“Eating healthy is too expensive!”
Well, this is not entirely true. Truth be told, some healthy food items are in fact a bit more expensive than others, but this doesn’t mean that a healthy diet should be doomed expensive and unaffordable. So why do healthy foods cost more sometimes? Or let us rephrase that. Why does junk food cost less and how can we afford a healthy diet on a budget?
It is undeniable that following a healthy and diversified diet is a key player in fighting or preventing a lot of diseases. Unfortunately, one of the main barriers keeping us from doing so is the issue of affordability. Let’s compare two different shopping carts. The first one is packed with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean chicken, nuts and some protein bars for our post workout quick snack. Now let’s put chips, frozen meals, processed meats and some jellybeans as a snack in the second one. Which of these two carts do you think will ring higher once you get to checkout? You guessed it right, it’s the first one!
“Eating healthy is too much for the poor, but less than what most of the world’s people already spend on food”- William Masters.
All around the world, what is mostly cheap to grow and produce are vegetable oils, root vegetables (potatoes) and starchy grains (wheat and subsequently flour). On the other hand, the cost of producing and distributing organic fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, and dairy products is higher than the ones mentioned earlier. Naturally, your food cart will cost a bit more if it’s mostly filled with healthy products rather than potatoes, pasta or vegetable oils.
This doesn’t mean that eating healthy cannot be achieved at a lower cost. On the contrary! If we take a closer look, we can see that we usually tend to spend a lot more money on “affordable” junk foods and unhealthy products without realizing it most of the times. These food items have little to no nutritional values, are not filling and cause cravings quite frequently.
Imagine having to grab a quick bite on your way back home at the end of the month. The first thing that jumps to your mind is stopping by the nearest fast food chain to grab something to eat. Although you’re trying to stay healthy, you cannot but notice that the burger is cheaper than the salad so you decide to get one of those with a side of fries and a soda, ending up spending almost the same amount you would’ve spent on that salad! We’re not done yet. Being high in simple carbs, the meal you just had will make you feel hungry again in no time and even make you crave more sugar. While walking into your kitchen, you stumble upon the jellybeans we grabbed in the second food cart earlier and decide to take it as a snack, which is also not filling and will make you eat more and eventually spend more on your food throughout the day.
At the end of the day, if we do a quick math, wouldn’t it have been cheaper to actually get that salad, feel full for a longer time, have more control over our cravings and cut down on some expenses?
If we think about it, meal prepping can save us a lot of time and money. By cooking a homemade healthy meal during your spare time, you’d be cutting off on fast foods, including more nutrients into your food and you’ll be cutting down on expenses by not having to worry about the next day’s lunch because it’ll be waiting for you in the fridge. That being said, here are some healthy and affordable recipes that will help you save some money and can be frozen too:
Instead of buying the ready to go bag that can only make 2-3 servings, invest your money by buying fresh chicken and turning it into tenders that will make a bigger serving and can last in your freezer for months.
Falafel is known as the food of the poor in middle-east since it’s made of very few and very affordable ingredients. Falafel has also caught a lot of attention worldwide mainly because it’s easy to prepare, delicious and packed with proteins and nutrients.
Instead of throwing away the ripe bananas that have been sitting in your fruit basket, why not make a delicious banana bread with a healthy twist. Spoiler alert! Instead of using butter which can be a bit expensive, we’re going to add moisture to the cake using plain yogurt. Do not worry at all, this a fool proof technique that will guarantee you a super moist healthy cake without anyone knowing that yogurt is the star player in the recipe.
We cannot deny that most of junk foods are easier on the pocket than a lot of healthy alternatives. This doesn’t mean that a healthy diet does in fact cost more. We tend to spend more money on junk foods thinking that we are saving money by buying the cheaper options on the menu instead of the salad or grilled chicken. In fact, we are unconsciously making the wrong decisions based on some quick mind calculations. Surprisingly, the burger might definitely seem cheaper than the salad at the moment but will definitely cost us more later on. By shopping in a smart way at the supermarket, cutting down on our food wastes and meal prepping, we can easily afford a healthy diet without any extra financial burden.