Eating healthy isn’t so expensive
“Eating healthy is so expensive!”
Says the person who doesn’t cook? I don’t get it. I did a poll once of my friends and determined that some people think eating healthy means you have to do everything everyone says lately. If you can’t eat fats, starches, sugars, meats… what is there left to eat but members of the squash family, boiled? That’s not living. I think they want to live on a diet of nothing but superfoods, but man cannot afford to live on avocados alone.
I love food, so my healthy eating agenda is fairly open. Of course, I’m lucky because I have no food sensitivities except for a little psoriasis breakout when I drink too much milk. And red dye got me good once when I was a kid, so I generally avoid dyes.
These are my rules:
- If you make it from scratch, it’s healthier
- I mean really, make it from scratch. Tortillas, pasta, pizza, etc, are all better from scratch.
- Try to eat less sugar
- Try to eat less meat
- A handful of almonds every day (I’ve noticed this makes my weak nails tear less)
- Everything varied and in moderation
- Lots of water, some tea or coffee
Sometimes I’m not so great with the sugar rule. Who am I kidding, I break a lot of these rules all the time. But that’s a part of moderation too, isn’t it?
My best meal for today is home-fermented kimchi (it’s not fishy and horrible at all, it’s spicy-sour and amazing), sour cream, mozzarella cheese, fresh spinach and olive oil on a baked potato. I’d take a picture but it’s ugly. I gotta start being better about taking food pictures before I eat them, but it’s so hard to remember when eating gets to happen.
This meal is pretty cheap. I love potatoes as a cheap carb/vegetable/meal. My sister Jessica decided that I’m obsessed with potatoes and even though this isn’t entirely true, I didn’t argue very hard with her, because I do like potatoes a lot.
Let me add up the price:
Kimchi sauerkraut (recipe adapted from here https://www.makesauerkraut.com/kimchi/)
- 1 cabbage = $1
- 1 bunch of green onions = $1
- 1 bunch of radishes = $1
- 2 carrots = $0.20
- 2 inches of ginger = $0.50
- 2 cloves garlic = $0.05
- Pickling salt = $0.50
- Red pepper flakes, spices = nominal
- A week or two of waiting
- Total: $4.25
- One unlisted cost is that of a smelly house. I actually ruined an old nonstick pot of mine fermenting kimchi in it, the kimchi smell has permanently permeated it. I need a real fermenting crock.
Now that I figured out what the kimchi cost, let’s see what my lunch cost:
- 1/16 of the kimchi (about ½ cup) = 0.13
- 1/2 massive potato = $0.25
- 3 T sour cream = $0.20
- Handful of spinach = $0.10
- ½ oz cheese = 0.13
- 1 T Olive oil = $0.18
- Total: $0.99
Okay, so it’s not Mr. Money Mustache levels of frugality but it’s about a million times yummier and more nutritious than a box dinner, which would cost three times as much, not fill you up, and make your day WORSE with its flaccid flavors. Or if you went to a restaurant, it would taste good, but you don’t really know what happened to the food back there in the kitchen while it was at the mercy of all those underpaid cooks, and you would be paying eight times as much for a damn potato.
Here’s something else to think about when moaning about the time it takes to prepare food. Thoreau explored this concept in Walden. He said in the end, everything costs close to the same. For example (and this is clearly not the example Thoreau used), you can spend $4 and 60 active minutes making a big jar of amazing kimchi tailored to your own unique tastes. Or you can work for 60 minutes at your job, gain an extra $8, and use that to purchase a really nice $12 tub of artisan kimchi of equal quality at the farmer’s market.
Humans are supposed to spend a great majority of their time collecting, preparing, storing, and eating food anyway. It’s the natural order of things.
Maybe kimchi isn’t the best example. If you really hate kimchi or cooking, you can spend $1 on a meal at Taco Bell, then you can use the other $3 to buy a gallon of gasoline and a lighter, and set yourself on fire. But you’ll have used up all your time doing a different stupid thing. One of the joys of modern civilization is that we have the luxury of wasting our time doing whatever stupid things we wish.