to a burger/fry/soda combo.

So what’s the difference?

The choice I make.

I love fries. They are like…pure deliciousness.

I also understand they aren’t an optimal food choice which is why I limit them to maybe…twice a month as a treat…

I fully understand though if I walk into that fast food business and decide to order a meal with fries then I am doing it because I choose to, not because it’s a good financial move.

We need to stop using that as a reason for poor food choices.

We are individually responsible for how we choose to fed our bodies.

What about the grocery store?

Pretty much a similar strategy applies.

Really, you don’t need cokes, cookies, and cheese puffs filling up your basket.

Is that stuff cheap? Yep.

But so are canned fruits, beans, tomatoes and other veggies. Add to that lowfat yogurts, cottage cheese and lowfat puddings

Eggs are an amazing and versatile food that are economical and can be used so many ways, for meals and snacks.

Buy real cheese in brick form and cut into cubes. Opt for healthier whole grain crackers and breads. Whole grain pastas and noodles are also other healthy low cost meal choices.

I noted the store brand “wheat bread” was 2.00 but for 89 cents more I got a more nutritional bread made with several grains.

What about fresh produce?

As the photo shows in my post, they’ve used a container of prepped fruit. I see this often in the store and it can be handy. However, you do pay for that convenience….quite a bit. Therefore, I really don’t see this as a fair assessment in this food post to eating healthy not being cost effective.

I do buy some prepped items. One of those is broccoli. I buy the huge bag but it’s convenient for me to use in salads, as a snack, or to throw in a pan and roast. I don’t mind paying a bit more for the convenience.

Mostly though I buy fruits and veggies I prep myself. You can buy many of those already prepped but since we are talking about eating healthy and affordable I’ll suggest prepping your own.

And shop seasonal foods! Last year the blackberry crop was amazing and almost every other week the large cartons were like …1.48…

I seriously ate my body weight in them!

Shopping seasonal on fruits and veggies is an economical way to eat healthy.

One thing our store has started doing is bagging produce that needs to move and marking it 50% off.

Let me tell you… I troll that dept heavy now looking for those tags! I’ve also experimented with new foods because they were on sale.

You may check to see if your store offers those mark downs.

Frozen foods

I understand sometimes the fresh stuff can go bad on you. It won’t if you plan meals with it 😉

Anyway, frozen offers healthy foods, and they won’t spoil.

Corn, broccoli, mixed veggies, snap peas, black eyed peas, stir fry mix, edamame and fruits are all good frozen choices. ( I personally do not care for the green beans or cauliflower as I think they are bland and the beans are usually tough) if you can’t get fresh green beans ( the best) canned are a tastier choice.

The bottom line

I buy a variety of foods for my family. Treats are an enjoyable part of life but I also shop to buy nutritionally healthy foods too.

Buying a bag of apples or oranges is usually wthin the price range of a package of Nutter Butter cookies or Oreos.

Do both have an appropriate place? Yes.

Is one more important to a healthy lifestyle than the other? Absolutely.

Can we then suggest eating healthy is more costly than eating food that offers less nutritional benefits?

No. And why?

Because it comes back to what I started with. We are responsible for what we buy and eat. We are responsible for the food choices we make, good or not so good.

There are many, many healthy and affordable food options. We are not victims who have to eat junk food because it’s more “affordable”.

That’s the lie I’m sick of seeing circulated.

Healthy eating is quite affordable, however, you must be willing to eat that way and choose the healthier options that are available.

Tell me, do you think eating healthy is more eexpensive than eating non healthy foods? What are some of your favorite cost effective healthy foods/meals?

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Navigating The Grocery Store

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As I have learned to navigate through my own health and fitness journey I’ve obviously figured out for myself what works and what doesn’t work.

One of the things I hear from you is how hard it can be to eat well and nutritionally balanced in todays world.

I hear you.

There’s a lot of crazy ideas out there.

“Eat this, don’t eat that!”

“These foods are “bad” don’t eat them”

“Eat carbs, don’t eat carbs”

“Sugar is really bad don’t eat it”

Ah! The crazy stuff can go on and on.

Often when I’m at the store I’m blown away by the vast amounts of food and the choices that are available to us.

Where does one start? How do you get through things like the bakery, or cookie aisle?

I’ll remind you again, it all comes down to our choices we make.  There are LOTS of things that need never come home.  If you’re trying to make good choices then leave those things at the store if you know it will only tempt you.

If it’s not in your kitchen, you can’t eat it, bottom line.

You might intellectually know buying fruits are better for you than a bag of cookies, but those cookies might have a stronger pull on you. Worse yet, if they come home, you’re gonna eat them.

If you want to shop well I’ve always been told to shop the perimeter of the store since that’s where all the fresh foods are. And it’s true….

Although, you can’t dismiss the canned food aisle which offers good choices like tomatoes, beans,  and fruits ( always buy these in natural juice…read labels to make sure there’s no added sugar)  or the bread aisle where you can pick up whole grain breads or buns. Raw nuts are of all things, on the chip aisle in my store.

If it’s a new idea to you to focus on just healthy shopping, write out a game plan before you head to the store.

Be willing to try a few new things and experiment. You never know what you might find that you like 🙂

Alright, so a plan.

Start with produce. Look for seasonal produce, it’s often cheaper. Buy a variety of bright colors. Be cautious and buy amounts you will realistically eat before it might go bad. Honestly, I’m at the store several times a week for fresh produce.

Meat. Buy lean cuts and obviously, check your local sales. I also love getting frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts. These can be pulled out as needed and used in a variety of ways. Ground beef can be purchased in larger packs and then you can separate into meals portions at home to freeze.

In the dairy section of course would be cheeses, milk, yogurts, eggs etc

After loading up on fresh foods, consider various canned foods like beans, tomatoes, sauce, tuna etc.

Pasta, brown rice, or whole grain pastas.

Shopping the bread aisle look for products that are whole grain or whole wheat as the first ingredients.

When shopping keep in mind you should strive for foods with five ingredients or less ( on a healthy level, the less stuff, the better)

Now… treats…. life is to short to not enjoy some things we love. I’m certainly not against those but be aware more “empty calorie” foods contribute to weight gain

Keep in mind balance and moderation. Know your limits and know what will tempt you and keep you from your health goals.

Making informed and careful decisions as you shop will lead you to nutritional success in the long run.

In summary :

  • Plan Ahead. …
  • Choose Real Foods. …
  • Avoid Processed Foods. …
  • Read Ingredient Lists. …
  • Stay on the Perimeter.

 

Happy shopping!

Do you have a healthy shopping plan when you go to the store? Do you have tricks or tips that help you?