- Author: Brad Miller
Being an average American, I enjoy the occasional fast food splurge. To me, the convenience is just too hard to resist from time to time. And when you’re in the mood, whose mouth doesn’t water over chicken nuggets and French fries? But, at the end of the day, most people understand that the negative health effects of fast food outweigh the low prices. However, in my experience, fast food does not save money by any means, either. In fact, frequently eating out may not only lead to a heavier body weight, but a lighter wallet.
For the majority of my experience with fast food, which is a little more extensive than I care to admit, I have never questioned that I was getting a good deal. A burger, fries, and a drink for five or six dollars was hard to beat, I thought. However, after leaving for college and living on a budget, my mind started to change. In the first few months living on a budget, I ate out many times a week. At the end of the month, I was scavenging for my meals, being left with pennies and dimes. After a while of this eating routine, I was forced to look elsewhere for food besides Chipotle, Taco Bell, and Jack in the Box.
This quest led me to a mysterious place called the grocery store. Quickly, I noticed how grocery shopping kept my wallet happy. It became cheaper to buy a dozen eggs that would account for several meals for $1.50 than one breakfast burrito for $5.50. A $10.00 bag of twenty burger patties is more economical than a double-double at In-N-Out for $4.00. While eating fast food is usually five or six dollars per meal, by my estimates, grocery shopping costs closer to two or three dollars per meal.
Many people opt for fast food not only for the money they believe to save, but also for the taste. However, places like Trader Joe’s offer many healthy options that do not skimp on taste, either. While browsing through Trader Joe’s it is easy to find meals that look more appetizing, inexpensive, and better for you than those at a fast food joint. The local farmer’s market is also a useful resource for cheap and delicious food.
Granted, I am not swearing off fast food in any way, shape, or form. Chipotle was the first love of my life. However, thinking economically, I now much rather prefer the grocery store.
For further reading relating to economic consequences of fast food, I suggest perusing this article about an interesting study done by UC Davis listed below