I have heard very similar lines from CWs about the cost of fresh produce. I think the people that say this are just trying to justify not eating healthily. GF and I eat very little that is packaged (frozen berries and oats come in packages but that's a grey area to me.) and while we do spend quite a bit on groceries we both feel we are eating a ton of very high quality, delicious, healthy, fresh food. I think the health benefit easily offsets the labor cost of slicing up my veggies! =)
I have found that many of these people are the same ones that eat out all of the time. I always counter back with "well the good produce is expensive, but it's still cheaper than eating out." They usually nod in agreement.
I agree, I eat very well on a lot less than people spend on fake food in grocery stores and fast food. Waste is rampant. At a garden party yesterday, mostly retirees in attendance, I mentioned I was going to a farm to buy blueberries and cherries for the freezer. (I also get pushback on how much work this is and how costly it is. Yet it is only minutes to freeze enough for a year, and much less costly and healthier and tastier than out of season produce.)
Retiree #1 (well-off, former engineer): I should get a freezer again. We used to have one and buy a side of beef and a lamb every year, but we still had a lot of lamb left by the time the next year's lamb (pre-ordered) was coming. So I had to barbecue all the meat and invite everybody we know to eat it all. Or the meat got freezer burn because we didn't eat it and we had to throw it out. So it's a waste of money.
Retire #2 (small pension, no assets, former nurse): You end up with all this meat in the freezer for years and it's a waste of money. (I happen to know her well and she moves a freezer full of ancient frozen meat from place to place. She often mentions she has to "clean out the freezer" but can't because she needs a cooler to put the meat in while she is "sorting". I have told her a few times in the past I would do it for her in 10 minutes without a cooler. Just throw out anything that you don't know for sure is less than 1 year old and you're done).
Me: I don't buy more meat until I have eaten what is in the freezer (about 3 month's worth maximum) and then buy another 3 months' worth. Anything left in the freezer when the new meat goes in, goes into the freezer compartment of the fridge and gets eaten within a week or two.
Retiree #1: Yeah, but…. (shrug)
Retiree #2: But you're so organized (deprecating tone).
I used to pass on information on how to manage money, how to get organized, how to eat healthy, but I realized that people already know how to do it. They just don't want to and try to justify instead of change. So, I no longer feel sorry for people because they knowingly bring it all onto themselves.