Does It Really Cost More to Eat Healthy?

From time to time I will hear the argument that it’s expensive to eat healthy to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. What I want to do is provide some information based on my own experience that may help give a counter argument to this belief.

While I am not disagreeing entirely that eating healthy is more expensive than not, I am saying that if done carefully, it is possible to eat healthy for less than what it would cost for less heathy alternatives.

One of the arguments I hear is that individuals may be overweight due to relying on fast food menu items – especially those on dollar or value menus. And the reason these menus are relied on is because shopping for a healthy alternative is pricier.

Let’s take a look.

Consider a few value menu items from a well-known fast food provider.

Cheeseburger – \$1 – 300 calories.

Small fries – \$1 – 230 calories.

Small soft drink – \$1 – 150 calories.

Total cost for the meal is \$3. Total calories are 680.

This may be a bit extreme, but I am going to calculate this for three meals per day, for 7 days a week. This totals to \$9 per day, or \$63 for the week. Total calories are 2,040 for the day, or 14,280 for the week. Remember, this is off the dollar menu. Dine-in restaurants are likely much pricier.

In comparison, the local grocery store sells whole grain tortilla wraps for \$4.96 a package, containing 16 wraps. This amounts to \$0.31 per wrap.

One dozen eggs is about \$1.99 or roughly \$0.17 per egg (full disclosure: I have my own chickens, so I don’t pay for my eggs).

Simply cook two eggs, season with salt and pepper and put in the wrap. Voila!

Assuming this meal was eaten every meal, every day for a week (boring and dull, but doable) this amounts to:

Wrap – \$0.31 – 100 calories.

2 eggs – \$0.34 – 160 calories.

Glass of water – Free – 0 calories.

The total for each meal is \$0.65, or \$1.95 daily. This is \$13.65 weekly. Total daily calories are 780, which is 5,460 weekly. Some readers may need to eat more, so doubling this (six small meals per day) would be 1,560 daily and 10,920 weekly calories respectively. If more is needed, simply have two wraps and four eggs (my usual breakfast).

At three meals per day, this is a weekly savings of just over \$49. At six meals, it’s just over \$35 saved.

Am I arguing that one should live just on wraps and eggs alone? No. The point is that with some planning and education, it can be possible to eat healthy, for less than what an unhealthy alternative would be.

Substitutions can be made for the wrap such as whole grain bread (\$1.75 a loaf), lettuce (\$1.99 for a pound bag) and other types of protein for the egg such as chicken, beef, venison, etc.

Don’t be afraid to experiment on your own and see what you can come up with! Let me know what you find!

1. Bobby says:

I appreciate the sentiment of the article, but like Daniel said, you’re comparing a convenient meal versus one that requires a grocery trip and cooking. I think the bigger issue is that there are very few inexpensive, healthy, and convenient options. While you can get healthy and convenient, no one has a dollar menu with healthy items. Or you can go healthy and inexpensive like you pointed out but it’s much harder to find all three.

Thanks for your comment! I wouldn’t say it’s harder, it just may take more planning. But, overall I find that people are more interested in working hard to come up with excuses than actually planning.

2. DANIEL says:

People do not want to cook anymore! A better example would be trying to eat healthy at McD’s. I like their salads but compare the price of one of their salad meals to your purchased meal and you will how expensive it is to eat healthy there!