One Cheap Guy
Before discussing the cost of eating right, I should state my qualifications. Everyone knows I’m a cheap guy. I won’t deny it—in fact, on most days I consider it a virtue. Readers of this blog know I’m also a contrarian, I question the accepted wisdom, and yes, that’s also a virtue, most days. The beautiful wife accepts all this with scarcely a murmur.
As a contrary and cheap guy, I believe it’s no more expensive to eat healthy food than to eat the modern American diet (MAD). Yes, I know how cheap you can buy Top Ramen. The MAD is dominated by fast food and processed factory foods, all so affordable that in America even the poor people can be obese. What a great country.
Unlike the so-called experts, I maintain that it’s cheaper to eat healthy (if you’re willing to organize and cook) than to eat the MAD stuff that leads to chronic disease. Of course, I also believe that it’s cheaper to be healthy than to be sick, but everyone knows that. It’s also more fun.
The Cost of Eating The MAD Diet
The USDA keeps data on the cost on the MAD style of eating. They divide the population into four socioeconomic eating groups: Thrifty; low-cost; moderate and liberal (most expensive food). I figured we were in the moderate group because though I’m cheap, the beautiful wife likes everything nice. So on average we’re moderate.
In the month of June I collected receipts for every food item, including the three meals we ate out. I laboriously added up the cost, dividing it into food groups. Then I compared our total to the USDA costs for MAD eating. Here are the costs to feed two adults for one month:
Thrifty plan $323
Low-cost plan: $418
Moderate plan: $516
Liberal plan: $621
Skip & the BW: $428
So there’s the evidence. I figure the USDA bases its data on the MAD, after all they’re the chief enabler. One thing you readers know is we work hard at eating healthy (more on that below). So ipso facto, if you’re willing to write a menu, follow a shopping list, and do your own cooking, it’s cheaper to eat healthy than to eat the MAD food that will make you chronically ill.
And that doesn’t even consider the dreadful cost of health care, or all the fun you’re going to miss being sick. Did I mention that we also had the family over for Sunday dinner once, and had guests over to dinner twice? Subtract those costs and our cost for June drops below $400. We also ate out three times, though I don't recall any white linen on the tables.
What We Spent on Food in June
Our shopping’s done for the month so I went through the grocery receipts and made a spreadsheet. Here's how we spent our $428 in June:
Meat: $54 (Including a $20 roast for the family dinner.)
Grains: $56 (I only made bread once.)
You can get a lot of vegetables for $65, but just a little meat for $54. If you divide this into three meals daily and subtract the food for guests, we ate for $2.16 per meal, each. Bottom line for concerned budgeters: A healthy diet doesn’t cost more than the MAD diet, in fact you can save money while saving your health.
Recipe of the Week
The beautiful wife is rolling her eyes but all I’m trying to do is improve our health by getting more vitamin K-2 into our diet by rediscovering . . . liver. Yes, eyes are rolling. I’m starting with chicken liver because it has more K-2. The idea is to sauté it with onions, mushrooms, maybe some apples, perhaps a little curry, and serve it over wild or brown rice.
I think you’ll like it. Eating liver has gone out of style but it’s rich in the fat-soluble vitamins that can make you naturally healthy. It's also very affordable—I paid just $2.98 a pound for my chicken liver. Stay tuned—and keep an open mind.
Please Comment: If you have a recipe you like for liver, please share it.