Poll: What is Your Monthly Spending on Healthy Foods?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  96 comments   :  15,560 Views

Iím a pretty cost-conscious person. I donít spend a lot of money on clothes, shoes, or other disposable income items. I balance my checkbook to the penny and make sure our credit cards are paid off at the end of each month. But one area where I tend to (or really, always) splurge is on food. I buy organic produce, try to buy products that have the smallest number of ingredients possible, and always end up with a grocery bill that shocks me a little in the checkout line.

A recent report from the Hartman Group called Reimagining Health and Wellness 2010, shows that consumers are continuing to spend more money on health and wellness products. According to an online poll of over 2,700 U.S. consumers, "the average household spends $148.48 a monthĖ or 19 percent of all monthly spending Ė on categories that have a Ďwellness haloí. Those products could include foods with a short ingredients list, fortified foods, supplements, or those that are lower in cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fat, and salt."

Iím slightly embarrassed to say that I spend a lot more than average on these kinds of products. Iíll spend $6.99 on a 3-serving box of chicken nuggets at Whole Foods because my kids like them and they are as close to natural as a chicken nugget can get (without making them myself). I often wonder how much money I could save if I was a little more careful with my spending at the grocery store, and Iíd bet itís a lot. I think in my mind, I justify my spending because Iím so frugal in other areas of my life.

It is possible to eat healthy on a budget, and even to buy organic food on a budget. Sometimes it just takes time to find quality foods that wonít empty your wallet.

Are you careful with your spending at the grocery store? Do you spend more on health-related foods these days than you used to? Do you spend more or less than the average than the participants in this survey?

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  • 96
    I spend less than $200/month on groceries - for 1 person. I buy in bulk & repackage items. I buy a lot of frozen items as they might last 2-4 months.
    Menu is kept simple, breakfast is 2 eggs, spinach, tea. Lunch is apple & 2T peanut butter. Dinner is a protein & veg - on a menu rotation for each day of the week. 2 days fish, 2 days chicken, 1 day beef, 2 days vegetarian. - 3/27/2015   9:35:54 AM
  • 95
    I spend anywhere from $240-320 per month just to feed myself. Granted, I am a vegetarian and some soy foods (tempeh, Lightlife 'sausage', soymilk) are more expensive. I am also trying to increase my muscle mass and re-train for distance running so I likely eat more than many others. My food selection tends to be very natural--fresh, whole foods: produce, dry beans, grains and nuts from the bulk bins, tofu, Greek yogurt, etc. I use loads of coupons and refrain from buying processed/artificial/snack types of foods. I cut corners however I can, am not brand-loyal or store-loyal when it comes to finding sales. I find it outlandish that to eat healthy foods, I have to spend so much money (probably 30% of my monthly income, give or take). - 7/23/2011   5:01:10 PM
  • 94
    Q: Are you careful with your spending at the grocery store?
    A: Yes

    Q: Do you spend more on health-related foods these days than you used to?
    A: No if measured by money. Yes if measured by what goes in the cart / bag.

    Q: Do you spend more or less than the average than the participants in this survey?
    A: Far far far, faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar less.

    If anyone wants to sparkmail me I'll send you clickable links of several frugal-but-healthy blogs I subscribe to that you can sign up for and get free emails from. I'll give one example, $5 Dinners:
    http://www.5dollardinners.com /

    I am not related in any way to any of them. - 10/21/2010   1:41:53 PM
    I spend about 150 a week for 5 people to eat all three meals at home 6 days a week. The last day we go to out (cheap)to eat. Once a month I go to Walmart for our vitamins, brita filters, supplements. I would say it runs about 20 a month just for those extras.

    We have spent less money eating better because we have a meal plan we stick to and don't spend it all on fast food. I do not buy organic all the time but I do try to buy more healthy alternatives such as, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, good cuts of meat, and healthy snacks.

    I'm not crazy about all of it or lazy about all of it. I think I've found a pretty good medium in it all for the whole family. - 9/30/2010   8:43:47 AM
  • 92
    We spend more than we would like some weeks, but actually I'm finding we spend less buying healthier. I buy IQF chicken, yogurt instead of ice cream, popping corn instead of chips and fruit instead of bags of candy. All in, we spend around $100 a week for 3 people. - 9/30/2010   7:53:06 AM
  • 91
    I spend more on health foods than I used to do, but it's amazing that it is so expensive to eat right. - 9/30/2010   6:10:15 AM
    I know we spend a lot on healthy foods and we are a family of four which means a trip every week at the least because I can't seem to bring myself to shop for all 4 of us for the whole month! - 9/29/2010   1:54:30 PM
  • 89
    We are retired and I spend way too much a month on healthy food but, if we want to maintain our healthy lifestyle that is what it takes so I guess we have to live with that. - 9/29/2010   9:12:23 AM
  • 88
    We spend far too much money on groceries, and we do eat out as well. we eat fairly healthy, but really do have to try to knock this spending down. - 9/20/2010   2:24:20 PM
  • CASEYJO200
    I try to buy fresh foods. Keep it as cheap as possible. I spend more money on healthier foods now than I ever have. - 9/16/2010   6:30:52 PM
  • 86
    My husband and I spend about $100 per week in the grocery store. We also buy meat separately from a local butcher and buy misc. produce from the Farmers Market. - 9/16/2010   3:54:42 PM
  • 85
    I know I spend MUCH LESS than the figure posted in the blog per week for any groceries. We don't drink alcohol or smoke, so that is giving us extra money. We shop a wholesale club store (Sam's) about once every 2 or 3 months, and buy many of our groceries in bulk, there! Sometimes they are really reasonable on certain items, which you could spend double or more for in your average Supermarket (inclinding Super Wal-Mart) You do have to have an idea of prices, though, because some of their items (very few) are more. Thanks for the blog! - 9/16/2010   3:51:05 PM
  • HANNAH19842
    I am spending too much, that's what I know... and as I try to eat healthily, I reckon all that money goes to healthy stuff! - 9/16/2010   12:46:48 PM
  • 83
    I honestly couldn't tell you how much we spend on groceries in a month--not because I'm so free with my money that I don't keep track, but because my husband and I don't go grocery shopping on a regular basis. We tend to do one large trip somewhere every 6-10 weeks, and then we will go out and make a few specific purchases on an as needed basis.

    I have to say that I don't think buying healthy foods is more expensive. We rarely buy snacks, so that saves us a lot of money. We don't buy a lot of meat, so that saves us a lot of money. We don't buy soda, but will buy seltzer. We don't usually buy pre-prepared food, but when we do, we get it from someplace like Trader Joe's that's cheaper and we tend not to buy products that have meat in it. I think that buying healthy food only becomes more expensive if you're going to make a big production out of it and buy all organic or high end products which would be expensive whether it's technically "healthy" or not. - 9/16/2010   11:02:40 AM
    I'm working on how much I spend grocery shopping and at restaurants right now. I am too "lazy" about paying attention to what I buy/eat, even though it is "healthy". I need to eat at home and cook better, more nutritionally rounded meals. - 9/16/2010   11:02:32 AM
  • 81
    Not sure how much I spend a month in regards to the poll but I do spend so much more on groceries and health related items now that I'm living a healthy & fit lifestyle. I'm not as good as you are with the credit cards. I pay some off monthly and I like to transfer high balances to lower interest cards as well. Getting better with the spending.

    When it comes to my food, I want to eat good! Meaning all the right ingredients and all the right flavor so I splurge at Whole Foods as well. I have been working on this a bit lately too but WF is just an expensive store. I do use coupons if available but like I said...I like what I like and if I have to pay more for it...then so be it! - 9/16/2010   11:01:10 AM
  • 80
    Oh yeah, we definitly spend more on groceries now that we are trying to eat healthier. I am embarresed to say we have had to put things back at the checkout cause we went over budget. Healthier foods cast more. - 9/16/2010   1:13:00 AM
    I think my user name says it all. We don't drink or smoke, so our splurging happens in the produce department. Last week: fresh pineapple spears, red grapes, nectarines, white-fleshed peaches, fresh blueberries, artisan lettuce, bunch carrots... We buy very little pre-processed food. I remember a supermarket checker one day who looked at our cartload with a bemused expression and then said, "Are you folks vegetarians?" Nope, but the weekly groceries often look like it. - 9/15/2010   10:18:46 PM
  • SUSANGO123
    Too dang much! I would say, I am spending at least twice as much as I did when I was eating unhealthy food. There should be a tax break for buying healthy foods. - 9/15/2010   10:00:56 PM
  • 77
    I agree that it costs us alot more to buy what is called "healthy" now. Let's see if we all are still buying like that in, say, 5 years or so, that would be the "real" test, plus, by then, we can see if we really are healthier or not. The jury is still out, can't believe what all the ads and so called "organic" stores are pushing. - 9/15/2010   9:47:18 PM
  • 76
    For my husband and I, we spend about $100-$120 a week on food. Most of that cost is meat. For 6 chicken breasts it's just about $25!! I find it hard to find cheap lean meats in this area. I've heard the farmers market is not much better around here, but I'm going to check it out! - 9/15/2010   8:30:03 PM
  • 75
    Eating healthy costs less than buying the prepackaged and over processed foods that are on the market, buy in bulk and don't pay for the wrappers on things. This also makes our country green, by not filling landfills with waste. - 9/15/2010   3:16:19 PM
  • 74
    As a from scratch cook I find eating well is cheaper than using the overpriced and over packaged foods most carts seem to have loaded. I even dehydrate my own camping foods. Staples such as bread and peanut butter can be made cheaper than what you purchase. Roasted peanuts and salt in a blender produce peanut butter which is the same as the "natural" peanut butter they charge more for at the store. This time of year shopping farmers markets will lower your fresh produce costs and provide you with a surplus to can or dry. To do the above only impacts on how often you can watch Desparate Housewives or American Idol. - 9/15/2010   2:28:35 PM
  • SBATES63
    Like many others, I find it costs more for healthy, unprocessed foods, but it's worth it. It's much better for us. I also plan my meals for the upcoming week to take advantage of what's on sale that week. I make an effort to by local when I can. - 9/15/2010   2:17:01 PM
  • 72
    I average about 350 or so a month but i dend to buy in bulk and freeze or can so it can vary by month. I have been buying at our local farmers market and freezing and canning my own veggies and fruits!! I control the sugars and sodium that way. Plus i know where it's coming from local farms they are organic and it's good eats. I meal plan every Sunday. I went to my local Micheals and for 1 dollar i got a meal planner that has at least 20 sheets i stocked up and i have no excuse. by doing this i control my calories somedays i make my own frozen meals vs buying them again i control my sodium - 9/15/2010   12:49:46 PM
    I was spending more when I increased fresh fruits and vegetables. But I have found that making a list of meals and using more frozen vegetables have really cut down on the amount of my bill - 9/15/2010   12:29:42 PM
  • 70
    YES! - 9/15/2010   12:25:25 PM
  • 69
    I also found that I was accumulating a large food bill each week, until I discovered our local farmers co-op. By joining through localharvest.org, I now only spend about $600.00 a year for fresh weekly produce deliveries. - 9/15/2010   12:15:33 PM
  • 68
    It cost me a bit at first to stock up on healthier staples, but I learned long ago that fresh produce, even bing cherries, are less expensive than candy in the long run (any medical bill would bite worse later on). And I'm still amazed at what we have available to us even in the Midwest--foods that kings of previous eras couldn't get their hands on! We're blessed. - 9/15/2010   12:02:07 PM
  • 67
    My husband use to complain about the grocery bill but as I explained to him I would rather spend money now on organic, clean foods then later on hospital bills. He now agrees with me because the fruits and vegetables that I buy that are organic or local taste so good that he thinks it is worth it. Because it is a little more expensive I buy in small quantities so now there is less waste. I used to buy what was on sale in larger quantities but by the end of the week would throw some stuff out because it had gone bad. Now that doesn't happen. It all gets eaten. The good news is I have been seeing more organic products in my local grocery store (Fred Meyer/Krogers) that have been on sale or have come down in their regular price. I want to believe that by my purchasing these products they are becoming more in demand so the prices will be lowered. In fact, I have been having a very difficult time this year finding organic blueberries. They fly off the shelf. Because we both love to cook and eat healthy we spend less on eating out which offsets the grocery bill. - 9/15/2010   11:44:18 AM
  • 66
    I'm thrifty in how I spend our money, and that includes grocery shopping. A sizable portion of weekly groceries includes fresh vegetables and fruit. I go armed with lots of coupons that help lower the bill. I also buy things that are not on the 'healthy food' list. For us, it's moderation since I don't make everything from scratch. - 9/15/2010   10:22:21 AM
  • 65
    I spend much more money now that I am eating healthier foods, but it is all worth it. I just cut down on other things that are not as important as your health. - 9/15/2010   10:05:17 AM
  • 64
    I spend more on health foods than I used to before starting on my 'healthy lifestyle'. I buy some organic foods but I also really look at the list of ingredients and make my decision based on that; not cost. I like the frozen chicken breasts and tenderloins from Whole Foods because they don't have added salt. I buy the no salt added cottage cheese that I can get at Whole Foods. If a product I am looking at has the same ingredients and nutrients then I will opt for the cheaper one. - 9/15/2010   9:59:31 AM
  • 63
    Depends on how many weekends we have 2 or 4 grandkids over. - 9/15/2010   8:03:40 AM
    I probably spend more on food than anything else. I shop at three different stores and go to the local farms for fresh produce. It's only me and DH, but I like to try new recipes in batches to freeze and have on hand. A new recipe each week keeps meals from being boring. - 9/15/2010   5:36:41 AM
    I really don't know. I guess I would have to look at my past budget records. It does seem like I spend alot more on fruits and veggies. I try to buy organic when I can. Alot of folks complain about the price but consider this: Organic foods cost more because more care has to be taken of the plant, and is labor intensive. so, I don't mind paying a little more and I think in the long run it will save on medical costs in the retirement years. I also buy store brands except for a few things. If there is a case sale I will buy by the case too. - 9/15/2010   1:56:35 AM
  • 60
    To me food is a "disposible item" that gets "flushed" after use so I spend as LITTLE as I can on it, so I'm frugal all the way. I watch for sales and stock up, and I keep track of what I have on hand. I pass on items that are a waste of money. I buy Walmart's "Great Value" brands when possible as they are the SAME as name brands. - 9/15/2010   1:42:00 AM
    On average we spend about 200 a week for a family of four with two school age kids that require lunch snacks....but I always have a fresh stock of fruits and veggies on hand every single day...also dips like hummus and yogurt based dips....I make sure my kids don't eat junk 24/7 - 9/14/2010   8:54:37 PM
  • 58
    I'm a huge fan of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) aka 'farm shares'. It saved my a$$ when I was a broke single mom feeding 5-6 -- I calculated then that it saved me HUNDREDS of dollars by giving us a fridge full of farm fresh organic produce and making us eat that much more healthfully. It's true it kept me busy preparing it all, but was sooo worth the time by seeing my kids learning and loving the concept of knowing about your food, knowing your farmer, looking forward to visiting the farm, and participating in a very healthy, happy lifestyle. We had such fun with it, and I can attest that we've all been extremely healthy by eating well for all these years! Google Community Supported Agriculture to find out more and locate farms in your area. CSA and Farmer's Markets are the best way to support your family's health and support the availability of healthy local produce. Why go to the supermarket for produce?? - 9/14/2010   6:32:14 PM
  • 57
    I spend more then i should on food. I buy organic meat, dairy and fish and other products as much as i can. I also belong to an OLS farm share so during the 22 weeks of the year we get organic veggies and eat what ever is local and in season. I also try to plan our meals ahead of time so i buy what i need for the week. A lot of times it does not work as i see something good and i really want to try it. Especially when i shop at "Whole foods" store!!! I will def read "eat healthy on a budget" maybe it will help me stick to my meal plans better :) - 9/14/2010   5:50:22 PM
  • 56
    I'm picky about my food. I like the least processed version of things I can find and I'm obsessed with Amy's pizzas and organic fruits/vegetables.

    This leads us to spend about $400-$500 a month for my husband and myself. That also includes going out to eat one-three times. - 9/14/2010   4:05:58 PM
    I think it's possible to eat a healthful diet on a budget. As mentioned, it requires smart shopping, but equally, if not more, important, for many of us it requires rethinking the diet, which I know can be difficult for people with children. (I've read children require at least nine exposures to a new food before they'll begin to accept it.) I eat a LOT more vegetarian meals--fortunately I love fruits and vegetable--especially the latter. I also love beans, pasta, polenta, and most other grains. I find so many good recipes for vegetarian dishes that I don't miss the meat. I still eat meat once an a while, mostly chicken and fish, but treat myself to beef or lamb once or twice a month. This approach works for me, but I know each must find the path that works for the individual. When I leave the farmers market I feel rich in produce and start thinking--a little cheese with this, some beans with that, and so on. Many studies show Americans in general get way too much protein. - 9/14/2010   3:47:08 PM
  • 54
    I spend a LOT of money on groceries for myself and my husband. I would say at least 150 dollars a week. Partly because I buy lot of pre-cut fruit and veggies. Every corner I can cut for a little more time is worth the money, although I'd love to cut this down some.
    It does cost more to eat healthy, unless you have or make the time to cook, shop around and buy in bulk. Personally, I just don't have the time, and the free time I DO have, I prefer to spend in ways other than shopping and cooking. - 9/14/2010   3:37:08 PM
  • 53
    When I'm able to I buy the healthiest foods...when they are on sale. I love Almond milk and Whole Grains and the healthier cereals. I shop at Kroger and I can find them on sale many times. But I believe that since sales are up in these type of foods, the prices should come down. - 9/14/2010   3:21:07 PM
  • 52
    I find it can be expensive to buy healthy foods - if you go to your large chain grocers. It's cheaper to buy your produce at farmers markets, smaller grocery stores and Trader Joe's. - 9/14/2010   2:41:13 PM
  • 51
    I think organic is becoming more and more mainstream and the price is going down. For instance, I shop Winn-Dixie. They have their own line of organic foods and cleaners and they are the same price as name brand, non-organic products (organic black beans-$1/can compared to Bush's black beans at $1.27). If consumers continue to turn towards natural, organic, and other healthy foods, the law of supply and demand will help our pocketbooks! - 9/14/2010   2:38:43 PM
  • 50
    I spend, on average, about eighty dollars a week on feeding my husband and I--more in some weeks (if I'm out of a lot of staples, we've gotten it as high as two hundred dollars), less on others (if all I need are perishables, like fresh veggies and milk: some weeks we spend maybe twenty dollars). That's just on food, that's not including Non-Food Things we might also buy, like toilet paper or cleaning supplies or sandwich baggies.

    Our food prices are a bit higher than they could be, because we keep kosher and kosher meat is a good bit more expensive--I probably spend fifteen dollars alone on lunch meat for my husband's sandwiches each week (a pound and a half or so of Empire or Hebrew National turkey slices or beef salami), but it's still cheaper than having him buy lunch out. We eat meat for dinner once a week. Other than that, it's all vegetarian and "dairy" (which means cheeses, eggs, and fish if you keep kosher.)

    It's a sticker shocker, especially in the New York metro area where I live, where everything costs a little more. I went grocery shopping with my mom in NH last month and I was STUNNED at the amount of food she could buy for what she had to spend--and it's NOT that she's using some magical strategy that I'm not (I learned to shop from her, after all: we both buy in bulk, buy frozen veggies mostly, try to shop in season, buy store brands, and stock up on staples when they're on special). A box of cereal that my husband might like to eat is a whole dollar a box cheaper up there. Cost of living's a problem.

    I do need to get better about planning a menu in advance based on what I already have in the house. I'm not the worst ever at it, but I am prone to buying things on impulse that don't fit into the menu and then we forget we have. I spend maybe ten dollars a week if that doing things like that, but I might as well toss it out the window if the food doesn't get *used*. - 9/14/2010   1:45:34 PM
  • 49
    We are a limited income and only get paid once a month. Yes when trying to eat healthier it IS more costly. I spend around 250.00 to 300.00 a month for our foods. I make up a menu first then a list for shopping very rarely do I stray from my list. It is not easy but we are making it.

    The list includes meats lean and chicken breast, and fish, bread in wheat and whole grain catogories, never soda pop or candy bars, I make healthy desserts but again must buy needs for them also. So I do believe it is more costly to eat healthy. - 9/14/2010   1:31:41 PM
  • 48
    I do my main grocery shopping once a month around the 15th..I budget $300 for a family of 5. My shopping habits have changed since I started eating healthier and preparing foods at home for my family that are not "boxed or processed". Now that I am buying better more health conscience foods I definitely can see a difference in the amount of food I am able to buy with the same funds. The other down side is that I am going to the grocery store each week to spend additional funds on fresh produce; although I do buy a lot of frozen veggies and stir frys.

    Eating healthier is more expensive in general, but doing some research on what stores have sales and cutting coupons (which there rarely are any for healthy foods) has helped. - 9/14/2010   1:14:17 PM
  • 47
    I live outside the mainland US, on an island, so prices are higher. But I only shop at stores that carry organic and fresh products, not the pre-packaged and totally processed foods.

    I spend about $75 a week on groceries. And that doesn't include the junk food DH buys for himself. - 9/14/2010   12:38:49 PM

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