The convenience of fast food often makes it an attractive choice for consumers. Healthy food, on the other hand, is often less convenient and takes
The convenience of fast food often makes it an attractive choice for consumers. Healthy food, on the other hand, is often less convenient and takes more time and effort to prepare. However, healthy foods are often much less expensive than fast foods. When compared side-by-side, research has shown that by choosing a diet high in whole foods, purchased from grocery markets, consumers can save a substantial amount of money when compared to fast foods.
Supermarket Foods vs. Fast Foods
According to a study published in 2010 by “Society of Teachers of Family Medicine,” or STFM, financial limitations often lead to poor health outcomes for low-income populations. The group conducted a study examining the financial burden of individuals shopping to meet national dietary recommendations in a supermarket, compared with fast-food restaurants. The study found that while food costs represented a significant portion of annual income, diets based primarily on convenient food sources, such as fast food, were more expensive than well-planned diets with foods acquired from supermarket chains.
Twice the Price
The study published by STFM found that the average total cost for the healthy-food-diet model was $5,019 per year. The average cost of the convenient-food-diet model was more than twice that of the healthy-food-model, at $10,298 per year. The average daily cost of the healthy diet was $7.48, while the fast food diet averaged $15.30 per day. The per-ounce cost of healthy foods was calculated at a low 11 cents for milk and other dairy products; 20 cents for lean meats; 8 cents for fruits; 11 cents for vegetables; and 12 cents for grains.
According to one experiment conducted by Oakton Community College, when three meals per day per person were purchased from fast-food restaurants, the total cost was $87 per week. In contrast, by purchasing all whole ingredients from grocery stores, the estimated cost for three meals per day, per person came out to $43 per week. The experiment concluded that by preparing all three meals from home, the average person could save approximately $45 per week, when compared to eating out.
Paying For Convenience
The Oakton Community College experiment also calculated the price of whole food items per person, per week. The cost of most grocery store items was between $1 and $2 per person, per week, with the most expensive items being tortillas at $5.60 and cheese at $4. In contrast, the STMF study noted that the average cost of a single fast-food meal from a lunch or dinner menu was nearly $6. While fast-food does have the singular advantage of being more convenient, healthy foods provide much greater nutrition at a fraction of the cost.