There is a misconception among the masses that eating unhealthy food is actually cheaper than making healthy food, especially in the fast food industry. This drives me NUTS. The media has trained us to believe that cheap eating can only be done by eating unhealthy. The truth is, we're addicted to convenience.
I'll give you an example...a McDonald's double cheeseburger vs. a healthy homemade cheeseburger.
A double cheeseburger from McDonald's is actually now a McDouble, as it has one less piece of cheese than a regular double cheeseburger. It costs a buck, and just a normal, right-off-the-menu McDouble contains 460 calories (edit - as of 1/19/12 it's listed as 390 calories, thank you to Anonymous who corrected this fact for me, and I'm updating the other information as well!!), 19 grams of fat, 29 carbs and 22 grams of protein. Each McDouble consists of 3.2 oz of meat (which after a lot of Internet searching AND calling McDonald's customer service number, I couldn't find out the fat to muscle ratio of the beef), 1 slice of cheese, 1 tsp ketchup, .5 tsp mustard, 2 pickle slices, and some weird re-hydrated onions, in between two buns. Let's say each family member eats two McDoubles...that's $8, and we'll throw in another 6% for tax (US average via 2009 statistics), so $8.48 altogether. Not bad for 720 calories,58 carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 38 grams of fat, and 44 grams of protein.
Now let's look in my freezer. I have a good amount of 96/4 US beef in there that I scored at $2.64/pound, so essentially, I could make 8 double cheeseburgers for $4.22 (at less than $.17 an ounce, or $1.06 a person). Going to my local grocery store (and living in Las Vegas means food is slightly more expensive than other areas of the country), I was able to find 8 whole wheat buns for $1.16 ($.29 a person), a package of 16 slices of deli cheese for $1.13 ($.14 a person), a 16 oz bottle of ketchup for $1.79 ($.11 a person), a 32 oz jar of pickles for $1.88 ($.23 cents a person), a 9 oz bottle of mustard for $.76 ($.01 a person) and an onion for $.35 ($.04 a person). There is no tax on this since it's all grocery food, so adding everything up my total comes out to $7.52, or $.96 CHEAPER than the McDouble.
But what about nutrition? Is saving $.96 a meal really worth it? Well, each person will consume 643 calories, 68 carbs, 7 grams of fiber, 19 grams of fat and 55 grams of protein. This is a deficit of 137 calories for each person in one meal. So imagine if people could save $.96 and 137 calories per person per meal? This would result in more than $1,051 a year saved, and almost 43 pounds per person a year!
And I know MY burgers taste a heck of a lot better than Mickey D's!