Consider This…

Food is expensive.  Really expensive.  Most people have a preconceived notion that healthy food is even more expensive than “regular” food.  I watched a video/documentary for school sometime last year that entailed interviewing people from “the projects” of Detroit, Michigan.  The people (regular, every day citizens of this community) regularly stated they do not buy produce of any kind…simply because of price.  Further into the documentary, the narrator reveals (along with several of the citizens) no local grocery store even sold produce.  The narrator went into a grocery store and asked the manager why there was no produce.  His response?  “There simply is not a demand for it.  People will not spend their budgeted dollars on expensive produce when they can purchase bulk processed foods cheaper.”  (That may not be *exactly* what he said, but you get the idea)

Is that true?  Is eating healthy food exponentially more expensive than eating processed food?  Take a look:

The first “meal” is intended to feed four people.  How many  people do you think you could feed with the second amount of food, though?  (Note: the second group of food is actually cheaper than the four “meals” from Burger King).

Here’s another:

Again, the second food grouping is cheaper than the pizza with breadsticks.  I am willing to bet it would feed more people than the single pizza as well.  What do you think?

Another:

Second grouping of food is steadily cheaper (so far) than the first grouping.  Can you imagine if they calculated calories and fat grams to go along with these comparisons?  How many more calories and fat grams do you think are in that bucket of chicken than in all the food below it?

Another:

I am not a drinker, but I do know people who would pass up eating a meal for a few drinks.  Alcohol provides no nutrition, but often an abundance of empty calories.  I would much rather have those tilapia filets and some greek yogurt personally.

Another:

Here we find the first healthy grouping more expensive than “that other stuff.”  However, how many people will those two bags of “appetizers” feed?  How many people will the second grouping of food feed?  I am willing to bet the second grouping will feed *at least* double the amount of people…maybe even triple.

Another:

Again we find the second grouping to be more expensive than the first…only by 10 cents.  I, personally, have never purchased Steak-Ummm sliced steaks, but I am willing to wager that meat is probably not the first ingredient on the list.  I am also willing to wager the sodium content in that package is through the roof.

Another:

I am willing to admit that taquitos used to be a favorite of mine…the southwestern chicken taquitos.  Dip those suckers into a whole mound of full-fat sour cream and I was good to go.  Good to go all the way to 315 pounds, that is.  I do not miss them (in case you were wondering now) even a little bit.  So, now my trips to the grocery would certainly include the food grouping on the bottom of that picture…no taquitos for me, please and thank you.

Another:

Ice cream used to be another regular staple in my life.  At one point I remember having so much ice cream in my freezer I actually had to send some to my mother’s house.  That is madness, folks.  Madness.  I love yogurt (though, I have never tried Activia…any comments on that stuff?) and I love Silk.  I usually pick up the vanilla flavored Silk, though, because my chicklets prefer it.

Another:

This comparison really gets me.  Purchase *one* bag of french fries or mixed veggies, bananas, potatoes, and pasta…and still save 14 cents!  Craziness.  With those fresh potatoes in tow, you could make probably four or five times the amount of fries in that Ore-Ida bag anyway (if you simply must have fries, that is).

Another:

Again we get to choose from empty calories or nutrition.  Many people, of course, choose those empty calories.  I am not one of them, though.  I have never been a pop (soda) drinker…ever.  I do not even drink tea or coffee or even flavored water.  My drink of choice is plain old tap water.  Boring (to some), I know.  Think of all the money I save, though.  🙂

Last one:

This is an even trade (monetarily, anyway).  What do you think the nutrient difference is, though?  I am not even sure what (exactly) those Twizzler things are made of…  If I had to guess, though, I would say high fructose corn syrup is somewhere really high on the list…if not first…followed by several artificial “somethings” to boot.

I do realize that convenience food is just that…convenient.  However, the above comparisons help to break down that preconceived notion that eating healthier means spending more money.  It does not necessarily have to be more expensive to eat healthy.  It will; however, require more of your time (planning, preparing, etc.), but I think my health and the health of my family is certainly worth that time.

How many of your weekly meals are comprised of convenience foods?  How much money do you think you would/could save if you switched to preparing all your meals?  What would you do with that extra money?

-Erica

14 responses to “Consider This…

  1. While I agree that’s it’s not as bad as people say – by me those healthy option prices are off by about 50-100%.
    Milk is $4-5, chicken breast is $3.5/lb, strawberries $2/lb to just nab a few. But meanwhile the unhealthy options are dead on (i in fact bought pizza and breadsticks on sunday for $18 and change). I definitely have seen an uptick in expense overall – about 10-20%.
    I could probably do a better job deal hunting (we don’t go to costco that often), but we’d probably waste more then too. anyway – the uptick is still worth the health benefits.

    • I did look at their pricing explanation on the original article (all pictures should link back to where I found them). Their prices are valid around me (Cincinnati, Ohio area) and I believe (if memory serves me) they are from 2010. So, the prices probably have increased some since. I still think it provides a foundation for comparison for healthy vs fast/convenience food options. 🙂

      -Erica

  2. I think I spend a lot on fruits and veggies, of all things.

    • I know I do as well, Karen. We have a basket that sits as a centerpiece on my dining room table. It is always filled with fruit. I keep bananas, apples, oranges, kiwi, starfruit, and pears in there on a regular basis. Other fruits can be found in there as the girlies ask for them. It is a “rule” in our house that every one must have some sort of fruit with breakfast…and then again for a snack sometime in the day. That way everyone gets a minimum of 2 servings of fruit. 🙂

      -Erica

  3. haha I might still buy the bud light? But seriously, I love your blog and will definitely be sending this link to friends because it’s really interesting to see the comparisons!

    I’m a food addict too, and totally fall into the trap of bingeing on “convenience foods” – alas, they always taste too good to be true!

    Keep writing!!
    http://thecrazyfat.blogspot.com

    • I think allowing yourself to have convenience foods (treats, sweets, etc.) every once in a while is okay. As long as moderation is still intact. I, personally, do not trust myself enough (yet) to allow those sweets in without breaking the flood gate. In due time…maybe.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing! 😉
      -Erica

  4. I LOVE your fruit rules. I’m trying to incorporate healthier choices into life for my girlies, we may have to work this one in 🙂

    • My chicklets never argue with me on the fruit “rule” in our house. Of course, they do not particularly like a lot of my other rules…LOL I think it helps to have a variety of fruit available. I also believe letting them pick the fruit helps, which is why I leave it out on the dining room table for easy access. It makes them feel like they are “in charge” of something important. 🙂

      -Erica

  5. Really interesting post.

    I can’t comment on the prices, as I live in NZ, and we pay more for food generally over here. But I’d have to agree that the reasons people eat junk are not to do with cost. They (we) eat junk because of addiction, habit, education, environment, advertising (like, when was the last time you saw dried beans advertised during a football game?) and a few other factors.

    It’s the same in New Zealand though, with the obesity problem going through the roof. But people are finding interesting solutions here to the cost of food. I’m part of a locavore program to help people build veggie plots, chicken coops and beehives in their backyards, and get food trees onto our streets.

    And there is tough lobbying of government by citizens for cheaper REAL food and taxes on junk. Our schools have closed cafeterias (my son’s school no longer has one) and small towns have prevented McDonalds and suchlike from opening (our town stopped a McDs recently). So there is progress. Just not enough.

    I’d like to see a 30% junk food tax on all processed food – which pays for a 30% price reduction on the healthy stuff. I don’t think we’ll see it happen. But government is talking about a sugar and fat tax. So we’ll see.

    • I would *love* to see a fat and sugar tax on processed food! I doubt Americans will *ever* go for that, though. If memory serves me, we are the fattest country. Americans *love* junk/fast/processed food! I would also love to see food trees lining the streets instead of just “regular” ones. That would certainly help with the hunger issue we have even in our small town. We do have a community garden in which people must use the plots to grow food. The plots are free if you agree to donate a minimum of 10% of your harvest to the local food bank. It is a great program for the community.

      Thanks so much for sharing!
      -Erica

  6. I cook our meals every day from scratch – and over the years that has saved our family money: not only in food bills but also in medical bills. One often does not think of the cost factor of ill health when one reaches for processed and convenience foods in the supermarket.

    • I agree completely, Colline. Most people do not factor in the cost of being ill (missing work/school, medication, co-pays, etc.). It can be extremely costly to be sick for even a few days. I would much rather incur a small “up front” cost to eat healthy/fresh foods and avoid those later expenses. 🙂

      -Erica

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