Friday, December 6, 2013

The Cost of Eating Healthy (and my two cents)


After a busy two weeks, I was getting ready to put something on my blog.  No, not the amazing peppermint cookies I have been chowing down on (because I have yet to take pictures of them -- blame it on the minimal hours of daylight), but something to say, "Hey, I'm here!  Don't forget me!" Something fun. Something cute.

But then I saw this article pop up in my newsfeed on Facebook.  And after reading through it, and then reading through the comments, I changed my plan.

Fun and cute can wait for another day.

Today we need to talk about eating healthy (yes) and the cost of it (yes).  But most importantly, we need to talk about perceptions of this.

I am not going to sit here and give you figures about the cost of eating a healthier diet, because you can find that information quite easily.  I am also not going to share how eating more fruits and vegetables costs more money than packaged food because, at least in the USA, we all know this to be a general truth. My eyes were really opened to this when I took a master's level class on how health impacts a student's ability to learn, and how income impacts health. As you may be aware if you have followed this blog for awhile, that class combined with Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution were the main reasons I set out to learn to cook. That is why this blog is here -- because I wanted to be able to eat healthy food that I could afford and still tasted great.

We get it. Eating a healthy diet is more expensive. It is unfortunate, but it is a reality.

I also get that food deserts exist. For the 7-10% of Americans who live in these areas, that is a real problem, and I am not here to offer a solution, because I do not have one. I wish I did...

What I am going to say is this: for those many, many people who instantly commented on NPR's article saying that it costs on average $600 a month PER PERSON to eat healthy, or all those people who clearly commented without reading the article as the examples shared in the comments don't fit with what the article said at all but then rattled on reason after reason why this article is full of BS (with all caps here and there)... let's all just stop and breathe. 

And then, let's read the information, look at where their findings are coming from, see if we agree with it or not, and then move on with our lives.

As for me, I agree. Why? Because I have been pricing out food for the past three years. That was the whole reason I started this blog: to keep a record of what we ate, how much it cost, and then use that information to make wise decisions while planning for what we are going to eat next week. Through this, and finding out tricks like shopping at the Farmers' Market or making beans from scratch, I have learned to keep our food costs quite low.

I get that there are a lot of variables in this equation, and that many things (location, time, availability of products, etc.) can change what is possible. Maybe your shopping style is different than mine. Maybe you don't enjoy cooking and you need something fast.  Maybe you really just want to eat a Big Mac. Go ahead. That's OK, that's your decision. I've been there, I get it. But people, we've got to stop attacking the messenger just because we don't like the message. And please, please, please, let's stop ganging up on people (fellow commentors) because they have a different experience than us.

Maybe you really do spend $600 per month for one person to eat healthy without ever going out to eat.  I am sorry for you, and I hope you find ways to cut back on that. But either way, that's OK. It's your money.

Maybe you really struggle to just make ends meet. I grew up in that reality, and I know a lot of people live in that daily. My heart goes out to you, for I know it is a challenge.

For most of us, though, we probably fall somewhere in the middle. Let's take ownership of our decisions. Heck, when I want a McChicken, I am going to get a McChicken. Yes, even me with a blog on finding healthy food. And that's alright. As long as I don't yell at NPR for it.

What are some ways you have found to keep the cost of food down?

(Looking for some low cost meal ideas? Click for $1 meal ideas and $2 meal ideas (per serving).  Cheaper than a Big Mac :) )


  1. Your comments on internet commenting are so true -- not only when the topic of the debate is food!!!!!

    I'm way past trying to tell people what they should eat. I rarely even talk about healthy eating with people anymore. I just do what I want for me and I agree with people when they say xyz food is delicious, or zyx food is expensive. They're usually right, anyway.

    1. Very true. Good tactic. That's how I feel usually, except when they say it CAN'T be done. Then I'm like, "Oh yeah? Watch me." ;)

  2. Another awesome post Tiffany. I try to keep costs down simply by cooking larger portions. I will buy proteins and vegetables at Whole Foods…and I know that it's expensive…but I am willing/wanting to pay more simply for the organic + humane stance. I also like to shop my farmers markets for local products…and don't mind paying more to support them as well. But I find that I can cook a decent sized meal and it will cover us for 3 meals…which always works out nicely cost-wise.
    I also think that shopping at places like Trader Joe's can help with saving $ on quality products.
    Hope you're doing well friend!
    xo - Marion

    1. Thank you, Marion!

      Larger portions... yes! We do that all the time. Makes it so we don't have to pack a separate lunch, just throw some in a tupperware dish. Good thing we like leftovers :)

      And TJ's? OF COURSE. One of my favorite ways to save money. Gotta love 'em!

      Thanks for stopping by! I know I have been busy a lot lately, but I hope to soon return a little more often :)

  3. Well said, Tiffany! Your posts are not only informative and useful but very inspirational - keep up the good work!


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