Yesterday, Jason sent me a link to a blog post with the subject line: "this is amazing". The blog is one of his favorite economic bloggers and he happened to be talking about a woman who spends less than $10 a week to feed her family of 6. The section about the "Queen of Coupons" includes some of the receipts and a picture of all of the food she bought.
Only, here's the thing. It's all crap. Well, except for the milk. I don't think she had a coupon for the milk, though.
Here's what I wrote back to Jason:
"What would really impress me is someone who feeds her family for super-cheap without having to buy only processed food. There are never coupons for fresh produce or meat, and very rarely for beans. If you look at those receipts they include fruit juices (which are less healthy than fresh fruit because you get all the sugar with none of the fiber), sugary cereals, sugary jelly, salad dressing, noodles, peanut butter that includes sugar and preservatives, Aunt Jemima ready-made pancakes, etc.
This is why it's hard to eat healthy when you don't have any money."
I had the same reaction when I went to a local store that several people I know had praised to the skies for their cheap prices. I will grant that they have a fair produce section (no organics, of course) and great cheese and meat choices if you want to cook Latin American or Portuguese cuisine. However, most everything else was the boxed processed stuff you find in the middle aisles of your average grocery store. They did have one Kashi cereal and some plain shredded wheat, but all the other stuff was the opposite of healthy. But it was SOOOO cheap. So there were all these moms with their kids hanging off the carts, piling the carts full of processed, sugary crap because that's what they could afford to feed their families.
I'm sure they like the processed food. Heck, I like processed food. However, overall I like it less now that I know how bad it is for me. I have these discussions with my friend Rachel about where the problem lies in all of this. Farm subsidies. Lack of education. Powerful, powerful food lobbies. There are so many pieces at play, but it all adds up to, it's hard to eat healthy on a budget.