Posted by Rachel on:
We're living in some challenging times, and for those of us who have to watch our pennies, the 99¢ store is a frugal girl's heaven. There is nothing organic or remotely healthy for you here at the dollar store. You can buy some produce but it's limited and the dairy and meat section is really quite depressing. For me, it makes sense to buy items like toilet paper, batteries, and cleaning supplies. Sometimes the items you get are less than optimal. The pack of sponges, 3 for a 99¢ are useable, but fall apart much faster than the "Scotch-Brite" brand found at 'normal' stores.
Anyway, I understand why so many of us choose to shop cheap - and I generally don't see much of a problem if your getting the odd household items. The 'food' you will find is mostly canned, processed and fantastically unhealthy. Most of it is high in sodium, refined sugars, flavorings, MSG, nitrites, EDTA, nitrates, hormones, pesticides, gases, colors, and chemicals sprays.
When economic hardships come along, we tend to rationalize purchasing crappy food, not realizing that they put their long-term health at risk. This is especially true for folks who have existing health problems. Do you really think a bunch of cheap Top Ramen will give you the nutrients you need to function at the level you body needs? I know you may think you don't have a much of a choice financially, but you do!
My advice during these tough times would be this: Skip the junk food and buy whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds at the Farmers Market, Mesa Produce or Tri-County Produce. Even the expensive food stores will have a bulk section where brown rice, oats, whole wheat flour etc. can be bought for around 99¢. Buy foods that have had the least amount of tampering with, and you will feel, look and be much better off in the long-run. Plus, think of the (future) medical savings!
By the way.. I am in no way perfect when it comes to eating healthy. My vices include Coke, Hard Candies, Sour Patch Kids (OMG), and Kraft Ranch Dressing (waaay processed). So 'Everything in moderation' is a rule that I find helpful when I'm craving a junk fix. For me, it's about putting the money and time into your health now, not when you have Type 2 Diabetes or Obesity.
Of course, there is no guarantee to a long and healthy life, but you can feel good now and have a better chance at living a longer and healthier full life. Plus, now that I've undermined the whole 'crappy food is always cheaper' myth, what excuse to you have?