Fast food is everywhere. You can’t escape it. Lovers of these food chains say for just a few dollars, they can have a satisfying meal. After shopping, buying the ingredients and cooking, they’ve spent lots of time and money. So can cooking really be more economical than fast food? No way, say food experts. In fact, Slow Food USA is working to obliterate this misconception. They have extended the $5 Challenge to crowd-source lots of healthful, inexpensive options. You can find their website here: secure3.convio.net. At time of posting over 5,500 meals had been shared. There are tabs for tips and tricks, photos and more. New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, known for covering food politics as well as offering some amazing recipes, wrote that a family of four visiting McDonalds will spend $28, whereas you can prepare a similar meal with real chicken and potatoes at home for half the price. “You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people,” Bittman said.
Certainly cooking at home is the best way to avoid the terrible ingredients in fast food and the health problems they can cause. Though you may frequent an eatery you think is far healthier, studies have shown that home cooking is the healthiest. Bittman looks at the argument from another angle too. Sometimes this false choice is outlined via per calorie cost. It’s said that fast food costs less per calorie. Since this is high caloric food, the argument goes fast food eaters are getting a better deal. But Bittman says 50% of those in the U.S. consume too many calories, not too few. Another thing, with the chicken meal he outlines, there are lots of calories in the olive oil for instance, but the healthy kind. Bittman says he used food from a regular supermarket in his calculation. Professor of food studies at New York University Marion Nestle says, “Anything that you do that’s not fast food is terrific; cooking once a week is far better than not cooking at all.” So the next time you are confronted with this argument you can show the person you are arguing with Bittman’s infographic.