Can You Really Eat Healthy On A Budget?

Diane Carbonell's picture
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Is it possible to save money on food while cutting back on calories and eating healthier?  Absolutely.

I am always concerned with the cost of food, services and miscellaneous items.  I am the keeper of the budget and our whole family works hard to keep our expenses down.  With a family of nine, you can be sure that food is a large part of our monthly expenses.  Especially considering that John and I are blessed with five rapidly growing boys.  People often complain to me that it costs more money to buy healthy food than junk food.  I can’t quote statistics on whether or not that’s actually true, but I can share my experiences with you.

First of all, when thinking about this subject, I think it’s important to focus on foods you buy every week at the grocery store, and not on restaurant meals.  No matter what weight loss program you are following, you were probably initially told to get rid of the “bad” food in your pantry, and replace it with healthy alternatives.  However, once you got to the grocery store you probably couldn’t believe that apples were $1.39 a pound and a little bag of baby carrots costs $1.99.  Those boneless-skinless chicken breasts were $1.97 a pound!   You can’t afford that!  Or can you?  Look at this list:

  • Cost of 11 ounces of  Potato Chips – $3.4921
  • 14.5 ounce Oreo cookie package – $2.99 (on sale!)
  • 16 oz. Powdered Sugar Donuts – $2.59
  • 12 oz. box Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal – $4.09
  • 48 oz Canola oil (Kroger brand) – $3.99
  • 12 pack can Coke – $3.33 (on sale)
  • 1 package Nestle Toll House dough – $2.50 (on sale)
  • 1 pound sirloin steak $4.99

Okay, now what’s expensive?  Prepackaged food that has very little nutritional value, or wholesome fruits and vegetables?  Expensive steaks, or chicken breast on sale?

I often wonder why it was that when I was overweight I thought nothing of spending $2 – 3 dollars on a bag of chips, but balked at spending the same amount of money on a bag of apples?  Why was it okay to buy the $2.50 one pound bag of M&M’s that I would eat in an afternoon, but refused to spend the same amount of money on fresh veggies?

I didn’t value the fruits and vegetables as much as I did the junk.  The junk was fast, available and made me feel good when I ate it.  The fruit was fruit.  Salad was salad.  It had no pizzazz and I gained no emotional comfort from eating healthy food.  I wanted junk and junk I got.  As I gained more and more weight over the years, I ate less and less healthy foods.  I was careful with the kids diets – they ate decent foods at meals, but I didn’t.  I thought I couldn’t afford to buy enough apples and grapes for all of us, so I’d just eat cookies. :)

I used money to justify my bad choices, when in reality I was spending much more than I needed to buy purchasing foods that weren’t healthy.  Did you used to do the same thing and occasionally try to blame your food purchases on budget restraints? If you did and have changed, I applaud you! If you still find yourself in that mindset, I’d encourage you to look closely at how much you are spending each week on food that doesn’t fill you up, and next time you are at the grocery story, do a little comparing of your own.

What are your thoughts about the cost of healthy foods?

Diane Carbonell blogs at Fit to the Finish

Image credit: mauitimeweekly


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