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Healthy Eating & Your Grocery Bill

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Replies

  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 167 Member
    This is fair. My mom's grocery bill went up and the nutritional content went down when she had fewer people to feed on the same budget. Ie: The prepackaged tv dinners, snack cakes, and baked goods and snacks went from 'we get some of this once in a while' to buying a lot of it all the time.

    The real thing I think is, though, most people who talk about the astronomical cost of feeding a family on a steady diet of convenience foods either:
    Lack the time and skill/knowledge to cook cheaper foods that still taste good
    or
    b-) know danged well how to make the grocery bill go down but don't wanna (kinda like people complaining that they're fat and knowing how to make that reverse but not really being ready to do those things)
    or
    c-) both of the above.

    100%

    A lot of people pay a fortune for the convenience of processed, unhealthy foods.

    In fact, one of my biggest frustrations is that I have a chronic illness and don't always have the capacity to cook nutritious meals. And when I can't, even if I'm willing to spend extra for it, I actually CAN'T find convenient options that are even remotely healthy as what I make. So I end up spending a premium for crap whenever I don't have the capacity to cook.

    I think this is a bigger issue for a lot of middle class families: a lack of healthy, easy access food.

    A lack of time also contributes to the added cost of food waste. I constantly hear about families throwing out a lot of their produce because they can't manage to use it in time.

    There are a lot of barriers to healthy eating, I just think the issue for all people is more complex than this simplified "healthy food is expensive" dichotomy.
  • mjglantz
    mjglantz Posts: 404 Member
    Mine probably went down too because I eat more meals at home. When I was working I started bringing my lunch which saved a ton of money and saved a ton calories.
  • nooshi713
    nooshi713 Posts: 4,716 Member
    Xellercin wrote: »
    IDK, I grew up very poor and that's how I learned how to eat very healthy for very little money. I grew up on rice+beans dishes, which is actually a much broader range of meals than people tend to imagine. We ate indian, asian, latin american, middle eastern dishes, etc. Having rice+beans as a base can mean an enormous range of dishes, many originating from very poor regions of the world who know how to stretch a food budget!

    As I said, I make very healthy vegetarian meals largely with legumes and grains (often rice+beans, but sometimes lentils+farro, or chickpeas+millet, etc, etc) as the base, plus some cheaper fresh produce, and a fair amount of frozen and canned vegetables, which are much cheaper than fresh. I also make a lot of dishes that include eggs, which are cheaper than meat.

    I also make bread or tortillas from scratch, and the only expensive "treat" we have in the house is roasted almonds.

    Also, it's not just poor people who lament the cost of healthy eating. I may eat the same way I did when I was poor, but we are very financially comfortable, and a lot of our wealthy, obese friends and colleagues whine constantly about how expensive it is to eat healthy, and they definitely use it as an excuse for why they can't lose weight.

    This gets a massive eye roll from me because these are also people spending $400-600/mo on alcohol...but sure, the cost of apples is the problem...

    The challenges of poor people having access to healthy food is well beyond the issues of the prices at the grocery store, and its a complex issue that is incredibly important and should be dismissed. However, that's a totally separate issue from people who do really use the cost of produce as an excuse not to take responsibility for their own health.

    Both things can be true.

    So speaking as someone who has lived in poverty and currently does not, because I have the resources of a middle class lifestyle, I find it VERY easy to cook nutritious meals for very, very little money by focusing on dishes that are made with fundamentally cheaper staples.

    This has been my experience too.
  • kshama2001
    kshama2001 Posts: 25,210 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    MsCzar wrote: »
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    I don't know how you can call these imaginary scenarios...you must live a very privileged life. I myself live a privileged life currently, but I've also seen the other side, and there's nothing imaginary about it.

    Not imaginary in macro - only re this thread which was intended as pre-weight loss vs. nutritional awareness/weight loss... not about rich vs. poor.

    Which is about zero difference for me.

    Also...your first sentence was "people lamenting the cost of eating healthy"...(whispers)...those people are largely poor or otherwise financially disadvantage (/whispers). So you may not have intended it that way, but when you talk about people lamenting the cost of eating healthy being more expensive, you are automatically talking largely about the financially disadvantaged, so it's impossible not to include that in the conversation. Because the bottom line is that it is more expensive to eat healthy than to poorly.

    So take being poor out of it. I'm relatively well off and I can afford to eat very well. I could also just live off of poor nutrient contents of cheap pre-packaged goods...and it would be way cheaper than what I eat now...because that stuff is cheap as hell. I could buy like five years worth of Ramen for what I spend on our annual haul of 25 Lbs of Salmon brought in from BC by my buddy's uncle.

    I really don't get this whole argument. Eating a well rounded nutritious whole foods diet is substantially more expensive than eating poor nutrient pre-packaged foods. It just is. This is proved out in numerous articles and economic studies. It's just a silly argument to make that it's cheaper.

    Well, the people who ***I*** hear lamenting the cost of healthy eating are actually middle class, the ones you referenced before who "buy into a lot of marketing in regards to super foods, organic, and pre-packaged convenient goods that are marketed as healthy options."

    This includes, but is not limited to, people doing keto who opt for, as you said, "numerous packaged foods marketed as keto friendly that are beyond pricey."
  • sheahughes
    sheahughes Posts: 121 Member
    MsCzar wrote: »
    OK - in the continued spirit of veering off topic, I have a question for anyone in Australia or NZ: What is the average/on special price of lamb where you live? In the U.S., I buy imported lamb at Sam's Club, Costco, or sometimes Aldi for $5-6 USD per U.S. pound. In my head, I always imagine folks in NZ are getting lamb for pennies per pound and are sick and tired of eating it.

    Just checked the Woolworths site, lamb leg roast is $12.50 per kilogram, lamb shanks are $14.50 per kilogram, lamb mince (ground lamb) is $15 per kilo and lamb forequarter chops are $17 per kilogram - lamb is quite expensive in Australia compared to beef, pork or chicken.

    https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/browse/meat-seafood-deli/meat/lamb
  • snowflake954
    snowflake954 Posts: 6,934 Member
    You need a stove of some variety, utensils and somewhere to keep them, electricity or gas, and somewhere to keep leftovers if you're making something like rice and beans. Also TIME to do that cooking, so I hope you're not working two jobs. Ie: You better not be in a situation where you're living in: a dorm room, a rented room, a shelter, out of your vehicle on the street.

    and a freezer.

    So often we read in these threads that frozen vegetables are cheap - yes, great, if you have a freezer

    and quick access to get home to put it there.

    Not much good if you are getting to the shops on foot, bus etc

    Living in the city, I make do with the small freezer in my refrigerator. A chest freezer is a pipe dream, although I grew up on a farm in Minnesota with a chest freezer. I do my shopping with my shopping cart and lug groceries, for 4 people, the 5 blocks between home and the grocery store. Sometimes it's almost 100°. I have special bags for frozen items. In the olden days, before modern conveniences, people shopped less and often. Not everyone can, but sometimes it's just habit. I've had to radically change how I think and shop since moving to a foreign country.
  • missysippy930
    missysippy930 Posts: 2,529 Member
    I’ve noticed, for us, it’s been cheaper, especially because of eliminating junk food, shopping sales, buying bulk items, and very little eating out. However, during covid, I’ve noticed an increase in costs for food, overall.
    Shortages are starting to show up again, because of shipping issues in the US, which will drive up prices.
  • MsCzar
    MsCzar Posts: 637 Member
    edited October 22
    I've noticed that great grocery sales here still happen ($2USD minced beef, $1USD eggs, $.50-$1USD chicken quarters) - just not as frequently as they used to. I'll buy $1 eggs today - some of which I will liquidize and freeze in baking/cooking portions.

    The only difference for me would be that before changing my eating habits, a sale on minced/ground beef would have meant a week of eating 2 large burgers with accompanying fries/chips for dinner several times that week. Plus, I'd probably make a meatloaf for the freezer and later have that swimming in gravy. Nowadays, I am more likely to use the beef very sparingly in pasta sauces, tacos, and small carefully weighed burgers - hold the mayo! So where I used to buy 2-3 packages of meat before, my new way of eating has me buying only one.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 22,350 Member
    Going back here to what I think was the original intent of the question:

    As a dyed in the wool hedonist, I ended up spending about the same amount on food as when obese.

    Why? I bought less food, and less of some calorie-dense foods, but I mostly made up for it in dollars and gustatory pleasure by indulging in more interesting tropical fruits; unusual vegetables; non-calorie-dense tasty things (special vinegars, hot sauces, other reasonable-calorie condiments and add-ins); better cheeses and chocolates; and so forth.

    I didn't eat meat when obese, still don't eat it now. I go to farmers' markets more often, use fewer prepared foods/meals. I do think more about food now, and find shopping, cooking and eating more interesting and enjoyable than when I was more inclined just to shovel in whatever, in quantity.

    I'm 100% clear and grateful that I'm very, very fortunate to be able to afford some indulgences. That said, vegetarian eating can be pretty affordable, when cooking from scratch.
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 2,875 Member
    nooshi713 wrote: »
    Xellercin wrote: »
    IDK, I grew up very poor and that's how I learned how to eat very healthy for very little money. I grew up on rice+beans dishes, which is actually a much broader range of meals than people tend to imagine. We ate indian, asian, latin american, middle eastern dishes, etc. Having rice+beans as a base can mean an enormous range of dishes, many originating from very poor regions of the world who know how to stretch a food budget!

    As I said, I make very healthy vegetarian meals largely with legumes and grains (often rice+beans, but sometimes lentils+farro, or chickpeas+millet, etc, etc) as the base, plus some cheaper fresh produce, and a fair amount of frozen and canned vegetables, which are much cheaper than fresh. I also make a lot of dishes that include eggs, which are cheaper than meat.

    I also make bread or tortillas from scratch, and the only expensive "treat" we have in the house is roasted almonds.

    Also, it's not just poor people who lament the cost of healthy eating. I may eat the same way I did when I was poor, but we are very financially comfortable, and a lot of our wealthy, obese friends and colleagues whine constantly about how expensive it is to eat healthy, and they definitely use it as an excuse for why they can't lose weight.

    This gets a massive eye roll from me because these are also people spending $400-600/mo on alcohol...but sure, the cost of apples is the problem...

    The challenges of poor people having access to healthy food is well beyond the issues of the prices at the grocery store, and its a complex issue that is incredibly important and should be dismissed. However, that's a totally separate issue from people who do really use the cost of produce as an excuse not to take responsibility for their own health.

    Both things can be true.

    So speaking as someone who has lived in poverty and currently does not, because I have the resources of a middle class lifestyle, I find it VERY easy to cook nutritious meals for very, very little money by focusing on dishes that are made with fundamentally cheaper staples.

    This has been my experience too.

    I grew up in a family of 8 and my Mom wasn't a very good cook. After years of home cooking and experimenting with different cuisines, flavors and even making vegan meals 2 or 3 times a week, I'm a LOT better equipped to cook cheap now than I was back then.

    I didn't even know what a lentil was back in the day.

    There are "food deserts" but many cities (I've only lived in Tucson and Cincinnati) are getting farmers' market initiatives near downtown so there is fresher product to buy.

    In college, I was about as broke as broke gets and fed five of us in a house for $250 a month. I planned the meals, did most of the cooking.

    Education and lack of exposure to plant based cooking is a huge issue for many. And they are working so many hours that the time is also an issue.
  • MsCzar
    MsCzar Posts: 637 Member
    We were talking about this at work yesterday. Again, assuming one did not hit the lottery or get the sack on the same day as deciding to eat in a healthier way - your grocery bills went up, down or stayed the same.

    One of the women I work with is also now using MFP. Her grocery bills have pretty much stayed the same since she has never eaten much highly-processed junk food even before limiting her calories. However, she shops the posh grocers and frequently buys beef, premium produce and has her dairy locally produced and delivered to her door step. This frugal gal can't imagine that indulgence and I try not to let my jaw drop when she talks about some fancy radish that costs $5USD lb.! Then again, she probably rolls her eyes at my blanching and freezing 8 lbs of potatoes because they were $2.69 a bag. :D
  • HoneyBadger302
    HoneyBadger302 Posts: 1,588 Member
    My food budget goes down a little bit, but mostly because it's either eating out or cooking at home for me - I don't do a ton of overly processed foods at home to begin with.

    Budget only changes a little bit though - unfortunately for me, I do not find I am all that satisfied by the cheaper options, at least not enough to make a huge dent in my budget. There are only so many things you can do with chicken - it's still chicken LOL. Therefore, the cost difference is largely made up with fish and shrimp, flavorful add-ins (simple ingredient sauces/tapenades/etc), fresh variety of veggies, etc.

    I also have very limited time for cooking, none the less anything else - there's no way I would have time to garden, can, etc. The choices I do make have to be somewhat simple and not overly time consuming to cook....so that limits what I can/will buy, especially if I want any variety.