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.
Let's take a look at the cost-benefit analyst of eating healthy vs unhealthy. According to research done by the Harvard Public School of Health,the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets.
While healthier diets 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 from complications related to obesity and diabetes. These costs are taken on by the state/ federal level, but also affect ones personal budget.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention "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."
These are the costs associated with obesity. Diabetes and prediabetes also have costs. 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 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 to purchase healthier foods, mountains of expenses can be prevented.
Tips to make eating healthy easier:
- Meal plan- Plan meals for the week and make a grocery list. Only buy what you're sure you will use, and check what you 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.