Healthy food much cheaper than fast food

February 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A good article at Stuff busts the myth that fast is cheaper than healthy , and the implicit push by some that we need a tax on certain foods. Their findings:

Healthy breakfast: 50c-$1
Fast food breakfast: $2-$5

Healthy lunch: $2
Fast food lunch: $7 

Healthy dinner: $3-$4
Fast food dinner: $9.90 

Healthy snacks: $1
Convenience food: 75c

Healthy drinks: 70c for two glasses of milk
Fizzy drink: 30c for two glasses of soda

If you add up the three meals, snacks, and drinks, the artery-clogging convenience diet costs $20 at the bare minimum – and probably a whole lot more.

A bare-basics healthy diet with a bit of leeway costs more like $7 to $9, roughly two to three times cheaper.

The reason people buy fast food is because it is fast, not because it is cheaper.

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28 Responses to “Healthy food much cheaper than fast food”

  1. OneTrack (2,987 comments) says:

    That’s not it. It’s evil American advertising to blame. Everybody knows that.

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  2. Psycho Milt (2,406 comments) says:

    “Healthy” food is a canard. Food that won’t poison you or otherwise make you ill is “healthy” – any other definitions are morality-based, for propaganda purposes only.

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  3. duggledog (1,505 comments) says:

    I regularly feed my family a big dinner for $20. Fifteen bucks worth of fish (unless I caught it myself) a few spuds roasted or mashed and veg from the garden. Tin of peaches and some home made custard.

    Problem is, you’ve got to put a little bit of time into it – there’s the rub. And this blogsite sometimes distracts me. Damn you kiwiblog!

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  4. Daniel (204 comments) says:

    But this would suggest that as cost is not a primary determining factor in “healthy” vs “unhealthy” eating choices, then a tax on unhealthy/sugary foods would be a waste of time and a waste of money. Only a fool would support it – no surprise then it is Green Policy.

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  5. J Bloggs (226 comments) says:

    So, eating porridge, peanut butter sandwiches and cheap mince with frozen vegetables is cheaper than going to KFC (probably the most expensive of the fast food options) – who’d have thought.

    As an aside, I’d LOVE to know where the author is getting fish for $10/kg

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  6. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    I’d LOVE to know where the author is getting fish for $10/kg

    Fukoshima.

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  7. Rightandleft (662 comments) says:

    Good to see another article correcting this widespread myth. I know many educated people who repeat the lie of cheaper fast food as gospel.

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  8. Left Right and Centre (2,950 comments) says:

    Counting the minutes until The Scorned and mara show up – anything food related to push their low-carb Ken Ring non-science style agenda.

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  9. MD (62 comments) says:

    Brown rice and lentils for lunch, it’s not the price that’s driving people to the bakery it’s that nobody I know would eat brown rice and lentils.
    Dinner, they ratchet down the price by saying our portion size is too big and we only need a small protein portion then use the price comparison with a KFC Quarter pack. The saving here is as much to do with eating half as much as the difference between fast food and ‘healthy’ food.
    In the end the message that you can eat cook food significantly cheaper than buying fast food gets lost behind some shonky comparisons and dubious pricing.

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  10. Left Right and Centre (2,950 comments) says:

    From my own experience last 16 months dieting my arse off:

    You can eat ‘healthy’ and do it on the cheap sticking to the absolute basics. But it’s incredibly boring and unsatisfying.

    If I start adding variety – variety costs money – and it starts to rack up.

    Eg: I could subsist on oats, vegetables and fruit and water and have a strict limit on what I spend.

    But I don’t – I buy chicken wings, ‘lite’ yoghurt, baby cucumbers in jars, plums, peaches, beetroot, creamed corn, frozen peas, prunes, tinned tomatoes, curry powder, trim milk for tea, diet drink, teabags….

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  11. RRM (9,786 comments) says:

    RRM just ate a McDonalds BLT Bagel breakfast combo with orange juice.

    $7.60… about the same price as a week’s worth of milk & cereal.

    That’s why I only do it when I “have to”… (i.e. when there’s been a cock-up on the catering front at home.)

    It was nice though… :-D

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  12. J Bloggs (226 comments) says:

    And on the subject of cheap snacks, we have a cherry tomato plant that has provided my kids with morning tea and after school snacks for two weeks at a cost of $0…..:)

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  13. Left Right and Centre (2,950 comments) says:

    ETA skofs ingredients ‘square’. (If the list is square, don’t you dare)

    Corn, Vegetable Oil [Antioxidants (319, 330)], Rice Flour, Flavour [Cheese Powder (6%), Milk Solids, Tapioca Starch, Hydrolysed Vegetable Proteins, Flavour Enhancer (621), Salt, Vegetable Oil/Fat, Anticaking Agent (551), Food Acid (330), Flavours, Antioxidant (306), Colours (100, 160c)].

    aaaaahhh – that’s a bit better….. Eta Spuds ready salted….

    Potatoes, Vegetable Oil [Antioxidants (319, 330)], Salt

    More fun – Kelloggs Coco Pops – Chex – sugars 32.1g / 100g

    Cereals (60%)(corn flour, wheat flour, oat flour, barley flour, rice flour), sugar, cocoa (5%), salt, barley malt extract, mineral salt (sodium bicarbonate), flavour (vanilla), vitamins (niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, folate).

    Harraways Rolled Oats – sugars 1.0g / 100g.

    Ingredients: 100% rolled oats.

    That’s a cool list.

    If you’ve got to eat potato chips or you’ll have a mental breakdown – I saw Eta Uppercuts Crostini Garlic & Sesame 150g – *only* 1 650kj / 100g compared to the usual 2 000 – 2 400kj / 100g. Stay away from Eta Skofs Tasty Cheese – 2 480kj / 100g – yowser. 50% higher food energy value than the afore mentioned Uppercuts. Yeek !!

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  14. Left Right and Centre (2,950 comments) says:

    “Things like lentils, kidney beans and chickpeas, which are a great source of protein and fibre, are really cheap,” says Turnbull.

    They’re not that cheap – cheap is a word with shades of meaning relative to income group. They’re packed with nutrition – that’s for sure. Slightly higher kilojoule food energy value – you’d skip down to something that gives you more stomach filling goodness for your kj budget buck. Eg: Instead of taking your desire to eat everything in the universe out on two litres of ice cream – try 2kg of low kj yoghurt first. Releases the happy chemicals just as well for a quarter the kilojoules. I’d make it vanilla bean and wildly berry – mmmm

    As soon as I read lentils in an article – it’s really over. That’s the flashing neon sign that it’s some loopy la de da slightly off rubbish for Mr and Mrs Middle Class 4WD and nice boat.

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  15. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    Making it yourself has the added advantage of not consuming a bunch of shit that some chemist has put in your grub.

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  16. RRM (9,786 comments) says:

    Things like lentils and beans AREN’T cheap if you buy them in BS little 400g tins for $2.50 or $3.00 a time from the supermarkets.

    Dry bulk bags of them from the likes of Moore Wilsons’ / (insert other wholesaler / bulk retailer name here) are prtty cheap nutrition though.

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  17. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    LRC

    Given that you seem to be out running your arse off 24/7, you have the potential luxury of being able to hook into pasta and risotto big time. Make your own stock (the chicken wing discards).

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  18. SW (240 comments) says:

    Why not buy a big bag of polenta, mix it with frozen peas and have that for lunch? Please, let’s call a spade a spade, the meals suggested in the article are crap and I bet the author wouldn’t live on such a diet.

    The fact is coke is cheaper than milk and it is not always cheap to make a nice healthy lunch/dinner – plus it can be time consuming. Still, it’s worthwhile compared to eating takeaways.

    Some acknowledgment that it takes time, money, knowledge and skill to make quality home cooked meals would more helpful than suggesting people should eat lentils and 100g of mince for dinner – the article is la la land stuff

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  19. Harriet (4,798 comments) says:

    RRM says – “…..Things like lentils and beans…….. bulk bags of them from the likes of Moore Wilsons……”

    RRM buys lentils and mungbeans by the sack full.

    No kidding RRM? :cool:

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  20. Left Right and Centre (2,950 comments) says:

    thedavincimode – And since my vehicle died – I’m cycling too. Add that to running, dancing and lifting. Weight is brilliant but I don’t shrink like a melting ice cube. I’m suspicious that once you get really fit – the energy cost drops right off. On the upside I’m used to waking up with severe cramp in the legs but add in cycling and I had three types of cramp fucking me over at once – hahaha – defcon three – get out of bed riddled with it everywhere and walk around with it refusing to piss off in a hurry.

    Mate – bakery special at Countdown that I passed up on Tues – jam rolls pink icing marked down $4.20 to $2.10. If I’m going to splurge on anything it will be that. Besides – my standard ‘fuck it all’ meal now is chopped up small fruit with lite yoghurt. I’ve walked away from those rolls more than once – my higher brain knows don’t buy shit on price – still sucked of course. But then I had to have marked down pick n mix – $10.70 / kg. Makes ya pedal better.

    I use the chicken wing juice to cook veg in – for my ‘go to sleep aching full of food’ meal. I’ll fill a casserole pot with chopped pumpkin / onion / carrot / peas / cabbage. And add tomatoes to each serving. It’s an enormous amount by starting weight. My record ‘water loss’ – haha – during sleeping hours is 6.5 litres – to give you an idea of how much can be in the plumbing when I hit the hay. And I don’t discard anything. I eat the chicken bones. If you eat too many they rip your arse in half at the checkout.

    Pasta just aint worth it. I’d go for a few pineapple lumps – now you’re talking.

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  21. Ed Snack (1,839 comments) says:

    I’ve always had the view that “fast food” is for emergencies except for the Friday night Fish and Chips because you’re too buggered at the end of the week to want to cook sometimes. You eat home prepared meals (using whatever you like, home grown is great but ain’t around always) because it tastes better. I’m over eating to live, I want to enjoy what I eat as well. Luckily I married an excellent cook many years ago, and I have to say I can be a dab hand myself, I make a good beef wellington for special occasions.

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  22. Evadne (88 comments) says:

    Junk food IS more expensive than ordinary food. But comparing it to mung beans, lentils & brown rice is not going to win any converts. So why try when there is plenty more common sense options.

    We are a mid-sized family, with growing kids. I’m not going to win masterchef, and the least time in the kitchen for me the better. I wouldn’t know what to do with a mung bean, and I’ve not read a nutritional analysis chart in years. I shop at the closest supermarket because I can’t be bothered trekking round different places. In other words, I don’t do any of the things this article suggests (except for buying fruit & vege in season).

    But I work on the theory of a little of everything – mix it up – keep it simple. At the supermarket, I buy what’s on special, in season, make prudent choices, and understand the meaning of ‘treat’. My family eat three meals a day, plus morning & afternoon tea. They are healthy, at ideal weight, good fitness.

    And we rarely buy food out (be it cafes, takeaways, bakeries, tuck shops, fast food..) because IT COSTS ME MORE TO FEED MY FAMILY THAT WAY. Without doubt. It is so damn obvious I don’t understand why there’s a debate. I know it because I hand over the money, or look at my eftpos charges. I know it because I calculate what I would need to spend at said cafe/eatery/junk food till to feed my family – and compare it to my week’s grocery bill. I know it because when we do eat “unhealthy” (eg. on holiday, when I can’t cook) our food bills escalate rapidly.

    A steady diet of junk food is not about poverty. It’s not about time (it would take me longer to drive to the takeaway place to get it, than to make something at home) – it is about laziness and ignorance.

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  23. Left Right and Centre (2,950 comments) says:

    There’s lots of people in society who are total duh-duh morons. Is the reason why the McDonald’s Drive Thru uses the same grade bitumen that’s spread out on the motorway.

    Humans are designed for feast / famine and physical movement. When a human gets a taste of high energy food / sugar / salt – its systems scream at it to load up with that food – take in as much as you can because the famine part is always lurking. Build up your stored bodyfat for a rainy day with fuck all to eat.

    If a human eats some cabbage and carrot – are they going to wet themselves with excitement ? Nah. But you will if you have toast with butter and hazelnut spread – I know I am just thinking about it. It’s the way we’re wired up. High sugar and fat – high carbs – salt. Want to sell food ? Add sugar and salt. The fucking potato chips had sugar listed as an ingredient – now what in the name of all that’s holy do you need sugar in the chips for, huh ?

    That’s the danger of high energy food. You’ll either stop when you’re a bit full and wonder why you’re still screaming for more food…… *or* to kill off the screaming ‘yeah, that’s good more more more’ signals you’ll load up until you’re on the floor bloated with pain while some peon puts you in the recovery position.

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  24. thedavincimode (6,633 comments) says:

    Humans are designed for feast / famine and physical movement. When a human gets a taste of high energy food / sugar / salt – its systems scream at it to load up with that food – take in as much as you can because the famine part is always lurking. Build up your stored bodyfat for a rainy day with fuck all to eat.

    Exactly. We didn’t evolve to eat 3 squares a day. We evolved having to go hunt a mammoth or some such and nibble on roots & shit. Eating crappo shitto crunchy pops and drinking 2 litre cokes because some bush pig mother can’t be bothered doing the job right isn’t part of the original design specification.

    I wonder exactly how many of these “starving children” that go to school hungry and so are unable to concentrate are suffering as much as anything from the downer of their high sugar diets and the fact that the shitpot diet “provided” by said bush pig mother is fucking their metabolisms so that they can’t produce the energy the way we are meant to.

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  25. Pete George (23,437 comments) says:

    The reason people buy fast food is because it is fast, not because it is cheaper.

    There’s other reasons. Some people are lazy and don’t want to cook. And some people don’t know how to cook.

    Cheap food can also be very tasty, especially if you grow it yourself. Over the last couple of days I’ve had freshly dug spuds, tomatoes, fresh peas (pick and eat from the pod), strawberries, gooseberries and blackberries (made a crumble and added icecream). That is all more tasty and cheaper than bought stuff.

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  26. RRM (9,786 comments) says:

    RRM buys lentils and mungbeans by the sack full.

    No kidding RRM? :cool:

    Lentils, yes. Mung beans? No. Overrated.

    Well done Harriet, you got it half right – that’s pretty good for you.

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  27. Brian Smaller (4,007 comments) says:

    The point that a lot of people seem to miss is that poor have alternatives to junk food. One poster tried to make an equivalence between eating healthy and the fact that you can get a Dominos Pizza for $5.00. On that Stuff thread I pointed out a recipe off the top of my head that would cost less than $5 and feed a family to bursting (costed off Countdown’s online store so not the cheapest available by any means). But the response was ‘sounds unappetising’ and so forth. The other thing was ‘it takes too long to cook and do the dishes’. What the Fuck? Lazy bastards.

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  28. Ed Snack (1,839 comments) says:

    Have to add that I believe that home-grown food only seems to taste better, mainly because of the “having spent hours planting, tending, watering, and protecting this stuff is had BETTER taste better” ! That said I’d exclude US oranges, they seem to taste of nothing at all most of the time.

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