Is Healthy Food More Expensive?

I am a bit of a fan of Paul Plakas – Love the show X-Weighted and sometimes his attitude is just bang on with mine regarding food and exercise. He is very much on the ‘suck it up buttercup’ side of things, so if you require someone to hold your hand through training/losing weight – he is not the trainer for you. Not going to lie – sometimes I hear his voice in my head when running. That and Tommy Europe – ha! Also, on another note, I’m pretty sure that I ‘met’ Kristen via a Twitter chat-party when X-Weighted Families was airing for the first time. I think we both wanted him to come to Ottawa. He has since been in Ottawa for a seminar/work-out session, but of course I was busy coaching that day at OFSAA.

Anyways, he likes to communicate with his fanbase via Facebook. The other day he posted what he had for dinner that night, a yummy-looking salad with lots of fresh fruit and veg. In typical Paul fashion, he also posted his own comments saying that if people ate like this regularly, the obesity epidemic would be over and that it was so simple, but people find it so hard to eat this way. Of course a FB debate happened on whether or not it was cheaper to eat bad or good. Most people were saying that their grocery bills had dropped when they started to eat a more balanced, clean diet while some argued that fresh food costs so much more.

Speaking of Facebook – Have you ‘liked’ my page yet 🙂

Obviously there are some reasons why eating fresh (and eating a salad that Paul made) might be expensive. If you live in a remote, fly-in community: your food costs are through the roof. Regardless of where you live – there are some months where strawberries are $5, compared to the average $2.50 that they are now. If you don’t care about looking out for sales or stocking up, of course your bills will fluctuate.

In general however, I firmly believe that eating a “non-processed as much as you can” diet is cheaper than a heavily processed one. I used to work at a supermarket and I can tell you that the customers who had tons of frozen foods in their cart paid over $100. The customers who mainly had fruits, veggies and fresh meat – almost always under $100. In my experience as the sole ‘grocery-getter’, I spend on average $80 a week on groceries. I do buy a mix of organic and non-organic products and in the summer I do shop at my local farm. I do practice a few grocery-shopping money saving ideas that help me stay within budget:

1) Buy in-season or on sale

I will not ever spend $5 on a pint of berries. I generally buy them when they are on sale. Certain produce only hits my cart when it is in season: cherries, peaches, pears, green beans,etc. As mentioned above, I do shop at my local farm in the summer, so I meal plan on what they have available. I have never spent more than $25 at the farm and I always leave loaded with fresh, local produce

2) Check out Sales and stock up!

Remember yesterday’s post on deep-freezers. Well, obviously I use the freezer to stock up on meat! I only buy meat when it is on special. Things like steak, chicken breast and thighs, full chickens, ground beef (pretty much everything) are on cycle-sales and pretty much when I’m getting low, another sale will happen. I buy more than I need and freeze it!

3) I make my own food

I will never ever buy frozen processed food like chicken fingers or pot pie, those kinds of food. If I have a hankering for chicken pot pie, I will make my own! I will use a pre-made pie crust, but the filling is all me! It also tastes 100x better!


For a bit of a price example, this is what we had for dinner last night:

BBQ’d Chicken Breast

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Salad with romaine lettuce, celery, tomato, apple and green onion.

The chicken breasts were about $3.50 for both (as I usually spend $7 for a pack of four when they are on sale). The sweet potatoes were $1 for two, and the salad fixin’s probably came up to $2. I spent $2 on a head of romaine, $2 for cherry tomatoes, $2 for celery and 50 cents for the green onion. I made 3 salads out of that lettuce, and still have tomatoes, celery and green onion left over.

Rough estimate of costs for last nights dinner: $6.50

Oh and by the way, we have leftovers for lunch….

I find that VERY reasonable for a dinner for two.

What do you think?



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  1. Kristen

    I think you’re right about that X-weighted thing.

    I didn’t see the meal, the comment, or the debate. But here’s something that I think is often forgotten in these debates: good nutrition requires knowledge. Not everyone knows that the claims on processed food boxes aren’t true. The “healthy choice” checkmark that is on so many boxes lies to us.

    Another thing that tends to be forgotten is the labour cost in making healthy food. Sure, the boxes of food are more expensive in dollars, but when you factor in the labour cost (the prep time and the cooking time) of “real food,” the cost does go up. The cost of a store-bought pizza from the freezer section and a homemade pizza (especially if you make your own crust instead of going with whole wheat pitas like i often do) probably equal out. I’m not saying that labour cost isn’t “money well spent” or isn’t worth it, but there are definitely people who struggle with the time (and perhaps even the know-how).

    Healthy cooking and meal planning is definitely something that if taught in schools, could really help us all in the long run.

    Just my multiple cents 🙂 (great post)

    1. Rebecca

      Being comfortable in the kitchen is a pretty big part of the ‘healthy eating’ equation in my opinion. I grew up with fruits and veggies always available (my Dad is in the business actually) and I am VERY comfortable in the kitchen. I am the crazy person who decided to make Christmas dinner the week after Max was born… That and almost every single one of my wedding gifts was kitchen-related 🙂 I think things are getting better – we have over 6 sections of the Foods and Nutrition course at my school and I’m finding that teens are a bit more aware of food they put in their body.

      Ha, I was thinking about pizza when writing this post – when I make my own pizza it does cost more than the $6.99 Pizza Pizza special! But it is a totally better pizza (that doesn’t make me sick).


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