The Cost of Eating Healthy

I haven’t been able to dedicate much time to my blog in a while, but I always have ideas swirling around in my head. Today I finally decided to take a break from all the paperwork and hours of online research and come visit the land of blog.

Many of you have probably seen the recent news headlines that food prices are going up AGAIN. I am no economic analyst, but I have noticed considerable price increases just over the last few years. I am not talking about comparing the prices from 1950 to now. For example, I personally have noticed the price of things like pasta and bread DOUBLE in about the last 3-5 years. How about you? Do you keep track of food prices?

I know some people who just buy whatever they want, and would not know a good price if their life depended on it. Then there are those at the opposite end of the spectrum who keep price books. They track the price of all the items they regularly buy in a binder or notebook. They quite likely ALWAYS shop with coupons and only buy what’s on their shopping list too. That’s a bit too regimented for me, but I truly do admire their organizational skills and dedication. 

Thankfully, I was blessed with a pretty good memory. I can look through a flyer or walk through the grocery store, and know whether the sale is a good price or not. Of course, I can only do that for items I normally buy. If you asked me what a good price was for diapers or cat food, well… I’d be totally lost.

If you are on a budget (and I know many people who are), the grocery store flyers can be your best defense. I just LOVE when the bag of flyers gets delivered. It’s like a little ritual. I make myself a cup of tea, and sit down and leaf through all the flyers. It’s like my little weekly treat. Even if I don’t need anything, I still like to look.

Yes, I love shopping. I even thought about starting a shopping service years ago. I’d often be chatting with a co-worker when they’d mention they’d been looking for a particular item that they couldn’t find. I’d get all excited and tell them where I’d seen it and how much it cost. Sometimes I’d offer to pick the item(s) up next time I was at the store, and they’d say “SURE!!”. For a while I was even nicknamed “The Personal Shopper”.  Now that I work from home, I don’t get to chat with co-workers (except hubby) and I don’t spend nearly as much time shopping. It’s probably a good thing, because if I had to be honest, I think I had a bit of a shopping addiction. I mean, just how many sets of sheets and towels did we need? Ha Ha

Anyway, back to my original topic… The rising costs of food. Back at the beginning of the year, I noticed a lot of articles about eating healthier, mainly geared towards people who made New Year’s resolutions. One news segment in particular stuck in my mind.

Two women meet up at a grocery store; one is a doctor and the other is a female television reporter. They start going through the grocery store, with the reporter saying she needs to pickup some things she is low on. The doctor then starts giving advice about why should not be buying these items, and suggestions for what she should buy instead. It’s been a few months since I watched this, so I can’t recall everything they talked about, but some items they covered were: juice, soup, yogourt and cereal.

Let me start by saying the reporter looked like she was healthy and in good shape. Her food selections were the kind that already seemed like she was making healthy choices. She was buying organic yogourt, 100% Cranberry Juice, multi-grain cereal and the soups in the cartons (not canned). Except for the soup, these are all things I would have considered healthy choices too. I guess that was the point of the segment… it was aimed at people who have already made changes to healthier options. Apparently that is still not good enough. The yogourt has too much sugar, the soup has too much sodium, the juice is processed, and the cereal does not have enough fibre. *SIGH*

It seems like going grocery shopping is like walking though a nutritional maze. If I read/watch too much of this stuff, my head starts to spin. Eat this, don’t eat that… Okay now we’ve changed our minds, eat this again. Sometimes it feels like the food industry is slowly trying to kill us. There are pesticides and trans fats, sodium and high fructose, artificial flavours and colours. Oh MY!! Stop this ride, I want to get off…

So, back to this doctor and her recommendations:

Soup – rather than buying the high sodium prepared soup, you should buy the freshly prepared soup from the deli section.

Juice – 100% juice is not good enough, you need to buy the fresh juice in the produce section.

Yogourt – no more fruit and sugar in your yogourt, plain is the only way to go (and organic too).

Cereal – High fibre only, try one with psyllium (like All Bran Buds)

While all this advice may be great nutritionally, one has to wonder if this doctor has any concept of a food budget.

I’ve looked at those fresh soups in the jars, and they cost around $6 or $7 dollars (for a few servings) and only last a few days.

The fresh juices in the produce section? Often insanely expensive. I guess that’s the price you have to pay, since (and I loosely quote) “Drinking processed bottled juice is like having pop (soda) with a multi-vitamin thrown in.” Wow!! Who knew?

As for plain yogourt. I really don’t like it. I guess I like sugar. Don’t even get me started on artificial sweeteners! In my opinion, they taste like some kind of AWFUL chemical. BLECH! And yes, if I accidentally eat yogourt with atrificial sweeteners, I can taste it right away. So, I am considering giving plain a try again. I saw a blog where someone recommended adding chopped nuts and honey or syrup. Another option is adding thawed frozen berries, for the times when berries aren’t in season. I guess those have to be organic too, since they are prone to be pesticide-ridden. That being said, I priced plain yogourt. Even the non-organic plain yogourt is noticeably pricier than flavoured. Why is that? Are the flavoured ones full of fillers and thickeners? Scary. My mother-in-law makes her own yogourt. I haven’t really looked into that route. I wonder if it’s one of those things that is healthier but not necessarily cost-effective.

Lastly, the cereal suggestion. I buy all kinds of cereal. I love having variety and lots of choices. At times, we have a better selection than Seinfeld had in his kitchen cupboard!  I do “try” to buy healthier choices. I just can’t imagine my only choice every morning being All Bran Buds. Hey, they might occasionally be tasty stirred into my yogourt though!

I guess it boils down to choices. I personally have to make choices that fit into my budget, are “fairly” healthy and still appeal to me (and my family) taste-wise. I don’t see any reason to buy things that are super healthy that I am either going to be rationing because of the cost, or avoiding because I/we don’t like how they taste.

How do you (and your family) handle the Cost of eating Healthy dilemma? 

Me? I’m off to eat a bowl of cereal… no psyllium included.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nancy says:

    Hi Tina,

    Nice to see you back on your blog. I agree that the price of food has increased tremendously the pass few years. I also try to buy healthy food but as you mentioned, it’s costly and can be hard on a budget, not that I rigidly follow one.

    I too enjoy the weekly flyers and will even on occasion make a list for some specials at different grocery stores. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a few of them. I plan my route carefully as the price of gas is also problematic.

    Some time I think that the safest way to eat, is to make everything ourselves and freeze it in portions. I also realize that it’s not feasible for everyone and not always cost efficient.

    So it comes down to using our common-sense and hopefully be a wise and frugal shopper.

    Please continue your blog, as it’s always a pleasure to read.

    1. TinaChase says:

      Hi Nancy!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note. You know, I don’t remember my mom ever reading flyers. She just shopped at the same grocery store, but always had a meal plan and a shopping list she followed pretty closely. I remember when I came to stay with you guys, and you used to check the flyers and shop at more than one store. I thought it was odd at first (because I wasn’t used to it). However, it always stuck with me, and now I do it too! You were my positive influence.

      I guess I don’t really follow a regimented budget eaither, but I am always careful with my spending. I try to buy as much as I can on sale, and I do shop at more than one store when there are some good deals on. We have two grocery stores in town now, so that does help. About once a month or so, I make a plan to drive into one of the bigger towns where I can run a bunch of errands all at once. Sometimes it takes me a few hours, but I like to think it’s worth the time and effort.

      Thanks again for popping in. It’s really nice to know I am not “talking to myself”. : )

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