As our family was making our way toward a more healthy lifestyle in the beginning stages of our healthy eating journey, one of the biggest obstacles I had to work through in my brain was that I had to actually spend money on groceries. I didn’t like spending money on food. I had figured out ways to use coupons to get almost all of our food practically for free so spending money on food seemed crazy to me.
I’ve done a complete about-face on that issue now. Not that I don’t work hard to keep our grocery spending low…I do. I work VERY hard as a matter of fact so that our family of six can eat a healthy whole-foods diet on a limited budget. But I’ve changed my way of thinking now about spending money on food. And…I’d like to encourage you to do the same as you make some simple steps toward healthy eating.
I see money spent on food as an investment. I understand now that food is meant to nourish us…not just fill a hole and satisfy hunger. I feel like when I spend money to buy top knotch food, I’m actually investing in a healthy future for my family.
I’d like to challenge your thinking just a little bit if you fall into the category of one who thinks that “you can’t afford to eat healthier”. You may not have much extra in your grocery budget, but that doesn’t mean you have to feed your family unhealthy foods.
It does mean you may have to work a little harder to find good, whole foods. You may have to change some of your habits. You may have to cut some other unnecessary spending out of your budget. But you don’t get to cop out with excuses about not being able to afford healthy foods. (I know this first hand as our family was barely scraping by a couple of years ago, yet we did not have to compromise the quality of food we ate. We just had to be creative!)
I’ve just about come to the conclusion that eating real food costs less than eating processed food if you go about it the right way. Now, does grass fed beef and free range chicken and raw milk and organic produce generally cost more than the “regular” beef and chicken and milk and produce from the store? Sure. (Although I’ve found many ways to save on those items too which I’ll address later on in this series.) But just hear me out on this. My boys and I did a little research one day when we were out shopping. Then we came home and did the math. We were shocked at the results we found!
The reason, by the way, that we did this little experiment is because I’m tired of people telling me that fresh produce is too expensive. So instead of giving their kids fruits and vegetables, moms (the ones complaining to me about “expensive” fruits and vegetables) fill them up on “cheaper food” like crackers and fruit snacks. I wanted to see if indeed crackers and fruit snacks were cheaper than fresh produce.
My boys and I went down the snack aisle, writing down prices and ounces of some popular snack items. Then we wrote down prices of some of our favorite fresh fruits like apples, watermelon, pineapple, bananas, oranges, peaches…
The cost for the best in-season produce averages to be around $1.00 to $1.50 per pound (or even much less in many cases).
But check this out:
- The cost for a box of cheese crackers…$3.20/pound (yes, we actually calculated how much the cost was per pound!)
- The cost for chocolate sandwich cookies with the white filling inside that you lick out and dunk in milk (yeah, you know what I’m talking about)…$3.84/pound
- The cost for an off brand of fruit snacks…$2.56/pound
- The cost for a box of granola bars…$4.18/pound
Now, I know this price comparison isn’t apples to apples (literally!). I recognize that you can use coupons to cut the cost of the boxes of snacks. I realize that when you pay for a watermelon, you’re paying for the rind that you cut away, so that part shouldn’t really count when you’re figuring cost per pound. Yes, I realize all of the variables that make this experiment not exact.
But I hope you kind of get the idea that when you break down the cost of processed foods (that do practically nothing to nourish us) compared to the cost of fresh produce (which do quite a bit to actually nourish us)…you aren’t really right on track if you think that buying “cheap” boxes of snacks is saving you money. Produce, if bought in season, is really quite reasonably priced.
Alrighty…this post is getting long!! I’ll stop there and we can talk more later about all kinds of other things you can do to save money as you switch to a healthier lifestyle. There’s so much to talk about as we break down Simple Steps Toward Healthy Eating!
But do give some thought to your mind-set about spending money on food. Are you looking at it in the right way? Are you really saving money when you avoid some of the “more expensive” healthier foods and instead buy “cheaper” food?
And what about the long term effects of not eating healthy now? Will health care costs outweigh what we might be saving in groceries?