One commonly debated issue among the fitness community is whether eating healthy is more expensive than not. Most sources claim that following a natural, whole food diet can be just as cheap as stocking up on junk food, provided you locally source your fruits and vegetables and purchase other items in bulk.
While this may be true in some places, outside of North America I firmly believe eating healthy is more expensive. I decided to document my average grocery bill and see how it stacks up against the cost of a ‘typical’ English person’s diet.
This is our shopping haul when we got back from Montenegro. It doesn’t look like much but it adds up fast!
We spent £155 (US$243 – yikes, that conversion is scary!), which was a bit more than usual because we had to stock up on some irregular purchases such as a huge bottle of olive oil and some cleaning supplies. We normally spend closer to £100 (US$157) a week on groceries, and that is enough to feed Rob and I for all meals minus two or three which we buy on the run.
Without wanting to bore you too much, I will briefly list everything we bought. Fruits and vegetables: two punnets of blueberries, mushrooms, two packs of green beans, two bags of mixed salad, garlic, two red peppers, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, onion, lettuce, sweet corn on the cob, and sweet potatoes.
Some staples: 90 eggs (seriously!), oats, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, peanut butter, almonds, tinned tomatoes, coconut milk, cat food, Greek yoghurt, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, sea salt, mustard, sundried tomatoes, olives, anchovies, red curry paste and taco seasoning.
Our meat stock: two packs of lamb mince, two packs of lean steak, four 1kg bags of skin-free chicken breasts and two packs of smoked salmon.
What irritates me is how cheap junk food is over here. In Australia, everything was expensive, so the amount we spent on food didn’t bother me too much – yes, it was expensive, but we didn’t have much choice as we had to eat. But in London, there is a huge differential between the two.
Here you will find aisles and aisles of pre-made meals ranging from pizzas, curries and ‘healthy’ microwave meals. These meals are often only £1, but never more than £2, which makes me seriously question the quality of the ingredients. Don’t even get me started on how cheap foods such as ice cream, chocolate and chips are!
Vegetables are quite expensive, and the quality is far from good. Meat is ridiculously expensive. We haven’t found a place to buy it in bulk, so we’re forced to buy 500g-700g packets (the bags in the picture above were the first we’d ever seen like that), which work out to be around £10 a kilogram. As much as I would love to buy organic produce, there is no way we could afford it.
We spend a lot of money on food but it is a choice we actively make. We both chose to be bodybuilders and fuel ourselves with quality and healthy ingredients, so in turn we have to make sacrifices in other parts of our lives such as spending less money on entertainment, clothes shopping and so on. When we are both bulking our grocery bill increases even more, but no one forces us to eat as much as we do.
I’m not going to claim that eating healthy can be just as cheap as eating junk because, at least in this part of the world, it’s simply not true. There are cheaper sources of protein out there such as cottage cheese and tinned tuna, but I would struggle to eat tuna every single day (not to mention the mercury poisoning!). Instead of bemoaning the increased cost of your grocery bill, think of the priceless change you are making to your health by fuelling your body with healthy, nutritious foods.
Do you think it costs more to eat healthy?