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We hear everywhere that’s it’s both cheaper and healthier to make your own everything. We’re told this is so but is it really? I decided to investigate, comparing ingredients and putting pencil to paper on costs. This article compares the costs and nutrition in a simple strawberry smoothie to Naked Juice’s Power C Machine, a product I’ve used several times.
Note: Please keep in mind that I’m not picking on this company. I chose it due to familiarity. Prices are local, and yours may vary.
Homemade Strawberry Smoothie
- 1 C strawberries
- 1 6 oz. yogurt
- 1 C milk
- Makes 2 15 oz. smoothies
- 1 qt. strawberries = 2 cups
- $3/ store $5/ farmer’s market = $1.50/$2.50 per cup
- free if you grow them
- 1/2 gallon 2% milk = 8 C
- $1.79/8= $0.22
- Yogurt, 6 oz. $0.44
$2.16/ $3.16 total. $1.08/$1.58 per smoothie. Growing your own will reduce this dramatically since the most costly item is the strawberry.
Strawberries are rich in vitamin C. They contain high amounts of folate (vitamin B9), manganese, potassium, and antioxidants. They also contain various plant compounds that have many health benefits and small amounts of several other vitamins and minerals. From the Healthline website:
- Calories: 32
- Water: 91%
- Protein: 0.7 grams
- Carbs: 7.7 grams
- Sugar: 4.9 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
Store Bought Naked Juice Power C
- $3.29/ 15 oz.
Nutrition *From their website
- Protein 2g
- Vitamin D 0 mcg 0%
- Calcium 40 mg 4%
- Iron 0.7mg 4%
- Potassium 680 mg 15%
- Vitamin A 30 mcg 2%
- Vitamin C 1140 mg 1270%
- Zinc 3 mg 25%
Naked Juice claims no added sugar or preservatives, but everything is made from a purée. The zinc is in the form of zinc oxide. A widely used food additive that can also be found in cosmetics and other manufactured items. And check out the carbs and the sugar! Quite a bit more than contained in our humble strawberry. And 220 calories! That’s quite a lot for such a small plastic bottle. This drink contains small amounts of iron, vitamin A, and calcium, all good things, but check out the sodium! This drink is 1% salt.
Therefore, I conclude this health drink, while it contains many healthy things, is still the high carbohydrate/high sugar/high salt stuff that processed foods have become famous for. On top of that, there’s a plastic bottle. Rinse and reuse, or recycle, but it’s still a factor. This writer prefers to cut down on the amount of trash in landfills. An old A&W root beer glass purchased years ago at a rummage sale is eminently reusable.
Other good points about making one’s own: the food that goes into the blender looks like food. Strawberries, milk, and yogurt are all reasonably identifiable compared to the purée in large metal factory-style containers. These containers are dumped into huge vats to make the drink. My food is made to order in small batches.
So, to Recap
One 15 oz. strawberry smoothie costs either $1.08 or $1.58, depending upon where the berries are sourced. If you can grow your own, then the cost is even cheaper because the most expensive ingredient is now (mostly) free.
One 15 oz. Power C smoothie costs $3.29. Obviously, making smoothies at home is cheaper by a considerable margin.
The processed food smoothie does have many healthy ingredients, but in my opinion, these are far outweighed by the sugar, salt, and carbohydrates. I hope the drink is made from actual high-quality food, but I have to take their word for that. When making smoothies in my kitchen, I know what went into them.
Granted, this is entirely subjective, but this writer very much prefers the taste of homemade. The processed drink has a liquid cardboard quality that I find distasteful. Homemade, hands down.
So how do we enjoy this wondrous brew throughout the year?
Strawberry season is all too short, and this year was cut even shorter in my area by heavy rains. Easy! Freeze them. Strawberries (and many other berries) freeze very well for this purpose. What I don’t grow in my garden comes from the farmer’s market. Even at $5/quart, I’m good because the money goes directly to the farmer.
Keep in mind they won’t stay good for long in the refrigerator, and plan accordingly. This year I bought four quarts at a time, an amount I knew I could process quickly. Washing, sorting, cutting, and packing into freezer bags took me about one hour per session. I sugar pack mine using one-quart freezer bags, two cups of strawberries to 1/3 cup of sugar in each. There are recipes for packing without sugar. Check out the Ball Blue Book for some good ones!
Hint: label your bags with contents, date, and amount before packing your berries into them. Life is easier this way. Don’t ask me how I know! When the urge hits, pull out a bag and defrost, then into the blender. Voila! Cheap, healthy smoothie.
In these uncertain times, it’s very tempting to spend a limited food budget on cheap processed food. But is that the better choice in the long run? Processed foods generally contain huge amounts of carbohydrates, sugar, and salt. There’s not that much actual food in them, which is why they’re so cheap. Therefore, the belly may feel full, but the body is missing out on many necessary nutrients.
Many, including myself, believe many chronic diseases, such as obesity and diabetes, are directly linked to the food we’re eating. While whole foods may appear to be more expensive, and in some cases they are, they contain the nutrition our bodies need to be healthy.
As this article shows, homemade can be cheaper than those convenience foods and much better for you. This website contains many recipes for healthy food on a thrifty budget. Why not give them a try? You’ll be healthier in the long run!
What do you make at home that other people buy?
Is there a particular food or beverage that you make at home that everybody else seems to buy? What is it and what is the price difference? Let’s talk about it in the comments.