Good News on the Cost of Food
How many times have you heard that eating healthy is more expensive? It's been said so often that most people just accept it as truth. Fitness professionals have questioned this line of thinking and have been fighting the uphill battle against the stereotype for years. Now there's finally research to de-bunk the 'healthy foods are more expensive' myth. These findings are welcomed news to anyone trying to stock their fridge and pantry on a budget.
Previous studies have often used price per calorie to compare the cost of healthy versus less healthy foods. For example, 150 calories of potato chips might cost less than 150 calories of a fruit or vegetable. However, as Andrea Carlson and Elizabeth Frazao point out in their study for the US Department of Agriculture, calorie for calorie comparisons are flawed because they don't take into account how the foods are usually consumed. This study factors in typical serving sizes along with other variables. They used the potato chip example and compared it with broccoli. One serving of potato chips would be about 150 calories. That's roughly one individual-size bag. But to eat 150 calories of broccoli, you'd eat almost 3 cups. Nobody eats that much broccoli in one sitting.
After compiling and analyzing the data, Carlson concludes one of the best ways to look at food costs while considering portion size would be, "How much do you have to pay to put something on your plate?"
Here are a few budget-friendly tips from the study to help the next time you head to the grocery store:
1. Consider alternative protein sources such as beans, eggs and quinoa that are easier on the wallet.
2. Most people only allocate about 20 to 25% of their budget to fruits and vegetables, but a healthy diet should consist of 40% of your calories coming from these two food groups. Because inexpensive options are available in these two food groups, this change will surely save you money.
3. Portion size affects cost and calories. So scale back the portions, even if this means eating more often. As you grow accustomed to smaller portions, you will see the cost savings go up.
4. Buying in-season produce is generally cheaper.
Get more tips on healthy eating on a budget from the USDA's ChooseMyPlate.gov website.