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So You Think It Costs A Lot To Eat Well?


So You Think It Costs A Lot To Eat Well?


I have often heard from patients and our wellness clients, how hard it is to juggle costs and eating healthy.  I even found this as a topic of conversation at a meeting with some of my fellow physicians recently, and was shocked that even my colleagues have bought into this myth.

So I sat down with pen and paper to see for myself. Based on my weekly meal plan, I went to the grocery store, bought my food for the week, and kept the receipt. I then sat down and compared the cost of my breakfast, lunch, and two snacks during the day to an equivalent healthy and similar option I commonly find discussed by other people.

I’ll get to the facts in a second, but I will say, like anything else, in order to save money and eat healthy, you have to properly plan. It also takes some practice, but with a little diligence, I think you can find that eating healthy will also add a little jingle to your wallet when done correctly.

There are a couple of things to know before we get started. One, meal plan below is based on the calorie counts I get for the day tracking my calories. Two, to avoid getting burned out on the same thing, I will choose two or three rotations in my meal plan every couple of weeks or so.

Below is the comparison of the costs of food on my meal plan, followed by the cost of equivalents that I commonly found myself purchasing before adapting a meal plan, against some foods that are commonly thought of as cheaper, more convenient alternatives.


Here is just breakfast:


My Meal Plan

Almond Milk 8 oz                   $0.38               120 cal

Protein Powder                      $1.06               100 cal

A Healthy Attempt   - Muscle Milk Pro Series         $3.58               200 cal

Quick and “Cheap”   - McDonald’s Egg McMuffin   $2.79               300 cal


So for breakfast, I saved $1.35 over the Egg McMuffin and $2.14 over the Muscle Milk shake.  Over the course of a month that’s over a $40 savings versus the Egg McMuffin and over $60 on the Muscle Milk.  And that’s just breakfast!!! Translate that over a year and we are talking real money and inches on your waistline.  The added calories from wheeling through McDonalds on your way to work over the course of a year (FOR JUST BREAKFAST) would add up to 20,000 calories or 10 pounds of weight.

For a single workday, 250 days in the year, including breakfast, lunch and two snacks, I calculated a cost of $5.68 to eat healthy, $10.79 with unplanned healthy eating, and $10.75 for unhealthy eating.  A year worth of workdays translates to $1420 by meal planning, almost $2700 without meal planning, and almost $2700 for ‘convenient’, unhealthy eating.

But the nutritional difference will really blow your mind.  Remember this is only workdays through the year, but the calorie difference between the three is about 500 calories by meal planning, 880 with unplanned healthy eating, and 1480 calories on the “this costs less”, unhealthy route.  Over the course of a year, without planning, you spend almost $1300 more to gain 980 calories per day, 245,000 calories per year, or 122.5 pounds of additional weight.

Still think it’s more cost effective?!?!?  This doesn’t even include the indirect cost of the added weight to your medical bills as you watch your blood pressure and cholesterol go up.


For more information and a breakdown of the cost savings on proper meal planning at a day of work:

Visit our blog “Table Scraps”;

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Or for even more direction towards a journey to better living, look into our RISE Personal Wellness Programs

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Meal Plan


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