Last week I posted this on The Family CEO Facebook page:
From the grocery ads: Fresh whole chickens 99 cents/lb; Fresh free range chickens, certified all natural, locally raised 2.79/lb.
Seems I’m always debating the merits of cheap vs. healthy. Do you have the same struggle? How do you decide?
There were some great responses:
- Suzanne said: “I try to go with healthy most of the time but sometimes have to get the cheap to fit it into the budget. I figure medical bills are more expensive than healthy food.”
- Shannon said: “Healthy – especially for meat! We eat less meat/animal protein, but it’s better for us and tastes better.”
- Kelly said: “I also struggle with this, but for meat, eggs, veggies that absorb more chemicals, I go organic…It seems like everything is getting so much more expensive lately and groceries are a huge part of our budget!”
I can relate to all of that and I bet you can too.
For my part, I tend to go back and forth.
For a while I make healthy/sustainable choices and then I go back to buying on price. And the question that’s always on my mind as my son eats a frozen pizza or we hit a fast food drive-thru is:
If we can’t be perfect, is it worth worrying about at all?
More and more I’m deciding it is.
We’re nowhere near perfect, but we’re trying to make better choices whenever we can. And as the person who does all the food shopping, I’m trying to find new ways to eat healthy for less.
Here are four ways that are helping me:
1. Pick your battles.
Shannon mentioned above that she chooses healthy “especially for meat.” I agree.
I’m starting to willingly plunk down the extra cash to keep hormones and antibiotics out of our meat and milk.
And Kelly mentioned choosing to go organic on the vegetables that absorb more pesticides. She even provided this great link with info on the 12 foods that have the highest pesticide residues. (Thanks Kelly!)
Maybe you can’t afford to go all organic or to cut out cheap food entirely, but making a commitment in one or two areas can move you toward a healthier diet.
2. Eat less meat.
Meat is often the most expensive item on the table, so if you can eat less of it you’ll save money and probably improve your health too.
For some that may be an easy choice. For others, not so much.
I’m from Kansas City where beef is practically a way of life. I also live with a husband and teenage son who don’t think it’s a meal if there’s not meat involved.
If you’re in the same situation, try making a small change by choosing one night a week to go meatless. (Check out the Meatless Monday website for great info and recipes.)
You can also make easy changes like using less ground beef and more beans in your chili.
3. Shop at Costco.
I know, I know, not everyone has a Costco near them. But if you do, it’s an organic goldmine.
I routinely buy organic milk, ground beef, green beans, broccoli, and canned tomatoes at Costco, all at reasonable prices.
And we buy their Kirkland brand salsa for its taste alone. The fact that’s organic is just a bonus.
(We also just got a Trader Joe’s in Kansas City and I’m discovering that they also have healthy food at affordable prices.)
4. Watch for Sales and Coupons.
It used to be that organic items were relegated to one tiny section of the grocery store. And sales or coupons for those items were nearly nonexistent.
That’s no longer the case as the focus on eating organic and unprocessed food becomes more mainstream. And I would expect that trend to continue.
So keep your eye out for coupons for and sales on healthy food and stock up when you find them.
So back to my Facebook chicken dilemma.
I chose the all natural, free range chicken at almost three times the price per pound. I bought one to roast that day and one to freeze since they were on sale.
The chicken I roasted was delicious, and it was also tiny. (Actually, it was probably a normal size for a chicken raised without hormones.)
It provided us with about four servings. But that probably fits in well with #2 above. In other words, it’s probably how things are supposed to be.
So I’d love to hear: how do you resolve the eating healthy vs. eating cheap dilemma? Do you have any good tips?