My first instinct is to say that it does cost more to eat healthy. The question isn’t as simple as it may seem though. You can look at the cost per calorie of different types of food and see that 100 calories from celery or broccoli is a lot more expensive than 100 calories from a candy bar or potato chips. It is easy to categorize candy bars or broccoli as healthy or unhealthy but many foods are harder to categorize.
Most people don’t eat exclusively healthy food or unhealthy food. You can’t just compare the food budget of a person who eats healthy food and a person who eats junk food and conclude which diet cost more. There are wide variations in the budgets of people who eat healthy or unhealthy. Some healthy food eaters may only eat organic produce from a botique farm while another healthy food eater might get most of their vegetables from a low cost supermarket. Some unhealthy eaters might eat mostly pasta and sandwiches while others eat mostly ready to eat convenience foods. One blogger insists that fresh food is cheaper than processed food and supports her argument by stating that her food budget is lower than her friends who buy processed food. A grocery list posted on her site though includes cereal, peanut butter, canned meat, mac and cheese, and cheese puffs. I would consider all of those to be processed foods rather than fresh food. It is clear that different people have different ideas of what is fresh or healthy food.
My food budget has been about $100-$125 for many years. This consist of both groceries and fast food and the food would mostly be considered unhealthy. This food budget is lower than what most people spend on healthy food. It is also lower than what most people spend on unhealthy food so you can’t really draw a conclusion from just my food expenditures. I think that it does cost a little more to eat healthy. That being said I believe that I could eat a healthy diet on a $100-$125 food budget with some careful planning.
Even if healthy food does cost a little more I doubt that is the reason people don’t eat healthy food. I think most people eat unhealthy food because they like it and it is what they are used to eating, not because it is cheaper. What do you think?