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Can’t Afford Healthy Eating? Maybe You’re Doing It Wrong. August 15, 2015

Posted by Sindy in Cooking, Health, Money, Saving.
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Her bill was $60, mine was $12, yet she couldn’t afford to eat healthy? What was going on?!

The Truth about “I Can’t Afford to Eat Healthy.”

While I was checking out at the grocery store the other day I overheard the conversation between two college students behind me in line. She was telling the young man that she couldn’t afford to eat healthy. I had heard this statement before, and it seriously puzzled me.

“The first week I moved here I bought a week’s worth of grocery. It cost me $60!”

Wait, $60?! $60 for a week’s worth of groceries?!

“Your total comes to $11.97,” the cashier finished ringing up my pile. It was a week’s worth of groceries too, maybe more. It was mostly all the produce my little heart desired plus a ½ gallon of milk. No, I wasn’t buying any meat or bread or treats, I had most of those at home (I’m trying to bake all my treats instead of buy them). But it wouldn’t matter if my pantry was completely bare. My bill still wouldn’t have come to $60!

It used to though. Back when I practically lived on Progresso soups and other grab-able lunches. Even then, that $60 could cover two weeks, plus, I was still living home so my parents provided most of my dinners.

Then I noticed what she was buying: Greek yogurt, turkey bacon, Cobb salad, and various junk like chips, soda, etc. (at least, that’s what I saw in my quick glance before gathering my purchases and heading towards the door).

No wonder she couldn’t “afford” to eat healthy! She was buying expensive stuff that TV shows said was “healthy.” It simply boils down to she’s another victim of the silliness she’s been told. “All this expensive, chemical laden, pretends-to-be-something-you-love, shtuff is ‘healthy’ for you.”

Not to dis on some of your favorite “health” foods, but I don’t have a high opinion of them. Soap box time! The Greek yogurt is the same as regular (with all the chemicals and thickeners), but the whey has been drained off (which can be used to make awesome bread, but the companies just throw it away!). The turkey bacon is loaded with a ton more chemicals trying to make it taste like something it’s not. And the Cobb salad could easily (and cheaply) be made at home.

So, how do I eat healthy and cheaply?

(Warning! Do not try to make all these changes in one week. Your guts WILL rebel. Spread it out over a few months or years.)

  1. Learn to cook! In the business world it’s called “Added Value,” and it basically means that if they can take raw materials (like food) and turn it into a final product they can charge you so much more.

    I know, it’s not easy or quick to cook all your meals, but with some tricks like Investment Cooking (aka Freezer Meals) it’s not so bad. I don’t like cooking any more than the rest of you, but if I can do it, so can you.
  2. Make and grow what you can at home! Even while I was living in a basement apartment I was able to grow a few herbs in the window, and some vegetables in the corner of the walkway. Plus my sister gave me some space in her garden, and my gardening neighbor loved to spoil me. It all saved me a ton (and was so much healthier and tastier)!

    As for making, do you have any idea how easy it is to make your own yogurt?! You don’t even need a yogurt maker. Add some homemade jam and your yogurt can be any flavor you want (you just can’t find strawberry rhubarb yogurt in the store) and as flavorful (or not) as you want. And you’re guaranteed to eat fewer treats when you have to bake them yourself.
  3. Increase produce intake (and water and sleep) and buy things that are on super sale! I like the plate version of the food guide. It’s so easy to see the bottom line. However, I believe it should be half whole grains, half produce, and add meat mostly for garnish and flavor.

    When I go shopping I go straight to the produce section and buy anything and everything that’s on super sale and that tickles my fancy. Get yourselves some price points – aka, prices you won’t pay more for certain things. For example, I won’t pay more than $2/lb for cherries, and $2/lb for boneless, skinless meat (I’ll make an exception for the rare shrimp treat).

    Of course, I like treats just as much (if not more so) than the next girl, so I either make fruit my treat, make my own treat, or keep it down to rare occasions. By the way, if you find a custard apple, they are incredible!
  4. Experiment! It makes me sad (and sick) that so many diabetic cookbooks have nothing but sweets with fake sugars. I’m sorry people, but if you had any idea what’s in the “healthier” versions of your old favorites (like bacon and sweets), you might instantly become bulimic trying to rid your body of that garbage.

    I miss unhealthy treats too (like Reese’s PB Cups), but sometimes the past needs to stay in the past and we need to move on. So instead of missing yummy things I experiment with what I CAN eat and discover new favorites (like my Healthy, Cheap Cobb Salad below).

    Don’t get me wrong, I still sneak in something unhealthy every once in a while. But surprisingly enough, the longer I go without them, the less I like them when I do get them! Does that make sense? For example, I used to loooooove Whoppers. I could eat the largest carton by myself in one sitting. But the other day, after months of being a good girl (if not a year), I thought I’d treat myself. Maybe not so surprisingly, they weren’t as great as I remember. And I’m finding that’s happening more and more.

 

How about I finish with one of my new favorite recipes:

Healthy, Cheap Cobb Salad

  • Lettuce*
  • Avocado*
  • Tomato*
  • Onion*
  • Egg – Boiled
  • Chicken Thighs – Boiled & Cubed
  • Pork Chops – Fried & Sliced Thin
  • McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning
  • Low Fat Cottage Cheese
  • Dill Weed
  • Dash of Salt (optional)

Mix and serve!

 

*Go ahead and experiment with any veggies you want. Try cucumber instead of avocado, or spinach, add raw zucchini, etc.

The cottage cheese and dill replaces the feta (which is often really expensive) AND the dressing so it ends up being lower fat. You can experiment and try different seasoning.

And the pork chops and seasoning replace the bacon. Fry the pork chops with the seasoning nice and golden brown and slice them up thin. If you end up caramelizing them a little, it’s even better.

By the way, I use chicken thighs instead of breasts because 1) they tend to be cheaper, 2) more flavor, 3) healthier with more vitamins and iron.

And no, I didn’t include portions because only you can say whether you prefer more egg or more cottage cheese, or how flavorful you like your pork chops.

Have fun and be good! 😀

– Sindy

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Comments»

1. Rae - August 16, 2015

What a great piece! You’re totally right!

Sindy - August 17, 2015

Thank you! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂


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