Happy Friday, everyone!
Today, I’m taking a departure from the normal post on this site (rambling/slightly funny story followed by a step-by-step recipe) and sharing an experiment my family and I conducted this week.
The experiment was testing the theory that fast food is easier, cheaper, and faster than making a meal at home. The challenge was given to me by a diabetes outreach foundation, who wanted to make a statement that healthy food can be purchased for a similar price to fast food. It was definitely an interesting challenge that I knew I wanted to tackle, since my behemoth of a thesis focused on how eating meals out of the house led to increased calorie/fat intakes in kids!
So I jumped right in.
The challenge was simple… Create a meal that could feed two people with leftovers and cost $10.
While I was wracking my brain for cheap, homemade recipes, my mom suggested the easiest dinner saver ever… rotisserie chicken from the grocery store! These birds are sold cooked, piping hot, and ready for taking. Paired with rice that can be popped in the microwave and some frozen vegetables (that have been heated through, of course!), I was able to get dinner on the table in 10 minutes.
It was super delicious (after this photo was taken, these plates were our dinner) and super quick!
The Nutrient Breakdown?
For 1 chicken breast (without the skin), 1 cup brown rice, and 1 cup frozen broccoli:
Calories: 379 calories • Fat: 5 grams • Saturated Fat: 1 gram • Protein: 34 grams • Carbohydrates: 50 grams • Fiber: 6 grams • Sodium: 444mg • Cholesterol: 83mg
Not too bad for dinner! Especially for the whole thing costing only $9.95.
Now for the fast food meal…
To be honest, it was an interesting experience purchasing the food for this challenge. I felt… guilty? I can’t explain why, but I did! (does anyone else feel that way??)
I ended up grabbing the food from the Golden Arches and could not believe how EXPENSIVE it was…
Like 2 Big Mac sandwiches, two small fries, and two small colas ended up costing $12.76!
The Nutrient Breakdown?
For one Big Mac, one small fry, and one small cola:
Calories: 1050 calories • Fat: 39.5 grams • Saturated Fat: 11.5 grams • Protein: 29 grams • Carbohydrates: 149.5 grams • Fiber: 7.5 grams • Sodium: 2100mg • Cholesterol: 80mg
While already being more expensive than the home-style meal, the fast food meal contained 627 more calories and 1656mg more sodium. And not like it saved me a lot of time – from fast food place to plate, it took about 10-15 minutes.
It was a pretty eye-opening experiment and it really helped me look at the concept of healthy eating on a budget. I can now confidently tell my patients how they can put a healthy dinner on the table in just as much time (and for much less money) as fast food!
So, what are your thoughts on this experiment?