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Eat Less Crap – Sept. 28: The Price of Health

My biggest problem with eating well is the price. There is a reason why the disadvantaged often subsist on cream-filled pastries and potato chips: they’re cheap and they don’t go bad. Crummy food is cheap. Two litres of pop cost what? A dollar or two? How about pasta? Ask any college student, and he or she will tell you eating Kraft Dinner every day can do a lot for the grocery bill. Canned food is also pretty cheap. So is bread. And candy. What isn’t cheap is grass-fed beef, high-quality nuts, free-run organic eggs, fresh produce from a local farmer, almond flour, coconut oil and all the other things you’ll find in the kitchen of a modern-day CrossFit caveman or woman. That stuff costs more. A lot more. As some of you know, my love for Kraft peanut butter comes not from the taste but for the fact that it cost $7 for 2 kilograms. Almond butter, which I actually prefer, costs about $7 for 500 grams. Do that math on that one. I do all the time, and it irritates me. When we started the Eat Less Crap Challenge, I decided I would keep track of our grocery bill for the month, and with the end in sight I added up the bills for our two-person household. As of today, it cost us just under $1,400 for the best month of eating of our lives. Looking at the bill, I threw up a little in my mouth. That’s a ton of cash. Crystal broke it down for me a little: Our normal grocery bill: about $700 Two meals out per week: $300 Something from the LC: $100 “Start-up costs” for Eat Less Crap Challenge: $100 The start-up costs include replacement of certain items, like sugar and flour, with healthier alternatives, and the number also includes the price of new items we added in, like flax-seed oil and healthier spices and cooking ingredients to replace barbecue sauce, ketchup syrup and so on. And we saved a lot of money by not eating out of having a bottle of wine on the weekend. Still, $1,300 is lot of cash, and what I realized is that I can reduce that number next month with better planning. Because we did a lot of experimenting with new recipes, there were frequent—too frequent—trips to Safeway, as well as a few wasted fruits and vegetables that we bought with the best of intentions but didn’t get to in time. We also didn’t have our shopping routine down, so we’d forget stuff, then pick it up from stupid places, like one Academy Road grocery store that traded me two steaks for a 15-inch strip of flesh from my back. The lesson: plan your meals and plan your shopping trips. I’d wager we could knock $200 off our bill with better planning, bulk buying and more frequent trips to discount grocery stores. The bill will still be higher than before, no question. But now that we know what we’re doing, we can be more sensible in obtaining high-quality healthy food. By doing so, we figure we can get our grocery bill down to a reasonable level, and if we have to budget a little more for great food that will keep us healthy and fit, then so be it. I doubt anyone can put a price on health, fitness and improved performance, and if it rang in at $1,200 a month, I’d probably pay it in a second. If you have suggestions on how to eat healthy for less, please put them in the comments section. We’re looking at doing a group order of grass-fed meats soon, so stay tuned for that!

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