While reading Mark Bittman’s op/ed, “Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?” in The New York Times, I found myself nodding in agreement with most of his commentary. But while I agree that junk food is not the budget-friendly alternative to a healthy lifestyle, I also think that we are living in difficult times. All food is expensive when there are too many bills to pay and not enough money to pay them.
There was a time in 2003 when I would go to the grocery store and simply gaze at the beautiful vegetables, the cheeses, chocolates and cookies, the deli counter, and the ice creams. Then I would pick up some canned vegetables and bread before walking back home, dejected. Seeing the colorful bounty of the grocery store, and not having more than a few dollars in my pocket, was depressing. By contrast, one cold night I bought a hamburger from a popular fast food chain and I cannot even describe how it lifted my spirits as I ate, and shivered, under a genial bus shelter.
When I truly had so little to spend it was clear that fast food was the more expensive option. Of course it was also unquestionably detrimental to my health. I didn’t buy another one of those hamburgers. When I had a little more money I started planning meals a week at a time, and researched recipes to use the cheapest produce. Because I knew how to cook, I learned to stretch my food budget.
Healthy and affordable meals
Diana of dianasaurdishes is much more than a food blogger who can stretch a budget. She is an expert on creating financially sensible, delicious, and nutritious meals. She is also dedicated to improving the health of her community and using social media to convey the message that a good diet and a limited budget do not have to be mutually exclusive concepts.
Diana works on the Healthy Cooking on a Tight Budget Program to provide FREE classes at her local YMCA in Auburn, WA. I hope to attend one of these classes sometime but for right now I trust to her blog for money-saving tips and healthy meal inspirations.
It is literally a good investment to take a close look at Diana’s blog posts for her money saving suggestions. She will tell you where she shops, how much she spends, and the cost per serving for each recipe. In addition, she demonstrates creative ways to save cash without sacrificing flavor. It definitely requires some time, effort, and comparison shopping to save money on good food but it is worth it!
Healthy eating and living with pain
I don’t leave grocery stores depressed anymore, but I still plan every meal for a week and at the end of that week there is virtually zero wasted food. I also go to sites like dianasaurdishes.com to help me get the most nutrition possible for my dollar. Its especially important when I am in pain. The basics of food and water, exercise, and sleep can make the worst days more bearable.
Btw, to stay on budget I do cut out most snacks and pre-packaged foods. But not ice cream — I cannot part with ice cream. Or cheese.
Next on my list to try is Diana’s Creamy Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Soup. Its 37 cents per serving!