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Healthy Food is More Expensive, Study Finds

Healthy Food is More Expensive, Study Finds


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There’s a big monetary difference between buying healthy and unhealthy foods

Eating healthy is significantly more expensive than eating unhealthy.

We’ve long suspected that eating healthy is significantly more expensive than eating unhealthy, but it’s now been proven by a study conducted by the British Medical Journal.

The study found that a day’s worth of unhealthy food is $1.50 cheaper than a day’s worth of healthy. Added up, that amounts to nearly $550 per year.

This number compares a nutritionally sound meal containing fruits, vegetables and fish with a fully processed meal containing refined carbs and meat.

Sweets, snacks and grains showed a $0.03 to $0.12 price difference than healthier options per serving. The biggest difference was seen in meats and proteins, amounting to $0.29 per serving.

Not everyone can afford to pay extra money to eat a healthy meal. So how do we deal with this?

Doug Rauch, the former CEO of Trader Joe’s, mentioned back in September that he was planning to open a grocery store called The Daily Table that would sell expired (but still safe and edible) food for around $1. This includes soups, salads and packaged chopped vegetables that would have otherwise been thrown out.

Though this could help, Rauch’s project will not be ready until sometime next year.

Illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, pancreatic cancer and more are linked to unhealthy food. There needs to be some way to have healthier foods available without breaking the bank.


Health Can Be Expensive: 5 Budget-Friendly Healthy Meals

I’ve often seen people not opting for a healthy diet because they assume healthy food is costly and takes a lot of money, but that’s not true. Studies have found that around 30% of the households in the USA spend a lot of extra money on their groceries and dining outs. They’ve also claimed that even cutting this expense to 20% annually is enough to opt for a healthy lifestyle.

Also, healthy food might take some extra money, but if you are watchful of your choices, you might save some.

Here’s a list of our top-picked everyday meals that don’t need any big ticket and are effective at the same time.


Why are healthy foods expensive?

In our society, healthy choices are sometimes a lot harder to make than unhealthy ones: going to the gym vs. staying home, ordering a salad vs. french fries or buying healthy groceries vs. unhealthy ones. Healthy groceries such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and 100% whole wheat products always seem to be more expensive than their unhealthy counterparts. The reasons are are simple but the solutions, complex.

How to Measure Cost of Food

Part of the problem with healthy foods being so “expensive” is the definition of price. The most popular way to measure cost is to compare price to portion (i.e., volume or calorie content). The result is Big Macs or sodas cost “much less” than fruits and vegetables. Comparing the cost of food using the price/calorie ratio ignores healthier food options are generally lower in calories and higher in nutrients.

Healthy foods are higher in nutrients and satisfy you for a much longer period of time. A better way to measure the price of food is to look at price/nutrient or price/satiety ratios. If you look at these comparisons, the price is not so different. Let us take a look at the following example.

A can of soda and an apple have roughly the same number of calories (

120). While a large apple costs about $1, a can of soda sells for .50 to .75 (even less if you buy a larger quantity). If you compare these two using the price/calorie ratio, the can of soda looks cheaper. Unfortunately, the can of soda has no nutrients. An apple is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. If you look at the price/nutrient ratio, the apple is much cheaper.

Furthermore, because an apple contains a large amount of fiber, it keeps you full for a longer period of time than a can of soda. If you look at the price/satiety ratio, the apple wins again. Though a soda costs half as much as an apple, it does not come close to providing you with even half the benefits.

The soda does not contribute anything to your overall health nor does it do anything to keep you full. How many cans of soda do you need to keep you as full as one apple? If the answer is more than two, the apple becomes cheaper. The price of unhealthy foods might be absolutely more expensive but healthy foods are relatively cheaper. Now let us look at some of the reasons why the absolute cost of healthy food is higher.

Demand vs. Supply

Simple economics is the main reason healthy food is expensive (supply and demand). This country demands much more unhealthy food (red meat, sugar, high fructose corn syrup) than it does healthy (fresh produce, seafood, whole grains). Food manufacturers supply what is in demand. The result is cheap junk. The way to change this is to change the supply and demand equation which cannot happen overnight. Only changing attitudes can move this process along.

Ways to Save

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to save on healthy foods. First, buy your fruits and vegetables in season. The supply of in season produce is very high and very perishable. This means prices are low. The USDA has a comprehensive guide on what’s plentiful during each season. A few examples include:

  • winter: bananas, grapefruit, potatoes
  • spring: apricots, broccoli, cabbage
  • summer: blueberries, cherries, corn
  • fall: apples, carrots, cranberries

Another way to save on produce is to buy frozen rather than fresh. While canning adds preservatives, freezing avoids most additives. Frozen products allow you to buy in or out of season produce at much lower prices. A lot of the generic grocery shopping rules also apply to healthy foods:

  • Buy non-perishable items in bulk whenever possible (including sales on items you frequently use).
  • Use coupons only for items you would normally buy.
  • Buy store brands over national ones.
  • Find a local farmers market for fresh produce.

The Bottom Line

While buying healthy food might seem like the more expensive option, in the long run, going healthy saves you a lot of time and money. Ingredients found in some of our most popular foods (sugar, sodium saturated fat, trans fat) are known to increase your risk for a number of diseases including heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. There are also other ingredients (fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) found in healthy foods that can prevent those same diseases. Instead of worrying about the damage healthy food does to your wallet, worry about the damage unhealthy food does to your body.


Time poor

Poverty is exhausting and this in part drives food choices. Often the last thing people want to do at the end of a long day is cook, so cheap takeaway meals are appealing.

People on low incomes are more likely to buy calorie-dense foods instead of fruit or vegetables because they are more filling. But while a cheeseburger might fill you up for longer than an apple, junk food is bad for our health.

It is possible to cook a filling, healthy meal in very little time, as the British food writer, Jack Monroe, has shown repeatedly. For example, her recipe for a courgette, tomato and cheese gratin costs 33p and takes eight minutes to cook. It’s healthier and cheaper than a takeaway.

But promoting healthy eating in a cash and time-poor society is difficult and teaching cooking skills alone won’t do it. Jamie Oliver’s campaign to teach cooking skills to people on low incomes, while well-intentioned, alienated much of his intended audience by demonising the turkey twizzler and further stigmatising families living at the sharp end of austerity in Britain. What we eat is central to our identities, and strategies to address diet need to recognise this if they are to work.


Myth: Healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food

Credit: travellight/Shutterstock.com

The idea that healthy food costs more than junk food is something I hear a lot. Students tell me they'd like to eat better but can't afford to. There is a strong belief that cooking from scratch costs a fortune, and with takeaway meals priced as low as £1, they have little incentive to change their behaviour.

The past decade has seen increased media attention on healthy diets, and stories about the cost of healthy eating are also on the rise, all of which influence public perception. Some studies comparing the price per calorie of foods suggest less healthy foods are often cheaper, but they don't tell the whole story. The metrics used to measure cost are important.

Consider the example of two pots of chocolate dessert, one regular and one with less fat. Using the price-per-calorie measure, the lower-fat dessert appears more expensive than the regular pot, because it contains fewer calories. But studies comparing the price per unit weight of food from the same food group suggest healthy options are often cheaper – for example, 200g of chickpeas versus 200g of bacon. The latter is a more meaningful measure because most people buying food think about the quantity they are buying rather than how many calories they are getting for their money.

Changing habits early

Expanding waistlines is a growing public health concern. Globally, the rate of obesity has tripled since 1975. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight, of which 650m are obese.

The younger generation is especially affected by high-calorie, low-nutrition foods. High levels of sugar, fat and salt put children at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, not to mention tooth extraction. Perhaps more worryingly, habits formed in childhood seem to stick for life. This is a tragedy because these problems are avoidable. It is possible to eat healthily for less – much less – than the price of a cheeseburger. The crux of the issue is not cost, but knowledge, skills and time.

We are increasingly conditioned to think of healthy food as expensive, because of the price of meat, fish and dairy, the rise of "superfoods" and the higher cost of organic produce. Yet nutritious food needn't cost the Earth. Chia-seed smoothies are an expensive luxury basic nourishment – carrots, lentils, potatoes – is cheap as chips.

Poverty is exhausting and this in part drives food choices. Often the last thing people want to do at the end of a long day is cook, so cheap takeaway meals are appealing.

The global obesity rate has tripled since 1975. Credit: kwanchai.c/Shutterstock.com

People on low incomes are more likely to buy calorie-dense foods instead of fruit or vegetables because they are more filling. But while a cheeseburger might fill you up for longer than an apple, junk food is bad for our health.

It is possible to cook a filling, healthy meal in very little time, as the British food writer, Jack Monroe, has shown repeatedly. For example, her recipe for a courgette, tomato and cheese gratin costs 33p and takes eight minutes to cook. It's healthier and cheaper than a takeaway.

But promoting healthy eating in a cash and time-poor society is difficult and teaching cooking skills alone won't do it. Jamie Oliver's campaign to teach cooking skills to people on low incomes, while well-intentioned, alienated much of his intended audience by demonising the turkey twizzler and further stigmatising families living at the sharp end of austerity in Britain. What we eat is central to our identities, and strategies to address diet need to recognise this if they are to work.

So how can you eat better on a budget? Meat and fish are among the most expensive items on a shopping list while plant protein often costs less. Pulses (beans, peas and lentils) are nutritious, very cheap and work well in place of meat.

Don't be fooled by expensive "superfoods" there is no agreed definition for this term and many so-called superfood health claims remain unproven. Simply increasing the volume and variety of fruit and vegetables in your diet is shown to reduce the risk of ill health and needn't be costly.

Frozen, tinned and dried fruits and vegetables are often cheaper than fresh but keep their nutrients. They also keep for longer, meaning less food waste.

Avoid buying processed foods often you can make similar dishes quickly and easily for much less. This recipe for pasta sauce costs 50p for four portions, while a jar of pasta sauce costs over four times this price, and, as a bonus, you'll know exactly what's in it.

Diet is fundamental for health and well-being, and the cost of food alone should not stop people from eating well. Junk food may be cheap and tasty, but the idea that healthy food is expensive is just fiction.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Eating healthy food costs more money in U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Eating healthier food can add almost 10 percent to the average American’s food bill -- and that is just to boost a single nutrient like potassium.

A worker prepares some of the more than 8,000lbs of locally grown broccoli from a partnership between Farm to School and Healthy School Meals at Marston Middle School in San Diego, California, March 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Researchers from the University of Washington looked at the economic impact of following new U.S. dietary guidelines, which recommend eating more potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin D and calcium, and avoiding saturated fat and added sugar.

The diet recommendations try to fight rising rates of obesity in the United States, but the study findings underline some of the obstacles to adopting new habits.

In an article in Health Affairs published on Thursday, the researchers reported that eating more potassium, the most expensive of the four nutrients, can add $380 to the average person’s yearly food costs.

Americans spend about $4,000 on food each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At the same time, getting more calories from saturated fat and sugar reduces overall food costs, the study said.

Pablo Monsivais, acting assistant professor at the University of Washington and one of the study’s authors, said the government should consider the economic impact of food guidelines.

“We know that dietary guidelines aren’t making a bit of difference in what we eat and our health overall,” he said. “And I think one missing piece is that they have to be economically relevant.”

“They emphasize certain foods without much regard for which ones are more affordable.”

More than one-third of children and two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.

In the study, the authors collected questionnaires on the typical eating habits of 1,123 people in King County, Washington, and calculated how much each diet cost based on retail food prices in three local supermarkets.

However, they did not factor in costs for food bought outside grocery stores, such as fast food -- which would likely increase the food cost for each person.

The study also found that it is more expensive to eat more dietary fiber and vitamin D, and that people with higher average incomes were more likely to eat healthier food.

Monsivais said when talking about eating more fruits and vegetables, the government should also mention the most cut-price options. For examples, bananas and potatoes are the cheapest sources of potassium.

“(Guidelines) should tell people where you get the most bang for your buck,” he said. “By putting the economic dimension on dietary guidelines, it would be very helpful for those on the economic margins, but also for everyone . trying to save money in the current economy.”


Research shows high prices of healthy foods contribute to malnutrition worldwide

Poor diets are the now the leading risk factor for the global burden of disease, accounting for one-fifth of all deaths worldwide. While the causes of poor diets are complex, new research finds the affordability of more nutritious foods is an important factor.

A new study by researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is the first to document that the affordability of both healthy and unhealthy foods varies significantly and systematically around the world. The study also suggests that these relative price differences help explain international differences in dietary patterns, child stunting and overweight prevalence among adults.

Past research has only studied relative price differences in specific countries, mostly in the context of the relative cheapness of calorie-dense processed foods as a risk factor for obesity in upper- and middle-income countries. But until now, no studies have examined the structure of relative price differences globally, or how these price structures might contribute to undernutrition and obesity outcomes.

"Our research shows that most healthy foods are substantially more expensive in poorer countries," says IFPRI Senior Research Fellow and study co-author Derek Headey. "But while healthier foods become cheaper over the course of development, so too do unhealthy processed foods, like soft drinks."

The study, "The relative caloric prices of healthy and unhealthy foods differ systematically across income levels and continents," co-authored by IFPRI's Headey and Harold Alderman, was published in The Journal of Nutrition. Using national price data for 657 standardized food products in 176 countries collected under The International Comparison Program (ICP), the authors develop a novel measure of how costly it is to diversify diets away from traditional calorie-dense staple foods such as bread, corn or rice. The study shows that higher caloric prices of a food predict lower consumption of that food and explores how those price differences might explain international differences in child stunting and adult obesity.

The study finds marked variations in the affordability of both healthy and unhealthy foods across different regions of the world, and at differing levels of development. In the world's poorest countries, healthy foods were often extremely expensive, especially nutrient-dense animal sourced foods, which are widely known to be effective in reducing stunting. Eggs and fresh milk, for example, are often 10 times as expensive as starchy staples. Another ultra-healthy food for kids—specialized infant cereals fortified with a wide range of extra nutrients—are sometimes 30 times as expensive as the nutrient-sparse traditional cereals more commonly fed to infants.

"Prior to this study, we already knew that the poorest children in the world weren't consuming enough of the really nutrient-dense foods that promote healthy growth and brain development", said Headey. "But now we have a better idea why: poor people also live in poor food systems. That combination of low incomes and high prices means they're simply not going to buy enough and eat enough of these nutrient-dense foods."

While poor child feeding practices are often attributed to limited nutritional knowledge in low income settings, the authors found that the high prices of nutrient-dense foods offered an alternative explanation of their low consumption. Even more strikingly, they find that higher prices of milk, eggs and fortified infant cereals predict higher rates of stunting. "The link between milk prices and stunting is especially strong", said Alderman, "which is entirely consistent with a whole body of evidence on the strong linkages between dairy consumption and child growth."

Although the study found that economic development tends to make healthy foods more affordable, that process also tends to make unhealthy foods cheaper. Sugar-rich soft drinks are relatively expensive in many low-income countries but have become inexpensive and widely consumed in middle- and upper-income settings.

Indeed, Headey and Alderman find that lower prices of soft drinks and sugar-rich snacks predict significant increases in overweight prevalence among adult populations. "Public health agencies in upper income countries have been concerned with the high consumption of sugar-rich foods for some time," said Alderman, "but our study shows that these products often become very affordable in middle income countries, and sometimes even in relatively poor countries where obesity rates are really on the rise."

The researchers noted that policymakers have several tools available to help make nutrient-rich foods relatively more affordable, including nutrition-sensitive agricultural investments that could make healthy foods cheaper, and taxation and regulation efforts—such as food labelling—to curb consumption of unhealthy foods.

"These findings raise an important agenda for future research: understanding why food prices vary across countries, and sometimes within them, and how best to change food prices in a way that leads to better diets and nutrition outcomes in rich and poor countries alike," Headey said.


The expense of healthy food

One thing that I do is buy fruits and veggies when they are on sale. I have invested in Debbie Meyers Green Bags. These are bags that will get the most mileage out of your F&V budget. They will keep your produce fresher longer. I use them for everything from bananas to strawberries, to celery and they have paid for themselves in the first week (just like the commercial says). In most places (on the web and a few grocery stores) I find the bags 20 for $9.99 and you can use each bag up to 10 times. Then you will be able to buy F&V's on special and be able to use them longer.

KELLY_SP Posts: 9,623
11/30/08 2:17 P

The Healthy Lifestyle Nutrition section has several articles on this topic. Here is just one that I thought you could benefit from.

BLUESKIESAHEAD Posts: 1,552
11/29/08 6:21 P

Beans
Rice
Frozen Vegetables
Frozen Fruits
Canned Tuna
Tofu

Its cheaper to go for the vegetarian options too. cus to get a steak that's even worth eating its like $10 and a whole tofu block is $2.

OH and if you cook some lentils and mash them up, put a bit of tomato sauce on them and a bit of salt and maybe some spices, you'll completely trick your husband, it looks and tastes a lot like meat.

Edited by: BLUESKIESAHEAD at: 11/29/2008 (18:20)

PESTOPANTS SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (23,795)
Posts: 137
11/29/08 6:03 P

Use frozen vegetables instead of canned. They are not as high in sodium and are often a lot less than fresh. It is hard when you are trying to be healthy and are not getting food support from family. My husband was very picky when we first lived together, and now he eats pretty much anything, including zucchini. I have often recommended www.CookingLight.com to people for low fat recipes that are delicious.

TRILLIANTOO SparkPoints: (44,887)
Fitness Minutes: (30,218)
Posts: 16,790
11/29/08 6:01 P

I was looking through Recipezaar and someone posted they liked looking for vegan recipes as they are less expensive.

For being a novice with using foods, it's just a matter of trying new recipes. You'll get the hang of it after a while.

One of my favorite soups is:
2 carrots, (peeled if you prefer), diced
2 potatoes (peeled if you want, at least washed), diced
1 onion, peeled & diced
1 large can diced tomatoes (or use whole tomatoes or 2 large fresh tomatoes)
1 head broccoli cut into small florettes
1 can green beans, drained
1 can green peas, drained
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 lb bag frozen corn, keep frozen until about to use
2 bay leaves
1 tsp each dry sage, marjoram, and thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Meat optional.

Put about 1 cup water in a large stewpot on high, chop and add the carrots. While the water coming to a boil, chop the potatoes and add when the water is boiling. Turn the water down to a simmer. Chop and add the remaining ingredients one at a time, adding more water as needed, and stirring periodically - keep the peas out until the very end. Add the spices and keep at a simmer.

If you wish to add ground meat (we often use ground beef) crumble the beef in a little at a time, and when the beef is cooked, the soup is done - add peas to warm through.

You can also add pre-cooked meat of other kinds, like diced chicken or turkey. I've not used other kinds of meat or other raw meats, but ground turkey or chicken would be fine, soy crumbles tastes great too.

If you are using pre-cooked meat (or a veggi alternative), then simmer the soup about 15 minutes before adding it, just to warm through.

Makes a tremendous amount - about 5 quarts. You'll be eating hearty for days. Freezes well. When I get all the ingredients (not the herbs, though) from the store I think it used to run about $20. It might be more now, but you get a WHOLE LOT of servings out of it - I think at least 10.

This is my core recipe, but it's adapted from the "leftover" container - we had a big tupperware container and whenever we had a spoonful of this veggie, a little bit of that, leftover rice, brussels sprouts, whatever, we'd toss it in the container in the freezer.

When the container was full, we'd pull it out to defrost and make soup, using those herbs, and anything else to supplement, like potatoes or onions.

It was essentially the same, but different every time - and a good use of leftover veggies.

And you can add different things - toss in some cooked beans, some parsnip, elbow macaroni, barley, I bet okra would be good in there too.

TRILLIANTOO SparkPoints: (44,887)
Fitness Minutes: (30,218)
Posts: 16,790
11/29/08 5:48 P

You can do an internet search, and I have a few favorite recipes sites like Food Network.

We made Oven Roasted Root Veggies this week with butternut squash - you could use any winter squash. It was SOOOOOO good! And I cut the veggies into 1" pieces, it ended up taking only 20 minutes to cook.

I really like Kadu Bouranee, which is an Afghani pumpkin dish with yogurt. I've only had it in restaurants, and there are lots of recipes for it, if you search, although I've never had it with meat.

Matthan Erisheri is a delightful Indian pumpkin and lentil stew - again, I've only had it in restaurants, so I don't have a recipe, but there are a lot out there.

I've got quite a few pumpkin recipes, but most of them take a lot of time. The one I gave you is easy (10 minutes prep, if that, then 20 minutes to cook, if you make it small).

I bet it would be good cut into chunks and put in a roasting pan with other veggies (like potatoes, mushrooms, celery, carrot, onion, bell pepper) and with some kind of meat to roast, like chicken, beef or pork. Or in a crock pot.

I've made quick pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin smoothie (and also with other winter squash). It's really flexible - I've even had it raw in salads and baked like chips.

Recipezaar is another site I use - it has a great filter feature (Food Network used to) so, for instance I searched for Pumpkin, Simple recipes, that took less than 60 minutes to make and didn't include Dessert and it showd me 243 recipes.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,937
11/29/08 5:32 P

that was not intended to criticize your handling of the money. just as spending 1/2 the month's cash on fruits and veggies made you make this post, i just reiterated: you can't spend 4 halves and still make it in budget. which means you have to make some sort of a compromise somewhere.
as far as canned veggies go, they can be high in sodium. the can also have moderate amounts of sodium. if you rinse well, you can get about 40-60
% of the sodium out of the food. same goes for sugar [though i don't know for sure if rinsing helps there]. you just have to look. make sure the food is the first ingredient. and make sure there isn't too much added sugar. the canned mandarin oranges in my cabinet do have some added sugar, but the difference between the sugars in the fresh and in the can are a few grams per serving. so for me, it's worth it to have some on hand. you just have to check on what's in it.
frozen can be really great for cost. again, like with canned, you do have to watch out for sodium [certain brands add it, others don't].
and as for the picky husband, is he on board for trying healthier things? if he's not it might be tough. but if you can get him to agree to one or two new and health meals per week that'll he'll try and eat and make a good effort for, that could give you some room. making a chili with some beans and some meat might be a good way to introduce him to them. you might also be able to season and roast some chickpeas and have him try them as a finger food. people who like meat seem to rave about a slow cooker salsa chicken in sparkrecipes.com. you may also want to look around there to see if there are things that look like your hubby might like them.
as far as produce goes, if you have a local place that supplies produce and only produce [retail and wholesale] that should be lower than walmart [i say should because i stopped shopping there years ago due to their business practices, but in my personal shopping i've never found them to be lower on average than my regular grocery store]. so check around at your local stores. www.sundaysaver.com/ this site has pretty much every store ever, so look at the circulars for the ones near you and see what prices are around on what items.
and as far as being a novice cook goes, i would highly recommend borrowing the starving student's cookbooks from the library. they're very basic and easy to use. they might very well be below your cooking skill level, but they're great for those things that you aren't familiar with and working on the cheap. because they're starving students. i do think some of the recipes use ramen, so you would have to filter out some stuff, but there are some that are really great easy as pie recipes in there. they also say where you can cheat with frozen and fresh. beyond that sparkrecipes.com and any cookbook in the library can be great to get ideas from.

ASHLIETURNER Posts: 14
11/29/08 4:53 P

we shop at the commissary and walmart. and we know how to handle our money so i dont need lessons on 1/4 of the budget a week thanks though. I was just looking for tips on what else to get. not critism on how i handle our money

the the one that posted about beans and such. my husband hates them! i'm trying to open his horizons to different foods but he's so damn picky. I did buy all fresh because I thought that canned was high in sodium and sugars. but i will try slipping some beans in the food w/o telling him and see what he thinks.

We use coupons and buy one get one free's at the local markets. however i did stock up on meat last week so thats why it was higher than the week before.

I grew up in a processed foods house so i dont know about using fresh fruits and veggies in cooking too much. How do you use pumpkin in cooking?

thanks for all the advice

30LBSLIGHTER Posts: 356
11/29/08 4:48 P

I love tuna I can eat it str8 from the can, but I prefer the albacore but it's so expensive and there are no coupons for it. So when it does go on sale I stock up on it for about a month. I buy a lot of fish like that but I have a problem with the price of fruits and veggies. My kids love it but we can only afford a few pieces not the daily recommended servings and canned fruits are soaked in sugars so that's not helping.

TRILLIANTOO SparkPoints: (44,887)
Fitness Minutes: (30,218)
Posts: 16,790
11/29/08 3:53 P

Yes, we eat a lot of fruits and veggies, rice and beans, lentils, squash / pumpkins etc.

Places like 99 cent stores have amazing foods, CostCo is great too (though I tend to just buy packaged goods there, not meat or veggies, but you certainly can and it's less expensive).

We buy local as much as we can, grow as much of our own food as we can, and share with other gardeners. For instance around Southern California there are a lot of folks with avocados, so we trade lettuce and stuff for their avocados.

Farmer's Markets are less expensive than grocery stores.

It's also good to look for deals - after Halloween, no one is interested in their uncut pumpkins, but they're good to eat! I ask my neighbors, business, wherever I see whole pumpkins or squash after Halloween if I can have them. Most people just let them sit around until they rot and then throw them out. Winter squash will last in a cool place like your garage, for months. I've had lots of squash for free that I got Nov 1 and lasted well into March. For free.

There are sooo many ways to prepare pumpkin or winter squash (any recipe callin for one you can use the other). Middle eastern, Indian and many African countries use winter squash in their recipes, along with potatoes and lentils (also inexpensive).

Many supermarket chains will have discounts on turkeys this time of year. Safeway for instance often has 20 lb turkeys on sale for $7.00 and you can buy as many as you want. I buy as many as I can fit in my deep freezer and then roast turkey throughout the year. It really doesn't take long if you're not stuffing it adn all that. You can cook up a couple turkeys in the weekend, then individually freeze the cooked meat so it's easy to pull out later (and takes up less space).

A crock pot or slow cooker is great for those tougher (and less expensive) cuts of meat. It makes them really tender - and then when you refrigerate it, the fat will congeal and you can throw it out.

Vegetable soups and stews can be very inexpensive and hearty: Minestrone, beef and barley, vegetable, so many wonderful recipes.

I also look for rustic recipes - the kind of recipes that is common, generally, the kinds of classic recipes people would eat when they didn't have a lot of money. Like shephard's pie, goulash, ratatouille, Irish stew, etc.

LDYRED53 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (5,946)
Posts: 2,566
11/29/08 3:28 P

We are on a budget too.I use coupons,buy veggies in season, and we eat Tuna casserole,chili with lots of peppers and beans.I find frozen veggies are cheaper and so are canned,store brand fruits.They may not look the greatest but the price is right.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,937
11/29/08 3:10 P

do you only buy from the commissary? or do you go to the regular grocery store? or farmer's market type places.
what fruits and veggies are you buying? they should be in season and whatever is on sale. that can make a huge difference in your budget.
you really need to start planning your meals a little better. your weekly grocery bills should be about 1/4 of your monthly budget. unless you get things in bulk one week and have that one skewed a little higher. reduce the amount of meat you are eating. make a chili and use 1/4 to 1/2 the meat you normally would. use lentils and or beans to bulk up the rest of your meals. for out of season fruits and veggies buy frozen or canned. plan around the weekly specials. check for coupons as well.

ASHLIETURNER Posts: 14
11/29/08 2:08 P

My husband and I are on a pretty fixed budget. He's military and I cannot find a job where we are stationed so our budget doesnt budge! haha. I spent half of our monthly budget on a week's worth of fruit, veggies, and healthy meats.

How does everyone in here cope with the expense of healthier foods? Any tips or anything would be GREATLY appreciated.


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Adam Drewnowski, director of the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington and lead author of the prior study, said he stands by his findings that a healthier diet generally costs more. He said there is no government recommendation for how many pounds of food an American should eat each day, but there are federal guidelines that suggest a 2,000 calorie diet.

"Some of these calories are in fact empty calories, so from the standpoint of nutrition they are not terrific," Drewnowski said. "But the empty calories keep you from being hungry, and this is why people buy them, especially lower-income people."

Margo Wootan, a nutrition advocate with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said some people don't think they get as much value from fruits and vegetables as they get from other foods.

"If they buy a bag of chips for $2, they think it's a good deal, but if they buy a bag of apples for $2, they think it's a lot," Wootan said. "We need to do more to help people understand that fruits and vegetables are not as expensive as they think they are."

Wootan said shopping smart can make healthy eating more affordable. Consumers should be more flexible about choosing less expensive fruits and vegetables that are in season and supplementing those with frozen or canned fruits and vegetables so they don't have to throw away as much.