Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Cost of Healthy Eating

It's hard for a lot of people to start buying health foods because it seems so much more expensive. Organic is most always more than conventional food. Natural food seem to total up more quickly than traditional groceries. But it's not always what it seems once you get shopping.

I've learned a few things along the way:

1) Shop the sales. Don't pay full price if you can help it. An example -- If you use almond milk, and see the brand you like on sale, buy a dozen of them. I've found when I buy the sales in bulk, they last until it goes on sale again. I usually walk around the health food store looking for those sale signs and stock up.

2) Keep your eye out at discount stores like Costco or regular grocery stores for organic or natural foods. More people are buying them and the costs are spiraling down. I can actually buy organic bananas for less (79 cents a pound) at Safeway than I can at the Health Food store. Even Target is selling health food (and their prices are great!  And Trader Joe's manufactures much of what they sell, so they are able to keep their prices low, as well!  If you're fortunate enough to have a Farmer's Market or corner fruit stand nearby, take advantage of it.  Not only can you find good prices, but the produce will be much fresher than what you would find in the store.

3) Don't forget the bulk bins! Health food stores most always have bulk bins for things like nuts, seeds, grains, and sugar. I look for the sales stickers on the bulk bins too, but love to fill up those clear bags and put a twistie tie a the top (yeah, it's a bit of a pain to find the pen and write the bin number, but we all live through it). If you haven't tried raw cashews yet, you're missing out. Buy the broken ones (they're cheaper) and you'll discover a whole new delicacy.

4) When you eat healthier, you don't desire as much food. Imagine that: Buying (and EATing) less food, which may cost a bit more to start with, but it ends up being cheaper. This happens for me all the time. I also find that when I buy something cheaper, I buy more, more, more and use it up like crazy. I think twice about making cookies for my kids when the non-dairy butter and evaporated cane juice (sugar) costs more. I used to make cookies a few times a week (tripling the recipe). Now it's more like once a month.

5) When fruit becomes your dessert, you're not spending as much money on junk you used to buy. You also don't eat out as much because you start to doubt how much they value your health when they prepare your food. I prefer food from my house much more than much anything I can find in a restaurant (although it IS nice to be waited on every once in awhile!)

6) An ounce of prevention = saved $$$ at the doctor and pharmacy. When I first started eating raw, I was spending more money on nuts and other things that seemed pretty pricey at first. But I'd look at that extra $5 as my co-pay on a prescription I wasn't needing anymore. Or that extra $20 on not even having to step in the doctor's office for another asthma management check-up. I relished in the opportunity to spend more on feeding my body just what it needed instead of medicating it with something that wasn't quite enough after all that suffering after all. (Not to sound too dramatic with the word "suffering," but if you were my husband, you'd know what I've been through with both allergies and asthma year after year and it would be quite an appropriate word).

7) There's always the big picture down the road too. What kind of future am I building for myself and my children (and my husband) if I'm feeding them low quality, low nutrient-dense food? Will they suffer more, will I be taking care of my husband's ailments, will they be taking care of mine? I'm not saying I can carve out my future completely, but I can certainly do my best to give us the best chance at a healthy life. I sure hope to do that anyway.

Okay, enough of my sales pitch. I just wanted to show anyone who may be shying away from shopping and eating healthier for financial reasons that it doesn't have to cost that much. You can even pick blackberries and pick apples (if you live where I do) and find food in your own back yard without it costing a cent. You can shop the sales or stop buying so much. Drink water and savor what you eat. I know I'm so much happier when I do.

top photo courtesy of Steven Depolo
bulk bin photo courtesy of bcmom
fruit photo courtesy of darylsid


  1. I must say that this is one of the very best blogs I've ever visited!



  2. I've found that for our budget now I focus on buying the "dirty dozen" list organic and then if I can afford to buy more organic I do.

  3. That's a really great idea because those are the most crucial foods to eat organic!