Eating Healthy on a Budget

This weekend, I popped into the local supermarket to pick up a few staples.

While I was there, I made a few observations.

  1. Some people should not be allowed to drive the grocery carts.
  2. The variety & quantity of food available at an average supermarket is awesome.
  3. Most of that food is crap.
  4. It’s no surprise that we have an epidemic of obesity. All you have to do is take a look in the grocery carts of these Sunday shoppers to get a clear idea of why our collective asses are wider than ever before. People load up on the crap food and leave all of the broccoli and tuna for me.

To illustrate that point, I draw your attention to the woman ahead of me in line who was buying 40 frozen pizzas. Never having purchased 40 frozen pizzas, I was curious what would prompt a person to buy 40 frozen pizzas.

So I asked…..

I started my conversation by asking her if the pizzas were any good and should I run back to the frozen food aisle and buy some. She said that “they are great and that they were on sale that week – 2 pizzas for $5.55.

Let me repeat…2 pizzas for $5.55. That’s a lot of food (calories) for $5.55.

And it got me thinking….

  1. How in the world can the pizza maker sell a pizza for under 3 bucks?
  2. Could I replace those 2 pizzas with healthier options for the same $5.55?
  3. Would the pizza lady replace her pizzas with healthier foods if they were price neutral?

So, while I waited in line, I grabbed a copy of the store’s flyer and tried to pick out a Paleo friendly meal to feed 4 people for $5.55. (assuming that 2 of these frozen pizzas will feed a family of 4)

Here’s what I came up with:

  • 1 lb of sirloin steak (that’s 1/4 lb per person)
  • 1 package/unit of broccoli (3 stalks per unit = 3/4 stalk per person)
  • 1/2 lb of cherries for dessert (1/8 lb or 6 cherries per person)
  • approx 75¢ left over for saute oil, spices, etc.

So, how did I do?

  • Nutrition wise, my “healthy” meal is far superior to the crappy frozen pizza. Vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytochemicals, etc. I won’t even mention all of the chemicals and low quality protein, fats & carbs found in the pizza.
  • Unfortunately, there is no way that the pizza lady and her family are going to be satisfied with my low calorie / high nutrition paleo dinner. When it comes to modern eating, quantity kicks quality’s butt. And a 1/4 lb of steak, 3/4 of a stalk of broc and a handful of cherries isn’t going to fill a swollen stomach like 1/2 of a pepperoni pizza.

Unfortunately….I really, really, really doubt that Mrs. Pizza Lover  is going to stop buying inexpensive frozen pizzas and start buying smaller yet healthier meals.

It’s not going to happen. Not until we decide to redistribute government subsidies & tax benefits towards the production of healthy food and away from cheap pizzas.

Maybe then Pizza Mom could transform into Healthy Mom.


  1. Well I have just accepted that I will always have huge food bills. It sucks, and is unfair. But its reality. You could never ever buy several hundred calories of food for 1$ eating paleo. EVER.

    The guys in my lab always eat pizza for their lunch, and they always talk about the place thats got the best specials on pizza. Clearly price, not health, is the driving factor here.

  2. I am slowly going bankrupt buying healthy organic foods for me and my family but I have a plan! I am investing in some garden beds (25 square metres worth) and will be attempting to bring down my food bill by growing my own! You could not pay me to eat a pizza these days but healthy food is expensive there is no doubt about it.

  3. Way to go Kylie!!!

    Urban gardening is becoming the “it” thing to do here in Toronto. Communal gardens and downtown farmers markets have spawned back yard gardens which spawned front yard gardens and neighborhood gardens and backyard chicken coops and so on

    Just like our grandparents and great-grandparent used to do.

  4. I really want a chicken coup but I’m waiting for the right time to ask my husband, he isn’t really an animal person so I think it will take some convincing!

  5. Well, thankfully, here in Greece, even though this still happens, you can still buy vegetables, fruit, meat and such for relatively low prices. Most of it is organic if you know where to buy too. I was ecstatic to find out that the butcher my mother shops from raises his own animals and they are grass fed in actual fields! Still, that doesn’t compare to hearing my dad suggest we build a chicken coup in our upcoming summer home. Mmmmm, fresh organic home grown eggs…

  6. Our dependence on grocery stores and corporate agriculture is a huge problem, too. Yes, I’m an annoying hippie who believes that beef that isn’t grass fed amounts to animal abuse, but as it happens, grass fed beef is better for our bodies and the economy. As are farmers markets and farm shares. Mail delivery through Local Harvest is an option for people who don’t have time or aren’t near any farms. I really think if we are eating clean foods, we ought to buy them straight from the growers– at farmers markets. It’ll be fresher and cheaper, and at least we know that our money is being spent on something we like. At a grocery store, we are the big spenders, but at the end of the day, since they sell more pizza, our cash is registered as a vote for stocking more pizza. They won’t stop putting pizza on sale en masse unless our money stops supporting their business and begins supporting businesses we do like and want to see more of.

  7. I definitely agree with your point that your meal won’t satisfy someone who typically lives on the standard American diet (SAD). When I first transitioned to eating actual food instead of loads of processed carbs (and god knows what else that the SAD consists of), it was pretty much impossible for me to live on meats and veggies like your meal. It’s only now that I have been eating well for almost 8 months that I am able to live on mostly plants. I think my body had to adjust. I am aware that I am making a huge assumption here, but I’d say it’s the same for everyone else. You can’t just go from living on the SAD to snapping you fingers and eating healthy. It’s a journey and a lot of people just don’t have the ability to do it without some of the government changes you suggest.

  8. I never looked at it that way, that you can spend the same amount of $$ on healthy meals then you can on frozen processed meals. Although, they may be easier, they are awful for your health. But no one sees it like that. I am 80% raw vegan. I am very consciousnesses about my health and the food I consume. I am very mindful what I put in my body because I personally don’t want to be on my death bed when I am 65 like my father was. America really needs a wake-up call and needs to see beyond on the simple package or the great price point. You keep eating those frozen meals and you will be forking a lot more out in medical meals in the long run. Ahhh. It just drives me crazy how little people care about their future when it comes to wellness and health.

  9. Being a broke student cheap processed foods are unfortunately a godsend. But if you’re creative you can find food that can keep you full at a cost such as frozen fish mixed in a huge bowl of rice, nutritious, filling and without all the garbage you can expect from most cheap meals.

  10. You can say that again. 🙂 <a href=””>eating healthy on a budget</a> tips in here are really cool.

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