Sunday, September 12, 2010

will clean eating destroy my life savings?!

….probably not…but if you aren’t around to enjoy them, what’s the point, anyway?

This weekend I helped pass out food from a gleaner’s truck as a part of my church’s outreach program. Most of the food was actually fresh (or fairly fresh) produce, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people were excited about eating fruit and vegetables.


So many of us struggle with choosing to eat healthfully, and it makes me think we have too many options. If you were offered only fresh produce, you’d be pretty happy to eat it…right?


Which brings me to another issue. Is eating healthfully more expensive than eating fast food or heavily processed food?


Yes and no. If you’re buying a lot of local, organic produce, it will probably cost more money up front. At the same time, choosing to eat healthfully now will likely save you more money in the future in relation to health care costs.


In terms of fast food and packaged products, you can actually save a lot of money (and calories) by preparing homemade versions.

homemade hummus $0.12/oz    vs.    Garden Fresh hummus $0.38/oz

100_3261                     hummus

Caloriewise they probably aren’t too different, but packaged hummus can add up to 3x the cost of homemade hummus!

What about a grilled cheese sandwich made from local tomato basil bread and local Gouda cheese?

homemade grilled cheese: $2.63        vs.       Steak and Shake: $3.17

DSCF4073       chee

Ok, so not a huge savings…but I’m pretty sure S&S serves American Cheese on their sandwiches, and their bread is definitely not local. I say a penny saved is a penny earned.

Clean eating can be kind to your wallet and your waistline. Other money-saving stories slash thoughts?!



  1. well this is kind of a boring money saver butttt i buy in bulk at the beginning of the week and eat pretty much the same thing all week. by friday/saturday it gets WAY boring but i look forward to what's in store for the next week :)

    and i brown paper bag EVERYTHING. i only dine out on special occasions which makes spending a little more at the store easier to handle on the wallet

  2. I agree. in the short run, eating healthy is more expensive than eating fast food, but in the long run it's definitely less expensive considering the cost of health care in US.
    I think eating at home and buying what's in season is not too expensive. :)
    Great cost comparison!

  3. I am the last person to give money saving tips. I went to Whole Foods yesterday with 10 things on my list and spent $97! Not good!

    I do buy local, organic only produce though. I am all about the high quality food ;)

  4. I buy a lot of stuff from the bulk bins, and in my neck of the woods, trading canned/preserved/fermented foods among neighbors and friends isn't unheard of..a couple of loaves of bread gets me goodies! I also dumpster, which is a lot cleaner and safer than it sounds - I've gotten so much almost-perfect produce and specialty items over the years, out of the dumpsters from grocery stores, farm stands, artisanal bakeries...... saves money and cuts down on waste!

  5. I am a huge fan of homemade hummus for the both the nutritional benefits as well as the money-saving advantage. I eat a LOT of hummus at a sitting, so it's way cheaper for me to make my own.

  6. its so strange. sometimes i save wayyy more on organics and natural foods. especially one local market we have here that puts out day-old produce (which is always still fresh) and is super cheap.. like 3 bundles of bananas for 99cents.. all local and organic.

    i think even some brand name organic stuff is cheaper. the best is organic grocery store brand foods.. usually they can save u lots of money.

    definitely requires a bit more price hunting :)


  7. We make our own yogurt. I don't have the cost broken down, but it's pretty substantial. And yogurt is really pretty easy to make - 20 minutes and then just time where it's sitting incubating. We also make our own bread - I think this is cheaper as well?

  8. you mentioned hummus but beans in general are super cheap and so filling!! and soo versatile. whenever i need to save money I make soups using lots of beans & veggies!

  9. non perishable goods can go a long way, and making a bunch of home cooked foods to turn into your own frozen dinners will save money too.

  10. Ugh, I really am bad about this. I never pay for organic, local food because it just hits me with sticker-shock every time. I see your point about saving money in the long run, so maybe I can initiate small changes first...

  11. i never pay for organic but i'm always eating my vegs! i feel like as long as i'm getting my nutrients in, i'll save the extra buck on the organic haha :) i guess thats what happens when you're a poor grad student..

  12. I definitely think clean eating can be cheaper in the long run, and up front. Most packaged foods cost an arm and a leg anyway! Like those 100-calorie off.
    I think what people MEAN to say when they complain about the "high cost of healthy food" is that it costs a lot of TIME to prep. The money cost really isn't TOO different, if you really spend the time to look for good deals and plan healthy meals. It's the time that really gets people.

  13. It's so true that eating clean can be expensive in the beginning, but in the end, it's totally worth it!! And its true, you can save money by preparing your own food!

  14. i agree, eating healthy can save you money. i don't usually buy organic stuff, but preparing your own food is so much cheaper than eating out. and fruits and vegetables are definitely cheaper than processed foods. i usually go to trader joe's once in a while and buy a bunch of grains, like whole wheat pasta or brown rice, and canned beans then during the week i can buy whatever veggies i need then add them to my beans and grains for an easy meal.

  15. I think the "healthy eating is so expensive" thing is a little blown out of proportion. I just completed my Food Stamp challenge where I lived on $28 worth of food for the week. Yes, it took a little extra planning, but I was shocked at how much healthy food I could get at Trader Joe's and the farmer's market for 28 bucks. I didn't sacrifice nutrition at all. Beans, lentils, hummus, whole grains, yogurt, and local produce can all be found at dirt cheap prices. Healthy, clean eating doesn't have to include organics and expensive "super foods" if you're on a tight budget. Just stick with the basics- whole, minimally processed foods!

  16. I totally agree with the above comments about time and planning. Eating healthy can be tough on your wallet if you aren't willing to do some work, but I think the rewards for this are much greater than any of the time involved. I think if you plan, shop around, and shop seasonally, you can eat healthy and within a budget- I know!


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