Cost versus health: Is junk food really worth it?

OPINION The myth that junk food is cheaper than healthy, non-processed food has pervaded the average American for too long. It’s used to excuse overweight…

Most Americans would sooner reach for a Twinkie than an apple but they might want to rethink that move. You can make healthier food cheaper to consume. (Shutterstock)

OPINION

The myth that junk food is cheaper than healthy, non-processed food has pervaded the average American for too long. It’s used to excuse overweight citizens, particularly those with a lower income who opt for McDonalds rather than a home cooked meal because they believe the former is more affordable.

The myth that junk food is cheaper than healthy, non-processed food has pervaded the American nation for far too long.

Not only will home cooked meals be cheaper in the long run, you will feel better and healthier right away. (Shutterstock)

Not counting with the convenience of buying cooked food, the opposite could be true if you put your heart to it.  A typical meal for a family of four at McDonald’s can run around $28. And by meal I mean two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas.

The cost can be reduced to around $23 if one opts for the Happy Meal, which also comes with apple slices.

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A home cooked meal on the other hand can be as little as $10 for four people. A roasted chicken with mashed, boiled or baked potatoes and a simple side salad will run at $14 (including the dressing which will last for many salads more).

If that’s too much money, another cost effective option is rice, canned beans, green peppers, broccoli or carrots, onions and a little bit of bacon, if you’re a meat lover. Remember beans are high in protein, fiber and vitamins.

The myth that junk food is cheaper than healthy, non-processed food has pervaded the American nation for far too long.

A home cooked meal with option is rice, canned beans, green peppers or carrots, onions is a perfect cost effective meal. (Shutterstock)

Another argument often made is that if measured per calorie, junk food is cheaper which means fast food is necessary for the poor because they need cheap calories.

However, half of the people in this country (that percentage is higher among poor people) consume too many calories rather than too few, according to the New York Times.

Why does it make sense to pay for as many calories as you can possibly cram into your body? If we had the same mentality with alcohol, it would make most sense to drink 95% neutral grain spirit because it’s the cheapest way to get drunk.

Surprisingly, home cooked meals can be just as high in calories but they’re of the healthy variety.

SEE ALSO: Why are we so quick to believe celebrity health advice?

There is a middle ground. It doesn’t have to be fast food or caviar. Healthy and affordable foods are everywhere; you just have to look for them!

Drink water instead of soda. Instead of going to a trendy farmer’s market for veggies and grass-fed cow, buy anything that isn’t junk food at your local grocery store.

That includes rice, grains, pasta, beans, fresh, canned or frozen vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, cheese, whole-grain bread, peanut butter, the options are endless! And in every case, you’re doing your body a favor by choosing minimally processed ingredients.