This Is Why We Eat Better When We Spend Less On Food

Big update: I just published the audiobook version of my free book, Solid Food 101. If you were about to read this post, I think you’ll love it. Listen to it here:

At first, it sounds like a controversial statement. Isn’t it everyone’s goal to make as much money as possible, so they can improve their quality of life? Aren’t less wealthy people hungry more often, or eating poor quality food more often?

Essentially, you could argue that all of this makes sense.

However, being on the side of trying to make ends meet recently, it made me wonder whether or not this is true. I mean, we certainly aren’t going hungry, and I want to believe that we’re eating food that is good for our family. As a matter of fact, I know we are, given my slight obsession with proper nutrition and love for cooking.

Every trip to the grocery store makes me wonder if we’re feeding ourselves properly. Luckily, the very items on the shelves are giving me a clear “yes” on that.

I’m going to try to put myself into perspective of someone who’s got tons of money and walks around in the grocery store, trying to fill their cart.

If I was that person right now, I know I’d be super tempted to try every single new thing that looks like it may taste well. I’d try to justify it by incorporating it into a new recipe, telling myself I’m improving my cooking skills.

If I’m not able to do that, if what I’m trying to buy is a new kind of chocolate pudding or a bag of chips with a funny taste, then I would simply say nothing to myself. I’d probably buy it, seeing it as a treat I so much deserve and I’d move on.

But I’m not that person right now. It’s not that I don’t like having money; it’s just so difficult to restrain yourself when you feel like you don’t have to in order to actually get through the month.

When we think about it in general, having less money to spend on groceries (or, pretending to have less – some would even call this a form of budgeting) makes you actually buy the essentials.

With a limited amount to spend, you’ll probably buy fresh fruit and vegetables, because they’re cheaper than their frozen, semi-cooked version, or ready-made meals that you can just heat up in the microwave.

If you take a look at the ingredient list (and the fact that “vegetables” you’re trying to consume come with such a list should tell you enough), you’ll see just how much sugar, salt and additives an average ready-made meal contains. You may not think it’s sweet, but it has tons of sugars if it has even the slightest amount of sauce – these foods usually drown in sauce, too.

If you’re looking for meat (I’m not a huge expert on this, but I quite understand the industry of it), you’ll most likely go for some sort of fresh, or packaged, piece of meat that you can use for meal prep. I highly doubt you’ll reach for a plastic package of sausage pieces cut up in thin circles that you can barely make a sandwich out of. It’s just not worth it when you think about how much a kilogram of fresh meat costs in comparison.

If you feel tempted to buy chocolate, chips, any kind of candy, you’ll probably pass. I do. Not because it’s not in our budget, but because I understand just how full of sugar and other artificial ingredients they are. That’s not the way I’ve chosen to eat, and it’s certainly not how we’re raising our child. Of course he’ll get the opportunity to try out all these things when the time is right, but I will never be the parent with a cart full of food I’d rather throw away after spending money on it, than feed any of us with it.

Also, if you’re looking for dairy, you’ll probably pass on things like fruit yogurt, creamy pudding etc. After all, most of these treats, you can make at home – mixing yogurt and fresh fruit into a bowl isn’t that much work and it’s a lovely food for breakfast (or a snack).

If we had way more, I’d probably get tempted, too. I’m pretty sure we’d be buying occasional treats “just this time” or “just to try it out” so we’re not… missing out, or whatever, but I also know we like to repeat things that we like.

When I shop for food, I almost always pick up certain 15-20 things that I know we like and we will eat.

How many just-this-time’s would find their way into our regular shopping cart just because they’ve made us feel satisfied in that very moment, I wonder?

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