Desert Flour

A 20-Something's Musings on Life, Love and Faith

The Cost of a Healthy Lifestyle

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Two weeks into our clean eating meal plan for “8 Weeks to a Hot Body” we have come to the same realization that many other healthy eaters have surely encountered before – it’s rather expensive!

Now this does require some consideration of perspective. What is “expensive” to me maybe reasonable for others, but I have never been one to spend significant amounts of my monthly earnings at the grocery store.  College loans sure. Movies and other entertainment you bet. Bars and restaurants – all the time.

But I guess I never realized if we stopped supplementing our meals with times we eat out, we obviously would buy more food. And particularly if we spent more time and care in buying healthy food – that cost goes up even more. I might eat out a bit – but I’m looking for those Happy Hour cheap menus or the 2 Dinners for $20 deals.

It’s tricky though, because when you are in the store it all seems necessary at the time!

Our Week 1 Grocery list was designed to just purchase the ingredients that we would need for two people to eat 5 times a day for 7 days. … Ok so 70 meals worth….  (Ok maybe that is a big number? That’s a lot of meals to prepare for?)

While circumnavigating the perimeter of the store we purchased what seemed like a lot of pretty cheap and necessary perishable items: Bananas, Apples, Tomatoes, Oranges, Grape Tomatoes, Avocado, Bell Peppers, Onions, Lettuce, Cucumber, Celery, Zucchini, Mushrooms, Edamame, Sweet Potatoes, Eggs, Laughing Cow Cheese, Almond Milk, Greek Yogurt, Ground Turkey, Deli Turkey, Ground Chicken.

All of this seemed totally reasonable! We also weren’t starting with a bare pantry so we had all of the spices and basics (peanut butter, protein powder, garlic, oatmeal, etc.) already stocked.

This first grocery trip came to $71.68.

Not too bad.

So cue next Sunday when we go grocery shopping for Week 2, with the same idea to get enough produce/protein to cover 2 people eating on this Hot Body meal plan.

We make our circuit picking up tomatoes, bananas, apples, pineapple, bell pepper, onion, carrots, celery, lettuce, sweet potatoes, broccoli, edamame, eggs, Almond Milk, Ground turkey, Salmon, Tuna – and this time we also head down the aisles for Low Carb Tortillas, Brown Rice and Apple Cider Vinegar.  (Gah writing this is making me hungry!!)

Total this trip = $80.29.

It doesn’t seem too bad. But for our previously meager grocery budgets it is starting to feel like a little much.

So far this month we have spent just under $152 on groceries. I anticipate this will remain a pretty consistent pattern so about $300 / month for two people.

Am I completely off base in thinking that seems like a lot to spend on food?? I’m struggling with this number as during our previous grocery runs:

  1. We didn’t have to go once a week – we just got to enjoy the more perishable fruits and veggies when we first bought them and then did without near the end of the cycle and
  2. Our previous grocery bills were only about $150 a month total.

I’m starting to question whether I have just been completely off-base in what proper food and nutrition costs. Or whether this all clean food meal plan is just more expensive? Or whether I really was only buying cheaper processed goods so didn’t notice the actual cost of real food? Or whether I am just shopping at expensive grocery stores and should be heading to more Farmer’s Markets?

I don’t know. But it is taking some budget reorganization.

Healthy food plans also demand quite a bit more of your time than our normal eating habits.

Normal lunch might consist of a PB & J Sandwich, Bag of Chips and an Apple. (No school like the old school?). This might take a max of ~10 minutes to prepare.

Healthy meal plan lunch calls for cooked meatballs, baked sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. Or ground turkey and mushrooms that have been cooked in chili sauce and garlic. These take time to prepare – maybe ranging from 15-45 minutes. If I am already cooking breakfast in the morning (another 10-20 minutes) I really do not have the time to also cook a complex healthy lunch.

But we are really serious about making this work – so you make the time. And for me – as I am already trying to fit in my workouts in the mornings – I accomplish the week’s worth of Breakfast and Lunch cooking on Sunday nights.

So we make our grocery lists, head out to the store, cart everything home and cook everything that requires advanced preparation for the week all in one big afternoon marathon.

This works really great!

If you have 2-3 hours on your Sunday to devote to getting it done… xD

Healthy food plans are actually quite a bit of work – beyond the working out and dedication to eating the food – getting it and cooking it has been a slightly unforeseen obstacle.

It also has been a very enlightening glimpse to what a privilege a healthy lifestyle can be. I am in the position where I can re-budget some of my entertainment money to go towards my groceries. I only have to give up social engagements or TV time to shop and cook my meals. I can wake myself up early to do Pilates or leave work on time to head to the Hot Yoga Studio without balancing carpools, kids, high maintenance pets, demanding jobs or other family needs.

It can be a lot of work – but it really is a privilege to be able to do what we are doing.

And I am trying to keep that in mind as we continue towards our fitness goals – that our struggles are really nothing compared to the trials standing in the way of other people. This kind of self-humbling perspective may not motivate you, but nothing shuts up my whiny complaints about having to skip buying a movie premier ticket to instead purchase more quinoa like a healthy dose of guilt at my first world problems.

fwproblems qinoa

Let’s not be this person while we work on getting healthy k?

We are still doing well on Day 10 of this plan, but I’m trying to remain humbled and still think of creative ways to make this more sustainable for us in the long run.

Do you have any advice on where to get more cost effective groceries?
How much do you typically spend a month on food? Are your numbers like ours?

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