Thursday, October 28, 2010

The high cost of healthy

A short time ago we talked about the decreasing consumption of fruits and veggies.  Americans, despite all the education to the contrary, are still moving in the opposite direction with this relatively simple step to improve their health.  The high cost of fruits and veggies was one potential stumbling block that was brought up.  I decided then to keep my receipts for groceries for a month and see just how much money am I spending on produce. I know my family eats a lot of produce.  It shows up at breakfast, banana sliced in oatmeal, it makes repeated appearances at lunch, diced bell pepper, avocado, carrots, and it often takes center stage at dinner.  Plus there are certain things I insist on buying organic-apples, greens and potatoes to name a few.  I was curious to see just what percentage of my budget was being spent on produce. 

I saved all my receipts from October and high lighted the fruits and vegetables, including frozen foods like berries for my smoothie.  Then I totaled up the highlighted pieces and compared that to my totals.  I know how much I spend routinely on groceries in general, I use for tracking my spending and planning budgets-very useful tool.  This month I spent $235.98 on fruits and vegetables.  It accounts for 33.9% of my total grocery expense.  I averaged $22.00 a day for a family of four-breakfast, lunch and dinner more days than not, because of Paulo's food allergies dining out has dramatically decreased.  I'd like to get that under $20.00 a day, that's my next challenge.  But back to the veggies.  $235.98 what did that buy me?  Multiple heads of kale and romaine lettuce, quite a few cucumbers and heads of celery, herbs like oregano, basil, parsley and cilantro, 4 or 5 red bell peppers, many pounds of spuds, close to 10 pounds of apples, a lot of bananas and pears, mango, onion and avocados-probably close to 8 of those-pints of blueberries and raspberries, tomatoes by the dozens, garlic, ginger, chard, cabbage, artichokes, brussel sprouts, chiles, mushrooms and tomatillos.  Heads of broccoli, close to 6 pounds of spinach and I can't count how many zucchini and beets.  The list goes on and on and on.  Track how much money you spend on meat and I dare say the list will be much, much shorter.  Yes, eating healthy is expensive, but there are trade offs.  I spend more on veggies but less on doctor visits and prescriptions.  I spend a lot of money on fruit but never miss work-other than for kid stuff.  I look at that 33% and see it for what it is, an investment in my health and in my family's health.  Plus, as an added bonus, it's a tasty investment.

How can you increase your consumption of vegetables?  Start small, try a green smoothie.  Add cut vegetables in the lunch box-just start bringing your lunch at all if you routinely are buying it you can find countless ways to increase your veggies.  Start dinner with a big salad.  Commit to the Meatless Monday movement.  You really will not miss meat this one day!  Do a search for meatless meals, you will be blown away by the options that show up.  Check out a vegetarian cookbook from the library and copy off some that look interesting to you.  Get the kids involved, let them pick out a fruit or veggie they haven't tried but looks interesting.  Prepare it together.  Make dips or sauces to go with your veggies.  There is nothing wrong with a light, homemade, sauce added to broccoli! 

Food, it can make you sick, or it can heal you.  It really is that powerful.  And the choice really is yours.


  1. Have you ever thought about following the ads and sales? We buy a lot of fresh fruit and veggies, but I try to buy whatever is on sale that week. So, if its grapes and grapefruit, that is what I buy. Of course we have some standards, or if a recipe calls for something, but for just "fruit around the house" I try to watch the sales.

  2. Love this post Krista. I love the new challenge too--good luck. Is your Organics to You factored in as well?

  3. I'm so into being healthy but STILL have a hard time getting enough fruits and veggies. It's definitely something I need to work on. Your budget analysis was really interesting! I'm also curious how much veggies would cost at a farmer's market in comparison!

  4. Ali, yes I definately could pay more attention to the sale fliers! My favorite grocery store puts one out every Wednesday, that's the one I get most of my produce at because it is primarily organics. They already have good prices and sometimes I can get a really good deal. Like today they had organic celery for .79 a pound, I bought two. I need to get back to visit Trader Joe's too, they can have some really good deals there.

    Sunshine, I actually stopped using Organics to You a while ago. I think because my box sat out on my porch all day in the summer heat the veggies just didn't have the lifespan I needed. Sometimes the greens would be wilted after a day or two.

    Kristin, I think Paulo and I might hit the Hillsdale Farmers Market next Sunday instead of New Seasons for our veggies, just to compare!


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