Healthy eating costs you $1.50 more a day
December 5th, 2013
04:01 PM ET

Healthy eating costs you $1.50 more a day

Eating nutritional foods is one of the best ways to reduce obesity. But following a healthy diet isn't always easy, especially for lower socioeconomic groups.

One of the biggest barriers to buying good food is the cost, many experts say. Now researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have put a dollar amount on the price of healthy eating. By reviewing 27 studies on the cost of healthy vs. unhealthy foods, they've estimated the daily cost of eating better. Their results are published in the British Medical Journal.

"Conventional wisdom has been that healthier foods cost more, but it's never been clear if that's actually true or exactly how much more healthier foods might cost," said lead study author Mayuree Rao. "We found that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day, and that's less than we might have expected."

The study

Rao and her team looked at studies done after 2000 that compared healthy and unhealthy version of certain foods - for example, lean beef vs. a fattier cut, and studies that compared healthy and unhealthy diet patterns, such as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables versus a diet without fresh produce.

The studies they analyzed came from 10 countries, including the United States, Canada and several European nations. The food prices were converted to international dollars and adjusted for inflation.

The researchers evaluated the prices based on a specific food's price per serving, as well as the price per 200 calories of that food item. They evaluated the diet patterns based on the price per day (three meals' worth) and the price per 2,000 calories - the FDA's standard daily intake recommendation for adults. This ensured the researchers were looking at the price variations from all angles.

The results

Some food groups showed more of a difference in price than others. Meat had the highest price difference; healthier versions cost 29 cents more per serving on average than the less healthy option. Grains, snacks and dairy, on the other hand, showed minimal price differences between healthier and unhealthier versions.

On a broader scope, the healthiest diets appear to cost consumers about $1.50 more per day than the unhealthiest diets. This means consumers who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, for example, pay about $1.50 more per day than those who eat a diet made up mostly of processed foods.

This result was consistent across several types of healthy diets, the study authors say, including the Mediterranean-style diet, Harvard's Alternative Healthy Eating Index, and diets focused on eating more energy dense foods.


Every study has a caveat - something the scientists couldn't control for or didn't analyze that may be affecting the results. In this case, the study authors were limited by data that had been collected by others in the past. The definition of a "healthy" diet varied between each study, and the prices were only evaluated to reflect the price for a typical adult's daily diet.


"Our aim... was not to evaluate whether one specific product costs more than another, but whether healthier foods in a broad class of foods cost more, on average, than less healthy foods in the same broad class," the study authors write.

Rao wants you to consider what $1.50 means to you.

"For many low-income families, that means quite a lot," she said. "It translates to about $550 more per year for one person, and that could be a real barrier to healthy eating."

But for other people, $1.50 is less than they spend on their morning cup of coffee. It's "just a drop in the bucket when you consider the billions of dollars spent every year on diet-related chronic disease like obesity, diabetes and heart disease," Rao said. "When you look at the long-term health impact, the extra $1.50 is a good investment."

soundoff (254 Responses)
  1. Schmedley

    Yeah, but fatpills taste better

    December 6, 2013 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Conscience of a Conservative

      Does the study include 'all the costs'? Eating healthy if it avoids taking cholesterol and blood pressure medicines later in life would be cheaper.

      Also while healthy proteins such as fish can be more expensive than pork and low grade beef there are many forms of protein that are healthy and far cheaper, such as beans and lentils, and fish need not be in the diet more than two to three times per week.

      December 7, 2013 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
    • some_guy24

      @Conscience of a Conservative

      it's not about the future. it's what people can afford here and now, today. with ur logic we might as well consider medial expensives of all sorts. dentist visits from the bad foods rotting our teeth, and so on.

      December 7, 2013 at 17:50 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      some_guy24: Your are right, and wrong. It is the day to day costs that SEEM to matter, however, long term, of course any extra heath care costs should be factored in. Otherwise, we have the classic short term thinking, so prevalent in the US

      December 8, 2013 at 10:17 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      This is a BS, red herring article for people in the United States. the reason I know so is this: "The studies they analyzed came from 10 countries, including the United States, Canada and several European nations. The food prices were converted to international dollars and adjusted for inflation." PLEASE. Why not have an article on saving money on gasoline and averaging gasoline prices with those same 10 countries. Why wouldn't that work? Because gasoline prices and automobile usage is different in the US, Canada and Europe. Gasoline prices in the US is in the mid-tow $3.00 range while in parts of Europe it is $8.00 a gallon. The same applies with the $1.50 savings a day. It depends on where you live and what you have access to.

      December 8, 2013 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
    • doriamg757

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      December 12, 2013 at 10:25 | Report abuse |
    • mike4ty4

      "some_guy24: Your are right, and wrong. It is the day to day costs that SEEM to matter, however, long term, of course any extra heath care costs should be factored in. Otherwise, we have the classic short term thinking, so prevalent in the US"

      Yeah, but when you don't HAVE the short term money, what are you going to do? You can't spend money you don't have. If you don't have the $1.50/day/person right now, then how are you supposed to avoid these long-term costs? You can't take savings from the future into the present to pay for what you need now to get those same savings.

      April 30, 2015 at 05:23 | Report abuse |
  2. ScrubbsRus

    Come off it CNN , you know perfectly well eating fresh vegetables such as the ones in your photo are far, far, far more expensive than getting a couple of burritos at Taco Bell or Value Menu items at other fast food places. Eating healthy costs a lot more than $1.50 per meal, much less trying to claim per day. Eating healthy is a luxury for the people that can afford $8 a meal for a large serving of fresh produce. Which quite honestly is what it costs.

    December 6, 2013 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Monica

      There are very little options for the poor to eat better and live better, which would obviously improve their dependency on medical help as they age. To suggest that the option to eat healthier is so marginal is offensive, frankly, and it's a slap in the face of all of us who scrape by on credit cards and less than $120 a month on food stamps. I work extra hard to stay healthy, I exercise three times a week, I am very slender, and I avoid foods loaded with sodium, processed wheat, and sugars. Doing so has left me far poorer than a$1.50 a day, and without a Walmart nearby to make things easier I wind up spending almost twice as much for basic protein needs such as fish and chicken. It would be cheaper by a wide margin to live on poorly made processed foods, or "junk", but I make an extra effort not to, and government programs, a poor economy, and misguided perception like this only make it that much harder for me to avoid obesity and stay healthy and at the very least well fed.

      December 6, 2013 at 20:46 | Report abuse |
    • Cathy Baxter

      I agree. I love fresh veggies and lean meat and I know how good they are for you. Along with fresh nuts and beans......but there are times when buying a can a soup is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than trying to make a fresh pot of soup or eat a handful of fresh nuts. I cook in Olive oil and I have to really be careful that I don't over do because it costs so much......this report is really no where near accurate......

      December 6, 2013 at 21:17 | Report abuse |
    • momsRus

      @ScrubbsRUs. The $1.50 is not the cost, but the cost differential. Eating fast food is always more expensive than preparing healthy meals yourself. There may be barriers that the poor face (such as access to the grocery stores or the time to prepare food), but it really doesn't cost that much to feed my family veggies, fruits, and whole grains. You do have to shop wisely (eat seasonal or frozen vegetables, choose unprepared food, and buy what's on sale), but the cost isn't actually that much, at least where I live.

      Look at this way: I can take a family of 3 to McDonalds and can spend a couple of dollars per person on the extravalue menu. For the same price, (where I live) I can buy a 5 pound bag of potatoes, a pound or two of green beans, and a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast.

      I want people to eat healthy and be properly fed. But when I read an article in a major newspaper and the food stamp recipient is complaining that she won't be able to afford kiwi, I scratch my head and realize that her budget is substantially more than mine, even though we live in similarly priced areas and have similarly sized families.

      December 6, 2013 at 22:41 | Report abuse |
    • Rodboy

      Scrubbs – I like to eat beans and rice which is good for you – how about a bunch of kale to feed 5 people 1.99, so PEOPLE LIKE THE TASTE OF FAT AND SUGAR. Generally it is not the cost but it take time to cook. The new generation is lucky not to burn themselves on the stove. The are to bust Twitting and watching Kim K.

      December 7, 2013 at 09:45 | Report abuse |
    • Relictus

      Vegetable spaghetti – two large man sized servings – costs less than six bucks (includes the "expense" of jar sauce). A large handful of spinach is $1. A head of cabbage is $1. Peanut butter is protein. Rice makes it a complete protein.

      Eating healthy IS CHEAP. Eating garbage is expensive.

      December 8, 2013 at 00:33 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      Are U kidding? Now way its more than 1.50 per day. I eat that way. I garantee you I can get you recipes that are very close to as cheap as they claim. Bean, lentils and brown rice are very low cost and reducing beef can save lots of money (meats in general are exp). Don't use cost to try and justify a crappy diet, and oh, by the way, taco bell is not cheap either.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:20 | Report abuse |
    • Dan3333333

      I can feed a family of 4 for $9 and do, Boneless skinless chicken breast on sale for $1.99 a lb. I buy 4 lbs now have 2 meals, a bunch of broccolli for $1.88 and I steam it. Flavored rice or Beans $1.50 not on sale. so $4 for chicken, $2 for broc. and $1.50 for rice or beans...that $7.50 $8 after tax. And then skim milk....Why is this so hard? Breakfast cottage cheese fruit hard boiled egg. $6 for a family of 4. Then we brown bag sandwiches, fruit, pretzels, and a drink. $7 a family. Not real hard if you are smart, but you have to have access to a market and not 7-11

      December 8, 2013 at 17:57 | Report abuse |
    • Galina L.

      It is a myth that you should avoid fatty meats and animal food in general + eat obligatory 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to be healthy. The best way to save money is buying a lot of organ meats, eggs, chicken and pork, and put enough of fat into your veggies to stay not hungry till the next meal without snacking. The food to drop to save money – all snacks, all bought beverages, most deli, most fruits, all sugary things, cereal bars and breakfast cereals. I personally eat two meals a day + cup of coffee with a heavy cream on the morning. Snacks waste a lot of money .

      December 8, 2013 at 21:24 | Report abuse |
  3. wayne

    Wish the article were true but factor in get to and from markets and time management factors plus many other factors that were ignored

    December 6, 2013 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kippyafd

      So what you are saying is its too difficult to go to the grocery store? Its easier to get fast food? Therefore, it costs you more?

      January 4, 2014 at 12:08 | Report abuse |

    Eating healthy costs $1.50 more per day only if your time has no value. Fresh food has to be prepared, and that takes time and effort. The true cost of fresh food has to factor in the value put into its preparation, and that's why so many people eat out. Their time is worth more to them than the extra cost of the food.

    December 6, 2013 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • FiveLIters

      My guess is,if those same people would step away from their (take your pick) Xbox/FaceBook/Twitter/TV/etc. they would find they have more than enough time to prepare dinner. And being that everyone,even in the hood,has an iPhone or some variant of cell phone,maybe that $100+/month could go towards the $1.50/day the article mentions. But hey,everyone -has- to have a phone...so they can send a bunch of inane texts back and forth to each other. Why bother investing in your health?

      December 7, 2013 at 02:34 | Report abuse |
    • BH

      If you are truly calculating time, then what about the time it takes to go to the restaurant or the time that you spend waiting to be seated maybe you should even factor in the time it takes to be served. Another hidden cost is the expensive to get to your eatery. Preparing a healthy meal is far cheaper than eating out (in most cases).

      December 7, 2013 at 08:24 | Report abuse |
    • Relictus

      The cost of gas is added to the cost of food, plus getting to the fast food joint takes time.

      December 8, 2013 at 00:35 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      I cook almost every night. It takes some time but not what you might think. About 1 hour a week shopping and each night, about 30 minutes including clean up, total 45 min to 1 hour to eat and clean up. And the meals are good!!!

      December 8, 2013 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
  5. Me

    Imagine this. There are three weeks left in the month and after you have paid your rent and other expenses, you have $120 left to your name, which is supposed to feed you for three weeks. A bag of frozen broccoli at the only market you can get to (because you don't have a car and there is no public transportation) can give you four servings and costs $3.99, which is 19% of your weekly budget. Do you want boneless skinless chicken breast? That is 3.99/lb if they have it at the counter. Which will give you two breasts....4 servings if you are small like me. So now you have spent over 40% of your weekly budget and you only have 2/3 of four meals down. You need 21 meals. That is the reality.

    December 6, 2013 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cara

      Firstly, chicken isn't healthy and neither is "bagged" broccoli. And secondly, there are plenty of foods you can buy that are healthy for a cheap price. Beans are healthy. The cost: $1.50 per four servings. Peanut butter is healthy: $2.50 per fourteen servings. cereal is healthy. Bananas are healthy, any fruit or vegetable can be healthy (just buy what's IN SEASON). Want your omega 3's? Buy some flax seed. All of these foods are cheap. People are so addicted to sugar, that they're not willing to forgo a big mac or Twinkie and create these silly excuses, "it's too expensive...." WELL, NEWS FLASH!!!... no it's NOT.

      December 7, 2013 at 10:41 | Report abuse |
    • scar

      Peanut butter is most certainly not that healthy, unless you are buying natural peanut butter which require refrigeration and is most certainly more expensive than the $2.50. Do you know how much added sugar is in regular peanut butter. Also, bagged broccoli is healthy. Frozen vegetables retain nearly all of their nutrients as opposed to canned vegetables which also have the added danger of BPA from can linings. If you care about eating healthy you also need to care about choosing organic vegetables (without those pesticides) and those are certainly much more expensive than even regular fresh vegetables. I'm fortunate that I make enough money that I can afford to pay that extra amount. I am not so smug or sheltered that I do not know that others are in a much more precarious financial situation than I and simply cannot afford to buy better food. For those who can afford it and choose not to because of preference, they are trading health for convenience and will regret their decision one day. For others who can't make better choices because they are living below the poverty line or right at - have some freaking compassion. Get off your high horse and realize that, yes, some people have a perfectly valid reason for not eating healthier. Save your outrage and get out there and do something to change it instead of sitting your behind and acting superior on the internet.

      December 7, 2013 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
    • Relictus

      $120 for 3 weeks is $40 per week. That's less than $6 per day. Heck, let's go for $5 per day.

      Breakfast: instant maple oatmeal and a banana ($1)
      Lunch: Half a slice of homemade bread and a "cup o noodles" ($1)
      Dinner: Homemade veggie stir fry, or veggie spaghetti ($1), add egg ($.20 each).

      Use an extra $.50 for the occasional PB&J sandwich, as a sweet treat.
      That's $3.70 per day, as much food as you can eat.

      December 8, 2013 at 00:44 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      Well I don't want to judge your situation, however, first thing I would say is, why don't you have a decent grocery store nearby? Every poor area needs an Aldi, they are the lowest cost by far. As far as food choices? Go with whats in season and reduce meats, I do.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:34 | Report abuse |
    • Dan3333333

      You need someone to teach you to shop or move to the south. Everything is cheaper here.

      December 8, 2013 at 18:07 | Report abuse |
    • kippyafd

      So what do you buy with your budget? What foods do you buy that are cheaper and more affordable?

      January 4, 2014 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
  6. Me

    In the words of Steve Jobs, about a quarter of you are (fill in the blank) heads. I can tell you have absolutely no idea what it is like to be poor in America, and not just cash poor, but resource poor. About 12 years ago I was cash poor and resource poor. Imagine this...
    You are 20 and you have just been diagnosed with a rare neuromuscular disorder. Because politicians aren't completely heartless, you receive $600 a month in assistance. You rent a room for $400 a month, which is also supposed to pay for utilities but the people you rent from are poor themselves and most of the time you don't have a least two, one of them being a phone (cell phones are still for the rich as far as you are concerned). You can't drive and couldn't afford a car anyway, and your town has no public transportation. You would like to move but don't have the money for first, last, and a security deposit, and don't have a way to get anywhere aside from walking, of which you can only do a few hundred feet of. Lucky for you, there is a market a few hundred feet a way. A fairly expensive Ralphs in a small shopping center that serves as an island of commerce in a sea of stucco houses. After paying your $400 a month rent, you have $200 to your name for everything else. When sh!t happens (like you need to buy more shampoo and underwear, or City Hall is threatening to condemn the house unless the electricity is turned back on), you have less, and sh!t likes to happen a lot. All in all, you sometimes have to make do with a food budget of $20 a week.

    It's one of those months. At Ralphs, for your 21 meals a week, you would like to buy...
    Large nectarines: $4.99/lb but $2.99/lb if you are really lucky : $3.75 to $2.24 per serving.
    Bread: $3.99/lb, (yes, we know you can get it cheaper at the 99 cent store. Let me just get on my magic carpet to fly there)
    Broccoli: With stem: 99 cents/lb. Crowns: $1.99/lb. (How much do stems weight? I don't know, let's go with crowns): 66 cents/serving.
    Chicken breast, boneless, skinless: $3.99/lb if they have it at the counter. Otherwise $6.99/lb.
    Rice, instant: $2.99 a box.
    Margarine: $2.54 a tub.
    Green Beans: $1.29/can, $0.66/can if it's on sale. 52 cents to 26 cents/serving.
    Cottage Cheese: $2.99 a container.

    This is getting long. Let me just tell you how this works out. For the last 2-3 weeks of the month you eat pita bread you found on the discount shelf, and hummus for just about every meal.

    December 6, 2013 at 23:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Relictus

      Uncooked rice is extremely cheap. A fabulous rice cooker is $16. Never touch instant rice again. So nasty. For what you pay for instant rice in a month, you can afford to buy the cooker and a big bag of good rice. At the very worst, you should learn how to cook rice. The hardest part is boiling water.

      December 8, 2013 at 01:06 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      Well I feel for you. The article was about the costs to eat healthy, not about trying to live on public assistance. Are you saying you cannot work at all? I don't want to judge but if I were you, I would find a way, if at all possible. God bless.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:38 | Report abuse |
  7. tim

    So lean beef costs more than beef with more fat. I never knew beef, lean or not, was an essential part of a healthy diet.

    December 7, 2013 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Tammie Caddell

    Challenge is ,a way to store it .We have to eat it with in 48 hours or its bad . We would need to shop every 2 days or so .:)

    December 7, 2013 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. MysteriaKiito

    Fresh produce around where I live has been looking and tasting just downright terrible. The audacity to even call it "fresh" astounds me. I used to buy a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables because I was on, and still am, on a diet. But the cost of all of the veggies and fruit I was buying spoiling before I could eat them or just tasting too bad to eat made me stop buying it altogether. I've had to find other ways to eat lower calorie without fresh produce on my grocery list. We bought some strawberries and when I went to cut them and eat them two days later they were COVERED in mold. My husband inspected them very carefully before we purchased because we have had it happen a lot before. That was the last straw before I stopped buying produce altogether. We've actually saved money by not buying fresh produce anymore. Why? Not only are the prices higher than buying frozen produce, or junk food, but their shelf life means you're paying for food you're not using. If I could get to the store everyday to buy what I'd need for the day I would, but the reality is I'm a very busy mother. During warmer season weather I'm able to walk to the store more often with my children, but I don't dare bring them out in the freezing snow at all let alone every single day to buy fresh fruit and veggies that probably won't even taste fresh to begin with. It's sad, I really miss eating red bell peppers and grapes. Those were my favorites. But I had to make a choice to save us some money. In the end it's mainly the shelf life that is the problem because fruits and vegetables that rot before you get a chance to eat it are a waste of money in the long run.

    December 7, 2013 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ThomasE

    @Me is there a church in your neighborhood which you can walk to and not have to take your magic carpet? A goodwill, A salvation army? I'm from NY and if homeless people can make it through the winter without starving I am sure something is wrong with your story. I'm not saying it's hard out there but to make the excuse that you to survive on $1 menu cholesterol burgers is BS. Eating healthy is not going to break the bank. If you think you have it bad just go to south america and your house will be a castle to someone living in shanty towns. (Google shanty towns and get back to me)

    December 7, 2013 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Emmet

    Unhealthy foods cost more because that's what governments tend to subsidize: nutritionally valueless foods like GMO corn and wheat. These get a lot of people fed but are slowly (or not so slowly) killing is. We need to work on finding more cost-effective ways to produce healthier food for everyone.

    December 7, 2013 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. myrtlemaylee

    The caveats have more fat than the study results. Different countries, differing diet habits, "adjusted for inflation"? In other words, an expensive study that serves no purpose except to keep the researchers on the taxpayer's dole. LOL.

    The cost of individual ingredients is perhaps the least important factor in promoting healthy diets. It takes a lot more time to prepare fresh food for a family every night after work than to stop at a cheap, take-out place that does all the prep & cooking for you. Apartment dwellers may not have decent sized, working freezers so that they can freeze meal portions for weekday dinners.

    Let's spend some money addressing the problems of real humans, not researchers.

    December 7, 2013 at 15:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. DM

    The article of course deals with averages taken over wide geographic areas. I would bet that most people like me don't have access to low-enough cost items that are more nutritious for most of the year. Most of the nutritious foods pictured are seasonal and often come from places where you shouldn't drink the water, let alone eat the vegetables grown in that soil and watered with dirty water. Those are realities more in my face than prices because I do not have the choices the article implies to make good or bad decisions stated. A better way to live more cheaply and with better nutrition is for me to eat less junk that poses as food. That's what I need to do. Maybe I would also save enough money to pay for more expensive, more nutritious food if it was available at reasonable prices and grown in places that I can trust?

    December 7, 2013 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Food_Prices_Higher_In_UK_vs_US

    Food prices are higher in the UK when compared to the US by about 20%.

    In fact prices for most other products are even higher because of the higher taxes. Hence this study is of no value here in the US.

    December 7, 2013 at 18:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Whatever

    You CAN eat healthy and at a decent price IF you choose your food well, use portion control (don't over eat) and don't purchase brand names. Don't buy any junk food, fast food, processed food and eat the correct portions. People who use eating healthy is too expensive as their excuse for eating crap either don't know how to shop, eat too much or try to eat healthy while STILL buying a bunch of junk food as well. Instead of buying chicken breasts, buy thighs. Chicken breasts are usually more than double or even triple the cost. It might cost a little more but it isn't THAT bad.

    December 7, 2013 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. JWV

    Organic food costs way more than an extra 1.50 a day. Conventional food is loaded with chemicals and pesticides.

    December 8, 2013 at 06:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Philipp10

      well you can forget about organic. WAY too expensive. But I have to disagree about conventional being loaded with pesticides. First off, most of it washes off. Secondly, I would argue its still healthier to eat conventional veggies than none at all. We have been using pesticides for a long time now and our lives have been increasing in length, I say don't over think pesticides. There are plenty of other things you are probably eating and doing that are far worse.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:46 | Report abuse |
  17. erin

    Transportation is also a huge barrier for low-income people. They often have to budget for a taxi to go to the grocery store once a month. Fresh foods like fruits and vegetables aren't going to keep for a month.

    December 8, 2013 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. runswithbeer

    Obviously, none of the people producing this report have ever been dirt poor or on food stamps. Ever try to feed a family of five on 65 bucks a week. or 30.... You could even buy a days worth at Whole Foods. For two bucks mac and cheese and hotdog weiners will feed 5 hungry people. People get fat because they're lazy.

    December 8, 2013 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Philipp10

      Well why are people that cannot support themselves having families of five?

      December 8, 2013 at 10:47 | Report abuse |
    • Philipp10

      and BTW, you just missed the whole point of the article, that eating healthy is 1.50 a day more than eating crappy.

      December 8, 2013 at 10:48 | Report abuse |
    • Dan3333333

      Since people are getting off on tangent, everyone was whining last month that a family of 4 was having their temporary food stamp increase dropped from $660 to $630 a month. That is $157 a week, that is easy to eat healthy on.

      December 8, 2013 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
  19. AnnF

    Absolutely, "eating healty" on a limited budget is a challenge. (By that I mean eating less processed food, "bad" fat, sodium, and sweetners – and eating more whole grains and produce, not necessarily organic.) But in many cases it is possible, given a willingness to give it priority. Particulaly with children, to get them off to the right start; don't get them addicted to junk food.

    Everyone who has commented here has access to the internet. Read the online weekly ads for specials at your local supermarkt(s) and make a shopping list. One can get peanut butter that has 200 mg sodium per serving or a brand that has only 65mg. Old-fashioned oatmeal has zero sodium and zero sugar and sells for 10 cents a serving during the manufacturer's periodic promotions. Flavor to your own taste with raisins, banana, and a small amount of the fat of your choice. Cooking time in the microwave is about 5 minutes.(My personal experience is that house brand oatmeal has more broken oat flakes and tends to set up like concrete.) Two pound bags of brown rice are on bogo this week at one of my markets, which works out to be 80 cents/#. As someone else commented, rice cookers are reasonably priced and do work.

    Read the nutritional labels when you shop. One of the key numbers is sodium content. Sodium (and sugar) is a flavor enhancer, without which many prepared foods would taste like cardboard. One advantage of preparing food yourself is that you can instead use flavor enhancers of your choice. One of my standards is hot red peppers, just enough to wake up the taste buds – the same thing salt does. And, caramelized vegetables (and apples and pineapple) are tasty sweetners. Another standard is Salt-Free Garlic and Herb seasoning. After a while, prepared food will taste salty and overly sweetened.

    And, finally, if you can swing it, get a small no-frills chest freezer. It enables one to store meat bought on sale. My standard meats are whole pork loin, 90% lean ground beef, and chicken thighs (which I skin and debone). I trim and portion meat before freezing so it can be (thawed and) cooked without further prep time. Can also store purchased frozen vegetables. And, peppers that will be used in cooking freeze well. This much reduces any time advantage going out for fast food has over home cooking.

    I realize that this may read like a lecture. But it is frustrationg to read the comments of people who are actually spending more when they buy prepared food.

    December 8, 2013 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • US Inuk

      Thanks Ann! I like those tips!

      December 9, 2013 at 08:42 | Report abuse |
    • momsRus

      I no longer read nutritional labels. I read ingredient labels. Too often, sugar, salt, and fat are replaced with fake stuff. (eg saturated fat with hydrogenated fat, salt with MSG, or sugar with artificial sweetners.

      December 9, 2013 at 22:39 | Report abuse |
  20. Ron Richards

    Eating Healthy Does **NOT** cost anything more per day. If you REPLACE the vending machine food, the Starbucks runs and the restaurant meals with healthy, grocery store food, then eating healthy costs LESS per day.

    December 8, 2013 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Erik

      What you've just shown is that it is possible to pay more for unhealthy foods (starbucks, restaurant food, etc) than for healthy ones (broccoli prepared at home). This is obvious. But it's not the point of the study. The study assumes you are selecting comparable unprepared foods and cooking your own meals.

      December 8, 2013 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  21. Betty

    I believe these results to be on the very low end. Fruits and veggies, especially when out of season, are very costly. Sometimes more than meat. Lean meat verses cheaper and adding fruits and veggies, IMO, equals quite a bit more than $1.50 a day for a family of 4

    December 8, 2013 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rocketship

      "Grains, snacks and dairy, on the other hand, showed minimal price differences between healthier and unhealthier versions." In what regions? For dairy, are we comparing organic vs non-organic or fat percentage? Organic milk at my nearest supermarket is $5-6 a gallon. Store brand milk goes on sale twice a month for $2.50 a gallon. Not a "minimal" difference. I hate that this article doesn't specify "$1.50 more than what" and what is defined as "healthy." $1.50 per person, per day however they rate it, for a family of 3 adds up to about an extra $135/Month.

      December 8, 2013 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • momsRus

      Frozen veggies still run $1/lb if you buy in bulk. Healthy does not necessarily mean fresh or organic.

      December 9, 2013 at 22:46 | Report abuse |
    • Crazy in Alaska

      No one NEEDS milk. Drink water, it's free from the tap. Beans and rice and frozen veggies are cheap, available, and easy to cook. If you are truly starving, you should be able to survive on a bag of rice, a bag of beans, and a few bags of frozen veggies for a week. Buy a pressure cooker from a thrift store and you'll also save on fuel (gas or electricity) cooking your rice/beans/veggie meal, which is a complete meal. Oatmeal is also cheap and can be bought in bulk. That can also be cooked in pressure cooker if not quick oats. It may get boring but you won't starve and you'll be eating healthier than if you go to fast food restaurants.

      May 19, 2014 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
  22. Rocketship

    Processed "prepared" foods were once a luxury, and now whole, fresh foods are the luxury. I wonder when exactly it flipped. I find it to be backward that the way society/industry has changed, it costs more money to eat fruits, veggies, grains and meat in their natural form rather than chemical-laden factory produced frankenfoods. I understand the convenience factor, and the burden of producing food for mass amounts of people, but the real cost (healthcare, chemical / hormonal ingestion, environmental issues, etc..) I fear will be too much.

    December 8, 2013 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Rocketship

    It's tough to shop on a very low budget. I once had to feed my family of 3 on $50 a week (no government help, no food stamps) and I did it, with healthy foods. I learned a lot from the experience and I'm better for it. My situation was unique, I suppose... I had my own transportation, and lived in a city with several grocery stores and farmer's markets. It involved a lot of planning. I shopped the best sale prices and it sometimes involved going several different places. I found what saved me the most money was going back to the basics. Eggs, bread, milk, fresh, in season veggies, dry (not instant) rice, beans, meat only on sale, etc. I used coupons when I could and it worked out.
    Now, I'm in a much better financial situation, but use resources like co-ops (bountifubaskets.org), and still clip coupons and use them in addition to sale prices.. There are lots of good money saving options out there, but it takes the time and usually internet access and personal transportation to find and use them. Luxuries not everyone has...

    December 8, 2013 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Christina

    I researched this article back to original publication. Both peer reveiwers panned it and would not endorse publication. It has significant issues with nearly every aspect of it's report. They said the methodology was questionable, that their data was flawed and called it subjective and judgemental!

    December 8, 2013 at 17:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Jill

    Of course it costs much more than $1.50 a day to eat healthy. Fresh produce is expensive. So are the leaner cuts of meats. Silly articles like this dont help people .

    December 8, 2013 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Crazy in Alaska

      $1.50 MORE....than eating unhealthy. Read the article again. MORE is clearly stated.

      May 19, 2014 at 17:34 | Report abuse |
  26. Adam Smith

    More GOP-sponsored lies. Eating healthy costs almost twice as much as eating cheap. To give concrete examples – a budget eater spends about eight dollars a day on meals, which runs to about three hundred dollars a month. If you wanted a balanced diet, you would need to spend ALOT of money – mostly because there are no cheap sources of protein – check out the grocery store. Lean meat is EXPENSIVE. One healthy 40-30-30 meal would cost you close to eight dollars. This would run you some six-to-eight hundred dollars a month. Now, do you think the majority of people who live paycheck-to-paycheck can afford spending six hundred dollars a month on meals? I know I can't.

    December 8, 2013 at 19:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • AnnF

      Disagree that getting the required amount of protein from lean meat is "expensive". According to the CDC, an adult male needs 56 grams of protein per day. Say you decide to get 85% of that from 90% lean ground beef. A half pound of 90% exceeds that requirement. Granted it's not guaranteed Black Angus or organic beef, but 90% is regularly sold for $2.99/# at two supermarkets here ... that's $1.50/day. (Or, considerably more in the form of two quarter-pounders at the drive-through.) Trimmed boneless pork loin is about 2/3 of that cost and DIY skinned/boned chicken thighs less still.

      December 8, 2013 at 22:14 | Report abuse |
    • Adam Smith

      If you are looking for a healthy diet, I wouldn't recommend any kind of 'ground' anything. Why do you think ground 'lean' meat costs significantly less than just filet lean meat even though grounding incurs additional cost? Because the producer is doing charity out of goodness of its heart by grounding the lean meat for your consumption for free and then selling it cheaper than it would have sold the filet? It's because half of that ground 'lean' meat is actually edible cardboard and other crap a person shouldn't eat. True lean meat ( filet ) – where you can tell what you're eating – runs at $6.99+ a pound. As to chicken, thighs/drums are not healthy, you should know this. By the way, that's precisely why they're cheap. Chicken breast is about a dollar, maybe two, less than the lean beef, so you can save some money there, but it's still NOT cheap. I'm not even discussing boned&skinned option. If you're seriously suggesting that, why not suggest raising chickens yourself? It should be even 'cheaper', right? You can also save some money by camping the store for sales of the expiring meat products if you have time, but sales of quality meat/fowl/fish are few. Oh, and by the way, 56g of protein is only enough if you're a small-framed girl. Not everyone is lucky like that.

      December 8, 2013 at 22:40 | Report abuse |
    • AnnF

      OK, so you're a meat snob. While it certainly tastes better, a well marbled rib roast is probably less healthy (fat content) than 90% lean burger ground from steak/roast scraps and dairy cow. (Including any filler without including it on the label would be illegal.)
      No, I don't know why (skinned) chicken thighs are unhealthy and chicken breasts aren't. A 3oz serving of thigh has only 2 grams more of saturated fat.
      Again, the protein requirement I gave for adult men is from the CDC website. The requirement for adult women is 46 grams.
      Removing the skin from a chicken thigh is trivial. It takes a few tries to get the hang of boning, but frozen potions thaw and cook quicker than bone-in.
      You are wrong about cost of raising chickens. Home raised costs more than store bought.
      Since I live 20 miles from the supermarkets I shop, camping out there for sales would be impractical. But when I go shopping I often scan the meat cases for sale tags.

      December 9, 2013 at 00:57 | Report abuse |
  27. abbydelabbey

    One of the reasons that the poor cannot eat fresh fruits and vegetables is that there are fewer grocery stores in inner cities, mostly convenience stores that sell junk foods. Also, if there is a grocery store nearby the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables are substantially higher. The poor have to make their resources stretch so they buy the most inexpensive foods - usually lots of macaroni - heavy in carbohydrates to feel full but not providing appropriate nutrition. Protein sources generally are the cheapest possible. I know people who work as cashiers who have told me how the poor shop. They see it every day.

    December 8, 2013 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Adam Smith

      The main problem really is protein. Any kind of quality protein is expensive. Vegetables & carbs are easy. Broccoli, celery, carrots, rice, and beans are all cheap and can stay in a fridge a few days even if cooked. You don't really need fruit in your diet. It's nice to have, but you can have a balance diet without any kind of fruit in it.

      December 8, 2013 at 23:09 | Report abuse |
  28. bibleverse1

    Frozen fruits and veggies and apple sauce.

    December 8, 2013 at 22:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Advocare Distributor

    Healthy, fresh foods are always going to cost more than processed foods due to profit margins for the companies. But what you have to ask yourself is this, Do I pay a little extra now and have a healthy body? OR do I skip the health foods, get a cheaper meal but pay for it later on in life when my body starts to die? Your body is your home so you might as well keep it in tact so you have a place to live in. If you are interested in healthy products check out my site http://www.advocare.com/13128007

    December 8, 2013 at 23:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Do you pay an extra $200 a month on food, or do you pay the rent? That's one concern, if we're bringing up places to live in.

      December 9, 2013 at 14:26 | Report abuse |
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  32. Mike

    So. This study's caveat is that it had zero control over what was construed as a healthy diet in the first place? You'd think that would have some serious repercussions on the final product.

    December 9, 2013 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
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  34. matt

    Ever since Michele Obama went on a rampage about healthy food in schools produce skyrocketed. I still would like to know why local produce from a mile down the road cost 3 to 4 times as much as produce of the same coming from the west coast or another country. It makes no sense, but the Obama's are hell bent on financially breaking the American people any way they can.

    December 10, 2013 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. ChristianzMP

    In the article "Healthy eating costs you $1.50 More a Day" by Jaqcue Wilson she writes about how eating nutritional foods is one of the best ways to reduce obesity but following a healthy diet isn't easy as it is. She informs us the reader that every study has a caveat or something the scientists couldn't control that may or may not affect the results. In this case, the definition of a healthy diet was different between each study. But to top it all off according to Mayuree Rao, a researcher, after testing the prices of foods in many different diets found that the healthiest diets to follow cost about $1.50 more per day.

    In my opinion the difference in food prices makes sense. The reason it makes sense to me is because in this case unhealthy eating is the easy way to go. The unhealthy products may not taste as good as the healthy ones and they cost less therefore they are the ones that people are more inclined to. To put it in a more broad way, Why would we have to pay more to get fat when all we want to do is loose weight?

    December 10, 2013 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Elle

    That $1.50 extra per day doesn't even figure in the extra gas or bus fare it would require to continually get to the store to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. It's not like you can buy that stuff in bulk, and how many poor people have freezers large enough to store these foods frozen? And let's face it: where the poor live have CRAPPY fresh fruits and veggies...if they're available at all. My local 7-11 accepts food stamps but their "vegetables" on stock are literally maybe 2 bags of frozen beans (if they even have that) and maybe 5 or 6 cans of beans costing $1.79 each. Not sure if that's typical but it sure is shameful...food stmaps should buy FOOD not Pop Tarts or Totinos Pizza Bites.

    The way I see it, add in an extra $10-$15 a month gas money or about $10 extra bus fare. At the very least.

    December 11, 2013 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
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    actual healthy food, nutritious and inexpensive can be obtained around us by way of planting vegetables or fruit yard of our house

    December 24, 2013 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
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