Cost of Eating Healthy vs. Unhealthy Part 1

By: Lynn (Drew's wife) Weight loss (or the attempt) is a funny thing. There are a million reasons why you should lose the weight, compounded by a million and one excuses as to why you can’t. And one of those chief “excuses” is money…or the cost of being healthy. It is a common belief that it costs more money to be healthy. Organic, natural foods clearly cost more, so if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you better have a healthy bank account. I was a believer in this. I thought we spent quite a bit of money being healthy (prior to the journey). But Drew’s journey gave me the opportunity to test my own theory, because I’d get to experience both sides of the equation. In this two-part blog post, we get to compare the cost of being unhealthy with the cost of being healthy, along with some tips on how to stretch the savings even more. This is a blog post I’ve been preparing and actually excited to write for months now. I must admit as well that I had my preconceived notions of how things would look and I am really surprised at the outcome (this is one of the only times I will openly admit that “I was wrong! Don’t tell my husband though)! When Drew decided to start this journey and become unhealthy one of the many things that ran into my mind was the budget (which I oversee). I was certain we would save pounds (pardon the pun) of money eating unhealthy and in a weird way was excited to put some extra cash into savings. So I sat down and spent a couple hours charting the amount we spent per month during his Fit2Fat stage and then I started again November 5th to keep track of our expenses for food (groceries and eating out). I realize this post will be a bit controversial. There are a TON of variables to consider here when comparing costs: • Where someone shops • The brand someone uses • The type of unhealthy or healthy food someone eats • And so on… That being said, the figures I’m posting are based on my husband and me. We shopped at the same grocery store during his Fit2Fat stage as we do now in the Fat2Fit stage. For our family this is how it broke down. In June 2011 we spent $522 that month on groceries (which is also about the average we spent every month. Some months we spent a bit more, some a bit less). We (and I’d like to point out by “we” I really mean DREW on this one) spent a whopping $219 on Fast Food/Eating Out. This gives us a total of $741 spent on Food in June 2011. Wow. I was shocked! I must admit I was surprised how much we actually spent on groceries and then of course, floored, at the costs of eating away from home. Drew would often be too lazy to make something in this part of the journey and since fast food seems so affordable, he didn’t think twice spending $5 here and there…man did it add up! Guess I should’ve crunched the numbers a lot sooner and told him to cut back! Now that isn’t only fast food, it is also eating out at restaurants that gave us that figure. He wanted to eat out in general more often in this stage and each time getting a soda and a dessert easily increases the bill when at a restaurant! Here is a look at one of the week’s grocery bill showing what I bought and the cost during this stage of the journey: 1 bag of hamburger buns= $1.25 1 large container of Beef Patties= $7.98 2 boxes of Frozen Corndogs (@ $5.48 each) = $10.96 1 bag of sugar= $2.78 2 boxes Macaroni and Cheese (@ $1.50 each) = $3.00 1 container of shortening= $3.58 1 jar of peanut butter= $2.77 1 small crown of broccoli = $.66 2 zucchinis= $1.49 1 red pepper= $1.78 1 container meat marinade= $2.00 1 bag of string cheese= $3.46 2 cans of turkey chili (@$.92 each) = @1.84 2 containers of vanilla soy milk (@$3.28 each) = $6.56 2 bags of Doritos (@ $2.50 each) =$5.00 1 bag of Tostitos= $2.98 1 lb Turkey= $2.18 1 jar salsa= $1.98 2 bags of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (@$4.78 each) = $9.56 2 cans of spaghetti sauce (@ $.98 each) = $1.96 2 boxes of pasta (@.1.12 each) = $2.24 3 ramen noodle packets (@$.28 each) = $.84 1 can of cooking spray= $1.82 2 2 liters of Mt. Dew (@$1.25 each) = $2.50 1 2 liter of Coke=$1.25 10 plastic bottles of soda (20 oz. size to take on the go) (@$.89 each) = $8.90 1 bunch of bananas= $1.25 1 watermelon=$3.88 1 cake mix in a box= $1.88 2 loaves of white bread (@$1.00 each) = $2.00 2 cans of an Energy Drink (@$1.00 each) = $2.00 1 container Swiss cake rolls= $1.00 1 box of protein bars= $5.48 1 container chicken breast= $5.98 1 container of butter= $2.24 1 stick of cream cheese=$1.72 1 bag of almonds= $5.98 1 package salad=$2.98 1 jar of nutella= $3.28 Total=$130.99 (Again, this is for one week of groceries during the Fit2Fat stage for our family) Some weeks I spent a little more, some a little less but the total for a month as mentioned was $522. Recap June 2011: • $522 on Groceries • $219 on Fast Food/Eating Out • Total= $741 on Food Now to the fun part. I already knew approximately how much I spent per month on groceries during the fit stage since this was the “norm” for our family before the journey and I budgeted accordingly. What I did to break it down and be more specific is I took this past week’s grocery list that we had created (WEEK 7) and I went down and priced out each item. Again, based on the brand and where you shop your prices will probably vary: 2 boxes of Protein Bars= $5.78 x 2= $11.56 1 container Peanut Butter= $3.26 1 packet Celery Sticks= $1.98 1 container of Strawberries= $2.98 6 pepper (4 yellow & red@ $1.67 each and 2 @ .67 each)= $8.02 1 bag carrots= $1.48 9 bananas= $2.35 1 Package Fajita Meat = $5.88 Chicken Breast $2.99 per lb x 5 lbs= $14.95 1 container Egg Whites= $4.74 2 containers of Unsweetened Almond Milk= $3.18 each= $6.36 1 container of cashews= $5.74 1 package naturally sweetened lemonade packets= $2.78 1 package almonds= $5.98 2 bags of green beans= $2.44 4 onions= $2.40 1 container spinach= $3.98 1 container mixed green salad= $3.98 1 large container mushrooms= $1.78 1 head of Cauliflower= $2.12 2 avocadoes= $1.48 1 dozen eggs= $1.98 1 lb fresh turkey lunch meat at the deli= $5.98 1 container Raspberries= $2.48 1 container of Blueberries= $2.98 1 zucchini= $.56 4 apples= $2.35 1 bunch of asparagus= $2.98 2 grapefruit= $.96 1 bunch of cilantro= $.44 2 bags of Salmon Filets (each bag has 4 pieces for a total of 8 pieces)= $9.88 1 container Mayo w/ Olive Oil= $2.50 1 container of Sea Salt= $.98 1 Low Fat/Calorie Salad Dressing= $1.98 1 Jar of Salsa= $1.98 1 container spicy seasoning= $2.28 1 clover of garlic= $.99 1 Package Beef Jerky= $5.98 1 zero calorie butter spray= $2.28 1 loaf wheat bread= $3.98 1 package low-carb tortillas= $3.08 1 can of cooking spray= $1.98 2 cans of tuna= $1.96 1 container Greek Yogurt= $1.98 Total= $158.78 X 4 (weeks in a month)= $635 So using the above list we spent about $635 on groceries eating healthy in a month’s time. This is actually a bit high because many of the items we don’t buy every week such as seasonings, condiments (like mayo), etc. But I feel comfortable saying about $635 for my family on a monthly basis eating healthy. During this time period, we spent approximately $20 a week on eating out. This is mostly because during Drew’s fit stage he packs his lunch in a mini cooler when he goes up to Idaho to work instead of stopping at a fast food place. This saves us money. Total spent on eating out for us was $80. So the total amount we spent on food was $715. Wow- less than in June?!! I was shocked. Recap November 20th-December 20th 2011: • $635 on Groceries • $80 on Eating Out • Total= $715 on Food I will do a follow up blog tomorrow to outline a few more expenses during the overweight stage aside from food, and also to be fair a few extra expenses we have when healthy that we don’t have being unhealthy. Along with this, I’ll list some tips to keep your grocery bill down and help those to eat healthy even on a tighter budget.