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Mythbuster: Is Fast Food Cheaper Than a Home-Cooked Dinner?
Turns out, we are so wrong. In an Op-Ed in this Sunday’s New York Times, the food writer Mark Bittman (his How to Cook Everything is one of our go-to cookbooks) made a passionate argument against the idea. (Read the article to see how a typical McDonald’s dinner for a family of four quickly adds up, and to see Bittman’s suggestions for two simple, filling meals that cost half as much). He not only makes the case that homemade dinners can be less expensive than food-on-the-run but he also points out how the addictive power of high-fat, salty foods like burgers and fries (and potato chips) can make non-processed "real food" seem less satisfying.
It quickly becomes clear, though, that what fast food does offer is ...speed. Bittman tries to convince us that cooking at home doesn't necessarily mean a ton of extra time, but, as we already know, it does require us to reallocate our time (by driving to the supermarket instead of the drive-thru, for example) and plan ahead.
It's in the planning and the not-forgetting and the sticking-to-best-intentions where we tend to wilt. Fortunately, there are tools that can help us get into the habit:
Ideas for quick, flavorful, no-cook meals
Free menu web sites to help you figure out what to cook
Meal-plan subscription services that send you a shopping list and instructions
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