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The Real Cost of Eating Healthy

By on March 17, 2014

There can be many obstacles to achieving good nutrition. In today’s economy cost can be one of the most prohibitive factors.

All too often I hear, “It is too expensive to eat healthy”.  It is cheaper to either buy fast food or by premade prepackaged foods.  We need to address this issue and begin to develop the tools necessary to move forward.

As a health coach and personal trainer, I believe we have to develop a new mindset when it comes to food. It is too easy to see food as a convenience item and not for what it really is.

Food is a vital resource when it comes to our health and well-being. The food we eat matters. We have to place more value on the foods we put into our bodies.  Let’s get the most value out of our food dollar, without compromising quality and our health in the process.  It’s too common to see meals loaded with saturated fats, processed sugars and high sodium levels as part of the daily diet. It’s quick, easy, and “cheap” but a deadly combination.  Consider the high levels of diabetes, heart disease and obesity afflicting the African American community.

Nearly 20% of all African Americans over age 20 are type 2 diabetic and the figure is climbing.  Almost 40% of black men are also obese and suffer from hypertension.  All of these alarming figures can be traced back mainly to our diet. Fried foods, processed foods and sweetened beverages all play a part in why the figures are so high.

We need to make better choices, starting in the supermarket.  For example the $1.25 spent on a soda or juice it can be spent on a bottle of water. At many stores for that price you can get a gallon of water as opposed to a 20oz bottle of soda.  The amount spent on a package of precut processed potatoes can be spent on a 5lbs. bag of fresh potatoes that are double or triple the amount of the packaged version. Intentional investment of a little more time in learning how to shop and food preparation can make fresh meals more accessible, and cost effective.

coumadin-and-vitamin-k-imageHealthy eating is not just something for “them” or “those people”. It has to become a priority in our community if we hope to end the health epidemic we are in right now.

Let’s start by looking at a healthy shopping list and at the costs of the items in it.  Prices may be cheaper in your jurisdiction. Focus on food staples. Focus on good proteins, vegetables, complex carbohydrates. And only minimally processed or boxed foods.  This is a list that can be built upon and revised based on your household and dietary needs.

Note: The prices below reflect the estimated cost in New York (Feb. 2014) they will vary based on location.


My Shopping List

  • Chicken: $0.69 to $1.69 per lbs.  (7lbs)
  • Tuna Fish: $3 for 2 cans
  • Eggs: $1.89 per dozen
  • Rice: $6.99 20lbs bag
  • Oatmeal: $3.99 42oz container
  • Bananas: $ 0.49 per lbs.
  • Broccoli: $0.99 per bunch(3 bunches)
  • Sweet potatoes: $0.99 per lbs. (4lbs.)
  • Avocados: $5 for 4
  • Gallon Low fat Milk: $3.79
  • Gallon Water: $1.00

TOTAL= $38.89

Also remember that by focusing on the natural, non-processed food items that yield the most nutrients, you will increase your access to better nutrition overall and the lower your longterm food cost.


Collin Davis, NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist. He is also a health coach and resides in New York City.

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