Is Healthy Food Really More Expensive Than Junk?

Healthy vegetables on a cutting board.

Yes, HOWEVER, there’s more to the story. A comprehensive Harvard study found that on average, healthier eating costs $1.50 more per day more than less nutritious choices. Indeed, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts is $550 more per year than a diet reliant on, for example, processed foods, meats, and refined grains. While the added expense is less than most of us would guess, it can be burdensome for families and folks on fixed incomes.

There are ways to beat the $1.50 per day cost very easily. Try these tips:

  • Eliminate sugary drinks from your diet. Choose water and you will save money by skipping soda, sweetened coffee drinks, and sugar-filled beverages. And by hydrating your body properly with 90 to 120 ounces of water a day, you’ll feel better and draw on a host of health benefits.

  • Avoid fast food restaurants by planning simple, home-cooked meals and buying whole ingredients from supermarkets. For example, cooking and serving a whole chicken, salad, potatoes, and milk costs, on average, $13.78, or a rice and bean casserole runs $9.26. The cost of burgers, chicken nuggets, fries, and sodas for a family exceeds $25.

  • Buy inexpensive protein: bags of legumes and canned tuna (in water). Beans, chickpeas, and lentils work well in soup, salads, and casseroles. Tuna is another lean protein choice and costs $1 a can.

  • Don’t forget frozen vegetables. They’re a great value. They’re picked and frozen at the height of freshness (when they are most nutritionally dense.)

In our country, the infrastructure and the subsidization of mass-produced and processed foods makes it cheaper to eat junk. But the expense associated with chronic diseases associated with fat, sugar, and salt-laden diets are weighing all of us down. Diabetes and prediabetes cost America $322 billion per year. Obesity often leads to job absenteeism and lower productivity, costing the country $4.3 billion annually and employers $506 per obese worker per year.

Drinking water and eating nutritiously are the foundation of good health from which springs exuberant energy. That’s why so many of Heaven on Earth NOW’s programs (Good-for-You Groceries, Farm-to-Belly, First Fruits Farm activites, the Healthy Harvest Offering, and more) are targeted at bringing the bounty of God’s earth to our most vulnerable citizens. We want both the angels who serve our clients and our clients themselves to enjoy the health benefits that arise from eating fruits, vegetables, and other foods rich in vitamins and minerals — and not junk!