Is It Expensive to Eat Healthy Food? Part Two

Be sure to read Is It Expensive to Eat Healthy Food, Part One if you missed it!

As you consider your grocery budget, and try to make changes in your diet so that you can eat healthier without breaking the bank, here are three important things to consider:

1.  Transitioning to Healthy Eating is a Process

If you’re looking to replace every single not so good ingredient in your kitchen with all of the best, healthiest, organic, free range, grass fed, yada yada ingredients, all at the same time – yep, you’re looking at a hefty price tag right from the get-go.  Why not take a step back, make a list of changes you’d like to make, then prioritize them and start making small changes - one at a time?  What changes can you make that will help you feel better about feeding your family, but that might not hit so hard on the pocket book?  Read through this Simple Steps to Healthy Eating Series for some ideas to get you started.  But don’t feel like you need to take all the steps at once.  Any small step you take puts you on the road toward healthier eating.  Some of those steps might just not cost much at all.  And some might actually save you money.  How ’bout that?

2.  There’s Not a “One Size Fits All” Plan for Eating Healthy

What works for our family may not work for your family.  My food resources are likely to be much different from your food resources.  The cost of food where I live may be much different from the cost where you live.  I’ve heard of free range eggs costing people all the way from $1.00 per dozen to $8.00 per dozen.  I’ve gotta say, if free range eggs cost me $8.00 per dozen, I’m pretty sure we’d eat very few eggs and I’d simply buy the regular, cheap ones from the store to use when I bake.  Thankfully, I’m blessed to get free range eggs for just $2.50/dozen – a great price if you ask me!

Each family has a different amount to spend on groceries each month.  Every family has different dietary needs.  Every family has different circumstances.  There is no “perfect dollar amount” standard for how much any of us should be spending on healthy food.

I shared more on this subject in this post:  “No Grocery Budget Comparing Allowed”.

3.  God is in Control and He Knows Your Heart

No matter what you buy, how much you spend, what you eat, or how you eat it - your choices can honor the One who provides for our every need.  If you aren’t blessed to find free range chicken that doesn’t cost the same as your mortgage, you will still honor God and your family by eating a regular ol’ chicken.  At the risk of sounding goofy and sacrilegious – God can bless your chicken whether it’s free range or not.   God wants us to be wise stewards of our resources and to simply do the best we can with what we have.  He knows our individual circumstances and He knows our heart.  He understands our desire to do what is right for our family and He will provide what we need to do just that.

Don’t leave God out of the picture and think that you must be the one doing a perfect job selecting, purchasing, and preparing food.  God’s gotcha covered.  Do not be so focused on trying to make healthy food choices that you lose sight of the One who matters most.

No matter where you are on your healthy eating journey – no matter where you land on specific dietary choices for yourself and for your family, God can and will be glorified.

And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

What would you consider your biggest struggle in regard to the expense of eating a healthy diet?

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Comments

  1. Katelyn says

    The biggest challenge for me and my family is finding anything healthy or alternative. We live in France and we get stink eye if we do anything “different”, and if we do find something like whole wheat flour or spelt flour, it IS a lot more expensive than the usual old white flour because very few people buy it, because it is too different.
    We DID however just buy a meat grinder and bought a couple boxes of bulk meat yesterday to make our own burgers (beef lamb and turkey, and turkey sausage!), the price difference is incredible! A pallet of beef was 4.50€/ kilogram, and 2 preformed beef burgers were 12€/ kilogram. I think the meat grinder paid for itself last night, ha!
    Thank you for all your helpful posts, because of you we make our own butter now and bought the meat grinder, and I use your recipes all the time. You’re a life saver! :)

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  2. Amber says

    Thanks Laura! You did it again and hit the nail on the head in #3! God wants us to make wise choices by eating healthy nourishing foods. Given that we trust Him with our finances, He will provide the resources to do that. [Philippians 4:19] But God also knows our circumstances, and is a gracious, loving God. Do the best you can with what you’ve got, and remember that God’s got your back!!! “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

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  3. says

    Loved the post. This is a journey for sure. I learn new things all the time and I’m old! We can trust God as you said.
    Amen sister.

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    Laura Reply:

    Did you just say you’re old?!?! Hmm, this must be a different Jill Roper because the one I know and love is young and beautiful. :)

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    Jill Roper Reply:

    You are so funny and sweet! I still feel young :)

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  4. says

    We’re on the journey, but realize we need a journey not a leap. The time it has taken to take each step allowed us to gain some knowledge about healthy eating before moving on. So far we’ve completely eliminated high fructose corn syrup, began baking more from scratch, and switched to healthier fats. Your blog has been as valuable resource!

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  5. Julie says

    Free range chickens and milk. I have fabulous sources for those right now from local farms, but they are pricey. Especially because we use a lot of those things. I am taking it one food item at a time though and researching the most cost-efficient options so we can gradually switch our items over. I always need to remind myself that our family is not “entitled” to these food items. They are gifts from the Lord. The person eating beans and rice at every meal is loved by the Lord just as much as I am. Asking God to provide money as well as wisdom is essential. That and remembering that not only is it our food, but it is also “just” food. I don’t want to become obsessed with this. Thanks for your encouragement daily as we make as many changes as we can.

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  6. says

    I think you are right one step at a time..thats how I started..I 1st. started with the oil..then to eggs and milk and so forth..it does work doing it that way and most important the Lord..He helped me all the way..Great Post Laura..Thanks

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  7. Bethany says

    Thank you for including #3, I forget that step a lot! I need to remember that in ALL parts of my life I am only asked to do the best I can with what I have, and He will fill in the rest!

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  8. says

    I was blessed to have read this today! I must say, YES! I DO struggle with this issue buying vs not buying healthy and safe food…but there is a time and a season for everything, right?

    I’m glad you approached the issue with honesty and integrity! I hope that others would be encouraged as I have and ultimately leave it in the Lord’s hands and believe the truth of the prayer we pray before dinner…”Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies.” when we can’t get a good price on that free-range chicken ;)

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  9. Kristen says

    Our biggest struggle is, of course, the cost. I have searched and searched and there are no dairy farms close to us (within 1 hour driving). We live in the suburbs of a larger city and it is tough to find things like raw milk, cheese, and real butter. Yes, I can go to Earth Fare or Whole Foods to get some of it, but is pretty expensive. Fortunately, my parents live in the country, near a dairy farm and can get the butter for me – a 2 lb. roll for $8 rather than $6-$7 for 1 lb. at the store. So, we’ve just decided to stick to our regular milk and cheese for now. As much milk as we go through with 2 kids and cooking almost everything from scratch, if we bought raw milk, it would kill our grocery budget. Sometimes you just have to pick and cheese. I used to get the “light butter” or margarine for free with coupons and I thought I’d never be able to pay for it again, but a taste of real butter and seeing how much less we use was all I needed. :)

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  10. Rhoda says

    Thank you for your perspective, and especially for point #3. So often sites promoting healthy lifestyles it is all or nothing. We have slowly been making changes as we have been able. The meat issue was always an issue due to the expense. Our solution–we eat very little meat and what meat we do eat gets extended into quite a few meals. But recently we were blessed with a friend who gave us a lot of meat–none of it the “healthy” kind. At first I worried about all the hormones and who knows what was in there, but then I realized, she shared what she had to be a blessing, God was indeed blessing, so He could take care of the rest. And I in turn have been able to share a bit of our bounty with another family in difficult circumstances right now too. God IS good.

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  11. Tricia says

    Our biggest struggle is time. My husband and I currently both work full-time outside the home which limits the opportunity for us to access alternatives to grocery store offerings and cook as much as I would like to from scratch.

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  12. Rebecca says

    My biggest struggle is the desire to buy more healthy foods but not having the resources to do it. When I know what is best for my body but I can’t purchase it all the time, I feel frustrated yet we are trusting God to do the best we can with what we have and prioritize on what we can afford. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  13. says

    Although this entire series has been amazingly helpful, I particularly appreciate your willingness to admit that “There’s Not a “One Size Fits All” Plan for Eating Healthy.” I have tried so hard to fit my food allergic family into a healthy-eating mold the way that I see on other blogs, but have come to realize that we are truly unique… in our nutritional needs, our tastes, our schedules and our preferences. We do our best and I feel we do quite well given our circumstances, but I also have learned to lose the comparisons.
    Thank you for the tips AND the insight!

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  14. Heather says

    I love that you included #3. When I get worked up or stressed, I remember exactly what you said and it brings me to much comfort. Thanks for sharing that!

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  15. Linnea says

    #3 is such a good reminder. I realized that lately when I’m shopping or planning our menu, I’m very stressed and it’s because I can’t get all the good, healthy food I want and stick to my budget at the same time.

    I also get frustrated because my family gets loads of WIC coupons each month, which are a HUGE blessing because it means free milk, cheese, eggs, and bread–but all of it’s conventional and processed. =( I can’t NOT use the free stuff right now because we really need it, but I hope someday we’re in a better place financially and can go more raw & organic.

    I know God understands my dilemma, but sometimes at the store I forget… =)

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    blair Reply:

    This is me exactly.. we want so badly to give up the wic, but for us that means almost $300 a month! 50 of it being fresh fruits and vegetables.

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    Linnea Reply:

    The produce coupons are the best part of WIC! Sometimes I’ll donate
    the skim milk and conventional eggs to the homeless shelter. We can
    usually afford to drink the whole milk and buy organic whole milk
    the rest of the time. It’s not as good as raw, but I figure it’s a
    small step up from skim.

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  16. says

    Thank you so much for posting this. The Healthy Home Economist recently had several of my friends sad and feeling condemned when she said that you should never do this gradually – you should do it all or nothing….no baby steps.
    Once again, you’re a breath of fresh air.

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  17. Teresa says

    Thank you Laura! We all get tired at times and why should we condemn ourselves when all God ask of us is do what we can . I dont know about you guys but I am not superhuman. I was up most of of the night with a sick dog and we might just. eat Wendy’s tonight before church because I am tired

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  18. says

    My biggest struggle has been accepting that I cannot do it all. I’m single and must work full time. As much as I’d love to make all my own dressings, sauces, and non-toxic cleaning products form scratch, and raise my own livestock, and bake fresh bread every day I simply cannot do it all at once. I’ve stopped feeling guilty that I have to be content with a half-homemade/half-commercial kitchen for now.

    You can’t beat yourself up for things that are truly beyond your control – like having to work outside the home or not having $8 for one carton of eggs.

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  19. says

    I, too, have struggled with feeling bad about some of the things I feed my children. They eat out away from home a lot and so I try to make healthy meals when they are home. I just have to keep reminding myself that it is, indeed, a journey. And every journey Father has taken me on has included enough grace to continue. Step by step. I learn so much more about nutrition every day and incorporate it when and how I can. We are all on different journeys, but going in the same direction. I love having all this company along the way!

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  20. says

    Well said Laura. I really appreciate your thoughtful posts. Your recipes and ideas have helped my husband and I make some changes over the past year. It is a process and we’re in no rush. Next fall, after a big move, we hope to find a source for beef, chicken and eggs.

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  21. says

    We have been on this healthy eating journey for a few years now and my idea of healthy eating changes all the time. It seems every year I make more and more from scratch and realize more and more bad things about foods that I used to think were good choices. I don’t think it is a switch that you can turn on and off, it is a journey and will evolve over time.

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  22. Ashley says

    Our biggest problem is portion control! I have a sweet tooth, and my hubby has a snack tooth. And when you are trying to buy all organic/natural stuff that gets expensive!

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  23. Lori says

    Thank you Laura for this post. Sometimes I wish I knew you in person. I needed to read this series. I have struggled over the last two years on finding a balance in this area of healthy eating. My husband doesn’t always see my reasoning for spending more money and time on healthy food that to him doesn’t even taste good so this year I have decided to focus on making very tasty foods for him and saving to make several big heathy meat purchases and just getting more veggies in us whether or not they are organic :) I am nursing my new baby now so I am trying to cut back on sugar and coffee and nourish myself cause even though I have al these healthy ideals sometimes I just don’t have the energy to make myself eat something nourishing and the left over chocolate cake seems like it will just give me the boost I need, haha. You really hit the nail on the head with number three. Sometimes I lose track of what is most important and that is serving my Saviour and He is truly in control of it al and you are so right in that he knows my deepest desire is to nourish my family.

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  24. Rachael says

    Thank you for this post! The timing could not be more perfect! Our real food journey started out of necessity almost 5 years ago with many setbacks along the way. My 3rd child (first son) was born with MSPI in 2007. Not only was he allergic to milk and soy protein but it turned out he was allergic to the protein in my breastmilk as well. That first these of his life was rough! Then exactly 11 months later our 4th child was born. (2ndson) Shortly after the birth of our 4th my husband was diagnosed with non alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fast forward 4 years and one move across the nation to the State with the highest obesity rate and lowest rate of fresh fruit and veggie consumption, (Oklahoma) and I am struggling to feed my family real food on a budget of $300 per month for a family of six, in the midst of starting a church plant, and homeschooling. God put the conviction on my heart to drastically alter our diet after my husband’s diagnosis. I’m his helpmeet but how helpful is it if the food I prepare for him is killing him slowly? Or my children for that matter? That’s not good stewardship! We don’t east real food to try and prolong our days for the bible says we can’t. My God is good! But by the grace of Jesus Christ our needs our provided for! We don’t eat cage free, grass fed meats because we cannot manage to on our budget. But we do eat conventional hormone free, antibiotic free chicken and beef. We buy raw milk for $4/gal at the dairy as errol as raw milk cheeses and cream. We east a lot of cheap cuts (roasts andstew meats, and whole chickens.) W strive for an 80/20 balance and mostly are able to somehow. I’ve found the hardest most discouraging thing to be the downright mocking and scorn I grrr from others. Specifically inside the church in the land of fried bologna streaks and canned nuclear resistant meats and veggies. The mocking ranges in intensity but it’s assumed that I’m following some me age tradition or philosophy, am proud and arrogant because we eat”healthy”. Frustrating.

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    blair Reply:

    I’m in Oklahoma too! Where are u in Oklahoma? I’m just southwest of Oklahoma city.

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    Rachael Reply:

    We are in Tulsa.

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  25. Desi says

    Laura,
    I just wanted to say “thank you” for your last point. We are definitely in a trying time right now, and this week I had $35 to shop for the week for a family of 5 and I held back the tears on every aisle as I had to make “less than healthy” choices because of the cost…there were definitely no organic veggies or fruit in my basket this week! But there also wasn’t any convenience food…and today, I spent the afternoon using your recipes to make yummy muffins for my family’s breakfast all week. God does know our hearts and we are so thankful for His provision, His lessons and for your website!

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  26. says

    My husband and I have recently found that we are SAVING money with our healthy eating! After watching a couple of documentaries on netflix (Forks over Knives / Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead) we have realized that what we’ve been taught all these years about healthy hasn’t really been healthy.

    I’ve struggled with daily migraines for 8 years and have lost a teenage daughter to cancer… and have been obese and fatigued as long as I can remember. These types of things caused me to think. Something wasn’t right and I knew God had more for me.

    We have changed our diets dramatically eating 90% plant based, and it’s been amazing. The weight is falling off, my taste buds are changing, we have more energy than ever, and I haven’t had a migraine since the caffeine withdrawals at the beginning of the month.

    But back to the point. We are saving money by not buying all the meats, breads and dairy… or eating out! We are totally full with smoothies, salads, soups, roasted vegies, etc… and are getting plenty of nutrition (including calcium and protein) through the plant sources. I’ve even been finding fun fresh ways to make salad dressings without oil!

    Sorry this is so long… we’ve just been VERY excited! I wish everyone could feel this good!

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