Sunday, June 5, 2011

Money for Nothing??? Let's Find Out!

Today's post was written by my friend Christie over at Beck Family Blessings.  She invited me to participate in an exciting experiment with her, and I gladly accepted.  Over the next three (or more) months, she'll be chiming in to give the 411 on what's going on on their side of the experiment (which will be the more interesting side, if you ask me).

Are you one of those people who not only reads labels, but looks at price tags? Does it make you sick that if you want the healthier version, the organic option, the meat that was respected and taken care of before it died, you have to pay MORE?! FOR LESS?!! (I used to wonder if people who ate healthy were skinnier and because they ate smaller quantities, but now I figure they just must be rich.)
This was an important factor when my husband, Brian, and I started having the conversation about improving our diet. We have read enough literature and seen enough documentaries to know that our food is filled with chemicals, that everything is made out of corn, and that farmers are pumping our poultry full of unnecessary hormones. But, how do we continue to eat what we like and be healthy at the same time? I mean, I like fresh fruits and vegetables and homemade bread, but every once in a while I just have a craving for some Cheetos®, or some Hershey's® chocolate, or a big greasy slice of pizza...and I don't want to feel guilty for eating it! And I think, like many who want to improve their family's eating habits ask, we also want to know, is this going to cause my grocery bill to go up?

The argument is that if we cut out meat (just meat, not eggs or cheese), then our grocery bill will go down because meat is expensive. However, then if we add in organic food where we have the option, and fresh whenever we get the choice, everything else is going to be more expensive. Brian thinks it'll work out to be about the same. I'm not so sure. The problem is that I don't keep track of our grocery bill. I don't know what we buy and how much we spend on it from week to week. Sometimes we go to Costco and get like 12 frozen chicken breasts for $9!! And sometimes we buy in bulk. Plus we grow a lot of our own vegetables, how do we figure in the cost of those? So, we came up with a little experiment to see if we could find our answer to the question: is eating healthier really more expensive?
Enter the Powell family. We chose the Powells to help us with our experiment because

  1. their family makeup is similar to ours (two adults, one small child who barely eats anything)
  2. we know they eat very similar to us, trying to be as healthy as possible
  3. they really enjoy meat

Therefore, they will act as our control group. All they are going to do is keep doing what they've always been doing, but share their grocery bill with us so we can see how much they spend. Our family, the Beck family, however, is going to try something new. We are no longer buying meat (this will eventually turn into no longer eating meat, but we have to finish what's in our house currently). We are also going to buy organic milk, organic eggs, organic whatever else we can come up with...even if it costs more. Then we will look at our grocery bill and compare it with the Powell's bill. 
Now, there are some deviations that we need to account for. Obviously, we aren't going to be buying the EXACT same things each week at the store. Allison did mention that she buys an INSANE amount of sugar because she does a lot of baking for other people. But we will look at the comparable items and calculate it out fairly. Remember, the goal is that we want to know if we're spending more or less by cutting out meat and adding in expensive organic products. We also think it's a good idea to do this experiment over a significant amount of time. Three months is the minimum, but we may go longer. We want to go long enough that it is necessary to replace the things we currently have with our new and improved healthier version, and of course have them included on our grocery bill. The more variety of items we buy, the better idea we'll have of how much we're actually spending in comparison to the Powell family.
I will check back in and give periodic results of this experiment. Maybe you're curious too. I just wish I could give the results to whoever is hiking up the prices and lowering the quantities of those organic options in the store!

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