Do you think it is “too expensive” to buy healthy food?
With the 2020 pandemic lockdown, everyone’s budget has been slashed to the bone. It brings me back to when I was completely broke after college. At the time, my entire family was money pinched so I did not have a safety net.
When I toured Canada that summer with my theatre group, my big treat was to order fried rice from a Chinese food restaurant because it was the cheapest thing on the menu. I did not connect the dots that it made me so sleepy after lunch that I once got in trouble from the director for falling asleep on stage during rehearsal!
It was not until I had the epiphany that this cheap food was actually the most ‘expensive’ thing I could possibly eat due to the energy toll it was taking.
Back then, I did not consider the nutrients I was getting per calorie. What I was eating might have been ‘cheap’ by taking out food standards but it was the bottom of the barrel in nutrition from the poor quality of oil, the white refined rice and the sugary sauce.
When I started to look at my choices at the store, I got a shocking eye-opener: according to a recent USDA study, vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods can actually be more affordable than junk foods. The study concludes that when looked at in terms of their volume and weight, healthy foods do not seem to be more expensive than junk foods, even if they often contain fewer calories.
Here are a few amazing examples (drawn from store flyers in August 2020) to keep in mind the next time you reach for junk food thinking it is cheaper than healthy food:
•4 tins of sustainable fish can cost $5 vs 4 boxes of Mac and Cheese pasta dinner cost $5
•Grade AAA roast beef $8 a pound vs Deli Meat $9.35 a pound
•Sweet potatoes .89 a pound vs potato chips 5.19 a pound
•whole grain brown rice $2 a pound vs instant rice $2 a pound
•Lentils $2 pound vs vegan ready-made burger $6
•12 eggs $3.99 vs cold cereal $4.64 a pound
•Homemade lemonade 25 cents vs pop 75 cents
In summary, an analysis of 27 studies revealed that a healthy diet costs about $1.50 more per day than an unhealthy diet. If we recalibrate the menu to eat what we need and avoid food waste, we would close that gap and perhaps spend even less.
During this tough time of isolation, many of us want to be consuming fewer calories anyway, and I think it is GREAT news that healthy food is a great way to get your needs met without it costing more!
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