Every year I do a random audit of our finances, and I learned that healthy eating costs less than eating whatever you want. It is easy to let bad behavior, like buying poor substitutes for food, creep into your life and checkbook. I try to make sure that as much money as possible is going to pay down our obligations, so this random check helps me to learn some things about our spending habits and disproves opinions like “it costs more to eat healthy.” Let me share a little more.
My husband and I use our debit card for EVERYTHING. We seldom EVER have cash on us. This is good in that I can track our spending behavior and account for everything. It is bad in that it is SO easy to just swipe a card. Being a good steward of the provision God has given us is really important to me, so we will make adjustments to be sure we are using that money in ways that will allow Him to provide for us in the ways we have prayed for Him to.
During August, we spent $677 eating out, picking up this, that, and the other thing. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, so what about your grocery bill. Surely it was less since you were eating out so much. NOPE. We spent more in groceries than the preceding month. Let’s talk about that preceding month.
Whole30 month! Now, my husband wasn’t following a Whole30 plan. He tried for two days, but he decided he didn’t want to continue following. He continued spending the way that he had been. I bought only whole foods. No exceptions. What I learned from this was very interesting.
Whole 30 Month
Whole Foods aren’t nearly as expensive as eating out
We always had GOOD food cooked and available
We spent nearly $300 LESS when I followed Whole30
I bought a lot of by the pound fruit like cherries and grapes $2,49 lb or so (I thought that was A LOT, then I asked myself how long they lasted…a week. How long does a $7 coffee last?)
Month AFTER Whole30
We would go days with nothing cooked in the house resulting in a quick pickup (mostly breakfast and lunch)
We spent nearly $300 MORE when NOT following Whole30
NOTE: Eating healthy doesn’t only refer to eating fresh meats, veggies and fruit. It also relates to EATING AT HOME where you know what is in your food.
If you pick up a healthy eating cookbook and try to go buy everything necessary to cook the recipes, I can see how you might think that would be expensive. Where do they get those crazy recipes anyway? It’s truly easy. Take out pot. Put on stove, Turn on heat. Put meat and veggies inside. Salt & Pepper to taste. If you really want to get crazy, add other spices that I love like onion and garlic powder, ground ginger, paprika, cayenne. Open up cans of your favorite veggies or use frozen or fresh. As for spices, you can pay $5 a bottle or .88 a bottle. I personally go for the cheaper because I burn through those babies like no body’s business! I haven’t missed a lick of flavor using the cheaper ones.
Here is a real life example of something we picked up and what I COULD have done with that money:
KFC Grilled chicken bucket – 12 piece $16.49
For those of you not familiar with how chicken is cut, there are 8 pieces of chicken in a whole chicken, so this is 1 1/2 chickens.
Fresh chicken – $1.09 lb; (I’m comparing regular chicken to regular chicken. I see that Claxton truck backed up to the restaurant. There are no free ranger chicks going in there) Approx $4 per chicken X 1.5 = $6 OH BUT WAIT…IT’S NOT COOKED ALREADY.
Oh, so right. Maybe you’re in a super hurry and can’t wait the 40 minutes needed to bake it or less to boil it for chicken salad. So here’s my second suggestion, local grocery stores generally have rotisserie chickens, which is very similar to this grilled chicken from KFC. $5,99 for a chicken X 1.5 – $9. Still less than KFC. Not as healthy in that you don’t really know what into cooking it, but healthier for your wallet.
As for the sides, you could get steamer bags of your favorite veggies and microwave them and add a little seasoning, and within 6-8 minutes, you would have 4X what you would get in those little sides they serve at KFC, and the big plus, they would actually taste like the food you bought! I’m not picking on KFC by the way. I feel this way about EVERYWHERE. I haven’t found anywhere that has food as good as what can be made in someone’s home (excluding a few exceptions in steak).
I’m really happy with what I learned about healthy eating. I caught myself comparing those awesome Washington Cherries in price to other snacks that I would have bought. Without a doubt they would last longer and taste better. Just because they grew on a tree naturally and didn’t have to go through some industrial process to be made doesn’t make them any less valuable.
I challenge you to start paying attention to what you put in your shopping cart. If you really want to test it, you and a friend decide on a menu and each of you shop for it. One buying only whole foods (I’m not referring to the Whole Foods store–just your average grocery store) and the other buying processed foods or fast foods. I know which one will feel the best in the end. I know which one will have to cook less because what they cooked made more than what comes in a prepackaged meal, and without a doubt, I know which one’s food will taste the best!
If by chance anyone out there chooses to do this, I want to hear about it!!