Eating Organic is Expensive (Day 35)!

by FI Fighter on February 24, 2015

in Food, Health Updates

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In my quest to better my health, I’ve had to make a few lifestyle changes. Outside of: reducing stress, sleeping earlier, getting more sleep, regular fresh air and exercise, the one thing I’ve been concentrating the most on is fixing my diet.

Changing eating habits can be easier said than done… Prior to my leave of absence, I was consuming the way most working professionals do: afternoon coffee breaks (sometimes more than one), dining out regularly, opting for taste and convenience above all else, and just generally not caring all that much.

These days, I’ve really clamped down on my diet and eliminated most toxins:

  • No refined products.
  • No dairy (except for probiotic yogurt).
  • No gluten (no bread, no wheat, etc.).
  • No added sugars or artificial sweeteners.
  • No alcohol, stimulants, or caffeine.
  • No GMOs, pesticides, or any other chemicals.

I even started to introduce some organic meats and vegetables to my diet… And now I know why they call the Whole Foods store “whole paycheck”.

It’s not cheap eating organic… But I’m going to try for awhile and see if it makes a noticeable difference. If anything, it will put my mind at ease and that’s a victory in itself… These days, I’m pretty much second guessing everything that goes into my body.

Anyway, for fun, here’s how my latest grocery bill at Costco tallied up:

Bag of red peppers $5.79
Organic greens $4.69
Organic chicken thighs 3.32 lbs $16.57
Wild Alaskan salmon 3 lbs $29.99
Wild Alaskan cod 2 lbs $14.99

Total bill with tax: $72.03

Yikes, that’s not cheap…

Here’s a picture of a “boring” typical meal for me these days:

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Deliciously bland!

Nothing fancy going on here… I cook the meat with: ginger, garlic, green onions, and some sea salt and pepper. All served over brown rice. Washed down with a glass of warm water.

Man, I miss my pizza and coffee! Well, actually not really… Once you start “eating right”, over time it becomes a lot easier to shun junk food. It’s sort of like exercising and investing and all that other good stuff in life.

But it makes me feel better… I’m putting good fuel in my body and hopefully reducing inflammation in the process, which is the cause of many diseases.

I’m also taking supplements (multi-vitamins, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, probiotics), coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, etc.

It’s a slow process, but I’ve got a lot of repairing to do… Until next time…

 

Stay healthy everyone! 🙂

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Roadmap2Retire February 24, 2015 at 10:39 am

That food bill sounds about right 🙂
I am always shocked when I hear that ppl spend $200 a month in food bills. We go thru that in a week. My wife and I mostly eaten organic, gluten free, paleo diet and we feel great. Every now and then we cheat a bit, esp when we eat out and can actually tell the difference in the subpar ingredients used – which makes us a couple of food snobs, i suppose 🙂

Im glad to hear that you are taking action and approaching it right. Food and nutrition is the basis for everything and eating healthy is the most critical factor when it comes to having a good healthy life. The way I see it: you are going to pay one way or another – either pay up to eat good food and feel better or pay for the medications to fight all the toxins in the conventional food supply. I choose better food!

Best wishes
R2R

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2 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:13 am

R2R,

Yeah, spending $200/month in food is pretty tough to do. When I was working, this was actually much more manageable since I got free company food and found myself eating a lot less… and less healthy as well.

Going organic and natural isn’t cheap, but I feel it is most necessary at this point. I agree that you’ll pay the price either now or later… Garbage in = a lot of trouble later.

I’m doing my best to limit toxins and inflammation.

All the best!

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3 Max February 24, 2015 at 2:20 pm

I can sometimes find organic products at ethnic supermarkets/bodegas as well as the dollar stores here have all sorts of crazy things…

glad to see you eating better.

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4 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:14 am

Max,

Organic products are everywhere these days and much more prevalent than in years past. Looks like the demand has really shot up and many people are insisting on the more natural approach free of antibiotics, hormones, and all those other bad chemicals.

Take care!

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5 Midwestern Landlord February 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Coffee would be hard for me to give up. Actually, some studies show that coffee has beneficial aspects. I tend to think that moderation is generally the key. We live in a society where processed foods are so prevalent. That is a hard habit to break and one that I need to do a better job on.

With the time off, you are probably getting a little feel for how FI is. It is nice not having to deal with office activities and the corresponding stress (if even only for a short period of time). I think it’s cool that you put yourself in a financial position where you have options and can make decisions that are in your best interests.

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6 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:17 am

Midwestern Landlord,

Coffee is my favorite guilty pleasure as well and probably the toughest thing for me to give up now.

I think you’re right and there are some health benefits to drinking coffee… I was kind of bad in the sense that I would get lattes and such which are laden with fat and sugar.

But in general, coffee does have caffeine which is a stimulant that I need to avoid right now… very bad for the adrenals.

Hopefully in the future, I’ll get this problem resolved so that I can have my guilty pleasure back 🙂

Yes, the time off has been wonderful. I still need to write a post describing more day-to-day details… Right now, life is probably even better than early FI b/c I’m still collecting full paychecks 🙂

Take care!

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7 No Nonsense Landlord February 24, 2015 at 6:37 pm

I am not sure that organic is worth it, compared to the same food at a regular grocery store. Often, Organic is loosely defined and the crops are raised just like the rest. Maybe at a farmer market, where it is a small grower, it may be better.

To keep bugs out, and weeds out, and get good yields, farmers use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer. Even the organic folks…

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8 Jake February 26, 2015 at 11:32 am

This is incorrect. There is a strict criteria put together by the USDA that will qualify a product as “USDA Organic” at two levels of either “100% Organic” or just “Organic” (where 95% of the ingredients are Organic).

So in the US and most developed countries there is a clear distinction that separates an organic product from a non-organic product and pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are prohibited from these products.

Now, as far as the health benefits, many studies have shown that there is no difference in nutritional value between organic and non-organic foods but there are larger environmental and economic (think local) benefits of organic foods.

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9 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:18 am

Eric,

Organic may or may not be worth it, but the peace of mind helps. When it comes to meats, I like knowing that everything I’m eating is grass fed, and free range and there are no antibiotics or steroids injected to fatten up the animal.

All the best!

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10 Mark February 24, 2015 at 10:26 pm

When papa bear speaks the cubs should listen.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/toll-brothers-profit-nearly-doubles-as-demand-improves-1424778344

If you jumped on board the luxury liner with me a few weeks ago when I was touting home builder stocks on this forum your enjoying a nice 15% increase in your portfolio.

My favorite line:

“Climb the ladder to success escalator style” – notorious big

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11 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:18 am

Mark,

Congrats to you on the gains… not sure how this relates to eating organic foods though, but good job, nonetheless.

Cheers!

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12 Reepekg February 25, 2015 at 9:22 am

Good luck with the new diet. I’ve found that I don’t notice that I “feel better” with the increase of vegetable consumption and other healthy things… it is that I can really tell I feel terrible when I lapse into eating unhealthy food again, so there must be some benefit.

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13 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:19 am

Reepekg,

Thanks. Eating more veggies can only be a good thing since they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. I do feel better on the new diet, so it’s working so far.

Best wishes!

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14 Mary February 25, 2015 at 9:43 am

I would recommend finding a CSA in your area since you know it’ll be locally grown and sometimes organic. It’s a lot fresher than the pre-packaged organic stuff. I’m sketchy about organic stuff at farmers market since I have relatives who sell produce at the market and majority of the time, they and others get their stuff from a distributor. I was once a member for Full Belly Farms CSA but stopped since my family grew.

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15 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:20 am

Mary,

Thanks for the tip. Yeah, I’m sure the prepackaged stuff isn’t the highest quality, but seeing as how I came from eating hardly any vegetables, it’s still a massive upgrade.

I need to start going to farmers markets and taking my veggies/produce more seriously 🙂

Take care!

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16 Mrs. Frugalwoods February 26, 2015 at 4:25 am

That is a super healthy diet! I’m impressed! Oh food bills… we have the same issue since we buy mostly organic produce. But, one way we’ve really cut them down is by eliminating most meat. We do still eat the occasional salmon (from Costco), but for the most part we rely on other protein sources. It was an adjustment in our eating habits, but over time we’ve come to really like it. And the savings are phenomenal!

Good luck to you and keep fighting the good (food) fight :)!

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17 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:22 am

Mrs. Frugalwoods,

Thanks, it wasn’t easy, but I’m making the effort to improve my diet 🙂

Eating meat is really expensive, and the organic stuff is in some cases 3x more expensive… In the short-term, that’s ok, but I’m not sure how I could keep affording this over the long haul.

I think that’s a great idea — cutting back on the meat. It’s probably a healthier way to live as well.

Best wishes!

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18 Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life February 27, 2015 at 5:32 am

Try incorporating more veggie meals. Cutting back on those meat and fish costs will save you a ton. Beans are super cheap too 🙂

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19 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:23 am

Stefanie,

Great tips and thanks for the feedback! I think that’s a great long-term solution.

In my case, I was recommended by my naturopath to eat higher quality meats since I’m dealing with an adrenal issue. So, in the short-term, I may need to keep up this (expensive) diet.

All the best!

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20 FIHopeful February 27, 2015 at 8:53 am

Yes, I agree with Stefanie… meat is the thing that will increase your food bill the most. A while ago, I switched over to a mostly vegetable/fruit/nuts eating regime and it did wonders for my energy and general health. A good rule of thumb is, if you’re eating more meat per meal than can fit in the palm of one hand, it’s probably too much.

I don’t really buy much meat anymore… I usually eat out once or twice a week now, and that’s where I get my overdose of protein. On other days, I just have a healthy salad with some cheese and/or nuts and avacado for a satisfying evening meal. I find it hard to spend more than $50/week on groceries with this plan.

Another way to save on vegetables in the Bay Area is to shop for them at Sprouts. It’s a great store, and they seem to have really good produce. Their organic produce is slightly more expensive than regular produce, but I find that it’s cheaper than buying them anywhere else.

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21 FI Fighter February 27, 2015 at 10:25 am

FiHopeful,

Thanks for the tip! $50/week in groceries is a pretty impressive feat! I spent more than that on one trip to Costco and that’s not enough food to last me even a week…

I haven’t seen a Sprouts nearby, but I’ll keep my eye out.

Best wishes!

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