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Is Healthy Food Really More Expensive?

Have you ever bought your kid a carrot-apple smoothie that is nutrient-packed for $6 and watched him dump it on the floor? Or picked up 1 kilogram of fresh cherries and discovered, at the checkout counter, that it cost $20? It’s painful and it may make you think that healthy eating is beyond your family’s budget. But in fact, healthy meals and snacks don’t have to be so costly. If you’re a busy parent struggling to put nourishing food in your kids’ lunchboxes, you can do it without paying a lot. You just have to make smart choices when you shop and beware of the foods that sound healthy but are not.

The Real Costs and Savings of Healthy Eating
Healthy eating costs $1.50 more per person each day. That’s the difference between a healthy diet, like one high in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and an unhealthy diet with a lot of refined grains and processed foods. On the one hand, that additional cost can add up. That would be about $2,200 more per year for a family of 4. But on the other hand, $1.50 per day may be a lot less expensive than you imagined. It’s cheaper than your daily coffee. And that doesn’t include the long-term financial investments of healthy eating, such as fewer chances of serious and expensive chronic diseases as you and your kids get older.

Why Do We Think Better Food Costs More?
People link healthy foods with special health-food stores with their beautiful displays and elevated prices. In reality, you can catch healthy whole foods at any grocery store. The misunderstanding of food costs has effective risks to our wellbeing. Some people might not even bother trying to eat healthy because they assume that a diet that is cheap and not very nourishing is their only option, which is not the case.

Tips for Sticking to Your Budget
So what are some smart ways to maintain your grocery bill low while your family eats healthier?
Compare your options, and pay attention to portion size. Of course, a big bag of chips costs less than a bag of apples. But before you pick up the chips, think about how many snacks you’ll get out of it. If your toddler is eating a quarter of a bag of chips for a serving, it only lasts 4 days. The bag of apples could last more than a week.
Plan before you shop. Ever gone on a health kick, bought a cart full of vegetables and fruits, and then left them to perish in your fridge’s drawer? The best way to avoid that is not to urge buy. Plan your meals before you go, so you know precisely what you’ll need.
Choose cheaper protein. Protein is most likely one of the most expensive foods on your shopping list. But you don’t have to stick with fish or red meat for your protein. For example, you can buy a bag of lentils or chickpeas for some dollars and get 5 or 6 meals worth of protein.
Buy in season. Don’t just keep getting the same vegetables and fruits year-round. Focus on what’s in season. The costs will be cheaper and the fruits and vegetables fresher.
Go frozen. When vegetables and fruits you want aren’t in season, buy them frozen. They’re generally frozen right after they’re picked. They may actually have more nutrients than fresh produce shipped from far away.

Finally, keep in mind that more expensive does not equal healthier. Don’t be seduced by organic labels, fancy food shops, or marketing tricks. Regardless of your budget, choosing healthier food doesn’t have to be a luxury. Click here to learn how to shop healthy at a grocery store. 

Christelle Bedrossian
Dietitian-Nutritionist
Beirut, Lebanon

 

Author Info

Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian

Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian dedicates some of her time to address us through the various media outlets and provide answers to our questions. As a prominent professional in the field of dietetics, Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian is frequently hosted on several local and international television and radio stations to offer up to date advice and tips on health and nutrition. Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian is a writer and nutrition consultant for a variety of written publications, both print and online magazines and newspapers.
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