Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Is eating healthy expensive?

I heard this the other day, and I really wanted to dig in to it and answer this question for all of you that stop by the Whole360 page.

I overheard a conversation between a few of my employees, and one of them said "I've been eating like garbage lately, because eating healthy is so expensive."

I used to feel that way as well, until I really got in to it, which is what this post is all about. "Is eating healthy really THAT expensive?"  Well let's find out!

I consider myself a bit of a subject matter expert when it comes to this topic, because I have been eating healthy for 211 days now. I do a lot of the shopping, and almost all of the cooking, so I have a pretty good idea of what goes in to meals, and what they cost. I am going to break down a healthy meal for you, as well as the alternative; readily available fast food meals.

The other thing I always hear is "Eating healthy takes too long" and of course the "I don't have time" I'm also going to run a stopwatch as I prepare some healthy foods and see how they compare to say....sitting in a drive through waiting for your food order. We will see if there are any valid points to this at all, and then at the end I am going to give you some information that either you really want to hear, will hate me for, will grumble "that's bulls**t" or may have already known.

Ready? Good because I don't want to hear "There isn't enough time to read this" check it out, it just might change your life.....I know it has changed mine!


First things first, I did a little digging so I could find out what some of the fast food meals cost, nutritional info, and ingredients. Here just a few from the more popular places so I can use them for comparison sakes. (Oddly enough Subway was the hardest to gather info on, they didn't have nutritional info on hand for the chips or sodas)

McDonalds: Quarter Pounder with cheese meal - $5.49 (Comes with med fry and drink)

Burger King: Whopper Meal - $5.99 + extra cost of cheese. (comes with med fry and drink)
Taco Bell : 3 Soft Tacos supreme with a large drink - $5.89
Subway: 6" Turkey Breast (Comes with chips and drink) $6.25
(Sorry the Subway is a little hard to read, I had to make it myself off several websites, since they don't really provide the information for you.)

 Cost Analysis

First I am going to cover the costs of what you get, everything is listed in grams so I am simply going to add up all the serving sizes and divide by what each meal costs. It looks a little bit like this:

- McDonalds: Burger (202g), Fries (117g), Med Coke (567g) = 886g total. Cost per gram = $.006196

- Burger King: Burger (290g), Fries (153g), Med Coke (567g) = 1010g total. Cost per gram = $.00593

- Taco Bell: Tacos (384),  Pepsi (567g) = 951g total. Cost per gram = $.006193

- Subway: 6" sub (260g), Chips (28g), Pepsi (567g) = 855g total. Cost per gram = $.00731

 Healthy Option



So you have to be asking where the healthy part comes in right? I mean so far all I've done is show you some menu items and break the costs down....wait for it......waaaaait for it....

Ok here is a list if I were to make a Paleo burger at home. It's based off averages so it may vary a bit where you live, but it should be pretty close.

Fresh ground beef (80/20) $3.19lb = $.007g
Pickles - $3.29 jar =  $.0048g
Mustard - $1.88 jar = $.0031g
Lettuce - $1.39 head = $.00276g

Now lets construct a healthy meal with these ingredients: (based off: 6oz patty, 1oz pickle, 1 oz lettuce, 1/2oz mustard, with 10oz side salad, Total cost: $2.43)

- Healthy Meal: Burger patty - pickle, mustard, lettuce (241g ), Side salad- 10oz (284g), Water (567g) = 1065g total. Cost per gram = $.00228

Now of course prices will vary, you may add lemon to your water, or salad, maybe hot sauce, olive oil etc, but for the most part, you can see that the total cost per gram is less than half of any of the fast food options! The burger patty is also quite a bit bigger than what you would get at Fast Food land.

But have to make it, that counts for something right? Sure it does, lets value your time just for calculations sake with what those workers get paid to make your food, which happens to be $8hr (State of Colorado). It took me 10 minutes (and I was going pretty slow) to form, cook, cut, chop, and plate my lunch this afternoon (which happened to be the exact meal you see above) so if you figure in labor, add another $1.33 to the total cost of that healthy burger lunch, for a total of $3.76. Cost per gram after figuring in labor....$.00353 so even with the labor added, its still a significant savings!

Nutritional values



I'm sure you were just asking yourself, well when do we get to the nutritional comparisons? Wait no longer my friends, here it comes!!!

I'm going to list the nutritional values of all the meals above, including the healthy one in rows so you can compare them....lets see how it all pans out shall we?

Which would you rather eat? What should you even look for on your food labels?

Obviously the healthy meal is better in a lot of ways than the others, it is a bit high in cholesterol, and fat, but comparatively it crushes everything else in the other categories. Plus it was only one meal, with a good variety of healthier foods, this higher fat/cholesterol meal is not an issue! Plus I haven't even mentioned that the home made meal is gluten, added sugar, dairy, food additive and soy free!!

See in the figure above all that sugar? That's all added to the food to make you want more of it! Sugar is addictive! In fact sugar is as addictive as cocaine according to some studies! (Goldwert) It causes all kinds of problems (obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease to name a few) so why in the world would you want to eat it?  Kind of makes that cholesterol and fat content in the home cooked meal seem insignificant now doesn't it?



I don't want to stray too far from where this post was going, and that was "Is eating healthy expensive?" So I will stop there with the nutritional comparisons, there is so much more we could dig in to, but that is for another time!

So lets answer the question. "Is eating healthy expensive?"

It can be, but it doesn't have to be. From the breakdowns above you can see that my meal costs are way lower than that "cheap" fast food you can get. With bulk stores like Costco you can drive your food prices even further down! Smart choices, buying in bulk, finding sales, or even splitting costs with friends can make eating healthier even cheaper!

What it really boils down to is that we have become lazy. We would rather sit in our car and not have to get out, or not have to prepare our own meals when someone else can just make it for us. Think about it, a trip through the drive thru is often more time consuming than making a quick and healthy meal! We stuff unhealthy foods, poisons really in to our faces hand over fist because we have come to believe that it is cheap. We lie to ourselves to make eating this way OK. The sad thing is that no one can tell you any different except YOURSELF! Obesity in America is out of control, since the 80's it has been skyrocketing! It is spreading like the worst pandemic we have ever seen, and it is just getting worse. If you don't get anything out of this post, please just ask yourself this;

  "What is my life worth to me?" And then take a second to answer my question to you....."Is eating healthy expensive?"




.N.p.. Web. 18 Feb 2014. <>.

John Welder, . N.p.. Web. 18 Feb 2014. <>.

Burger King, . N.p.. Web. 18 Feb 2014. <>. 

. N.p.. Web. 18 Feb 2014. <>.  

. N.p.. Web. 18 Feb 2014. <;.  

State of Colorado, . N.p.. Web. 18 Feb 2014. <>. 

Goldwert, L.. N.p.. Web. 19 Feb 2014. <>.

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