Whole vs Processed Foods and How To Shop for Them

By February 13, 2020 Nutrition

“Eating healthy is expensive!” is something I hear all the time when I start to talk with clients about moving from processed foods to a more whole food diet. I nod my head and ask, “Have you ever wondered why that is?” So now I pose the question to you: have you ever wondered why boxed, canned, or bagged foods are less expensive?

Which is more expensive: a cubic zirconia or a real diamond? When you think of it this way, you can understand that a lot of the items that you are buying off the shelf are not real food.  In the past hundred years, we have moved away from meals cooked from scratch from our own gardens to foods pulled out of the freezer, heat & eats, or meals picked up through a drive-up window. Convenience is seductive, and most of what we buy is easy to make so we can get it on the table quickly. I get it, I’m busy too, but what you put in your body is important. It’s hard when a salad costs $12 and a hamburger costs $9, but you have to remember how you feel after you eat them. You might feel satisfied and happy for a few minutes with the hamburger, but then the heartburn, indigestion, or general blah-ness sets in.

There are several ways to move from buying processed foods to whole foods with very little impact on your budget, but it takes planning. Yes, that word again: planning! It can be a dirty word to some, but it really is key to your success. Budgeting is your friend in this adventure and with that you may have to make some hard choices. If your budget is $140 a week for a family of 4, you can have enough to purchase whole foods, but the more snacky things may get cut. Meal planning is your friend in this – looking at what you have and building from there. Planning out what you are going to eat will help you keep on track with your budget. Pinterest is great with helping plan your meals.  

Where you shop can help you keep your costs down as well. One way to help support local farmers is to venture to a farmers market. A lot of the time, when you buy straight from the source, you can buy it cheaper and get better quality. Shopping this way means eating seasonally, and a lot of people hit a stumbling block because of this. However, this is a great way to learn all about new foods and expand your range! Remember, the more colorful your meal looks, the better for you it will be. My recent discovery is Aldi Grocery. They tend to have a good variety of fruits and veggies and supposedly they will be completely organic by the end of this year, so bonus. I’m big on shopping organically and that can get very expensive. To save money, I shop from the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists. That way I know what really needs to be purchased organically and what I can buy conventionally. 

Processed foods are cheaper because they aren’t really food in a lot of cases. They are a few known ingredients and then a lot of chemical fillers that are cheap to mass produce. What you have to consider is what is important to you. Is your overall health more important than the convenience of making dinner from a box, can, or buying heat & serve meals? It’s something to think about. We are always here to provide as much guidance on this as you need, so feel free to ask questions. We can help you come up with strategies to help.

You can do this!!


Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash