Last week, you guys had a huge response to my post on the Department of Diet Insecurity terror scale.
Getting into the purple zone and eventually the green zone seems to be a goal for many of you. (And for me too — sometimes I still catch myself sliding back into yellow!) Because there were so many insightful comments and questions, I wanted to follow up on this topic!
“Going purple” feels sort of like Sarah Palin’s “Going Rogue.” Except not ridiculous.
It looks like that for many of you, the biggest barrier to eating more whole, unprocessed, and (eventually) organic and local foods is the cost. This is so understandable! But read this comment from Loreejo:
It’s a matter of putting my money where my mouth is, so to speak. It FEELS more expensive, but I truly think it’s not. It takes me longer in the grocery store but I think this is just a short period of transition until I learn my new go-to foods and brands. It’s a few high quality food purchases that are extremely satisfying, and as you said, some time in the kitchen, but not that much. I once read that “real food isn’t expensive — processed food is just cheap.” Cheaply grown, cheaply made, cheaply paid workers, etc. I’ll do frugal any day, but I ain’t into cheap stuff! I’m worth more than that!
EVERYTHING about this comment just nailed it. Real food isn’t expensive — processed food is just cheap. That’s so important to remember that! Put it in perspective.
Also…processed food isn’t always that cheap. Look at your grocery receipt. Boxes and boxes of granola bars and 100 Calorie Packs add up! Let’s take breakfast, for example…
- Red Zone. A box of Pop-Tarts. $2.50 and you’ll get eight (shitty) breakfasts out of it. Your breakfast will contain 400 calories (good) and 26 grams of sugar (bad). Monthly total: $10.
- Pink Zone. A box of artificially sweetened instant “Weight Control” oatmeal is about $4 a box. You’ll get ten breakfasts out of it (with 7 grams of sugar plus aspartame!!). And you’ll also still need to add some fruit/nuts/milk to it to make it a complete 400-calorie breakfast. I’ll say $20 over the course of a month to cover milk, natural peanut butter, and dried fruit. Monthly total: $32.
- Yellow Zone. Kashi Strawberry Fields cereal is $4.50. If we consider real serving sizes and making a 400-calorie breakfast, you’ll get five or six servings out of it (servings with 18 grams of sugar, B T DUBS). Plus you’ll have to buy milk. Monthly total: $35.
- Purple zone. A 42-ounce container of just plain old-fashioned oats is $2 (!!!) and you’ll get 30 breakfasts out of it with one gram of sugar (!!!!!). And you’ll pimp out it to make it a complete, 400-calorie breakfast so I’ll use the $20 total we determined from the first round of oatmeal accessories. Monthly total: $22.
- Green zone. Country Choice Organic Oatmeal is $2.70 for twelve breakfasts, so that puts you around $7 a month. And we’ll upgrade your milk, nut butter, and fruit to organic and say $30 for all that shizz. Monthly total: $37.
OK…what have we learned from all this?
- That doing math causes me to work up a sweat comparable to that of an elliptical session.
- That the pink, yellow, and green zones are surprisingly comparable in price.
- That you can’t defend eating fake foods or processed stuff based on budget anymore.
- That Kashi is actually really ridiculous and is charging an arm and a leg for a bowl of organic sugar.
- Processed food is cheap. “Healthy” processed food is expensive. Organic food is expensive too, but maybe not as expensive as we once thought. And non-organic minimally processed food might be “just right” for you right now.
The other thing I’ve been really thinking about that seems like a sort of crazy way to solve this problem is umm….eat less. I know this seems to go against everything I stand for but this was a very important “Getting It” moment I had recently. I found myself needing to buy more broccoli and it seemed like I had just gotten broccoli. Well, because broccoli is good for you and it’s a “free” food (in terms of calories, not price!) I tend to eat a lot of it. Every diet recommends you fill your plate with veggies! But I wondered…could I be satisfied with one cup of broccoli instead of two? It would certainly mean my grocery bill would go down. So I tried it and the answer was…yes! Yes, I could.
So while a huge ass salad is good for you, if it’s forcing you to not be able to spend your money on better quality foods, scale it back. Oh and if you don’t think you can be satisfied with one cup of broccoli, I’ll leave you with this: put real butter on it. Not spray butter. And then try again. Have half a cup of strawberries instead of a full cup on your morning yogurt. Not satisfied? Saute them in coconut oil first and then try again. Seriously. Still super hungry? Then stop doing 90 minutes of cardio a day!! Don’t overdo it at the gym and then come home and chug all your organic milk in one sitting because you’re starving. If your appetite is out of control, your grocery bill will be too. So if you’re going bankrupt eating a ton of “free” foods, try adding more saturated fat to your diet and take a look at your cardio addiction.
We won’t be broke-ass twentysomethings forever…but you know what, we actually might be. So while you hope for more green so that you can move into the green zone, you gotta deal with what you have, learn to hustle a bit, and really make the most of the purple.