Struggling with weight issues is a challenge for anyone in modern westernised society, yet it seems that to eat healthily and "go organic" you need to spend more. Trying to save money and eat healthily can seem counter productive, especially when supermarkets price the healthier options more expensively.
This trend of overweight people and obesity is more common in lower socio-economic areas, however the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) state on their website that almost 2 in 3 Australian adults are overweight or obese, whilst 1 in 4 kids are too. So, how can you eat healthier for less?
Roy Morgan research published a study in 2014 revealing that half of Queensland children ate salad on average whilst the other half in poorer households filled up on noodles and chicken nuggets. Their statistics also showed that 66% of kids in poorer families ate chips whilst 44% ate a combination of other unhealthy snacks.
The AIHW announced that 2 out of 3 women in the lowest socio-economic areas of Australia were overweight or obese.
Eating Healthier for Less
There are ways you can eat healthier food for less money specifically when you’re living on a budget. The key to eating healthier in the eyes of Julie Gilbert, Dietician and spokesperson for the Dieticians Association of Australia is: “Education plays a big role and the value you put on your health”.
In previous Buckscoop articles I have covered the importance of buying fruit and vegetables when they are in season because the cost is considerably reduced. This is the first key to buying healthier food and paying less. Secondly, buying full raw vegetables and fruit saves money compared buying their chopped or processed equivalents. This money saving tip requires some prior education about adding value by looking at the cost per unit comparison of products. Being aware of this will help you spot major differences in prices for the same product based purely on the packaging it comes in.
Although tinned protein foods and vegetables don’t sound very healthy, the nutritional value that they hold is equivalent to their ‘free roaming’ cousins. A chopped and tinned tomato, for example, has exactly the same nutrition as a fresh tomato. The only difference is that overtime the fresh tomato will perish. Using tinned equivalents is a great way to supplement your diet whilst also saving you money due to them being cheaper on average and consistently priced throughout the year, regardless of the season.
Buying in bulk is another way to save money on healthy foods. If you see your favourite meat on sale, this again brings the average price per unit down if you buy it in larger quantities while discounted. Combing this with generic branded products is the most effective way to buy healthier food and pay less money.
Another great tip when it comes to having enough healthy food to fill you up is to buy tinned produce such as beans, lentils and vegetables to add more volume to your meals (as opposed to lots of chips). Also, when buying food always opt for the chicken breast rather than the sliced or diced alternative (this goes back to the unit price being higher for chopped goods).
Last but not least, always visit Buckscoop's Vouchers page before shopping online at supermarkets as we regularly have vouchers available giving you discounts off your total spend (e.g. 10% off your food at Woolworths for orders over $100).
Not all Unhealthy food is Cheaper
Children need snacks through out the day, but providing them with something like a chocolate bar can actually cost more than an apple for example. An apple will cost roughly $0.60 per 100g, whilst a chocolate bar is more within the region of $1.20 per 100g.
A great way to get kids to eat healthier can be through the form of chopped vegetables and a dip, e.g. humus. The flavour of the dip can help kids overcome their ‘anti-vegetable’ quibbles.
Healthy Food Surcharge
Unfortunately there's no denying that saving money and eating healthy food is often difficult. In 2013 the British Medical Journal published a report stating that healthy food costs considerably more per meal compared to the unhealthy options. The findings consisted of 27 studies from 10 different countries around the world. The meta-analysis used within the report was the best evidence available up until that point about the insight into costs of healthy vs. unhealthy eating.
Largest price difference: Meats (US$ 0.29)
Smallest price difference: Grains and Dairy (US$ 0.03 and US$0.004)
A common rule for learning which foods are healthier can be followed, e.g. fruits, vegetables, lean meats and foods with less preparation cost more than their over-processed faster style food counterparts. Generally across the board, healthier food will always cost more, because you are effectively eating more nutrients rather than processed and artificial products that are cheaper to create.