The Finances of Eating and Living Healthy

by Erica Starr 5. June 2013

Healthy Produce

When it comes to considering the cost of food, most people generally go for what’s the most affordable and convenient at the time. It’s understandable, right? We all know that fast food isn’t the ideal healthy meal, but between dropping the kids off at school, getting to work, taking the dog to the vet and getting the kids to their soccer games, the McDonalds Dollar Menu starts to become a more attractive option with every passing day. Going to the gym? Forget about it…didn’t you just see what my typical day looks like? Let’s not forget to mention tight household budgets and the perception that you have to take out a small loan to eat healthy, and BOOM… many of us are forced to let healthy living habits fall by the wayside. Or are we?

So let’s do some math:

Equation Today:
Crazy family/work/social schedules + Dwindling household funds + Higher priced “healthy” foods - Daily exercise = Fast, convenient and unhealthy meals

But wait...what everyone tends to overlook is the future value of that equation. Let’s fast forward a few years and take a look at that equation again:

Equation Tomorrow:
Crazy family/work/social schedules + Dwindling household funds + Higher priced “healthy” foods - Daily exercise = Fast, convenient and unhealthy meals + Higher healthcare costs + A preventable chronic disease diagnosis

According to Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, “About 75 percent of the $2.8 trillion in annual health care costs in the United States is from chronic diseases that can often be reversed or prevented altogether by a healthy lifestyle.” In plain English, investing in your health is very similar to investing your finances. What you invest today (eating well/getting daily exercise), can and will save you A LOT of money in the future – and not to mention tack on a few extra years to your life.

Here are a few tips on how you can start investing in your health today.

Yes, organic is better – but not EVERYTHING has to be organic.

Meat, dairy and any vegetable or fruit with soft skin (apples, berries, carrots etc.) are the most important foods to buy organic as they are more highly exposed to pesticides. If you have to, you can probably get away with eating non-organic bananas and other produce with thick and protective skin. Check out sites like ewg.org to help you decide which foods to go organic with and which ones you can go the cheaper route with.

Buying in bulk and freezers are your friends.

Wholesale clubs like Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club are in business for a reason - it's usually cheaper to buy in bulk. If you can, start buying some of your favorite foods in bulk and freezing what you don’t immediately use. That being said, you still need to be strategic and smart about which bulk items you purchase. Buying a 132-ounce jar of pickles for 2 people is getting a little out of hand. Also, don’t forget the bulk-buying rule of thumb: only buy in quantities you’ll use within 3 months. The most expensive food is the food you buy and never eat.

Summer is upon us – HELLO Baltimore farmers’ markets.

With the summer months quickly approaching, Baltimoreans are lucky enough to be in the middle of what seems to be a sea of local Baltimore farmers’ markets. Contrary to popular belief, farmers’ markets are often much more affordable compared to supermarkets, especially if you are opting to go organic. According to The Atlantic, studies show that organic items are almost 40% cheaper when purchased at a local farmers’ market. How can you go wrong with 100%, just came from the ground fresh fruits and veggies?

Grow your own.

That's right; grow 'em if you got ‘em. The benefits of having your own garden go far beyond cost savings nowadays. Having your fruits and vegetables come from your very own backyard can pretty much eliminate the risk of pesticides and/or other chemicals coming into play. While it might be a lot of work up front, a garden can really be a great way to save some extra cash and be healthy at the same time.

Get out and move!

It's not rocket science. You know the deal…it’s calories in vs. calories out. The more you move, the more you lose. The sayings go on and on but the bottom line is this: regular daily exercise can help prevent you from getting heart disease, high blood pressure, noninsulin-dependent diabetes, obesity, stress etc. and can even help increase your mood. We’re not saying you have to go out and join a gym (although you can), just get outside, start moving and enjoy the nice weather. We can take it from there…

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Is Growing a Garden "Worth It"?

Tricks to Throwing a Budget-Friendly Barbeque

Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It

 



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