Food in your shopping cart—ends up in your stomach.

Duh. Healthy Cart = Healthy Eating

You can tell a lot about how healthy a person is eating by taking a look at their grocery cart. I find it amusing to check out shopping carts at the supermarket—and observe how it squares with the physical condition of those who push them.

Last Sunday, I had two people comment on my healthy shopping cart before leaving the Big Y Market in Mystic, CT. The first was a local Stonington friend, and the other was the veteran cashier—one of the few to survive the cut when Big Y took over the former A&P.

So, what did I buy? How much was my bill? What was my cost per 100 calories? And what percent of my purchased “calories” were whole plant-based foods?

My actual shopping bag (re-usable, of course)

  • $4.99 for 3-lb. bag of 12 Gala Apples (12 x 77 = 924 calories; 24 fat, 12 gr. protein, 48 gr. fiber)
  • $4.00 for two Hess avocados (4 x 227 = 908 calories, 700 fat, 6 gr. protein, 18 gr. fiber)
  • $3.99 for one head of Cauliflower (210 calories; 24 fat, 17 gr. protein, fiber 21 gr.)
  • $1.09 for one broccoli crown (20 calories; 2 fat, 2 gr. protein, fiber 1 gr.)
  • $4.99 for 4-lb. bag of 9 navel oranges (621 calories; 18 fat, 9 gr. protein, 27 gr. fiber)
  • $2.49 for 1.25 pounds of 3 Bosc pears (258 calories; 3 fat, 3 gr. protein, 15 gr. fiber)
  • $3.99 for one pound of strawberries (114 calories; 9 fat, 2 gr. protein, 7 gr. fiber)
  • $1.66 for seven medium bananas (735 calories; 21 fat, 7 gr. protein, 21 gr. fiber)
  • $27.55 Grand total with tax

4Leaf Food Analysis for the entire shopping bag

  • Total calories = 3790
  • Total $$ spent = $27.55
  • Cost per 100 calories = $ .73
  • Total fat calories = 787
  • Percent of calories from fat = 20.7% (89% of my fat calories were from the avocados)
  • Total grams of protein = 58 grams
  • Total grams of fiber = 158 grams (more fiber than most Americans get from whole plants in a month)
  • Total cholesterol, trans fat, etc = ZERO
  • 4Leaf Score = 5Leaf (100% of calories from whole plants)

The contents of my entire shopping bag—on the kitchen counter at home

Commentary. This shopping bag represented an average of about a six day supply of the kinds of food purchased. Except for the broccoli, I eat this much every day (see pic).

Since a large portion of my calories come from oatmeal, beans, and legumes which were not purchased on Sunday, my real score (of what I consume daily) is closer to 12% fat, and a great deal more protein and fiber. For fiber, my daily average is over 75 grams.

My actual total consumption also costs much less per calorie. In an earlier blog shown below, I summarized the cost like this:

Let’s assume a hypothetical family of four that requires a combined total of 8,000 calories a day. If all meals were eaten at home, I am confident that we could feed everyone a VERY healthy diet of whole, plant-based foods for an average of forty cents per/100 calories. Food budget = $32/day or around $1,000 per month.

The Bottom Line. It does NOT cost more to eat healthy—for a ton of reasons. See two links below:

Consecutive Daily Blogs (numerals from Lansing, MI)

As for the friend in the store; she said, “I should just follow you around and buy what you buy.” Then, while checking out, the cashier said, “you always buy nothing but healthy food; you can’t imagine what we see working here.”

Finally, I must confess that I am not a 5Leaf eater. After factoring in my beverages, pasta, bread, popcorn and few other items, I routinely score safely in the 4Leaf range with over 80% of my total caloric intake from whole, plant-based foods. And only rarely does an animal product pass my lips…never planned in advance.

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

International. We’re now reaching people in over 100 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

SHARE and rate this post below.

Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Cost of Food. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Food in your shopping cart—ends up in your stomach.

  1. Re going for healthy plant-based nutrition, a Sept. 2 Toledo Blade newspaper article was re-printed in my local newspaper. Here is the link to the author’s article at her Ohio paper:

    I called the writer, Rose Russell, and had a long talk and am e-mailing her items on health ed. She does not know of our sources — Dr. McDougall and you, as starters! She should be encouraged to write more great articles on nutrition and health (and all the other reasons to go plant-strong!).

    You can reach her at the phone and email at the bottom of the article.

  2. Nathan says:

    I work with Low income families, and $1000 a month is a lot of money for them.
    doing some conversions, if Food budget = $32/day or around $1,000 per month: For one person that’s $8/day and $250/month. I think if you shop at less fancy markets and do a little more creative shopping (including buying bulk frozen fruits and veggies, and bulk grains, and then get seasonal items for the fresh stuff, which taste better and are cheaper too) you can get that down around $4 per day per person, $500/month for a family of four isn’t bad. Last I checked food stamps are about $320/month, so with an additional $180/month and even a low-income family can eat healthy (certainly that’s cheaper than diabetes medication + a diet of junk). It’s even cheaper than the infamous dollar menu: sadly there’s a bit more assembly required.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s