Most of us have a perception that eating healthy, meal prepping and buying organic foods is a lot more expensive than eating fast- on the go foods. I personally believed this for a while as well. Upon reading and investigating I realized I couldn't have been more wrong. Let's take a look at the cost-benefit analyst of eating healthy vs unhealthy.
According to the Harvard Public School of Health, in a study that compares the prices of healthy foods and diet patterns vs. less healthy ones, the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets. While healthier diets did cost more, the difference is inconsequential in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases.
Even in cases where eating healthier is more expensive, the health care costs associated with having a poorer diet of processed foods dwarf the short term savings of a cheaper diet. In the United States, primary health costs come for complications related to obesity and diabetes. These costs are taken on, on a state/ federal level, but also on the personal budget level.
According to the CDC " Obesity affects almost 1 in 5 children and 1 in 3 adults, putting people at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Over a quarter of all Americans, 17 to 24 years are too heavy to join the military. Obesity costs the US health care system $147 billion a year."
Now, these are costs associated with obesity. Diabetes and prediabetes according to the CDC " More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and another 84 million adults in the United States have a condition called prediabetes, which puts them at risk for type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can cause heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness, and costs the US health care system and employers $237 billion every year".
These statistics help paint the picture but they may seem vague and unhelpful on a personal level. Direct medical costs may include preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services related to obesity and diabetes. Premiums on health insurance add up long term with medications and treatment.
In taking the small short term expense, mountains of expenses can be prevented by making the right choice and choosing the healthy nutritional option.
Some tips to make eating healthy even more doable and budget-friendly are the following:
- Meal plan- Plan your meals for the week and make a grocery list. Only buy what you're sure you will use, and check out what you already have in your cupboards first. Stick to your grocery list!
- Cook at home- It is much cheaper to cook at home than to eat out. Generally, you can feed an entire family of 4 for the same price as buying food for one or two people at a restaurant.
- Buy proteins and veggies frozen to save up!
- Cook large meals from inexpensive ingredients - Use leftovers during the following days.
- Buy generic brands- Most stores offer generic brands for many products. These are often of the same quality as more expensive national brands.
- Check out hungry harvest: https://www.hungryharvest.net/. This company ships harvests of organic produce at a low price. Perfectly healthy and edible produce is sold at a lower price due to having small defects such as too big, small, etc.
If all else fails aim to cut back on additives and sweeteners, this will help prevent costs related to health complications.
You can actually SAVE MONEY by eating healthy, buying food and meal prepping.
Bad health comes with medical costs, drugs and even reduced work capacity.