Eat Healthier for Just $10.50 a Week – It Is Possible.

If you could spend just $10.50 a week to eat healthier, would you do it?

Most people assume that a healthy diet costs more, but there has never been any analysis of the research to substantiate this. Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health set out to discover if eating a healthy diet is really more expensive. Their findings show a smaller price disparity than many people thought.

The Cost of a Healthy Diet

Researchers did a meta-analysis of 27 existing studies from 10 high income countries that looked at the prices of foods deemed healthy versus less healthy (www.sciencedaily.com). The researchers looked at the price per serving and the price per calorie since prices can vary widely depending on which unit is used for comparison.

Not Cheap, But Not that Expensive Either

Researchers found that a healthier diet, defined as being rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts, cost approximately $1.50 more per day or $10.50 per week than its unhealthy counterpart; a diet consisting of processed foods, fatty meats and refined grains. Researchers attribute the price difference to farm subsidies and factory farming methods that lead to high volume production of certain foods. This has created an intricate network of how foods are farmed, transported, stored, processed and sold to give processed foods maximum profit (www.sciencedaily.com).

The price difference was lower than researchers anticipated, but can still pose problems for families on a fixed income. The annual difference is $550 per person, which can be a deterrent for those on a fixed budget. However, if convenience is driving your choices rather than your budget, choosing healthy options now can reduce chronic health risks in the future. Those health risks can run much higher than $550 each year.

eat healthier for cheapSaving on Healthy Food

Not all healthy food is expensive and not all fast food is cheap. A “healthy” meal at McDonalds or Wendy’s of a grilled meal or an entrée salad can cost close to $6. Stopping at your local grocery, you can purchase fresh fruit, a yogurt smoothie and a tuna salad kit and still have change. If you are on the run and need something quick, stop by a convenience store and buy low-fat white or chocolate milk and a bag of nuts. Buy just enough to keep hunger at bay until you get home.

Planning and Timing Matter

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is healthier, but you need to know when to buy your produce. Buying produce in season is less expensive. Buying bagged apples and oranges is always cheaper than buying loose ones per pound. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are healthy choices as well. They often cost less than their fresh counterparts and are just as healthy. They can also be stored for a longer period of time.

Planning your meals and clipping coupons also save money. If you don’t like to clip, get a frequent shopper card from your favorite food store. Many retailers have e-coupons that can be loaded directly to the card. Some offer menu planning options on their websites that are tied to the weekly specials. Couponmom.com will link coupons to weekly specials at most major retailers.

A healthy diet is one that focuses on consuming more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and drinking more water. These foods are what your body needs to be healthy. By concentrating on what your body needs for health, you can eat healthy and still have money. Remember eating healthy today can help keep you healthy tomorrow.