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Fresh And Healthy Food Is Just Too Expensive

Fresh And Healthy Food Is Just Too Expensive

Is Healthy Food Really More Expensive?

Karen Salmansohn self-help book author and award-winning designer

Healthy does not mean starving yourself, ever. Healthy means eating the right food in the right amount.

Karen Salmansohn ‧ Self-help book author and award-winning designer

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 a fortune. Fresh made chia seed smoothies are an expensive luxury but basic nourishment – carrots, lentils, potatoes – is cheap as potato chips.

On another hand, some fresh food can be expensive, that much is true. But it doesn't have to be - it all goes back to good scheduling. If you've got a week's menu planned ahead, you can buy whatever is in season, which makes fresh food significantly cheaper. The vast majority of frozen vegetables are also a cheap and healthy option.

The cost of fresh food really depends on what you compare it to. If you're comparing it to eating several takeaway meals a week, then fresh tends to be cheaper. And by eating healthier, you also forego sweets, snacks and soft drinks, which can cost a lot.

The Reality Check: Cost Of Healthy Eating

How much more does healthy eating cost? Obviously, it depends where you live and many other factors. In a 2013 study, researchers analysed the data and came up with a rough answer. It's about $1.50 more each day per person on average. Surprised?

That’s the difference between a very healthy diet - like one high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish - and an unhealthy diet with lots of processed foods, meats, and refined (non-whole) grains.

Fresh And Healthy Food Is Just Too Expensive

TIP: If you’ve got a week’s menu planned ahead, you can buy whatever is in season, which makes fresh food significantly cheaper.

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But on the other hand, $1.50 a day may be a lot less expensive than you expected. It’s cheaper than your daily latte. And that doesn’t include the long-term financial savings of healthy eating, such as a lower chance of serious and expensive chronic diseases as you and your kids get older.

5 Affordable Healthy Meal Options

When people think of healthy eating, they often think of it breaking the bank. After all, health food can be pricey, especially when you aren't making it from scratch.

Luckily, there are plenty of options for healthy meals that you can whip up quickly at home for cheap. How cheap is cheap? Under $10 cheap! Here are 5 healthy meals that you can cook at home starting today:

  • Veggie Sandwich. These sandwiches are amazing because they offer a huge amount of variety while keeping costs low. They are also nutritionally dense. Try getting some multigrain bread, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, avocado, lettuce and a balsamic vinaigrette. For extra flavour, throw on some cheese. This will give you plenty of flavour and nutrition at a low price.
  • Breakfast Burrito. Breakfast burritos are a delicious and nutritious way to start the morning. The great thing about breakfast burritos is the variety of different combinations you can experiment with. For a more southwestern flair, try eggs, black beans, green peppers, pepper jack cheese and salsa. Yum!
  • Fish Tacos. That's right, you can make delicious fish tacos from the comfort of your home for very little cost! The price may vary by the fish, but for an affordable and tasty fish, try going with tilapia. From there, add some Mexican spices, cook up some corn taco shells, cut up some onion and dice some cilantro. Bam, you have delicious fish tacos!
  • Beef Pot Roast. That's right, you can have pot roast just the way your mom used to make it for less than $10 per serving! With a couple of pounds of boneless chuck, potatoes, onions, carrots, beef broth and spices you can make a delicious and mouth-watering pot roast that you'll want to eat again and again!
  • Quesadilla. These are not only delicious, but they give you a lot of room to play around with. You can go more traditional, with some chicken, cheese, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and sour cream or you can get fancier. Try a quesadilla with chicken, Mexican shredded cheese, grilled onions, grilled peppers, black beans and homemade pico de gallo on the side.

These delicious meals are quick to prepare, delicious and, most importantly, under $10 to make. No more excuses for not being able to eat well due to the price point. Start cooking these meals today. Your taste buds will go crazy and your wallet will thank you!

The Bottom Line

Meat and fish are among the most expensive items on a shopping list, while plant protein often costs less. Pulses like beans, peas and lentils are nutritious, are very affordable and work well in place of meat.

If the price of fresh, nutritious food in your grocery store upsets you, learn to shop seasonally. Shop for what's in season in your part of the country. Those items will have a lesser price tag and be fresher than items being shipped a long distance.

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. And remember, food like money should work for you, not against you...

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