Thursday, July 15, 2010

Eating well (and healthy) on a budget

I think there's a notion amongst many people that eating healthy food costs too much. By healthy, I mean eating lots of fruits and vegetables, buying organic whenever possible, eating humane, antibiotic-free meats, etc. This is how I try to eat, with some convenience foods thrown in on occaision, well, for convenience.

Because I've always heard the "too expensive" remarks, I've also thought I must spend way more on groceries than most. But I just did a breakdown that surprised me greatly. On average, I spend about $130 a week on groceries. That typically feeds 2 adults 19-20 meals (we usually 1-2 meals out, though sometimes that's just grabbing a coffee and a bagel one morning). So that works out to about $6.50 per meal. I definitely realize that's still a luxury for some, but in my book, that's not that bad.

Some of the ways I try to save are by stocking up when things are on sale. I'll either plan my menu based on sales or freeze things for later. Speaking of planning, I always plan my meals out for a full week, right before I go shopping, so I can, say , use 1/2 of the cabbage on Tuesday for tacos and the other 1/2 on Friday for coleslaw. I also try to eat things when they're in season. Strawberries in December are pricey - and not that good. I have no problem with buying frozen veggies, either, if they're a better deal. They're usually flash frozen with no salt or preservatives added, so what's the big deal if you were going to cook them anyway? (That's my thought at least.)

What are your thoughts? Do you think it's too expensive to eat healthy? If I may ask, how much do you spend on average per meal? Got any tips to share on how to save and still eat healthy?


City Share said...

Some of my coworkers complain about the expense of healthy food too, but then they turn around and get take out for lunch. I know that my nutritious homemade lunch is cheaper than eating out - it's even cheaper than McDonalds. We have joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)for the summer. We had to pay upfront, but it works out to a really good value.

kathryn said...

I do believe that the prices of many organically grown items have gone down over recent least, up here they have. Maybe the organic companies realized they needed to be more competitive price-wise? I don't know.

We eat very little fast food (altho, we'll usually spring for pizza once a week). I cook very little red meat, preferring to go w/chicken, beans and sometimes eggs (breakfast for dinner) for protein. We adore summer summer! They don't taste good any other time. My splurge is seafood...especially salmon.

It's hard for me to plan out meals, 'cause I'm not competent in the kitchen and a lot of times, da boys don't like it when all's said and done. Enough of that will discourage anyone from trying, I think.

SerahRose said...

I agree with City Share about the whole eating out thing. If everyone who ate their lunch out every week (or buys coffee every single morning) cut their "eating out" consumption by just a little, they'd be able to afford to buy more organic.

Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen said...

I agree with you on this Amber, I know I eat the same way you do and spend on average under $5 a meal, and that often includes a glass of wine with dinner. But I always say to make organic food and eating healthy inexpensive people have to actually COOK. Some people like cooking out of boxes and cans, and believe that they cannot afford to eat any other way, inexpensively. But I do not agree at all, there are plenty of ways to have convenience but still cook - one example crockpots.

Tangled Noodle said...

I quit agree with the above comments - cooking and eating healthy at home is so much more satisfying and less expensive than dining out. Time may be an issue for some, but is cooking really more time intensive than driving to a restaurant, waiting to be seated and having your order taken/brought out? Break out those pots and pans!