Why Eating Healthy Is Cheaper Than Eating Junk Food
by Eru Gomes
If you’ve seen the short documentary named “Super Size Me” by Morgan Spurlock, you probably realize now how much a complete fast-food diet can ruin your health.
The film elaborates how the extreme diet experiment of eating nothing but fast food from McDonald’s for 30 days straight makes a perfectly-healthy liver of Spurlock resemble the liver of an alcoholic after a month.
Yeah, it’s that bad!
Is Fast Food Really Both Cheaper and Convenient?
Then why do most of us flock to fast food chains almost as a daily ritual? For some it’s all about convenience, to others it seems like a more budget-friendly option – and for a few, it means both.
But did any of you ever do the math of how it works out? That how is it that fast food actually turns out to be cheaper than preparing a meal at home?
If you count health in your “cost” equation, it’s absolutely fair to say that home-cooked meals are a lot better in comparison to fast food. I don’t think anyone would refute that point.
Let’s Get This Straight…
If your primary concern is affordability over healthy food, logically enough, the dollar menu of the drive-through in your vicinity sure seems cheaper than buying all the groceries and cooking yourself at home.
And if you’re cooking only for yourself, the 99-cent cheeseburger definitely seems a better pick than buying all the condiments, buns and cheese, plus the time it will take to cook them.
But that’s not really how the math works out.
Cost of a McDonald’s Meal Compared to the Cost of Various Dinner Options
The New York Times writer, Mark Bittman, compared the one-time meal at McDonald’s of a four-member family to a meal of potatoes, roast chicken and the salad cooked at home.
Taking the prices of a Brooklyn grocery store as the denominator for this comparison, the cost of the McDonald’s meal turned out to be $14 extra. The home-cooked meal wasn’t just cost-effective but was a lot healthier as well.
The same McDonald’s meal was then compared to a cheaper dinner option of beans and rice with onions, bacon, and peppers, only to find that you can save $18 with this home-cooked meal than eating the McDonald’s meal.
How Much Did I Save in My Little Experiment?
After drawing inspiration from Spurlock’s documentary I mentioned above, just out of curiosity, I was also determined to find out about my cost-cut if I eliminate fast-food from my diet. I was determined not to eat out or spend on fast food for at least one pay period (2 weeks). Before this, I was eating out twice every day on most days. I was spending around $15 daily. That totals up to $210 for 14 days. And, $5,460 for one year, on an average.
Although hard to believe for myself but I did religiously started cooking meals at home, and I saved $210 per pay period (2 weeks). This means, if I continue, I will be saving $2,340 in a year. I would rather save up this money and spend it on a good vacation at the end of the year, if I succeed.
Let’s Do Some Price Comparison of a Few Individual Ingredients
Now I do not at all recommend fast food but just for the sake of price comparison if you compare the cost of a few ingredients in fast food joints to their cost in a grocery store, the result will sure be astonishing. For example, medium size of a fountain beverage costs $1 or a little more in a fast food joint, which has around one third of ice. But if you buy a 12 pack of that very beverage from a grocery store, it will cost you $4 or even less, while you’ll be paying $12 for the same pack of soda pop in a fast food restaurant.
Similarly, if you talk about beef, a hamburger that contains around ¼ pound of beef will cost you almost $3 in a fast food joint. If you cut a small amount for the cost of the bun, you’re paying almost $10 for one pound of beef in a fast food establishment, when you can get one pound of beef for mere $2 in a grocery store. So, you’re spending 5 times more for a pound of beef in a restaurant.
To cut the long story short, eating healthy doesn’t always have to be expensive. It’s high time that you chuck your habit of making rounds at fast-food establishments with the excuse of frugality at least. Now you know that they’re both expensive than home-made meals and are unhealthy too.
Be Subtle to Avoid Frequent Trips to Fast Food Restaurants
Although we all know that buying fresh fruits and vegetables from farmer’s market and using coupons is a great way to save money on your grocery bill, there are more subtle tricks that you can use to keep your interest in eating at home than resort to nearby drive-through every day.
Health and Affordable Delivery Services - There will be days when you might not feel like cooking or are just too busy to cook, on such days you can always opt for healthy yet quite affordable delivery services like Diet-to-go. If you haven’t heard about this amazing delivery service that especially makes food for the health freaks and the calorie conscious, you can read about it here.
Change Atmosphere at Home – Many times people also prefer eating out because dinner gets a routine affair and they just wish to get out of the rut. Changing atmosphere at home always helps in such cases. Try switching off the TV sometimes and switching to mellifluous dinner music for a change by creating a perfect ambiance with dim lights and a candle light and beautiful fragrances to go with it. Dinner shouldn’t just be about eating but an overall positive experience.
Talking about a positive experience, you may even invite over some company to have a good time. Yes, it means a little addition to your food budget but you might also be invited by your guests to their place maybe, which will even things out eventually.
(Eru Gomes loves writing about diet meal delivery program and weight loss meal programs that are both affordable and healthy. Diet-to-go and BistroMD are two of her personal favorites in this regard. You can click here to find out more about BistroMD’s dishes and their calorie count. Gomes is a health freak and loves abiding to frugal living ways. In her free time, she loves gardening and staying off the computer screen as much as possible. She lives in Plainwell, Michigan.)