A week on from starting my Intermittent Fasting diet and we are back at day one of the intermittent part. Today and tomorrow are my least favourite two days of the week but also my most rewarding. The sense of achievement I felt last Wednesday morning was immense. I had managed on 800 calories for each of the previous two days. I was amazed that I had done it; and although I felt I shouldn’t really be, I was chuffed at my determination to succeed. Just as well really because looking at the money I am currently spending on groceries, I’d be broke before the surgery took place if I was eating healthily for the full seven days of the week.
I know this might sound daft but does it cost more money to eat healthily than it does to eat ordinary oven ready meals?
I think it possibly might.
Well certainly from a my point of view it might.
If we work it out, the cooking of the food provides our first disparity. It is without doubt more expensive to have a couple of gas rings and the oven running alongside the extractor hood, than it is to simply have the oven on. If I were cooking a piece of meat in the oven, boiling some potatoes and some vegetables or maybe cooking a sauce and some pasta on the rings of the hob. Extracting the smells I would obviously have the extractor fan going at maximum rpm. Now if we put that next to just having the oven on with say a chicken kiev on one shelf and some form of potatoes on another, whether they be chips or not, you can see where the costs will mount up over the course of a week, a month and then the year. No use of gas in the hob and no use of electric in the extractor over this period would be a considerable saving on the utilities.
However, although you may be saving money on these utilities, the downside is eating food that is not particularly as healthy as the freshly prepared option.
Another factor we have to consider is time. If you work late to earn the money to spend and enjoy your life, you are less likely to want to get home and start preparing food that then needs cooking and watching because lets face it, you get home from work and want to wind down, you don’t want to keep the grey matter going in a bid to make sure nothing burns. This is why it so much easier simply putting something in the oven and walking away to the TV and tuning out whilst the food cooks.
There is an option to overcome the time restraints that the modern world holds over us. This is food that comes in the form of a ready meal but not just any ready meals, they come under the guise of healthy eating but they have a healthy price tag to match. Many of our high street supermarkets sell Healthy Options ready meals – “Low Salt”, “Low Calorie”, “Low Fat” and “Low Sugar”. Which one you choose depends on which particular ingredient you currently wish to remove form your diet. All packaged very nicely and with pictures that bear no resemblance to anything that ends up on your plate, they are simply a way of making the diner feel good about what they have eaten even though the dining experience is over too quickly. This is only my opinion, but I would say the only reason that these products are low in anything is because ninety-nine percent of the time, they are low in one main thing and that is quantity.
This brings us then to my initial question of cost. We know the convenience oven ready foods are generally lower in nutrition and higher in calories but are quick to prepare and low in cost. The so-called healthy ready prepared foods, although convenient are high in cost and generally only low in one ingredient or another. For example, one meal might shout it is low in fat yet the amount of sugar in it to compensate for the lack of flavour takes the calorie count higher than its “non healthy” counterpart. Another may say it is low calories, however it compensates by exceeding your RDA in salt.
Comparing the previous points against the argument of cost and time, the dieter must then acknowledge that there are no short cuts in healthy eating. Cost is an unfortunate inevitability of wanting to be healthier and make better choices. Fresh food costs more whether we like it or not and it takes more time to prepare and more effort on the dieters behalf.
Therfore in my opinion, yes, it does cost more money to eat healthily.
There is a train of thought that if you are dieting, then you will spend less money socially as there will be no going out for drinks or meals. You won’t be buying that new outfit until you have reached your goal and you won’t be spending money on impulse purchases for your nighttime snacks. This means there should be money available to redress the balance between healthy eating and convenience. It just needs a little more effort to make it work.
Now if only it was that easy when it came to stretching time.
Stay out of the fridge.