As a healthy eater, I sure do love my veggies. I steam crowns of broccoli, bake cubes of butternut squash and saute varieties of pungent mushrooms on a daily basis. So when I read the recent news stories about the price of these irresistibly healthy ingredients costing more than low-maintenance processed foods, I admittedly cringed a bit. Yes, it’s true, buying an organic banana will set you back a few more cents than choosing the conventional fruit, but there’s much more to this. I don’t want the already unhealthy American public to fear eating healthy meals simply because they think it will cost them more in the long run.
If you look at what these stories are saying, they are examining the relationship between what you purchase, where you buy it, and what the alternative options are. If you buy organic produce at Whole Foods, of course you’re likely to spend more money than if you were to buy conventional fruits and vegetables at Trader Joe’s. The brand alone will make a difference. If you dig deeper and look at what the bottom line is – cooking at home over ordering takeout or microwaving packaged, processed meals will vary on any occasion, depending on what you’re preparing.
For example, one of my favorite Edible Epiphanies recipes is Warm Curry Chicken Salad. This is prepared by sauteing a delectable mix of vegetables over the stove, and spicing them up with curry powder, turmeric and coconut oil spray. For this recipe, I use the ingredients from the list below, mix the cooked vegetables with one head of Romaine lettuce and drizzle with Balsamic vinaigrette to create a warm salad that sends me into a state of culinary bliss:
- One crown of broccoli
- 6-8 cubes of butternut squash
- 4 Crimini mushrooms
- 3-5 ounces of chicken
If you purchase these ingredients at a reasonably priced grocer, such as Trader Joe’s, and break this meal down by cost, it is about 50 cents for the broccoli, 50 cents for the squash, 75 cents for the mushrooms, and $2 for the chicken, for a grand total of $4 (give or take). Purchasing just one pre-packaged salad at a high-end retailer could set you back at least $6-$8, and you don’t even get the same amount of food, nutrients or customizable ingredients.
So, the stories you read may put thoughts in your mind that eating processed foods will always save you a buck over preparing meals with a variety of healthy ingredients, but you don’t always have to buy organic or shop at high-end markets. In fact, I often lean toward purchasing conventional produce, as the taste, quality and chemical treatment do not even make my taste buds think twice. If you want to eat vegetables, buy regular, pulled-from-the-ground, maybe sometimes packaged or prepped, vegetables, and you will pay less for this meal than if you were to buy a “less healthy” or “processed” option!