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KatawaGrey's avatar

Can you help me determine approximately how much it would cost per day to eat every single meal at McDonald's?

Asked by KatawaGrey (21433points) September 1st, 2010

I was responding to this question and it got me to thinking about how expensive it can be to eat healthy, so I’ve decided to set a challenge for myself. Once I know approximately how much it costs to have every meal at McDonald’s for a whole day, I’m going to set a daily budget for myself to eat by and see if I can maintain a healthy diet on what it would cost to eat at McDonald’s for every meal.

In order to start, though, I am going to need to know how much it would cost to eat at McDonald’s for every meal in one day. You don’t have to figure out that number I know when to do my own heavy lifting ;) but I would like to know such details and in some cases, opinions as:

Should I include beverages such as coffee and soda?
What would be a good way to account for snacks?
Is it reasonable to include dessert in that or should I take the sweet stuff out of my established budget?
Would it be reasonable to make a few changes based on age, weight, and dietary restrictions? I’m a vegetarian

Any help with this is appreciated and I will keep you informed if you’d like updates. :)

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31 Answers

deni's avatar

I wouldn’t include beverages unless they’re something you would normally drink. Like, I really only drink water, except maybe a pop every once in a while, and maybe a coffee every day or two. So I think, if that were the case and I was doing this, I would add .25 to the daily total for beverages because most of the time I wouldn’t be buying one.

If we’re going by McDonalds, I think you should add in 2 or 3 dollars per day for snacks. I like to munch….I am always munching. And with the dollar menu, one thing off that would make a decent snack.

I’d take desserts out of the budget.

I bet it is a lot cheaper to eat healthy than to eat at McDonalds, though it can seem expensive at times. Like, the last time we went shopping, we spent right around 100 dollars. And we really only buy healthy stuff. Nothing frozen or processed or whatever. That will last the 2 of us a couple weeks before we need to do big shopping again. Even if it only lasts us 10 days, that’s 10 bucks a day, or 5 for each of us, and there’s no way eating out anywhere is cheaper than that.

Ben_Dover's avatar

The double cheeseburger is still a buck? + water = very little per meal.

But the cost in medical bills will be extremely high later on…

ibstubro's avatar

Of course, it would be impossible for us to figure you a budget, because the food at McDonald’s varies widely by region. If you were in New York City or Hawaii, your costs would be double or more than here in PoDunk.

That said (just to keep people from wasting the effort doing your heavy lifting), I believe I would include everything. Medium drink with every meal, probably one desert a day, and and then add in an extra serving of large fries to cover snacks. If you are going to eat healthy all day, you need to have all your food expenditures covered.

Personally, I think it would be easier to just eat at Subway. ;-) j/k…I added seafood to my diet last year after 10–12 years of strict veggie, and Subway is now a glorious option for me. And I like the new breakfast!

Be prepared to do a lot of cooking…healthy prepared is HARD to find!

rebbel's avatar

Something you don’t have to take into accounts: tips.
Include all the items/meals that you would also eat when you do the healthy diet.
So, desserts, salades, cookies, the works.
That seems to be the fair thing to do.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

If you are planning to do this experiment yourself – I wouldn’t include any snacks, desserts, or drinks that you wouldn’t normally eat during the day.
If you like to have a dessert, then include dessert. If you would normally drink water, don’t include soft drinks.

Personally, having lived it, I think it’s much more expensive to eat healthy. And I don’t even mean by eating fast food every day compared to an organic, all natural diet. I know that for us, personally, being poor meant making the groceries last because we didn’t know when we would get them again. That meant a lot of processed foods, a lot of non perishables, food from boxes and cans. Not healthy, but you do what you have to do.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m with rebbel. You have to factor in everything you eat during a day, especially to figure out if your snacks and other things are derailing your effort to eat healthy. And you have to admire the manners of those Europeans. They even tip at McDonalds.

MeinTeil's avatar

Your life.

Seaminglysew's avatar

I think that you should go to your local McDonalds and look at the menu items that you would eat, then your budget would be more precise based on your eating habits.

ragingloli's avatar

Your life. Your health if you are lucky.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Read the details carefully before you answer. I thought the same thought when I read the question.

Katexyz's avatar

You should include all drinks, desserts, and essentially everything you eat, including ketchup packets. Being a vegetarian would make it more difficult to do this diet, as I don’t feel McDonalds has a wide selection of vegetarian friendly items. I know for me a McDouble (the $0.99 double cheeseburger with only one piece of cheese) is more than a full meal and makes me feel a bit sick after eating it (I eat healthily, the grease and additives upset my stomach). So for me a day at McDonalds would probably be ~3–5 dollars. I would become tremendously ill and not be able to do it beyond a day, but you get the picture.

The cost of unhealthy food in America is far lower than the cost of healthy food, and I think this is a major problem with our food industry. I find it interesting that the FDA urges healthy eating, but the government doesn’t seem to take a position on the issue of cost. A person who works near minimum wage would have a much harder time trying to survive on healthy foods as opposed to the McDonalds diet.

Personally, I think it would be ideal (utopian, won’t happen, probably bad for the economy if it did) if foods were priced based upon the caloric value. For example water is free + fine maybe 50 cents for the bottle, a banana is 85 cents, celery is 5 cents, and a McDouble is $3.90. Most people will disagree, but hey, I think it’d make a better world.

Seaminglysew's avatar

I am confused. She does not say that she is eating McDonald food, just creating a healthy diet on what it would cost to eat at McDonald’s. Correct????

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

She’s figuring what it hypothetically cost to eat at McD’s.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

She is trying to figure out the cost so she can compare it to the cost of a healthy eating plan.

wundayatta's avatar

I think you should keep a food diary of everything you eat normally in a week. Then you should look at the equivalent (as close as you can get it) at McDonalds, and price that.

ucme's avatar

Your waistline?

SamIAm's avatar

I’d love to hear the results of this… maybe for snacks you could eat things like their healthy options—i don’t know how mcdonalds menu works exactly but i think they have sliced apples for kids meals, do they sell those as separates? they probably cost more than an apple from your local supermarket, so that could be something to take into account.

jca's avatar

@ibstubro : an extra serving of large fries to cover snacks? that is some snack! that’s a meal in itself, calorie wise, quantity wise. to me a snack might be one of their apple pies or a fruit parfait.

ibstubro's avatar

@jca : The COST of a large serving of fries to cover the cost of all her snacking through the day. I was erring on the side of caution…if she’s not a big snacker, then the cost of a small fries might well cover it. Truthfully, I encourage her to over estimate the cost of eating all meals at McDonalds, because eating vegetarian/healthy can be costly and I don’t want her to fail in her quest for a healthy diet because of a few dollars.

If she succeeds in both eating healthy and believing that it is costing less than McDonalds, then she will be doubly proud of herself!

I have always loved Kliban and have a souvenir hat from Hawaii that has the same face.

KatawaGrey's avatar

Just to be clear, I am not going to be eating at McDonald’s, I’m going to figure out how much it would cost to eat at McDonald’s and then use that as a daily food budget to buy other stuff. I would also like to clarify that when I say “healthy” that can have any number of meanings. I think we can all agree that a couple scrambled eggs are healthier than a hamburger, and actually cheaper. I worked it out that each egg I buy is about 25 cents, thus, a 50 cent breakfast.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@wundayatta: I am actually planning on keeping a journal of food I eat, how much it costs and how many calories I’m eating. I actually told my Nutrition professor about it today and he was intrigued by the idea.

jazmina88's avatar

I say $15 a day if you do 3 meals. Include drinks. mccafe costs more than that.
yogurt and fruit, walnut is wonderful.
salads, wraps (cheaper)
combos are cheaper but skip the fries. give em to the dog.

Egg Mcmuffins are better options for diabetics.

faye's avatar

The price of fruit and vegetables in Alberta makes a healthy diet much more expensive than McDonalds. I say this having never actually sat down to figure it out, but when I try to eat more fruit, I notice the grocery bill.

YARNLADY's avatar

I could eat three meals a day at McDonalds for roughly $10 a day, a grand total of $300. My husband and I feed our family of three for about $200 a month.

MissA's avatar

@YARNLADY Have you considered a career in Washington? $50 a week? Incredible.

YARNLADY's avatar

@MissA We eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables, buy only on sale items, use coupons when they are a better deal than generic, and shop at several different stores – all on the way home from Hubby’s work, including warehouse and membership stores. I use to grow a lot of my own food, but not the last few years, except tomatoes.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@MissA my husband and I spend about $40 a week on groceries. We have for years.. it can be done. :)

YARNLADY's avatar

@MissA @TheOnlyNeffie Yes it is possible, but I do have to apologize, because the spread sheet I referred to was per pay check, not per month, which means every two weeks, or $100 a week.

faye's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie Will you share a little advice?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@faye first of all we shop at Aldi, and I don’t know if you have an Aldi or something comparable there. We don’t buy anything that we don’t need, nothing frivolous. No junk, no frills. We make a list of necessities and stick to that. We eat very little meat, which means that we rarely buy it, and that cuts down on grocery costs. Coupons are good, but be sure that they are #1. something you need and #2. actually a good deal. Having to throw away what you’ve bought because you couldn’t eat it all isn’t much of a deal in the long run.

ibstubro's avatar

I know a couple that shop for meals per week.

For instance, they buy one breakfast item per member of the family, X7
Dinner, they buy 7 entre’s, 14 veggies and 7 deserts.
I guess lunches for whoever packs a lunch.

Nothing more, nothing less. I have no idea what happens if someone gets the munchies, but they certainly must have a low eat bill!

I find that buying what’s fresh and making use of it is a great plan. Aldi get on kicks during the summer where veggies are nearly free. I buy some of each, skin, seed, and chop them all then pour a bottle of Italian dressing over it and we have veggie salad for days. During the summer you can buy in bulk and freeze, too. The local produce stand it $3 a dozen for sweet corn, OR you can buy a banana box of “shorts” (short ears) for $5! 7–9 dozen short ears. I ‘put-up’ 2–3 boxes one year and we had sweet corn until it came on fresh the following year.

When hamburger’s CHEAP, buy as much of it as you like. Cook, drain and cool, then divide it into reclosable bags. Vacuum pack it or squeeze out as much air as you can, and it will keep indefinitely. Works with any crumbled hamburger recipe and saves time and mess!

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