"It costs more to eat healthy."
See also: Sign up for the AARP Money newsletter.
How many times have you heard someone say that? Maybe you've even said it yourself.
Frankly, I think that statement is flummadiddle. I'm not denying that some healthy foods—many varieties of fish, for example—are expensive. But my contention is that many of the foods that are the healthiest for us also happen to cost the least, particularly on a per-pound basis.
In fact, when I go grocery shopping, I try to mostly fill my cart with nutritious, delicious foods costing—so my mantra goes—"Under a Dollar a Pound, Year-Round."
Take a look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food pyramid. At the base are the things we should be eating more: whole grains, legumes (beans), fresh fruits, and vegetables. Higher up on the pyramid is what we should eat in moderation: poultry, eggs, milk, pasta, and rice. At the very top of the pyramid are things we should eat sparingly—red meat, fatty dairy products, sweets, and processed foods.
With some exceptions, the per-pound cost of the items at the base of the pyramid tend to be less than the foods higher on the pyramid. Many of the things we should be eating the most—whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and poultry—cost the least amount per pound.The things that are bad for our health, at least in large quantities, cost the most per-pound (red meat, fatty dairy products, and fine cheeses).
If you're a smart shopper and plan your menus around the best-of-the-best weekly store specials, you can enjoy a healthy, tasty diet relying primarily on foods that cost about a dollar a pound or less.
Don't believe me? Here are 50 healthy foods I've seen at grocery stores in my area (suburban Washington, D.C.) that have been priced at $1 a pound or less. Yes, some of these have been special sales, but most can almost always be had for less than a buck a pound. The majority of these foods are ideal for slow-cooker recipes.