How much does it cost to eat healthy in Canada?

For the past 5 years that I spent living in USA, I got accustomed to its cost of living at different cities and pricing politics at the grocery stores. I love shopping at the farmers markets and would always give preference towards fresh, organic produce over it’s cheaper alternatives. Moving to Canada made me reassess my spending behaviors, as the cost of healthy foods seemed to be more expensive, compared to where I’m coming from. Out of curiosity and the will to save some money I made a little experiment. I was wondering of how much do I have to spend to continue eat as clean and healthy as I’m used to. Particularly I was interested to see the costs of meats, as they tend to be the most expensive item on the receipt.  

While doing my calculations I also converted prices from CAD (canadian dollars) to ukrainian hryvnia for my Ukrainian friends. 

According to Dr. Google ₴1 = $21


With my level of physical activity I stick around with 1 gram of protein per pound of lean weight, or approximately 2 grams per 1 kg of body weight. When it comes to the source of protein, I typically give preference to fish, chicken and beef. I stay away from eggs, dairy or “engineered” sources, aka protein bars etc. From time to time I would supplement with organ meats and protein shakes, but only as an addition to my daily meals. Based on my meat preferences, and the fact that I’m pretty lean, I calculated weekly protein requirements off my weight of 68-70 kg:

One week (7 days) worth of protein: 150 g/day (1 g * 1 lb of lean body mass).

If we translate it into the cooked foods, it will look like this:

Cooked:

Wild Salmon: 4.5 kg (10 lb) * 150 = 600 g/day

Chicken Breast: 3.3 kg (7.3 lb) * 150 = 500 g/day

Angus Beef: 5 kg (11 lb) * 150 = 700 g/day


Raw:

Different factors can play a role in how much your meat shrinks. The cut of meat and cooking methods are the main factors. Dry-cooking methods like roasting yield the most shrinkage. 

Using 25% shrinkage as the guideline I calculated the amount of raw product I will need to buy in order to get the needed amount of protein after cooking.

Wild Salmon: (4.5 kg (10 lb) * 25%) + 4.5 kg (10 lb) = 5.6 kg (12.3 lb)

Chicken Breast: (3.3 kg (7.3 lb) * 25%) +3.3 kg (7.3 lb) = 4.1 kg (9 lb)

Angus Beef: (5 kg (11 lb) * 25%) + 5 kg (11 lb) = 6.3 kg (14 lb)

With these numbers in mind I went to the grocery store…


Wild Atlantic Salmon

12.49 lb (5.66 kg) = $82.31 (₴1728.5)

$82.31 / 7 days = $11.7 /day (₴245.7)

Cooked in the oven at 425 F for 20-30 minutes, with no oils. 

Raw: 12.49 lb (5.66 kg)

Cooked: 10.4 lb (4.7 kg)

I LOVE SALMON. This is my most favorite source of protein, but unfortunately the most expensive among three. It’s a great source of Omega-3 fats that are so essential to counterbalance the Omega-6 ones that are so prevalent in modern foods. Too much of this fish may cause bloating and gas.  


Chicken Breast

9.33 lb (4.2 kg) = $37.05 (₴778.05)

$37.05 / 7 days = $5.30 /day (₴111.3)

Raw: 8.7 lb (3.95 kg) (after removing from packaging and re-weighting myself. Delta: 0.63 lb (300g))

Grilled: 2.85 kg. Delta: 2.42 lb (1.1 kg) lost in cooking.

My preference towards chicken is somewhere between fish and beef. It’s still a bit hard on digestive system, but I like it because of it’s price accessibility  and “purity” of protein.


Angus Beef

10.78 lb (4.9 kg) = $53.82 (₴1130.2)

$53.82 / 7 days = $7.7 /day (₴161.7)

Raw: 10.78 lb (4.9 kg)

Grilled: 6.72 lb (3.05 kg)

Delta is minimal.

Beef is not my favorite among three meats for the following reasons: it’s hard on digestion system; cooking of it takes more time and leaves a lot of mess to clean; it’s hard to chew on and it always stuck in your teeth. The main reason why I still implement beef into my diet is because of its fats. I never shy away from buying the fattest pieces of meat, as the animal fat it contains is essential for hormonal productions in our bodies.


Conclusions:

As expected, salmon is the most expensive source of protein. It costs about $12 (₴252) a day to cover my protein needs with fish. Choosing chicken instead would drop price by half, only $5.30 (₴111.3) a day. Beef lays in between, with its moderate price of $7.7 (₴161.7) a day, and on the last place due to my personal preference. 

Eating only salmon for a month would cost me about $329.2 (₴6913.2). Chicken: $148.2 (₴3112.2). Beef: $215.3 (₴4521.3).

I can save money the following ways:

  • Alternate fish and chicken on a weekly or bi-weekly basis
  • Eat just the chicken
  • Supplement with protein shakes
  • Find and shop at the cheaper places
  • Buy in bulk and freeze it
  • Eat less

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