Extended road trips, lunches with coworkers, convenience of not having to cook, the cheaper 99-cent cheeseburger, or just an escape from the monotony of the routine dinners at home – no matter which one of these take you to restaurants, there’s a heavy price that you’re paying for this habit of frequenting fast food outlets. And this price goes a lot beyond the usual financial burden, if you’re smart enough to count your health in this equation.
Yes, we all know that fast food is not good for health. What’s new about that? It makes us sluggish, fat, and what not! But it’s so irresistibly tempting. Plus, those combo meals in restaurants are so much cheaper than buying all the ingredients separately and cooking them at home. It’s so much work and who has the time for that, anyway right? Well, sadly, that’s how majority the of us Americans justify their choice for the unhealthy fast food over home cooked meal.
But how would you argue if someone tells you that depending on an all-fast food diet from McDonald’s for a month can make your perfectly-healthy liver to look like the rotten liver of an alcoholic? Would you still be tempted by the thought of reaching out for that Mc Veggie you so love that you can gorge on it every day? You might be surprised to know that this is no hypothetical example that I came up with, in the spur of the moment. This is exactly what Morgun Spurlock of the famed short documentary, “Super Size Me” did and showed in his documentary.
So you think fast food is cheaper than home-cooked food? Think again!
Now having figured out how much fast food can ruin your health, if you’re the frugal type, you would be delighted to know that cutting fast foods off your diet can not only be good for your health but also surprisingly healthy for your pocket as well. The overt calculation of fast food being the cheaper option than home-made food would soon begin to look like a mysterious lie as you read on.
Working for 10-hours a day never left me with much time or energy to cook at home, causing me to order fast food or eat out as a daily ritual. But Spurlock’s documentary had been a jolting eye-opener for me. I finally decided to change my entire lifestyle for just one month, just to see if I can do it for my health. I started cooking at home. It’s no cake walk, to tell you the truth, especially on days when you’re too exhausted to even fetch a glass of water for yourself. But I did it!
Apart from seeming like a good achievement on the health front, what came as an added, unforeseen surprise is the money I saved by not eating out. Before starting off with this mini experiment of mine, I was eating twice a day in a fast food establishment, spending almost $15 daily. This sums up to $450 a month, and $5,400 a year. I would rather use this money to go on a holiday instead.
What if I don’t have the time to cook?
Okay, there will be days when you just can’t or don’t feel like cooking by yourself. So, don’t forget to scout through and save ediets meals coupons or Nutrisystem discount for January to order some healthy, fresh and affordable food and get them delivered at your doorstep to save the grace on those days.
Compare the per unit prices of grocery stores with fast food joints
Another amazing thing that I realized during this time is, if you compare the per unit price of ingredients that are available in grocery stores to the price we happily pay for them in fast food establishments, there’s a huge difference. Let’s see how the math works out for the common ingredients.
Let’s start with $1 of a medium-size fountain beverage that we buy in a restaurant (which has 1/3rd of the glass filled with ice). Now in a grocery store, you will pay for the same beverage; say $4 or maybe less, if you buy a pack of 12. But twelve of those drinks at a restaurant will cost you $12(rather than $4). That’s a 300% increase!
Another great example is beef. You pay around $3 for one hamburger in a restaurant that has ¼ pound of beef. Slash a small amount for the cost of the bun and one pound of beef is costing you around $10, while it will cost you only $2 in your grocery store. That’s 5 times more!
Nutritious meals for less
So next time you say that special meals at your fast food restaurant is cheaper, think again! What more? Try cooking a meal of roast chicken, salad and potatoes at home for once, and compare the costs to how much you spend for your meal in a fast food restaurant. Another healthy dish that’s also easy on your pocket that you might want to try is, cooking beans and rice with peppers, bacon, and onions.
Did you ever try anything like that? How was your experience? What healthy meals did you opt for? How much did you save? Share it all with us in the comments section.
About the Author: Brenda Lyttle is a keen health freak and a successful weight watcher. Although a frugal lover, Lyttle doesn’t mind spending on a healthy mail delivery service or an affordable door-to-door mail delivery service as they serve fresh, tasty and nutritious food. She is currently a contributor to KodjoWorkout.com, a site about fitness, health news, and best weight loss programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop. She is single and lives in serene, Michigan, USA.