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Eating Healthy Is So Expensive


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I always hear this from friends of mine and I don't get it. A little goes a long way. This article talks all about eating healthy and saving money at the same time. So if health is so important but it costs too much even with great ways to save, why are people so lazy? I don't know about the rest of you but I shop for deals and I coupon too. With a family of 5 if I can make it work I am sure anyone can.

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A few weeks ago I went halfsies with a daughter on a dehydrator. We haven't compared overall costs yet, but a 10 hour run costs about 80 cents. We have done apples, bananas, and pineapple so far. Cost aside, we avoid preservatives. We also garden & looking forward to drying some of our fresh produce.

 

Eating healthy does take some forethought & effort, but well worth it for enjoying one of life's simplest pleasures. :)

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I used to frequently go for frozen veggies because of the perceived time savings.

 

Now though, I never touch the frozen stuff. A bag of pre-cleaned fresh spinach costs about the same as a box of the frozen stuff for about the same finished product, cheaper if you do want to wash it yourself of course, but then that's extra time. But it takes the exact same zap in the microwave or about 60 seconds more in a skillet to produce, so there's really no convenience, and (as Turtle says) you really do want to avoid all that preservative crap and extra salt that you get with the processed stuff.

 

And don't get me started about fresh, on the stalk, brussel sprouts....mmmmm.... 

 

Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat, :phones:

Buffy

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I love fresh vegetables and wish the rest of my family did as well.  I sneak them in when I can, mix them with pasta, stuff them in chicken and make casseroles with cheese on top so they eat it.  Eating good and healthy can be expensive depending on what you buy.  Some foods are pricier than others.

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I work in retail grocery and even though staff do not get a discount on store product, we do have the advantage of knowing the timing of when fresh products in produce, meat, bakery and deli will be discounted. Meat gets discounted at 30% while the other departments are 50%. Today, I purchased a loaf of heavy, whole grain pumpernickel/rye bread at half price while yesterday I grabbed three packs of chicken sausages at 30% off, brought them home and baked them all at once in the oven on parchment paper. Afterwards, I froze half of the cooked sausages for future use and kept the other half out for graveyard shift lunches.

 

Our store also has a loyalty program which tracks your spending habits and offers you personalized discounts in the form of redeemable points on items that you regularly buy. I save a lot on fresh produce by this means, especially if I purchase when it is also on sale or has in-store points offered as well.

 

I have a bit of a conspiracy theory about why more people don't also take such advantage. The science of food is such that market share is pursued by means of identifying flavors and additives that satisfy our reward centers, in effect making these inexpensive snack foods very habit-forming, if you are shy of using the word 'addiction'. The result of having your blood sugar bounced all over the map is apathy.

 

So when you are tired and hungry, what do you reach for?

 

Precisely.

 

More of the same crap because it tastes good to your brain and you justify it further because it allows you more time for other things you enjoy.

 

A win-win for capitalism as well as the misnamed 'health care system'. A true health care system would address causes rather than be content to treat the symptoms, in my opinion.

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Not so much a conspiracy "theory" as a "fact." Watch Food, Inc. or read any of Michael Pollan's latest books, especially The Omnivore's Dilemma discuss some of how the American food industry is optimizing it's profits at the expense of your health and the environment. Pretty sad indictment of how we're letting big business's profit interests trump everything else, and it's getting worse with those interests forcing reductions in government oversight ("overregulation!"), and making it easier to hide what's really going on ("jail-the-whistleblower-laws").

 

Kaiser is my HMO, and while the bureaucracy can be daunting at times, I love the way they really do spend money on proactive health initiatives, some as simple as signs encouraging you to take the stairs instead of the elevator! But boy I've been astounded at the whinging about Obamacare among conservatives, some warning that it continues "the government will force you to eat broccoli!" And that's not just some whack job on talk radio, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that.

 

Dammit, you SHOULD be eating broccoli!

 

Both the food and health industries are poster children for how lack of both regulation and anti-trust action shows that companies don't "do the right thing": profits are more important as long as they can hide/propagandize into hiding their offenses....

 

 

They use everything about the hog except the squeal, :phones:

Buffy

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I tend to think that buying healthier or organic packaged foods is a lot more expensive. I eat gluten free, and I practically have to take out a loan to go grocery shopping. However if I have the time, it is cheaper for me to buy fresh fruits and veggies and to cook meals from scratch. I don't use a lot of meat. I don't always have the time to do this either.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jane515, I agree with you, organic or healthier food is definitely more expensive. On top of it all, we are encourage to support local businesses rather that buying cheaper imported goods. Thus, whenever possible, I go for 100 percent healthy, all other times is have to compromise. Not ideal, but a reality.

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I think eating healthier does cost more than eating junk food all the time, but it is "too" expensive? In my opinion, no. You can buy fresh produce when it's in season and avoid those $5/pint strawberries; you can buy frozen if you absolutely "must" have something when it's out of season; you can buy canned; you can take advantage of sales; you can clip coupons; you can shop at stores that price-match, etc., etc., etc. At the end of the day, even though my grocery bill is higher now that I'm eating healthier, I'm still happier because I look and feel better.

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I think a clarification is in order here: "Organic" food is generally more expensive than the "non-Organic" kind. The marketing costs of squeezing "organic" on the label and the new ad campaign have to be covered you know.

 

On the other hand, junk food is almost always insanely more expensive than preparing your food even from that more expensive "organic" food, both by weight and definitely by calories.

 

Now you do have to cook it yourself, but throwing fresh organic Brussel Sprouts in the microwave for a few minutes with a little water/butter/spices is exactly the same effort as nuking the frozen kind, for about half as much cost by weight.

 

Once you start doing it, you'll wonder why you ever ate the packaged/homogenized/over-chemicaled stuff.

 

 

The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you're hungry again, :phones:

Buffy

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Not so mu.................................................................................................[blah blah blah].....................................

Dammit, you SHOULD be eating broccoli!

 

....................................

 

 

They use everything about the hog except the squeal, :phones:

Buffy

Indeed I should...and cabbage (and mini cabbages ie. B-sprouts)...and lima beans too....kindly send me as much of each as is possible so that I may comply.  I eagerly await your reply with knife, fork and butter. :P

 

As the one that handles the purchasing and preparation of the eatables for my household I firmly disagree with the claims that eating healthier foods is as cost effective as eating less healthy fare...fresh produce and even frozen are much more expensive than nutritionally depleted canned produce and other processed foods...as are real cheese, real butter, lean meats, and whole grain anything. Never really understood how the more molested and adulterated a food product is the cheaper it is...one would think the alterations would create MORE costs not less.

 

Fresh gets even more expensive once the nasty bits are removed...Ie, the black and moldy spots on the potatoes, the rust on the lettuce, the slimy wilting outer leaves of the cabbage,....pick the product and there is always a bit of waste.....round here anyway....very hard to get good fresh fruits and veggies at any price...even onions have rot issues that result in as much as 35% waste.  I think quality and quantity to the dollar may vary hugely by location. 

 

 

Attached: one of three completely inedible potatoes so far out of a newly purchased 5# bag....it shouldn't be typical but is, even from brand to brand.  My uncle in Colorado tells me that it's the same out his way so he has gone to purchasing processed potatoes Ie. flakes and pre-cut, adulterated potato products.

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Edited by DFINITLYDISTRUBD
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It is true that if all you're trying to get is calories, that the cheapest source is a big bag of incredibly over-processed sugar, although unquestionably it's not very healthy.

 

With any fresh and minimally packed/bulk items, bad stuff comes with the territory: the cost is lowered by not having twice as many people (and note most of them are illegals getting paid under minimum wage) sorting out the bad ones. That's why it's always better to bag them yourself to get that percentage down. I've also noticed that the pre-bagged stuff is cheaper because they know how many bad ones they're shipping, and they probably do know more about their error rates, so the pre-bagged ones are probably not worth the extra few minutes bagging your own.

 

But I do know what you mean (I'm looking at you avocados).

 

Now don't get me started on canned stuff. If you read the book where that quote comes from that I put in my earlier post (the one you quoted), you really do not want to know what it takes to get it into that can. And through all that processing it's lost most of the nutritional value that comes from eating your veggies: mostly consists of water, salt and sugar (and God knows what else or where it's been)...all of which are cheaper to eat by themselves. 

 

 

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak, :phones:

Buffy

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I am very fortunate to work at a corporate grocery store that actually purchases locally grown produce from one of our excellent northern farmers and he grows enough white and red potatoes to be able to supply both Superstore and Extra Foods for about 8 months of the year. It is just wonderful to see our Yukon grown potatoes on display with the potatoes from other regions of the country. During the late summer and autumn, he also supplies us with carrots, cabbage and beets, and the customers are wild for it all. It is certainly the freshest produce in these parts unless you have your own garden and a surprising number of people do grow a few veggies or herbs. I grow herbs year round under a simple florescent shop light with one daylight tube and one kitchen and bath to provide the full spectrum of light. I grow parsley, chives, Greek oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme. It's quite an easy thing to do and pleasant to add fresh herb to your cooking. Mind you, it seems like very few people actually do much cooking anymore and a lot of recipes call for adding mixes instead of basic ingredients.

 

Back to the organic versus inorganic debate and there actually is a list of which foods are worth while to buy organic and which other ones it really is of lessor concern.

 

To maximize your organic food dollar, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., recommends going organic on the "dirty dozen" -- types of produce that are most susceptible to pesticide residue:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

And which organic produce is probably not worth the added expense? The group lists these 12 items as having the least pesticide residues:

  • Papayas
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Bananas
  • Kiwifruit
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocados
  • Onions

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=52420

 

 

I have observed the price of organic foods becoming more competitive over the last few years and bananas now are almost at par and even go on sale for less than the conventionally grown ones. Organic apples and green onions are also close in price in this regard as well.

 

Yes, it is more expensive and labor intensive to purchase and prepare healthy food but from my perspective, what is a better investment than your own well-being and that of your loved ones?

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  • 1 month later...

I also find that eating healthy is sometimes expensive. Knowing the right time to shop for foods and watching the weekly sales does help. I clip coupons whenever I can also. Sometimes I just buy less to eat the right kind of food and forfeit the goodies.

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I get that some people compare the time part against the money part but sometimes I hear insane reasons of why people can not eat healthy (or at least healthier). One friend of mine refuses to quit smoking and goes through almost two cartons in a week. That is just crazy to think about and when the topic comes up the excuse is always "but it costs too much". I keep thinking if they quit smoking or at least cut back they would have some extra money when they are trying to buy things out of season. :eek:

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I get that some people compare the time part against the money part but sometimes I hear insane reasons of why people can not eat healthy (or at least healthier). One friend of mine refuses to quit smoking and goes through almost two cartons in a week. That is just crazy to think about and when the topic comes up the excuse is always "but it costs too much". I keep thinking if they quit smoking or at least cut back they would have some extra money when they are trying to buy things out of season. :eek:

Not to hijack the thread, but as a former smoker (of more than two decades  at at least a pack a day) I'd like to address the above quotes.

Unless you've been an addict it's likely that you'll never fully understand. I've gone years without a cigarette,  BUT, I could be hooked again tomorrow with a single puff.  It sucks much that I am not one of the lucky folk that dislike the smell of cigarette smoke....I can't stand the smell of smokers, their clothes, vehicles or their homes...but...the smell of a burning cigarette....pure heaven...sooo inviting.  My wife is also a former smoker and suffers the same fate.

Talking to other former smokers with many more years under their belts, the verdict is largely one of a former smoker will always have a craving no matter how much time goes by.

 

Knowing now what i didn't understand before I would never have smoked around my kids, as I'm certain my mrs's and my own fondness for the smell of a lit cigarette stems from our parents smoking around us....the smell of zippo fluid and a lit Kool always reminds me of my father.

 

Anyway, having quit cold turkey, I know it can be done (with much will power).  My wife couldn't and used Chantix, same result either way we don't smoke, but could easily start again as we both frequently find ourselves absentmindedly reaching for cig packs and lighters we no longer carry...smoking becomes so ingrained into a person's routines over time it's nothing short of astounding how long it takes just to get past the regularly scheduled smokes...to get to a point where the first thing you do in the morning is NOT reach for a cig and lighter, to get past the panic attacks that come from forgetting that you have not forgotten your cigarettes, but you haven;t had any for over a year. 

 

Quitting is a nerve wracking proposition even with help..more so if you fully understand just what you're in for...NAMELY,.....the single worst fact to deal with......You are NEVER actually free from cigs, they will always remind you of their existence and that you used to enjoy them when you're least expecting it...and for a bit (be it a brief spell or much longer) you will crave them again...the only victory is that the ability to resist and put it out of your mind faster improves with time.

 

The short of it (sorry it got so long) the proposition of no or reduced smokes to a smoker is worse than even the thought of not eating...not eating well VS not smoking...hard to seriously care about food related health while you're trashing your body and your lungs.  I've made the decision before and have known folks that have faced and made the same decision......a pack of cigs or eat today...cigs.  As far as "rationing" or cutting back goes the common result is the smoker will want a cigarette even more...it's a special kind of self torture to ween oneself to a to a lower "pack a day" ratio or off smoking completely.

 

Of course the worst for a great many of us quitting smoking results in serious weight gain..... even with no change in eating or exercise habits.

 

Even on the same ol' pot of coffee and one meal a day with no snacks I managed to go from 176 lbs. to 315 lbs, and I'm still struggling to lose the weight. Before I lost my job I had managed to get it down to 240 in the space of a year. But with the loss of my fast paced, physically intensive job forty-five pounds has managed to climb back on over the past two years...still only drinking a pot of coffee and eating only dinner (less of both even), but not getting as much exercise. Though the pupster and I rack up a mile a day and I pace a couple to a few miles more daily it doesn't seem to help. (tis a mental thing, keeps my nerves calm, helps me ponder and visualize things more clearly, and as a side benefit keeps the neighbors wondering)

 

How many miles do I pace? I dunno, enough that even with randomly altered paths I've worn trails into the back yard, inside the carpet from one end of my house to the other shows signs of wear in a distinct trail. 40 feet back and forth for as much as 6 hours in a day, but never less than 2 at a normal walking pace. Outside 300' circlish or 100'+ back and forth for just as long....a couple miles at the least.....really don't know why my pacing makes folks uncomfortable...beats or at the very least is no different from walking on a treadmill and getting nowhere.   

 

But yeah, making  the right choice, smoking $$ vs food $$ for a smoker is a tough to say the least...the only tougher choice... to quit or not to quit.

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