Healthy Eating and the Budget

Eating healthy on a budget

It’s a sad but true statement; healthy food costs more.  It doesn’t necessarily cost that much more, despite what some think, but if you go to the store to get, for example, ‘organic’ rice noodles, they’re going to cost more than the 27-ingredient generic brand. To take it a step further, someone on a budget may have to choose between the following;

Inside stomach:  Ramen Noodle digestion goes viral

Ramen noodles-.10

or

Veggie omelet!

buying 2-3 types of veggies and a dozen eggs to make an omelet-$6+ (but multiple meals!)

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Choice wise, the omelets the best choice, but more expensive.  It costs more, but what they put in processed foods scares me.  I shop organically and check the labels plus  I cook almost all my meals from scratch and while I will buy things like chips, I do look at the label.  Breads I buy from a local bakery and produce I try to get locally or do what I can on eggs and fish.  It can be an expensive game trying to really eat locally, organic etc (but that’s another topic!)  I should also mention I’m a pescatarian (only fish and eggs).  It’s also just me, so shopping is simpler(?)

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I went grocery shopping tonight and since I’ve been trying to eat up the things I’ve frozen in my freezer and still had veggies and fruit, I didn’t need much.  In a typical week, there are a couples things I do have to get basically every week, especially if I’m cooking something new and not just living off salads, homemade veggie burgers sandwiches and omelets (which has been the case for the last month).  My budgeted grocery bill is $100 a month.  Some months I’m below, some months I hit the $120 amount (usually if I have to stock up on something like oats or flour).  It is possible, even with me buying organic brands of cooking ingredients/flour etc.  I don’t do organic produce most of the time ($5 for a red pepper at Whole Foods or $1 at Trader Joes?), but at least half of what I buy is produce/canned veggies/pumpkin/beans/hummus.

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One week I tracked it to see how much my meals were costing.  I have a couple cowokers who go out to lunch eveyday and spend $3-7 a meal.  Ouch.  Compare that to my meal day yesterday (prices based on ingredients)

Breakfast: Apple, almond butter, almond milk Oats-$1.00ish

Lunch: Veggie chili with greek yogurt ($2.00)

Snack: Banana ($.19)

Dinner: Omelet w/red pepper, onion and mushroom topped with salsa, toast with jelly-$1ish

Dessert: Lemon cake-Free (thanks to my aunt)

Total: $4

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My days generally run $3-4 and I’m lucky to get things from my parents farm like eggs for free.  I’m lucky that despite having student loans, my small teaching salary is enough that I don’t have to worry about living off ramen noodles (there are some sad stories about their about student loan payers only getting 2 meals a day and starving) and can eat healthy and happy.  I’m living off budget meals essentially, but they’re healthy and I get my servings of fruits and veggies everyday.  My health is one thing I have no qualms about stretching my budget for.

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How much do you typically spend on groceries during the month? 

How many are in your household?

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2 thoughts on “Healthy Eating and the Budget

  1. My food budget isn’t all that high, but that’s because I’m a vegetarian and don’t really eat any animal products at all. Fresh produce is cheap enough if you know where to find it, but you are right, healthy food can be a lot more expensive!

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