Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Can you guys explain to me how it costs more to eat healthy food rather than junk food?

Asked by Dutchess_III (37534points) March 23rd, 2011

I don’t agree. For example, you could buy a sack of potatoes and make baked or mashed potatoes OR you could buy two or three bags of potato chips that would last about the same amount of time. The chips would be far more expensive.

You could buy boxes of mac and cheese, or you could make your own. Ounce for ounce, it would be cheaper to make your own.

You could buy a can of refried beans to make burritos with OR you could buy a sack of dry pinto beans and make your own. The dry beans would be far, far cheaper than the can.

I just don’t understand the “expense” argument. The only thing that I see is that it takes more time to make good food.

Give me some examples of how good food is more expensive.

Also, let’s narrow it down to meals prepared at home.

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79 Answers

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Sure. I can buy a Wendy’s dollar menu cheeseburger for lunch. My lunch of choice otherwise would be a huge salad with some meat strips, cheese, tomatoes, avocado and diced egg which would cost more than $1.00 and require me to prepare it ahead of time, own special containers for putting it all in and handy refrigeration to keep it tasty.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Sorry about that! Glad you posted that so I could clarify my question!

But…if you bought your own ingredients for a salad and prepared it at home, you could spend less than a buck, right?

jaytkay's avatar

Sure. I can buy a Wendy’s dollar menu cheeseburger…

Except for the “healthy food” part.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jaytkay She’s saying she could buy a junk food burger for less than a healthy salad.

Summum's avatar

I would say that mass production of the food where it is processed for shelf life is less expensive than that produced to be organic/alive/fresh and without processing. Far less is produced the healthy way at least in the states.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I eat a salad like that most nights and it costs more than a $1.00 for me to eat my fill and not want something else, probably closer to $3.00 of stuff. Thing is, once I pack my plastic container and drive to work, my salad looks sad is a yucky temperature so I brave eating some junk foods during the week for lunch and try to control the damage with dinners.

Coloma's avatar

I’m a food person and so in certain areas it IS much more expensive.
Utilizing bulk type foods is great, I love to make soups, and chili, and other one pot type meals.

BUT…I am also addicted to good cheeses, and expensive fruits such as Blackberries/raspberries, dried cherries etc. etc.

I am also addicted to all the Bell pepper varieties and the red & gold peppers are sometimes $4 ea.

I eat boatloads of packaged, fresh/frozen blackberries and they run around $3–4 per bag.

I buy lots of almonds too.

Yogurts such as Yoplait, can be pricey if not on sale.

Much of what I eat just DOES cost more.

My point IS….I could eat 100 cheeseburgers for the price of a few weeks worth of healthy snacks, so, I can see how some really poverty stricken types could feed their kids an egg mcmuffin and a milkshake more cheaply than making a ‘balanced’ breakfast at home for the same price.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I guess I’m looking for dollar comparisons and health vs unhealthy, @colma. For example, expensive cheese isn’t necessarily more healthy than regular cheese.

Bell peppers…yeah, the colored ones are REALLY expensive, but no healthier than the green ones. Compare yogurt to, say, actual bananas and strawberries….the fruits themselves would be less expensive.

I’m in a discussion involving food stamps on another thread, and a user is insisting that it is more expensive to eat healthy foods than to buy junk foods. I do not agree.

So all in all, Colma, your food preferences are more expensive, but not necessarily healthier, right?

hug_of_war's avatar

I started eating healthy in August. I definitely pay more. Sure it can be less, but one, humans generally enjoy variation in diet. You don’t want to eat JUST baked potatoes do you? I am mainly shopping for myself but I can see how much more complicated shopping for a family is. What is kid A doesn’t like potatoes? What if kid B is allergic to nuts? What if your partner hates lettuce? My greek yogurt costs $1.39 EACH. My regular yogurt is cheaper but I eat a fair amount and you can’t buy yogut in bulk.

I can’t buy vegetables in bulk except basically potatoes. So I got 10ish potatoes for $2.50 but my 1 head of cauliflower costs $2.99. You think it isn’t much money, but it all adds up. My 16oz of fish costs 5.99–7.99 (depending on kind). A family of 4 could eat that in one night. Processed food is cheaper. I have to be a lot more careful now about costs because it just is more expensive, even though I’m eatingg less.

And I am not shopping on the fly, I have made-out lists beforehand, I look through the weekly ads, I can tell you how much eveything in my kitchen cost.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m looking for comparison. @hug_of_war like, “cauliflower (good) vs XXXXX (junk food.)”

And yes, I could just have a baked potato with cheese sauce and bacon bits for dinner! If kid A doesn’t like potatoes then they don’t have to eat it!

So you have a good grasp of what you’ve spent…do you think you could have gotten the same amount of “junk food,” for less?

Coloma's avatar

@Dutchess_III

I’d say they’re both. :-)

optimisticpessimist's avatar

This really depends upon what type of good food you are buying and how many people you are preparing it for, and whether junk food also includes store bought prepared type or fast food. I tend to base my meals on the produce and meat that is on sale instead of picking meals and buying stuff whether it is on sale or not.

Dinner tonight for 5 people (2 adults, 2 teens, 1 baby): 2 lbs ground beef with onions and gravy, rice (2 cups uncooked), and frozen vegetables. Total cost approximately $5.

If we went to a fast food place, to feed all of us would be around $15 if you do not include drinks.

If I bought hot dogs, boxed mac & cheese and potato chips, it would cost close to the same as the homemade dinner. (The whole bag of chips would not be consumed in one sitting so I am only counting half of the cost.)

In my limited experience those who spend more on junk food to feed their families either do not know how to cook or have limited time/energy to prepare meals. The convenience is the added payoff it is not really about the money. Making homemade pancakes is really, really cheap.

crisw's avatar

@Dutchess_III

As was brought up in the other thread, the expense isn’t just the food itself, it’s getting the food. Many inner-city areas have no supermarkets at all, or only corner markets that carry few fresh foods and charge much more for the limited selection that they do have.

YARNLADY's avatar

I can make a salad for 4 people for less than $1 per serving. Home prepared, fresh vegetables and fruits are always cheaper per serving than junk food (high calorie, high fat and salt content, low nutritional value).

And that’s only counting the money cost, if you want to get into the overall health consequences, add the doctor bills and loss of standard of living due to poor health.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@crisw I’ve just heard the argument so many times in the past that healthy food is more expensive than junk food, and I just don’t think it’s true. The responses appear to be confirming this.

lonelydragon's avatar

I don’t have a price point comparison to offer, but when I search for coupons online and in the paper, most of them are for junk food. Healthy foods (especially produce) rarely go on sale. Of course, I still choose the healthy option over the junk food, even without a coupon.

deni's avatar

It is definitely cheaper to eat healthy than it is to eat junk food, if you make it yourself. Actually making anything yourself is almost always cheaper than buying it prepared. Though that’s not true for all things…I could buy two boxes of macaroni and cheese for about 3 dollars total….and I just spent FIFTEEN dollars on cheese for the macaroni I’m making tonight…but the difference in quality is well worth it.

But for people who buy prepared, boxed, frozen meals, they’re probably right, it is cheaper to eat junk food. Like for example, there are those burritos you can buy frozen that are like 70 cents….but the organic ones are 2 or 3 dollars. But um….obviously there’s a reason they’re so cheap. Ew. Though I do take pleasure in having one every once in a while for old times sake

optimisticpessimist's avatar

@Dutchess_III Just read the other thread. I am glad you pointed out, during the school year, the children of those who are on food stamps only have to pay for one meal a day for the kids during the week. In some states, breakfast and lunches are also provided at the school during the summer and over breaks.

I think the definition of nutritious meals has been all over the map in this thread. I can easily spend over $800 a month on groceries if I am buying organic and fresh of everything even if I prepare the meals at home. However, just buying regular nutritious food without a lot of frills can cost as little as $400 a month for my family of 5.

crisw's avatar

Here are some actual studies on the issue.

Healthy food getting more expensive- study
“Using retail prices at major supermarket chains in Seattle, researchers at the University of Washington found that low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods—mainly fruits and vegetables—were far more expensive, calorie for calorie, than sweets and snack foods.

Moreover, the average price of the lowest-calorie foods—including green vegetables, tomatoes and berries—increased by almost 20 percent over 2 years. In contrast, in the same time period there was a 2-percent dip in the cost of the most calorie-laden fare, such as butter, potato chips, cookies and candy bars.”

Money Is Tight, and Junk Food Beckons
“Studies show that junk foods tend to cost less than fruits, vegetables and other healthful foods, whose prices continue to rise…Researchers say the experiment reflects many of the challenges that poor people actually face. When food stamps and income checks run low toward the end of the month, they often do scrape by on a dollar a day or less. But many people don’t know how to prepare foods from scratch, or lack the time.”

A High Price for Healthy Food
“Healthy eating really does cost more.

That’s what University of Washington researchers found when they compared the prices of 370 foods sold at supermarkets in the Seattle area. Calorie for calorie, junk foods not only cost less than fruits and vegetables, but junk food prices also are less likely to rise as a result of inflation. The findings, reported in the current issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, may help explain why the highest rates of obesity are seen among people in lower-income groups.”

Junk Food County
“Fannie Charles, 46, lives six miles from the nearest grocery store in rural Orangeburg County, S.C. She doesn’t own a car, so she pushes a cart along the side of the highway. (There are no sidewalks.) It’s difficult, since she weighs 240 pounds and suffers from asthma and type 2 diabetes. That’s why she usually goes only once a month. About once a week she supplements her grocery-store purchases with pricier, less healthy food from the convenience store, just a mile and a half away. At both places she forgoes fruits and leafy greens. “They’re too expensive,” she says. Skim milk is often unavailable. “I get the whole milk, or I’ll get a little can of Carnation evaporated,” she says. Though she often worries about go­ing hungry, she is obese. “I’m stressed. That’s why I’m eating a lot,” she says. “And I’ve got to eat what I have.”

This is the real world of eating and nutrition in the rural United States.”

Healthy Foods more Expensive than Junk Foods
“Overall, there was only a slightly higher increase in healthy food options, but specific items such as milk and bread had increased in price dramatically compared to items such as soft drinks, biscuits and cakes.

“When people are making choices about what they are going to give their kids for a snack and price is a consideration, parents might think twice about serving milk, which is the healthy option,” Dr Burns said.

Diet-related diseases affect more low-income households compared to those in higher socio-economic groups. Cost is seen as a major influence on food purchase. ”

And there are a lot more studies out there. You cannot look at this problem in isolation- as has been mentioned, availability and convenience are inextricably woven into the situation; it’s more than the cost of the ingredients themselves.

jca's avatar

in my work with the urban poor, a popular dinner I see them eat is either macaroni and cheese (box) or macaroni/spaghetti with a jar of sauce. Mac and cheese box is about 50 cents. I don’t think on a good day, anybody can make mac and cheese from scratch for 50 cents. the macaroni itself is at least that much. the spaghetti and sauce is about 1 dollar for spaghetti (box) and 2 dollars or less, jar of sauce on sale. they might use two boxes of spaghetti, so maybe $4 for that dinner. Could a family of four eat a hearty (not delicious, not healthy, but something filling and satisfying) for that price?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@crisw I don’t have time to really read all that right now, but the first paragraph “were far more expensive, calorie for calorie, than sweets and snack foods. Calorie for calorie..of course it’s more expensive. And it’s the useless calories that make it junk and what make people fat. The comparison needs to be” healthy” v “not healthy.” Not just calories. Calories by themselves aren’t what make us healthy. I mean, gosh, to buy enough celery to get the number of calories in a bag of chips…that’s just not a comparison!

In fact, looking at it, it all seems to be comparing calorie to calorie. One cookie in a $3.00 box of cookies has more calories in it than one stick of celery in a $1.50 bunch of celery. Not a fair comparison.

Cool! @jca is looking at it the way I’m trying to. OK. Let’s break it down. To make homemade mac and cheese you need macaroni, Velveeta, milk and butter, but just a modicum of each to equal one box.

I don’t want to start throwing out prices of stuff because I’m just not sure. How much is a box of Velveeta, and divide that cost by 1/16th? A gallon of milk…use about 1/8th to ¼ of a cup. A bag of macaroni, divide that by…1/8th? Butter..could be optional, but you’d probably use about a teaspoon?

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

It’s not just that buying the ingredients for a salad would cost $4 for a bag of spinach, $5 for a bottle of salad dressing, $6 for some cheese, $6 for some meat, $4 for a bag of crasins, etc, it’s that all of that money is right up front so that even if it’s cheaper in the long run, it’s not in the short run. Plus, when it’s just me, I’m just not going to finish an entire bag of spinach, the cheese, the meat, etc before they go bad – it’s much easier to eat healthy (and generally save on groceries of all types) when there’s 3 or more people in a household.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Dutchess_III Velveeta? Your healthy mac and cheese involves Velveeta? Are you kidding me?

Ladymia69's avatar

Alright…say I really want a good organic salad. I will go to Earth Fare, because the farmers markets are not open around here yet. The spinach (by the bunch) will be about $2.99. The strawberries (organic) are about $5.99 a tray. The almonds (raw, organic), at about 1/6 pound, are about $3.30. Olive oil by the bottle (a good bottle, because a lot of oils are rancid due to packing procedures) is $8.99. An organic lemon will be $.69. So I will get maybe two salads out of this stuff (not including the olive oil, which I run through), and that’s a $23 salad. If I had worse standards I could have eaten 4 or 5 fast food meals with that. If you want to do it right, eating healthy is pricey.

Kardamom's avatar

Healthy food is a lot more expensive where I live, but there are a number of options in which poor people can feed their families for a lot less money, but the quality and healthfulness is not very good.

You can get a lot of stuff at the 99 cents store that is not so good for you, but will feed a family for dinner. Like a can of tomato soup, with lots of sodium and preservatives. If you tried to make tomato soup yourself, you would pay more than 99 cents for just one tomato and you can’t make soup from one tomato.

You can get a number of things from the dollar menu at most fast food places, that are not very healthy, but if you tried to buy the ingredients for those same items you would pay quite a bit more to get better beef or chicken for the sandwiches, or a bag of beans, a block of cheese and some decent whole grain tortillas without the preservatives is a lot more expensive than just getting a 79 cent (not so healthy) burrito at Del Taco.

You can get a box of mac and cheese for 59 cents that will feed a family of four (and not be very healthy) or you can pay about 8 bucks to get a box of dry pasta, some decent quality low fat cheese and some vegetables to throw into the dish to make it healthier. You can also get a box of some type of instant rice or pasta meals that will feed a family of 4 for a dollar, but they too are full of sodium and lack vitamins and fiber, but if you bought the ingredients to make a healthier version of those dishes (with good rice, vegetables, whole grain pasta and fresh herbs and vegetables) it would cost a lot more.

You can buy a can of pressed chicken that is full of fillers and preservatives for 99 cents that will make sandwiches for a family of 4. But if you wanted to buy an uncooked chicken or purchase a rotisserie chicken it’s going to be around 5 or 6 dollars.

You can often get a 2 liter bottle of soda (unhealthy) for 79 cents, whereas a half gallon of lowfat milk often costs $4.

If you want to buy organic produce, or produce that is nutrient dense you will pay through the nose for it, but a can of peas or a can of corn (which probably has way too much sodium and is not particularly nutrient dense) can be had for 50 cents a can.

deni's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs But you can make a fantastic, and healthier, salad without putting cheese and meat in it. In fact I never even think to put meat or cheese in a salad…it’s unnecessary and like you said it would run up the tab, which is pointless. Also, many places you can buy spinach in whatever quantity you’d like, and most people also already have some type of salad dressing, and if they don’t they sure have oil and vinegar and could easily and cheaply make their own. I know that no one wants to take the 5 minutes to do that though….but when it comes down to it there is really no excuse.

Also I guffaw everytime I see bagged lettuce in the store. It is so funny to me.

jca's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs: my thoughts exactly. i was thinking more along the lines of real cheese. Velveeta?

as far as breaking down the cost of anything, I would guess-timate costs not by assuming you are only eating 1/16th of a bottle of salad dressing or whatever, i would break it by (i think more accurately) if you don’t have any of the ingredients and have to buy all that is needed for the particular meal.

Aethelwine's avatar

Fruit snacks $2.00. Fresh strawberries in the produce section, $3.99 if not on sale.
Iceberg lettuce (crap) $1. Red leaf lettuce (much better for you) $2.
Spaghetti noodles $1. Whole grain spaghetti noodles $1.75.
Bag of chips $2.50. Nuts $4 (at least)
Packet of Koolaid $.25. Gallon of juice $3.

^^just a few examples

optimisticpessimist's avatar

Tap water- “free”—Soda $4 a 12 pack
3lb bag of apples $2 (usually less)—family size bag of chips $3
bag of baby carrots $2—individual snack pack box of 6 $2.50
10lb bag of potatoes (used many different ways for many meals) $3—boxed mac & cheese for about the same amount of meals $4

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@deni Then where’s all my protein coming from? If I don’t have protein in my salad, it might be healthy, but it’s not going to be a full meal if I want to stay awake. Do not say tofu. Do NOT say tofu.

Aethelwine's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs We put boiled egg in our salads. :)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jonsblond I hate boiled eggs. And most other forms of eggs (alone – love them in things).

deni's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Hard boiled eggs! Best solution. 12 eggs is 2 bucks or so, if that, depending on the grade….that’s enough protein for six salads, easy.

Aethelwine's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs Well of course you do!—I tried lol Nuts then?—

deni's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs well any dietary restriction or strong dislike makes things harder, of course. I hate a lot of foods and therefore spend more on food I bet than someone my size who eats anything and doesn’t care.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@jonsblond Yeah, I’m picky I haven’t found that a handful nuts provide enough protein.

Ladymia69's avatar

@jonsblond In reference to your list up there, I think you can buy better for less.

Ladymia69's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs How the hell do you think apes get all their protein? They eat green leaves largely (which are FULL of protein, even though food lobbyists, i.e.Big Mucus-and-pus-and-blood-filled Dairy have been trying to make us think they are wimpy), and other more potent protein sources in small amounts, because they know their (and likewise, our) bodies can’t digest all that protein in meat (and for us, dairy) well at all.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ladymia69 Ok, well, either way, if I have a salad for lunch that doesn’t have meat or cheese, I’m going to pass out halfway through my afternoon class.

Ladymia69's avatar

BTW, my reason for placing apes in my example is that they are huge, yet they eat mostly green leaves, and get tones of protein. So can we. Avocadoes contain 2% protein per edible portion, plus tons of healthy fats that make your brain and heart healthy. There’s your healthy boiled egg substitute.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

What is so wrong about meats and cheeses that isn’t wrong with eggs? I mean, I get the cheaper argument, but salads are pretty damn expensive, so I’d rather just go for a meal that’s all-around less expensive.

Aethelwine's avatar

@ladymia69 Then please tell me how. I’m speaking from my experience as a stay-at-home mom with children ages 7, 16 and 18. I’ve planned all of our meals and done all the shopping for the last 18 years. I make home cooked healthy meals. I don’t buy the pre-packaged crap. My bill is always more when I buy healthier foods. Always The only time we save money on our grocery bill is during the summer and fall, when we can grow our own produce.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ladymia69 I actually have a hard time finding good avocados – because I live in Colorado, all of our produce is flown in from far, far away. Even at Whole Foods, the past couple of months I’ve had trouble finding avocados that weren’t either nowhere near ripe or way way past ripe.

@deni I haven’t seen that option at King Soopers. I have at Whole Foods, but it’s so much more expensive there in the first place.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

If you are only counting fresh produce as the nutritious alternative and discounting all frozen fruits and vegetables, it is more expensive to provide nutritious meals. However, a whole chicken costs about the same as a bag of chicken strips or tenders, and I usually have enough left of the whole chicken to make soup for the next day (of course, I have to add noodles and veggies to that.)

Ladymia69's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs You really don’t get good avocados flown into Whole Foods?

@jonsblond I understand. But buying prepackaged things like chips or those fruit snacks is terrible for the kids and your budget. I’m not knocking you because I know it is hard. I remember one thing my Granny used to do was freeze grapes in the freezer after rinsing them off and putting them in a ziploc baggy, and we loved those so much more than fruit snacks (and got more servings out of them). You are a crafty, resourceful mamma. I know with a bit of trial/error and experimentation, you can figure out ways to eat healthier for less.

Here are a few articles you might be interested in:

http://www.gethealthycheap.com/2010/07/easing-kids-into-healthy-eating.html

http://simplemom.net/11-tips-for-eating-healthy-on-a-budget/

[Link removed by Fluther]

Good luck to us all.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@ladymia69 Not year round. Plus, going to Whole Foods so that I can have an avocado when I can go to Kroger and get cheaper meats and cheeses? I don’t have any problem with putting them in my salad, so that makes no sense to me.

optimisticpessimist's avatar

I think a big thing is for most (not all people). If you had $500 to spend on groceries of your own money and you get to keep whatever is leftover, you would try to spend as little as possible. You would probably skip the soda and chips. If you have $500 of free money to spend on food and did not get to keep the extra, you would spend it all. There is a mentality to this. Some people would not change their eating habits either way. I have never been on food stamps and I realize some of you have. However, you also seem to be the type of people who were on it for a limited time not a lifetime. The limited experience I have is with WIC for a year and a half. I did not use the coupons we did not need, but most of the other people I knew who used WIC would get everything even if they had no intention of using it and give it away to friends and family.

Aethelwine's avatar

@ladymia69 But buying prepackaged things like chips or those fruit snacks is terrible for the kids and your budget. That’s why I spend more for foods that are healthier, which was my point. Chips and fruit snacks are rare in our home. I appreciate the links! =)

Coloma's avatar

Well….what are you all waiting for?
Go out and harvest a nice big plate of leaves for dinner!

I have some delicious tender meadow grass, maybe I’ll make a nice grass sandwich.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Coloma I’ll have French on my meadow grass, please! And a chopped up boiled egg. And topped with a T-bone. Please. :)

OK, I glanced through everything, and it seems to me that people are equating spending more $ = healthier. Don’t buy cheddar cheese, buy brie. Don’t buy ground beef, buy steak. In those examples neither is healthier than the other, just one is more expensive. Also, I’m thinking along the lines of everyday eating, feeding a horde of kids, not the occasional gourmet meal. Digging through all of the answers I think the final answer is: It isn’t more expensive to buy healthy food than it is to buy junk food.

The one answer that really sticks with me was when OP (I think) pointed out that we might buy something, like head of lettuce, and end up throwing it away before we eat it all, which is true. However, for the week you have that head of lettuce, you can get 10 salads out of it. Even if you throw the last bit of it away, those 10 salads are cheaper than what you would pay for, say, 10 frozen TV dinners.

Re: Velveeta. Again, I’m talking about feeding mass kids, not Pres. Obama and Michelle. I looked up Velveeta and it’s cheese. Processed, like much of our food is, to be sure, but it is cheese. It’s inexpensive, comparatively, and it melts evenly and smoothly which is why I would use Velveeta to make Mac and Cheese for a bunch of 3rd graders. And probably Raman noodles in place of macaroni. ‘Cause that’s really good stuff!

@MyNewtBoobs Your situation with everything being flown in “from far away,” is by no means unique. Last I heard we can’t grow bananas, oranges, grapes, coconuts or even peanuts here in Kansas. Don’t got no salmon here, either.

@jonsblond You said, “My bill is always more when I buy healthier foods.” Could you be more specific, please? Like, “When I buy X vs Y….”

Aethelwine's avatar

@Dutchess_III I gave examples above. Strawberries cost more than fruitsnacks. I buy the strawberries.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Can you give me a $ amount @jonsblond? Googling it I see strawberries run from $1.25/pound to $2.75/pound. Fruit snacks like…? Fruit roll ups? I don’t know (they didn’t have things like fruit roll ups when I was raising my kids!) How much are they per pound?

Aethelwine's avatar

@Dutchess_III Again, look at my answer above. I rarely find strawberries for less than $3 where I live (the small container that holds about 12 strawberries). Quite often they cost $3.99. Fruitsnacks or rollups cost $2 for a box of 10 individual packages/servings. I gave specific examples in my first answer on this question. Another example- The 64 oz. bottle of V8 in my refrigerator cost me $3, a packet of Koolaid will cost $.25.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Ok…I’m just askin’! There were a lot of posts.
Re V8 v Koolaid: Cheaper yet is water. Put some sugar and food coloring in it and call it Koolaid.
I’ll have to look at the price of strawberries next time I go to the store….seriously, I’m going to make a field trip out of it!
Thanks for the comparison @jonsblond.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Dutchess_III We drink tons of water, but it’s nice to have something different now and then that is healthy. Especially when you have picky eaters in the house. V8 gives my little one an extra boost of much needed vitamins. Koolaid or sugar water doesn’t. ;)

deni's avatar

Strawberries are a bad example though because they’re always one of the most expensive things in the produce department. Strawberries, blueberries, asparagus….but take apples for example and depending on what kind they are, you could buy six for….3 or 4 dollars? Am I estimating that correctly? Grapefruits were recently on sale, 6 for a dollar here, YES SIX FOR A DOLLAR. I flipped my wig. They were good too. Small, but good. Anyhow, THAT is way cheaper than even a box of fruit snacks, and that’s six snacks right there.

jca's avatar

what is a kid going to want to take in his lunch box? fruit snacks or a grapefruit? just sayin’.

Aethelwine's avatar

@deni Unfortunately none of us like melons or grapefruit, but we love strawberries. :/

deni's avatar

@jca Well this isn’t strictly about kids. But….if you give em the choice between nothing fruity, or a delicious plump beautiful grapefruit (i really love grapefruit), maybe eventually they’d come around. Maybe not. Probably not. Worth a shot though lol.

jca's avatar

I did not develop a taste for grapefruit until i was an adult. Maybe a kid would like it, I don’t know. I know this is not just about kids, but i was thinking about the convenience of something also, and a bag of fruit snacks is more convenient than peeling a grapefruit, for a kid.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca and…. all. So much depends on what they’re used to. As I said, I just never had any junk food in my house. One day my 7 year old had a field trip that required a sack lunch. I thought it would be a special treat to throw in a Swiss Cake roll, which I bought special (I really love Swiss Cake rolls which is why I never bought them!!!.) When she examined her lunch, before she left the house, she snorted in disgust, took the Swiss Cake roll out and replaced it with an apple. She said, “I don’t want that junk in here!!”

We adults tend to bring out own bad-junk food habits to our kids attention early on. Like, to an 18 month old who’s never HAD candy before, “If you’re good I’ll give you a piece of candy!” If you said, “If you’re good I’ll give you a grape!” they would consider grapes a “delicacy,” a reward, rather than the candy.

@jca K..what about comparing grapes and roll ups? Nobody has to do nothin’ for a grape except eat it!

jca's avatar

I am starting to feel like @Dutchess_III is not taking no for an answer. There were links provided above about how healthy costs more than unhealthy, I gave some great examples of unhealthy being cheap (mac and cheese, spaghetti and a jar of sauce), others have also, and yet @Dutchess_III just keeps coming back with her examples. Someone else that I just pm’d agrees with me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, and @jca you said, “but i was thinking about the convenience” that’s much of it. Junk food is easier but not necessarily less expensive.

jca's avatar

I think we should all leave this with our own opinions that are obviously not changing. I’m feeling like @Dutchess_III should not have asked the question, since she is stuck on her opinion. It seems she does not want to hear or examine other viewpoints.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, gosh @jca. I really haven’t seen much that shows me that junk food is more expensive, just less trouble to fix. So far we’ve compared strawberries and fruit roll ups. OK, fruit roll ups are cheaper than strawberries, but are they cheaper than apples? Also, that was just one example. Comparing potatoes to potato chips would be a better comparison…and a sack of potatoes is far cheaper than the same amount of potato chips. BUT fixing potatoes is more work than opening a bag of chips. I haven’t seen anything that has shown me any different. It’s just numbers, guys. I believe in numbers.
OP had some good examples.
Tap water- “free”—Soda $4 a 12 pack
3lb bag of apples $2 (usually less)—family size bag of chips $3
bag of baby carrots $2—individual snack pack box of 6 $2.50
_10lb bag of potatoes (used many different ways for many meals) $3—boxed mac & cheese for about the same amount of meals $4__

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca I am looking at the other viewpoints! Show me where anyone gave an example of how junk food is less expensive than healthy food, with the exception of strawberries (expensive) to fruit roll ups. Are apples more or less expensive than fruit roll ups?

Aethelwine's avatar

@Dutchess_III I feel like I’m repeating myself, but in my experience of trying to provide a healthy meal for my family the past 18 years, it has always cost me more at the grocery store. It was hot dog and macaroni night in our house when money was low. I pay more for healthier food because I want my family to be healthy. And burritos and spaghetti every week is not necessarily healthy, as was stated way above.

I’ve never seen apples costing less than fruit snacks. just sayin’

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: You are ignoring that I twice cited the examples Mac and cheese (box, about 50 cents) and spaghetti and jar of sauce (box of pasta, about $1 and jar of sauce, $2, maybe second box of pasta would easily feed family of four or more).

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jonsblond Of course sugar water / Koolaid doesn’t offer the nutrition that V8 does! But if you decide to go with Koolaid, it would be cheaper yet to just go with water.

@jca If I were hungry I could easily eat two .50 boxes of mac and cheese. Basically, a box of mac and cheese feeds one kid. So you’d have to get four boxes (or more) to actually feed a family of 4, minimum $2.00. Whereas for the jar of spaghetti sauce and a box of pasta you’d pay $3.00 AND you have enough left over for a couple more meals. I always did anyway. Day two, dump some stewed tomatoes in, add macaroni noodles and cheddar cheese and you have a boat-load of goulash, last you another two days.

I can hear you getting upset…so lets just examine my post above, about the mac and cheese, vs the spaghetti. What is flawed with that logic?

Aethelwine's avatar

I’m curious @Dutchess_III, did you read @crisw‘s links? We should all have just stopped there.

Here is another link- http://www.physorg.com/news200043735.html

“We found a nearly 30 percent increase in the retail price of nutrient-dense foods in four years,” said Monsivais. This compares with a 16 percent increase for less-healthy foods including sweets, candy, soft drinks and fatty foods. “The findings have serious implications for national dietary guidelines and related policy discussions taking place in communities across the country.”

How can you compare a cheap box of noodles and spaghetti sauce to macaroni and cheese? Both are unhealthy for you. Whole grain spaghetti noodles cost $1 more than your cheap store brand spaghetti noodles.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: you must have a big appetite. I have a big appetite and I cannot finish a box of mac and cheese. Maybe teenagers could eat a whole box themselves, but a young kid? no way.

My point with the mac and cheese and the spaghetti and sauce is that neither are healthy compared to vegetables, or meat and vegetables, or something similar.

Please don’t make assumptions about how I feel/my feelings. Maybe you think you “can hear” (your words) through the internet but you cannot.

Aethelwine's avatar

To those of you dissing my strawberry example, I cup of strawberry halves has 149% vitamin C. Compare that to a cup of quartered or chopped apples with just 10% vitamin C and a cup of grapes with 27% vitamin C. I guess my family has expensive taste. ;)

optimisticpessimist's avatar

“Nutritious” has yet to be defined here. I think this is adding to the confusion. A bag of whole grain noodles and a jar of pasta sauce are way more healthy than boxed mac and cheese (and cost about the same if you are feeding a family of four or five.) However, even healthier is organic noodles and homemade sauce (made with lots of fresh veggies.) I think that basic nutritious food and unhealthy food cost about the same but the investment of time is a big factor. It is easier to pick up a box of fruit snacks than to slice an apple.

Here is a link about how food additives can also contribute to hunger. This can create the vicious circle of people eating convenience food (which is usually high in additives) needing more food because they feel hungry more often even if they do not “need” the food.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca…you add your own veggies to spaghetti sauce. At least I do. And I add hamburger (meat) of some kind, preferably ground chuck. Unless I’m just making it for myself, then forget the meat.

I don’t have a huge appetite but if I was hungry as in, that was the first time all day that I’d eaten I could easily eat a whole box of mac and cheese if that’s all that was offered. Easily.
BUT the point is, you can stretch out spaghetti sauce over several days in various forms. You can’t get as many meals out of a comparable 4 boxes of mac and cheese.

@jonsblond I don’t understand your percentages…is that 149% of vit. C in strawberries the % of total daily allowance suggested? What’s the percent of oranges, which are cheaper than strawberries?

Do you guys disagree with @optimisticpessimist : “I think that basic nutritious food and unhealthy food cost about the same but the investment of time is a big factor. It is easier to pick up a box of fruit snacks than to slice an apple.” I have yet to see anywhere in this post anything that convinces me otherwise overall, unless we insist on comparing only strawberries and fruit roll ups. But….why would you even bother spending money on something that has NO nutritional value, like fruit roll ups? Why not just buy a roll of fruit flavored lifesavers and call it good?

Also @jonsblond I did look through Cris’ links, and as I posted above, they’re comparing cost per calorie. That’s like comparing the calories in a cookie to the calories in a stick of celery….then yeah. Calorie-wise the cookie is cheaper. You’d have to buy about 4 bunches of celery to get the same amount of calories in one cookie.

The excerpt you posted from Cris’ post says that good food has gone up 30% and bad food only 16%. Then there is another one, in her same post that says “Overall, there was only a slightly higher increase in healthy food options, but specific items such as milk and bread had increased in price dramatically compared to items such as soft drinks, biscuits and cakes.” So…is a slight increase or a dramatic increase? (And who would eat cake in place of bread at dinner?? Or drink pop in place of free water or milk? And….a gallon of pop is NOT cheaper than a gallon of milk! And what’s wrong with biscuits?)

For every example that’s been posted there IS a cheaper more healthy alternative.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Dutchess_III The percent is daily value. Yes, oranges have even more vitamin C at 160%, but they cost about the same as strawberries. And I did give you other examples besides strawberries. Iceberg lettuce costs $1 but has very little nutritional value. Red leaf lettuce is much better for you and costs at least $2. Try finding a loaf of whole grain bread that costs about $1 like crappy, white store brand bread. You’re not going to find it.

I can only tell you what my experience has been trying to buy healthy foods for my family, @Dutchess_III. It would be much easier on our pocket book to feed my family mac n cheese and hot dogs, but I want my family to be healthy. It costs me more to do this. I’m done here now because I feel like I’m just repeating myself, and I need to peel some sweet potatoes for dinner. It takes more time to peel and bake sweet potatoes than opening a can of green beans, and they cost more than a can of green beans, but they are healthier for us!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I want some sweet potatoes!

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Dutchess_III If you haven’t seen anything here that convinces you yet, maybe that’s not because we’re all failing to make good arguments.

jca's avatar

@MyNewtBoobs: I second that!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I went back through all the posts. Looks like opinions are pretty evenly split.

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