Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eating Healthy Is Making My Wallet Skinny (But Not My Waistline)

I’ve been making a conscious effort to incorporate more vegetables and fruits in my diet lately. But I have noticed that it’s not cheap to eat healthy. For example, I bought the following during my most recent grocery shopping expedition:

½ gallon milk: $1.99
4 grapefruits: $1.00
2 mangos: $2.58
1 lb strawberries: $1.50
½ pint blueberries: $1.50
1 bunch fresh spinach: $.99
1 broccoli crown: $1.15
1 pack frozen corn on the cob: $2.50
1 green onion: $.89
2 V-8 bottles (on sale): $5.98
1 yellow onion: $.28
TOTAL: $20.36

If you notice, there’s no protein (okay, except the milk) or carbs in this shopping list and this will probably only last me about a week. If I were to add protein and carbs, you can expect the cost to be closer to $30 to $34/week.

On the other hand, I can eat value meals at fast-food establishments for about $2/day-$4/day and also enjoy the added “benefit” of not having to hassle with prepping and cooking.

I’m embarrassed to admit, I considered eating fast-food value meals (99 cent cheeseburgers, anyone?) and compensating by taking a multivitamin. But I quickly rejected that idea when I read that a recent 8-year study concluded that multivitamin intake did not protect post-menopausal women from cancer, heart attacks or strokes.

The study concluded what we’ve known all along – vitamins are better obtained through a healthy diet rather than through pill form. Healthy people who eat enough calories from a varied diet do not benefit from multivitamin supplements. However, multivitamins are probably necessary for individuals who are not getting an adequate diet for whatever reasons (poverty, disability, etc.) So basically, multivitamins are not a substitute for healthy eating but is more like an insurance policy in case your diet falls short.

It’s just a darn shame that eating healthy costs more than eating junk. It’s no wonder that scientists are worried that the current recession could cause an obesity epidemic.

And here’s another rant: Medicaid generally covers the cost of multivitamins but multivitamins are not reimbursable through FSA plans. Yet another inconsistency between our governmental agencies. It’s not like the $15.49 multivitamins I get from Costco will break my bank, but it would be nice if I can pay it with pre-tax money.


Sharon Rose said...

Hi there-have you thought about tinned fruits or frozen fruits-the frozen ones make lovely cheap smoothies. Here in the UK, tinned fruits and frozen veg tend to be a lot cheaper than fresh, plus you can eat it when you want!

paranoidasteroid said...

Our grocery spending jumped when we tried to be more healthy, but I think the benefits are worth it.

The trick is to buy stuff that's on sale (oranges are ALWAYS on sale here). We also buy frozen fruits and veggies, and I like to keep a pack of fruit cups around in case we run out of the fresh stuff.

So Very Fabulous said...

I agree that eating healthy can be expensive! I've been trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies myself lately, and it's so much cheaper just to eat mainly carbs, which is the exact thing that I'm trying to avoid.

K-money said...

Fruits and vegetables that are in season are generally cheaper than those that are not (because they are grown far away and have to be transported or in greenhouses).

Staying away from fast food will save you lots of money on cholesterol and blood pressure medication.

Miss M said...

We do frozen fruit smoothies many days of the week, the frozen fruit is cheaper and perfect for smoothies. You are right, eating healthy is expensive. It's why you see poverty mixed with obesity in america, calories can be had for cheap. Getting 2000 calories per day from fuits and vegetables would cost a fortune.