THE “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. I frequently read confident statements like, “when a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli …” or “it’s more affordable to feed a family of four at McDonald’s than to cook a healthy meal for them at home.”
As a student, it can be extremely easy to fall into the trap of buying foods from the cafeteria and other fast food vendors, given the ease and availability. At the end of the day though, what we make ourselves is more often than not cheaper and healthier than anything that you could get from an outside source, packaged and ready to serve.
*What the writer failed to mention about the prepackaged, ready to serve foods is the fact that most of that junk comes to the fast food restaurant frozen. I worked at Wendy's when I was younger. The patties are frozen, the fries are frozen, the chicken nuggets are frozen, the chicken (grilled or fried) that goes on the sandwiches is frozen, and the fish that goes on the sandwiches is frozen. The only thing that Wendy's makes fresh are their salads, which includes slicing the vegetables. (I'm sure the McDonald's lettuce is frozen and they only offer ranch dressing, the most fattening dressing available at 350 calories a serving. Fat Free Ranch has 35 calories for serving.)*
*Not only are these foods prepackaged, cooked elsewhere and then frozen to be sent to the fast food restaurant of your choice, they are all loaded with sodium, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and sugars. (The sodium for a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with cheese is over 1000.) Some of those prepackaged foods even contain appetite stimulants. (A bag of Oreo cookies contains 23 appetite stimulants. So do most potato chips. Lays wasn't lying when they said, "You can't just eat one," but they did cheat.) I like cookies, chips, and french fries as much as the next person, but if you value your health, these types of foods really shouldn't be eaten on a daily basis.*