Does healthy eating have to be expensive?

Written by Marina Lommel
5 minutes reading time
17. July 2023 zuletzt aktualisiert am 1. August 2023 von

Many people want to eat healthier, but shy away from it. Healthy eating often looks so much more expensive.

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    That may be true, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Whether or not healthy eating becomes more expensive for you depends on how you’ve been eating.

    If you’re already cooking every meal yourself, planning your groceries well, and not throwing food away, you’re already eating very cost-effectively. But if you are currently still using one or the other ready-made product (mixes for salad dressings or casseroles, ready-made meals, pasta sauces…) then there is definitely still room for maneuver. If you grab quick bites here and there at the bakery, buy a blended coffee drink to go several times a day, or grab your dinner quickly from the Indian, sushi master, or pizza maker, you can end up getting away cheaper with home-cooked, healthy food. These things are quickly forgotten when you see the prices of organic vegetables and high-quality meat in the supermarket.

    That’s why it’s especially helpful to take a look at how much you actually spend on food and eating out. There are now numerous apps or computer programs for this purpose – some of them free of charge. At the end, you’ll find some suggestions for budget books and finance apps. Track all your food expenses for 30 days. You’ll find some set screws that cost a lot of money, but aren’t really that important.

    I remember my time as a student. Back then, I earned wry looks when I prepared a steak in the dorm kitchen. At the same time, roommates told me that they spent €50 on drinks again at the last disco night. Everyone has different priorities and that’s perfectly fine. But if healthy eating is very important to you, you may find ways to save some money in other places.

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    1. prices in the restaurant

    Why are healthy meals in a restaurant more expensive than a plate of pasta or fried potatoes?

    Everything that quickly fills the plate, such as pasta, bread, potatoes, chips… is simply much cheaper to produce. A salad with shrimp can’t compete with that.

    An example: 200 g of high-quality shrimp can cost up to €10 in the supermarket. There will not be 200 g in a dish, but there is the cook, the waitress, the dishes, the washing up, electricity, the rent of the restaurant and co. added. Everything has to come in somehow with food & drinks at the end of the month. If you want to manage this and pay your own salary on the side, the rough assumption in the restaurant business is that the purchase price of ingredients must not exceed 30%.

    The ingredients for a €13 dish may therefore only be €3.90 so that the restaurant operation can be financed from this. The ingredients for an 8 € dish may be at 2.40 € in the purchase.

    2. cook yourself - save money

    Of course, you can indulge in a restaurant as often as you like. But if saving money is very important to you, then you should mainly cook your own food. For the price of a meal at a restaurant or from a delivery service, you can cook healthy meals several times.

    Of course, there are also differences in home cooking.

    If I live privately on pasta with tomato sauce, I can probably get by on €3 a day. When I cook higher quality it becomes more. Not because anyone wants to harm me, but because higher quality food comes at a price.

    And by that I mean vegetables, high quality fish / meat, organic eggs, good oils….

    For this, however, you can safely leave out everything “nonsensical”. Like a green smoothie for €5.90, or kale chips for €3.90 per 30 g. Here, manufacturers are deliberately pushing the limits that health-conscious people are willing to pay.

    Of course, we don’t have to take the piss. But we should question how prices are created and whether they are justified. Then we should be prepared to put money back into our hands for really good food. Because a good meal is worth so much more to our lives than a smartphone for 700 € or the new plasma LCD screen.

    3. tips for everyday life

    For those who would like to eat healthier but are reluctant to pay more, here are a few tips:

    • Go for the basics: spend money on good vegetables, good meat and high-quality fats first.
    • Avoid add-on products: Green smoothies or juices can often cost over 5 euros, but have little health value. Also, small snacks and desserts from the organic market are quite nice, but not indispensable.
    • Buy vegetables and fruits that are in season. You might also find a farmer near you that offers high-quality vegetables, organic eggs or meat.
    • Treat yourself to low carb or Paleo baked goods specifically. Almond flour, birch sugar and co. are quite expensive ingredients. Go for whole foods in everyday life and treat yourself to cakes, muffins and other treats at special moments.
    • Save money elsewhere: Use your current smartphone a few months longer before buying the new variant. Or take your coffee in a reusable thermal mug from home instead of to go from a coffee shop. Get creative and look for places you can cut back without hurting yourself.

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    This article was written by

    Marina Lommel

    Marina gründete Foodpunk nach ihrem Abschluss in Ernährungswissenschaften und ist aktuell CEO des Unternehmens. Während ihres Studiums arbeitete sie in verschiedenen Bereichen, darunter in der Wissenschaftsredaktion beim Radio, Redaktion beim TV und Uni-Wissensmagazin sowie im Labor am DZNE in der Parkinsonforschung. Marina ist außerdem Autorin von 5 ernährungswissenschaftlichen Sachbüchern.

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