Submitted by Amy Sercel
Edited by Marcia Bristow MS RDN CSSD CD
In today’s world, there is no better feeling than saving money. No one wants to spend more than they have to, especially when buying food. This can make grocery shopping challenging because it is not clear whether it costs more to buy nutrient-dense foods high in vitamins and minerals or energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars. A recent article published by a group of Harvard researchers helps clarify the confusion. These researchers found that a meal-pattern containing lots of nutrient-dense foods cost about $1.50 more per day than one higher in energy-dense items.
The researchers studied food costs by food group, measuring the cost of protein, snacks, dairy, grains, and oils. In the protein group, for example, researchers found that lean ground beef costs between $0.20 and $0.50 more per serving than high-fat ground beef, and chicken with the skin costs between $0.41 and $0.54 more per serving than skinless chicken. Produce can cost up to $3.20 more per serving than packaged snack foods. Nutrient-dense dairy and whole grains may have less of a drastic price difference. Skim and low-fat milk may be the same price as whole milk, but could cost as much as $0.14 more per serving. Whole-grain bread only costs about $0.02 more than white bread. Margarine low in saturated fat will be about $0.02 more expensive than high-fat alternatives.
Although nutrient-dense foods can be a little more expensive, there are some ways to save money in the grocery store and still purchase healthy foods. Compare costs based on a food’s unit price to ensure an even comparison between prices. Frozen fruits and vegetables can cost less than fresh produce but still have the same vitamins, minerals, and great taste. They also keep in the freezer for several months. Make sure you use fresh foods before they spoil. Eating nutrient-dense foods is an important part of healthy lifestyle, and there are always ways to add them to your diet without breaking the bank!