Is healthy food expensive?

I got a huge bag of fresh fruit and veggies (and a bottle of sweet chilli sauce) from Sainsbury’s today and I was amazed when it only came to £14.39. Here’s what I got:

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Afterwards I ducked into Holland & Barrett for some vegan junk food and it was surprisingly expensive at £25.93.

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It’s not expensive to eat healthily. In fact, I would say it’s cheaper and my two bags of shopping, one cheap and one dear, confirm that. You can get 1kg of red lentils from Tesco for a paltry £1.80. Or a 400g can of red kidney beans for just 30 pence. What is expensive is the time it takes to prepare and cook these foods. There’s also some mental effort required, especially when you’ve never cooked something like lentils before. Junk food doesn’t require any preparation or effort to cook but that’s because we essentially pay someone else to do it.

I grew up in a house where the evening meal every night was defrosted meat of some description with frozen peas or sweetcorn on the side. The meat, usually sausages, steak, or mince, was the star of the show while vegetables were an extra. I’m sure I’m not the only one who had this experience and so I understand that when you haven’t been exposed to things like lentils, chick peas, and kidney beans it’s hard to know what to do with them. It’s also hard to form new habits but that’s exactly what I did, about 15 years ago now, when I gave up animal products. If I can do it, anyone can. It’s definitely a good way to save pennies and will likely benefit your health in the long run.

13 Comments

  1. Yep, veggies and fruit are not expensive and they are healthy, but somehow meat steals the show at the dinner tables.

    I eat enough fruit, but not so many veggies. And I do love well cooked vegetarian dishes. They can be tasty too.

    I still need to eat little chicken one or two times a week most weeks though.

  2. I’ve noticed this before – on the occasions I go to the supermarket to fill lunchboxes for the next few days – buying fruit, vegetables, and so on – the low cost almost always surprises me.

  3. I guess it depends on where you live. My experience with healthy foods is that the healthier it is, the rarer and more expensive it becomes. It can be discouraging at times, but it’s worth it.

      1. Hi Rachel😊 Mostly they are. Especially when you want to make a variety of vegetables and fruits, salad like. It can be pretty pricey. I’m happy for you. Enjoy!

  4. Fruit is expensive. Veggies are generally cheap and good value. In the past I have had less money and the problem with being stuck on a low budget is that it’s hard to get as much variety in your diet than it is if you have more money to play with. When you are on a very low budget, even eg building up a spice collection is difficult. Hence the temptation to “top up” with cheaper, less healthy foods such as bakery products and crisps – an easy to come by taste kick. Especially when you have children. You feel rubbish for not being able to buy them things other children can have, and also you feel tense about cooking new foods because they might not like them and then they will be upset at not having a dinner they like.
    I would be inclined to support a system whereby less healthy food in shops subsidised healthier food, but I realise that designing such a system would be fraught with difficulty.

    1. I don’t think you should feel bad for not buying your kids things other kids can have. It’s important to say no to children and to make sure they don’t get everything they want. I feel more sorry for parents who say yes to everything and buy their kids everything. I don’t think that’s very good for those kids in the long-run.

      My kids complain about everything I cook regardless of how much effort I put into it or how many different spices I use. In fact, I often have more luck when I just plonk a heap of raw vegetables on their plate 🙂

      Ben said when he was growing up every Friday night he and his siblings would get a plate of raw vegetables for dinner. There’d be carrot, mushroom, broccoli, and anything else his mum had in the kitchen. That was it!! It was very healthy and didn’t harm him at all.

      1. Mmm, that’s true. I used to be much more anti-materialistic when the kids were younger – I used to say that unless they really wanted a birthday present, they should give them away to charity intact, because I knew anything tacky, they would open, play with for a day, and then get fed up with. They have also turned out much less materialistic than most people their age, so I think you are right.
        I think what I get mixed up with is that Rhiannon was bullied at school when she was 7/8/9/10 or so and I feel bad about that part of her childhood. I have conflated not being able to provide her with emotional security with not being able to provide her with material goods. I don’t feel bad about not providing Isabel with material goods! I’ve never thought about it that way before. Deep stuff.

      2. I’m sorry about the bullying. That’s not your fault. The school should have dealt with that. They’re the ones who should feel bad for letting it continue year after year, not you. I think schools are better than they used to be where bullying is concerned but I know it still happens.

      3. I was so clueless as a young parent that I didn’t even realise that schools should do things like ensure that all children are being included by others. After I realised what a bad deal Rhiannon was getting, that’s when I became a governor and why I am still so involved with education even though Rhiannon has now left school and gone to University! It’s good that your kids have you to make sure they are getting what they need from school, and also to set them a good example of how to live an emotionally and physically healthy life.

    2. Sometimes explaining to the children the situation of things helps a lot. Don’t underestimate your children’s ability to understand and work with you. It won’t hurt to let them be part of the family’s money talks and budgeting. They feel important and start acting all grown up (which they are, admit it😉). You will be amazed at the fresh helpful insights they will bring to the table. This helps them learn these things: 1. Parents are working hard for money. 2. How bills are paid and how much they cost. 3. More than 50% of the bills are for their benefit. 4. The need to budget and how to budget. 5. We are a team. Now when they feel involved in the ‘decision making’, it now becomes ‘our’ budget, and without been prompted they will learn to overlook the less important goodies, for the more important stuff that everyone will benefit from. I urge you to try it Denise, and please share the outcome of your Family Budget Conference with us. This can also apply to everything else that concerns the family. Shalom🍇

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