With fast food prices ridiculously low – every chain has a dollar menu, it seems – it’s not surprising that so many people believe junk food is cheaper than healthy grub. But it’s not, says a recent New York Times article:
In general, despite extensive government subsidies, hyperprocessed food remains more expensive than food cooked at home.
The writer compares the price of a McDonald’s meal for four with a home-cooked chicken dinner and a home-cooked rice and beans dinner. Guest how much more expensive fast food is???
McDonald’s meal – 2 Big Macs, 1 cheeseburger, 1 6-piece Chicken McNuggets, 2 medium fries, 2 small fries, 2 medium Cokes, 2 small Cokes
Chicken dinner – whole chicken, lettuce (for salad), potatoes, four slices of bread, a lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, and milk
Rice and beans – pinto beans, rice, onion, two green bell peppers, three slices bacon, salt and pepper, milk
The prices of the meals are $27.89, $13.78, and $9.26, respectively. The chicken dinner saves you 51% compared to fast food, while rice and beans saves you 67%.
Scary fact: there are five fast-food restaurants for every grocery store in the U.S.
The story debunks more fast food myths.
Myth No. 1: Fast food is cheaper per calorie.
Reality: With so many people obese, and so many fast food calories being “empty” calories that don’t keep you as full for long, this argument doesn’t hold water. “Measuring food’s value by the calorie makes as much sense as measuring a drink’s value by its alcohol content. (Why not drink 95 percent neutral grain spirit, the cheapest way to get drunk?)”
Myth No. 2: Organic food is way more expensive than Mickey D’s.
Reality: Sure it is. But there are plenty of non-organic options that are super healthy, like beans, whole grains, dairy, vegetables, rice, vegetables, meat, fish, peanut butter, and bread.
Myth No. 3: Some people live in a “food desert” where the nearest grocery store is 10 miles or more away.
Reality: 93% of people with “limited access” to a grocery store have access to cars, so it’s really about making a choice to spend time driving to and from the grocery store, and then cooking dinner. Who’s got time? Well the average American watches 1.5 hours of TV a day, so there you go. The real issue is that cooking dinner is seen as extra work, not as a way to provide your family with the very best.