Going to the supermarket seems like a simple task, but it can quickly turn into an hour-long headache that ends with you going home with hundreds of dollars worth of nuts, meat, and produce. But it doesn't have to be this way. Eating healthy doesn't have to cost half your paycheck. Research conducted by The Miriam Hospital and The Rhode Island Community Food Bank found healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables really are affordable. So much so that households that consumed a plant-based, extra-virgin olive oil diet had an annual savings of nearly $750 per person compared to people who ate according to the economical recommendations for healthy eating provided by the USDA.
The researchers discovered low-income households spend their grocery money first and foremost on meats, eggs, cereals, and bakery products. The fix? Including some weekly meals that don't contain meat, poultry, or seafood, but do include extra virgin olive oil, vegetables, and a starch. Animal products cost more than double that of vegetables and legumes, and 60 percent more than one serving of fruit, the researchers explain.
"Our findings with this study run counter to the general belief that a healthy diet must be expensive," Andrew Schiff, CEO, Rhode Island Community Food Bank, and lead study author said in a press release. "Even using extra-virgin olive oil, a plant-based diet is far less expensive and features so many more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This is really good news for individuals served by the Food Bank—showing that wholesome eating on a tight budget is possible for everyone."
For even more tips on navigating those daunting fluorescent-lit aisles—and leaving with your dignity and wallet intact—read on.