I recently brave a talk about breaking the myth about fast food restaurants being faster, cheaper and more nutritious. While I do not think there will be much debate over home cooked meals being more nutritious, I was impressed to see that fast food chains have done some work in the last few years overhauling their menus. Here is what I presented:
TIME: It seems like time is the proverbial carrot on a stick. We are constantly chasing to get a few more minutes out of each day. Is it any wonder that the fast food concept has become so successful? I estimated that even during the busiest time of day, one could get through the drive-through in less than 15 minutes. I also suggested that you could get through the express lane at the grocery store in the same amount of time if you kept your shopping to a minimum. But, I suggested taking that time and going through the grocery store for a healthier meal. Here’s why.
BUDGET: I took a comparative meal from McDonalds (TM) which considered of a quarter-pounder, fries and a coke. I then took a veggie quarter-pounder, curly fries and cola from Whole Foods Market (TM) and compared the two. My goal was to show that it was not necessarily cheaper to feed a family of four going through the drive-through. Here is what I found. The McDonalds meal came to $ 19.36 while the similar meal at Whole Foods came to $ 19.24. While it is not a huge difference, it certainly is not a landslide win for the fast food guys. I also offered a healthier liter of green tea as a replacement for the soda, and the price increased to $ 20.24. If you are wondering about the veggie burger, check it out. There are numerous tasty brands working hard to capture your attention and your appetite.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE: This was a great eye-opener even for me. The overall caloric intake of the QP, fries and coke came to 1000 calories, plus 39g of fat and 65mg of cholesterol – all for a quick trip through the drive-through. Conversely, the WF shopping trip will get you 567/702 calories (tea / cola), 13g of fat and no cholesterol. If you are watching your weight with calories and fat or have to be conscious of your cholesterol take, this shopping experience is a no-brainer!
Overall, it sees the experiment proves that while it may be a bit quicker to head to the drive-through, the quality, cost and nutritional value far outweigh the few minutes of time you save. So, next time you are passing a drive-through sign, keep on going to the supermarket and satisfy your craving by cooking at home.