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Eating Healthy Can Blow the Budget

Posted by James on Sep 11th, 2008 and filed under Lifestyle. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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When I first started eating every three hours, I assumed there would be extra spending money in my budget since I was not going out to fast-food every day and ordering pizza a couple times a week. I was unprepared for the amount of money I would be spending.

No worries. With some basic education and taking a little extra time at the grocery store, you can limit the excess expenditures and stay within your budget while on a healthy diet of eating every three hours.

Healthy food usually costs more than junk food.

If we calculated the cost per calorie we would find that natural and unprocessed foods generally are more expensive than artery clogging processed foods. As awful as that is, it simply is a fact we must accept.

I am a man who does not know the first thing about bargain shopping, coupons, or being frugal with my money. I was also shopping at the most expensive grocery store in my area. I also made the mistake of not shopping in bulk. Some of you may be able to go shopping for your new healthy foods and not have the slightest impact to your budget.

But the kicker is:

The cost of five or six balanced meals a day will add up.

You are not eating one, two, or three meals a day any more. Eating every three hours for a total of five or six meals each and every day tends to add up over time. This can be more of an issue if there is more than one person in the household on this particular diet program.

Compare nutritional labels after comparing prices.

In an attempt to trim my grocery budget, I was looking for an alternative to sliced turkey breast. The brand I have been married to more than a year was also among the most expensive. There were probably around a dozen different brands of sliced turkey breast to choose from; some of them were very inexpensive.

Then I compared the nutritional labels from some of the inexpensive brands to my preferred version of turkey breast. Many of these had substantially higher amounts of fat. This is not necessarily a bad thing if we are talking unsaturated fat, but it does have an impact on the calories. Some varieties were very low in calories, which is not a good thing if you have to put the entire package onto a sandwich to reach your calorie goal. Other brands were too low in protein (protein is the reason I eat turkey breast) or too high in carbs. Carbs in turkey breast is a sign there are excess sugars (probably for flavor).

Compare serving sizes and the total amount of food in the package.

In addition to the standard-issue nutritional label items to compare, there are other considerations when comparing food items for maximum savings. In this case, the largest packages don’t always contain the most turkey. Much to my dismay, I discovered that my preferred brand had less turkey despite costing more. They fooled me through a clever use of marketing; the turkey was packaged in a tub rather than a zip-lock style bag. The tub appears larger and the turkey was loosely packaged to take up the maximum amount of volume.

In the end, you’ll want to look at the cost per ounce/gram/pound to determine the true value of the food item. Many grocery stores include this on their price tags. I have found some of their calculations to be wrong, so it’s a good idea to do a quick check of the math.

Stick to your shopping schedule.

Even if you feel that you can shop for healthy food without spending much more, it still is a good idea to figure out how much you can actually spend each week (or whatever) on groceries. Do your best to stick to the budget because it does not take much for it to balloon out-of-control.

I found my groceries can come in consistently under budget if I buy all of my food for a week at the warehouse-style grocery store where prices are very low. My grocery budget gets torpedoed when I start running out of items mid-week. If I run out of turkey, veggies, fruit, or milk, I’ll stop by a conveniently located grocery store on the way home from work to pick up the needed items. All of the sudden I may have spent twice as much on these products because I ran out of them early. If I’m not careful, I can easily stop by the convenient grocery store a few times a week. This screws up my budget just about every time.

In summary, just know that you will most likely spend a little more money when eating healthy natural foods every three hours. All you have to do is plan for it and do a little extra work to find the good deals on food that fits within your meal plans.

Have you noticed spending more money when buying healthy food? If you have any money saving tips or shopping advice to share, please feel welcome to leave comments below!

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