Recently in one of my classes we were discussing food and our ecological footprint on the world. One topic that kept resurfacing was how many of my students would love to buy more organic foods but the cost is just too high. Not only is the price not right, the other main argument that many of them made is that it just takes too long to make a healthful meal. And it is these two factors–cost and time–that often leads to people eating crappy food. This sentiment is one I’ve heard not just from my college students (who you might expect to not always eat the healthiest of foods), but from other adults and parents that I talk with.

I really don’t understand why anyone would subject themselves to the fast-food garbage that they call food.

In addition to this discussion, I keep seeing these commercials lately from the typical fast food restaurants enticing customers with their low prices. You know the ones–“Feed your family for under $4” and in small print it clarifies that this is “per person.” Given the hard economic times I can see how this might sound good for many.

But all this got me thinking . . . is it really true that you can’t eat healthfully without spending a fortune or without spending all day in the kitchen?

Thinking about this I decided to break down a couple of our recent meals to see the cost and time factor.

The first was a meal of Tofurky brats and dogs on buns, organic baked fries, organic steamed veggies, and a salad. While some of this food was processed, it was a simple, fast meal (less than 30 minutes) in which everything but the bread was organic and non-GMO. And average cost per person for this meal was $3.65!

The second meal was a casserole dish that is extremely fast and easy to throw together–less than 10 minutes. However, cooking time does take awhile at 1 hour–but then the casserole is in the oven leaving you plenty of time to do other things and not just slave away in the kitchen. The dish consists of Tofurky kielbasa, frozen and fresh organic veggies, organic potatoes, and organic cheese. This dish alone comes out to be just $3.08 per person (sometimes even less because we often have leftovers with this dish). Being the bread lover that I am, I typically serve a loaf of bakery bread stuffed with roasted garlic hot out of the oven, bringing the total up to $3.58 per person for a really easy, nutritious, and tasty meal.

Galloping gargoyles! It is possible to eat healthfully for less and not spend all day in the kitchen.

One last meal that I recently prepared was a recipe for chickpea and potato curry over rice. Using canned organic chickpeas and canned organic tomatoes saved me on the preparation time. All the other ingredients were organic as well, including the rice. The total time for this meal was about 35 minutes and the cost came out to only $2.90 per person! This meal does require some more uncommon spices, so if someone doesn’t have these on hand the cost might be slightly higher.

I have to say I, myself, was a little surprised by these figures. I actually thought the cost per person would end up higher. Our family has been trying to make strides in eating healthier, and due to this I am willing to spend more on organic and non-GMO items. But, breaking it down like this I see that in comparison to those typical fast-food places we can actually eat better, more nutritious food for less money!

Using an expression my son loves–galloping gargoyles, IT IS possible to eat healthfully for less and not spend all day in the kitchen doing so! Now, with these two main arguments of cost and time not holding up to my test, I really don’t understand why anyone would subject themselves to the fast-food garbage that they call food.