Blog Produce

The Cost of Healthy Eating

One of the biggest barriers to health that I hear from folks who want to eat healthy but can’t stick to their plan is about the cost.

But here is my question for you…. What is the real cost of not eating healthy?

Did you know that a whopping 75% of all of the preventable chronic diseases are treatable – and most are diet-related? (So says the CDC…)

So what if you could cut most of your kids’ sick days?

And what if your dentist was impressed with your family’s teeth and gums?

And what if you along with all that physical health, you had tons of energy and mental wellness to boot?

The real cost of eating healthy is not as much as you think; and it’s nothing compared to the huge costs of sick days, and cavities.

So today I offer 4 food budgeting tips that I hope will help you stock your kitchen well with ease and happiness!

The best budget tip I ever got was to plan. If you make a plan for what you’ll eat in a week and stick to it, you won’t overspend on things you don’t need — too much fruit that will rot, vegetables that wilt or mold in the back of the fridge, and impulse buys from the freezer aisle bought on impulse that end up forgotten and freezer-burned. Planning ahead is a huge step in both feeding your family well, and not overspending.

Eat seasonally. The vegetable and fruit section of your farmers market or your local CSA are your best starting point for affordable (and well-sourced) produce. For me right now, strawberries are no longer local and also harder to find organic, but apples are available in many varieties! This does not mean you have to buy 100% local — in January that might be hard! But as you make your plan, start with what is in season in your area.

Make food from scratch at home. Those muffins in the bakery section of your store add up – in both dollars and calories – as do all the Starbucks lattes (and with kids in tow, you never leave with just a latte). Bake from scratch at home once a week using healthy recipes with nutritious ingredients. Try to set a limit to the amount of processed and store bought goodies you allow into your families’ tummies, and be clear about those limits with your kids. Maybe you make a special trip to the bakery once a week (or once a month). Maybe there is a special day that you get takeout or a treat at the grocery. Build time into your weekly plan for outings and baking from scratch.

Quality vs. quantity. I often hear, “but Mia, those raw treats are so expensive! It is $5 for an energy bar and $9 for a juice!” And here is my response… First, when you choose quality, you don’t buy premade, store-bought foods as much as you used to. Second, that $5 bar is made with whole grains that serve your body with important nutrients, fiber, and vitamins. It’s also full of (worthy) calories, and you will be full after your $5 bar. The $5 package of Oreos you think will last all week? You eat “just one,” then another, and another, and… an hour later you are recycling the box. Those are full of sugar, unhealthy fats, artificial flavors, and they don’t fill you up. So which is the better buy? You need to commit to making an investment in yourself and your family, and trust that buying healthy, natural foods is money well-spent.

Redefine “cost” when buying food. When we interviewed the founder of Farmers to You we really understood that the cost of food at the grocery store is completely unrelated to the cost of growing it. If we were charged what an apple is actually worth to a farmer, we would have sticker shock! Subsidies and other deals that undercut our farmers also promote unhealthy growing practices that result in far less nutritious foods for the buyer. Understanding where your food comes from is paramount to eating healthy and well. Learn to find good food close to home – start by Googling “farmers markets” and “CSAs” – and always focus on “value” versus “cost.”

The other hidden savings in embracing a healthy (sugar-free, processed-free and plant-centered) lifestyle is that you will be healthier overall mentally and physically, and this will save you on other “costs” in your life, such as dentist bills, sick visits, and lost time due to a sick you or a sick child!

Today I have two items to share with you to expand on this post…

  • My Farmers To You Interview: Inside information on the real cost of the foods you buy.
    Click here to download article »
  • EWD Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce: The “dirty dozen” – a list of the veggies and fruits that you really need to buy organic, and the ones that you can get away with conventional. Click here for list »

Please share this post with any busy mamas you know who want to get themselves and their families on track toward healthier eating – and stick to it!