Are Healthy Foods More Expensive?

Most Americans consume diets that do not meet the federal dietary recommendations. According to the CDC, only 9-12% of adults consume the daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. This low percentage can explain why the majority of the American diet is excessive in saturated fat, added sugar and sodium. A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that the major barrier to consumers when purchasing nutrient dense foods was dependent on the cost. Is the price of healthy food really that expensive? It is important to understand that we stop classifying food groups into two binary categories of “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods. Instead, look at food as a spectrum. Nutrient dense foods are items that we want to consume more in the diet in comparison to the less nutrient dense foods.

The environment you surround yourself in has a major influence on food selection. Therefore, what you decide to purchase at the grocery store is going to have an impact on your food choices. By selecting more nutrient dense food items, the greater chance people will consume adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. Below are some tips on how to purchase more nutrient dense food sources without breaking the bank.

Tips on saving money

  1. Purchase Seasonal Produce

The price for fresh produce is dependent on the supply of the product. Certain produce is more readily available than others depending on the season in which it was harvested.  Here is a great website to identify what produce is “in season”. It would be wise to plan meals around the specific vegetables that are currently in season.

2. You Don’t Have to Buy Organic

Organic produce is less processed and has fewer additives compared to non-organic produce. The USDA makes no claims that organic foods are safer, healthier or more nutritious than conventional foods. In addition, there is lack of evidence to suggest organic produce will provide additional health benefits long term.

3. Frozen Vegetables and Canned Goods

It can be frustrating when you find yourself throwing out fresh produce when it goes bad after a couple days of purchase. To help reduce the spoilage time and food waste, canned or frozen produce is a great alternative. In addition, there is only a small percentage of nutrients lost during this process. These food items are often less expensive than fresh produce and require little to no prep work.

4. Pre-Cut/Pre Portioned Vegetables

The produce that is already pre-packed requires additional labor that will increase the price of the produce. To save money, consider purchasing whole foods in its natural form then prep vegetables for consumption yourself. This will also help reduce your total expenses.

Hidden Expenses Coming from Labor costs

The U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis found that the average American eats out 5.9 times a week. Whether you’re swinging by your local coffee shop or having a family dinner at chili’s, we love to purchase food away from home. Yes it is convenient, and we don’t have to worry about cleaning the dirty dishes afterwards. However, we are spending money on labor costs that could have been avoided if a meal was prepared at home. The average meal prepared at home costs $4 in comparison to spending an average of $13 at a restaurant (and that is without including alcohol). Therefore, when it comes to saving money, cooking meals at home is going to be the best bang for your buck. 

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