Healthy food and Junk food is expensive no matter which way we look at it.
The price of our grocery budget jumps depending on how we decide to spend our money and on which products.
Healthy eating habits start at home and takes work which means yes you need to put some effort into what you put into your body.
Your mindset before you set off to the grocery store will determine just what you will purchase and fall prey to. The reason is simple, the grocery store plays to our senses and our wallet.
Buying unhealthy foods typically happen because we want to buy them, packaging is nice, they taste and look good or we believe that’s all we can afford to buy.
I remember a time a mate of mine back home told me it was cheaper for him as a single guy to eat out every day rather than cook.
I doubt that was the case as I had never seen him cook a meal in the entire time I had been friends with him. He had no desire to be in the kitchen so eating out and buying junk food at the grocery store was his answer to good nutrition.
What is Junk Food?
Junk Food also known as “empty calories”, high amounts of calories or high-fat are everywhere we look. Junk food products often have poor nutritional value but many people see the value in these food products based on the cost. This is hardly the best way of sourcing good food to fit a budget.
Last week Karen shared with us how her family can eat a raw diet and that the cost to their family budget hasn’t changed dramatically to do so. Eating healthy is a perception for some that only those who can afford to do so can do it. In other words, if you have a healthy grocery budget you can eat healthy if you don’t then there’s no possible way. This is NOT true.
We can’t afford to eat out all the time so how is junk food cheaper? It’s not, but marketing ploys by the restaurants, coupons for Buy one get one free burgers and fries, coupons for boxed goods or pre-made meals at the grocery store are prevalent that’s for certain.
Sure there are coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables but we all know what products dominate the coupon market. A good thing is with the new coupon apps we are able to save $0.25 here and there on a wider array of fresh produce but not much more.
The con to the coupon app is that there are so many discounts available so you may miss out if you don’t shop and apply your receipt to the app fast enough. Whereas if you had a paper coupon you could use it up until the expiry date.
How to stop eating junk food? Easy, we need to stop buying it and stop making excuses as why we need to have it in the house.
We are just as guilty with buying junk food especially when company comes around or when we want a treat but we try our best to make homemade treats over pre-made snacks at the grocery store.
The only junk food facts we need to know is that it’s not good for us. Sure, there is healthy junk food and this is more of what we need to focus on if we get that urge to eat a naughty snack. What’s even better is if we can learn to make healthy snacks and foods at home rather than buying them pre-packaged.
Instead of buying tortilla chips you can make your own by making tortillas then cutting them into triangles and dry baking them or cutting homemade pita bread into triangles. You can make a homemade hummus dip and magically you have a healthy snack.
If you love macaroni and cheese all it takes is cheese, butter, flour and some other spices to make a cheese sauce. Boil up some pasta and you have a homemade mac and cheese rather than buying the boxed version. At least you know what ingredients are going into your meals.
You do the math
Junk food is NOT cheap and if you think it is you must be looking at prices somewhere other than the grocery store or fast food restaurants.
Even if it were cheaper in comparison month over month who would want to eat junk food all the time? It’s simply not healthy for our bodies and overall health. I know I feel 100x better when I eat clean healthy meals and fit in moderate daily exercise.
Going to Wendy’s to purchase one burger, medium fries, soft drink, baked potato with cheese and chili and a small wrap costs just under $20! I could buy quite a bit at the grocery store to prepare a huge meal for more than 2 people with $20.
Yes, it’s bloody expensive to eat fast-food and I know because I did some research on fast-food restaurants and whether I could make it at home for less. The answer is always going to be yes but are you willing to do it is the question?
Sure, you can go in the dollar store and buy candies and chocolates and other foods but that doesn’t mean they are cheap just because they cost a buck or two.
I’ve heard multiple times over the years that there is no way that someone can eat healthy on a frugal budget. That’s false and we all know it especially if you live in Canada.
I’m not going to talk about other countries here because I live in Canada. I know when I lived in the UK I could eat healthy on a small grocery budget but since I’ve been away for years I won’t comment on what shopping is like today.
Buying junk food is simply meant for convenience not the price factor unless you’ve made up your mind that it’s the only way you can eat for less. It’s surely not considered for the nutritional value and although we do buy some processed boxed foods on occasion such as cereal and crackers it’s not part of our regular diet, real food is. Moderation is key.
I’ve done price comparison’s over the years and had a look at the cost of a box of Kraft Dinner compared to making homemade mac and cheese, baked goods, snacks, burgers etc. You will ALWAYS pay a premium for convenience especially if it comes in a box, can or is considered a pre-made meal.
These meals were not made for people on low-incomes they were made for people who really don’t care to cook, feel they have no time or take much interest in what they eat.
When anyone, including ourselves indulge in junk food, pre-made or canned foods we are essentially freeing ourselves from the task of making it.
It’s always easier to open a bag, box or can after a long day than it is to clean, chop and saute. This is never going to get us to the front of the healthy rat race especially if we keep telling ourselves that all we can afford is junk food.
I proved that back a few years ago when I took on the Welfare Food Challenge and although variety is minimal at first over time you can build a lovely pantry of spices, beans etc. that will be used as layers in homemade meals with fresh fruits and veg.
Junk Food Is Like A Drug
Have you ever eaten junk food and stayed full for hours on end? Probably not because it just goes through your system. A chocolate bar, bag of chips, fast and convenience foods are all foods that will help spike your sugar levels and then drop on you like a tonne of bricks. Let’s not forget the amount of salt and other ingredients either.
I know, I’ve been there and done that too!
Why is the junk food industry so expensive?
Because we continue to feed into it. They know that convenience is less time-consuming and that people will continue to buy it. They can mass produce convenience which means yes you will see products on sale in the flyers often but can you read the ingredient list and confidently say you are happy about what you are putting into your body?
If it doesn’t bother you than you have nothing to worry about but for those of you who do complain that you want to eat healthy but can’t afford it, you can.
Junk food does not rule our lives and until we get rid of that mind-set that eating healthy is for the rich or fortunate people who can afford it convenience will always win.
Organic is for the rich
Not so true.
Organic will cost more but no one says you have to eat organic. One of the reasons organic is pricey is because the farmers use naturally derived pesticides on their crops and when crops die or don’t yield large quantities that drives the price up.
There are numerous other costs involved in Organic products including extra time and extra man power. Growing crops isn’t quite as easy as planting and letting nature take care of it.
We don’t eat organic until summer when we can grow our own fruits and vegetables or raid our families massive garden. There are plenty of markets in the area which sell organic and non-organic products for reasonable prices.
True organic fruit and vegetables come from your own garden where you know it has been subjected to no chemical pesticides whatsoever.
Love your kitchen
Once we get rid of the taste of convenience junk food it’s easier to focus on simple recipes that won’t break the budget and offer complete nutrition. Kids are tough work but cracking open a can of zoodles shouldn’t be the only option in your child’s meal plan.
Making a pot of pasta sauce is simple and not expensive at all. If you can boil water you can make pasta in 5 minutes with a bit of salt, add homemade sauce , mince beef or meatballs and your child will be happy eating something you created rather than junk food or fast food.
If junk food or convenience food is your only option due to inability to cook food due to health reasons or disability then there may be options available that have less salt or fat. It may not be the best solution but if it’s that or nothing at all then you have your choices in front of you.
If you know someone who is in this position and you can volunteer to cook for them by all means help them out if they would like the help. I’m sure they would appreciate hot homemade meals once in a while.
I know a lady up the street goes and cooks for a friend of hers who is in a wheelchair and struggles to cook and go grocery shopping every week. There’s nothing better than seeing the smile on someone’s face who is all alone and hasn’t eaten a home-cooked meal or had company come around to see them.
Ways to battle Junk Food and Eat Healthy On A Budget
- Learn how to grocery shop
- Learn to cook and bake by trial and error and trust me when I say I’ve made my fair share of errors BUT I’ve learned from them and enjoy cooking even if it is a challenge.
- Learn to plan your meals so you know what you are making in advance. Use cookbooks or find recipes on the internet that intrigue you and start building a pantry to help prep meals.
- Learn to take inventory of your food stock so you know what you have on hand.
- Learn how to create a grocery list so you don’t overspend and have enough to spend on foods that offer nutritional value.
- Learn about how to grow a garden in a small space or in your backyard so you spend less at the grocery store.
- Learn about moderation when it comes to eating food. Most of us eat too much food which leads to overeating or eating foods that aren’t good for us such as junk food. Portion control is a great way of making sure that we eat in moderation.
- Learn about time management especially if you feel you don’t have time to cook. Everyone has time to cook homemade if they plan their cooking. You may not be able to cook every night but even if you cook once a week and freeze the meals you can still enjoy healthy food every day.
- Ask for help especially if you are unable to cook or grocery shop due to health or disability reasons. There should be some help in your community or someone who is willing to come in and help you prepare healthy meals so you can stop eating junk food or convenience meals.
- Believe in yourself especially when it comes to being in the kitchen and at the grocery store. Cooking and shopping for food is fairly straightforward so give yourself some time and do a bit of research and before you know it you will be cooking up a storm in your kitchen. For all the latest food posts you can read my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide which will help you to build up that confidence.
I’m not trying to push healthy eating on anyone (it’s your life) but what I do know is that junk food can be just as costly as healthy food so it’s not a price excuse, it’s a CHOICE!
Although buying convenience foods is in just about every shopping cart we look in it doesn’t have to dominate our eating habits or our grocery budget.
Do you think that buying junk food is cheaper or that it’s just an excuse?
June Grocery Game Challenge posts
If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you.
Join in the Grocery Game Challenge fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each blog post… here are the GGC rules!
Grocery Saving Tips
Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!
Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.
I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the savings process in your grocery budget today.
Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE. CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet for FREE.
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Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide
If you are new here and haven’t had a chance to read past posts grab yourself a beverage, sit down, relax and enjoy some educational reading material on ways to save money in your grocery budget.
If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below or you can now find the posts listed on their own page called The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.
If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email.
2015 Grocery shop results
If you are a foodie like I am you will enjoy going through my Free Recipe Index where recipes from CBB Home Chef Nicola Don and myself are shared every Sunday on the blog. Check it out!
Yearly grocery budget for two 2015: $2820
(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $240 per year or $25 per month.
- 2 x Brat Sausages $4.08-30% and $4.07-30%
- Hershey’s Chipits $6.99
- 2x Cheerios (baby snacks) $2.97
- Tomatoes on the vine $1.49
- Yellow Onions $0.98
- Romaine Lettuce $1.77
- 6 x Black Diamond Cheese $4.44-$0.75 coupons (stockpile)
Total out-of-pocket $ 22.88 Cheese stockpile= $26.64-$4.50=$22.14
Shoppers Drug Mart
- Neilson Milk $3.9
- 2x NN Butter $7.00
Total out-of-pocket $10.97
- Organic Mushrooms $5.98-50% $3.00 400 PC Plus Points
- Shropshire Blue Cheese $9.50-50% $4.75
Total out-of-pocket $ 7.75
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)
- Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $206.91
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $20.00
- PC Points Plus Earned to date: 98351
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Snap Groupon to date: $1.50
- Zweet to date: $6.50
- Cart Smart to date: $0
- Checkout51 to date: $4.50
GROCERY SHOP THIS WEEK (add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)
- Total to spend this month $235-$28.09 (over May) $206.91
- Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): (Jan/Feb) $50.00 +$0 (Mar)+$16.94+$25.00 (April)+$25.00+ May $25.00+ June $
- Stockpile budget used this month: $0
- Total coupons used this week: $4.50
- Total coupons used to date: $26.50
- Total in-store discounts this week: $12.83
- Total in-store discounts to date: $472.43
- Total spent this week: $40.90 (not including what I get back from coupon apps)
- Total spent so far this month: $150.41
- Total over/Under spend this shop: $over
- Total over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
- Total left to spend for the month: $56.50
- Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $231.02 + April $258.44+May $218.12+ June $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts): We didn’t have much to buy this week since my parents are leaving and we have plenty leftover. We did eat out many times which was paid by my parents or us depending on where we were. Over the course of 3 weeks we did many road trips and although we brought snacks many were long trips so food had to be purchased on the road. We did stop at a grocery store on an island we visited but my dad paid for what we bought.
Canadian Coupons Found This Week
Since we have my parents here I haven’t taken the time to scour the stores or check out the coupon board at Zehrs for coupons.
I’ll hopefully have more to report next week once we do our next shop now that my parents are gone and life gets back to normal.
Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!
Frequently Asked Questions
- Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible.
- Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
- When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it all together. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
- Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?:
YesNo, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year so we can plan accordingly for our budget. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any more. It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money.
- Canadian Coupons: Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
- Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading out but mobile coupon apps are the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households have gotten involved with their new mobile Save.ca app joining forces with the many apps that are already out there.
- What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
- What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
- How Do I Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
- How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.
Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I need to buy this or that.
You may also substitute items in order to stick to your grocery budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do.
This is why the grocery game challenge was created to not only show you that we are like everyone else but to bring us all together to work as a team to get our budgets on track.
If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2015 get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending and what you are saving.
Feel free to read all the above posts that I linked to above which I feel are relevant to learning about the grocery budget and grocery shopping in general. If you are brave and want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!
You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!
Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2015!
Join in and become money savers and take control of your grocery budget.
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