Dollar Menus Take Over

Posted in Health
Tue, Nov 11 - 11:35 am EDT | 5 years ago by
Comments: 23
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Public health experts are worried that the economy will worsen the obesity epidemic.

We are seeing proof of it already: while many companies are filing for bankruptcy, McDonald’s sales rose 8.2% in October.

One can only guess that The Dollar Menu is becoming more of a meal staple in homes than ever before.

I understand people are becoming more apathetic towards healthy eating when they are just trying to keep their heads above water.  Just last night I has a Jack in the Box salad (which was over 600 calories, I’m sure- can you even still call it a salad?) because the boy offered to pick something up. My first thought USED to be how was my eating today? Does this fast food meal fit? Did I hit my other food groups today? but this time it was one less meal I have to buy, I should take advantage.

What about you guys? Have you been eating differently? More prepackaged? More processed? Or are you staying so basic, you are actually eating better? (brown rice, canned veggies, no extras?) Is good food not something you scrimp on?

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  • tfh

    It’s pretty sad that McDonald’s can afford to make me a meal (AND pay their employees whatever pittance they get) that is cheaper than one I can make myself. Seriously. And I do all that money-saving stuff like buying my veggies at Korean supermarkets where they’re cheap and soaking my own beans. Plus, nobody is paying me to cook for myself. I make the time and pay extra to eat healthfully because I can– not because I’m superior to hard-working people who have to pinch their pennies. It’s easy to say good food isn’t something I scrimp on when I’m not making minimum wage, struggling from paycheck to paycheck, or unemployed.

  • Sagan

    That IS sad, really really sad and unfortunate.

    I haven’t really changed my eating/spending habits. I don’t buy a whole lot of things so most of what I spend money on is food, rent, bills, and the very occasional movie or something. So it doesn’t affect me a whole lot.

    And to be honest, I love my fruits and veggies too much to want to cut back on them. Even when bananas go up by 20 cents (although I DID start griping in the grocery store and I think I embarrassed my sister hehe). The biggest change I’ve found is that I eat less meat since living on my own, but that’s okay because I have canned tuna/chickpeas and PB and LOTS of eggs/egg whites for protein:) And I’ll get meat dishes when I’m eating at restaurants. Makes me appreciate them more anyway!

  • Diana

    I can definately believe that one. Why would you opt for a $3 salad when you can have a yummy, yummy double cheeseburger for $1?? With my hubby & my budget crunch, it’s definatley been tempting to eat from the dollar menu. But, there are healthy (or at least healthier) alternatives to the $1. You just have to work to get them. YOu have to make it a priority, and I think that’s where people go wrong…we like easy unfortunately.

  • Andrew R

    Hey Kelly,

    Great post! I am personally someone who won’t sacrifice eating well. While it helps that I don’t drink, it is still pretty expensive to eat right as opposed to visiting McDonalds. But once you start sacrificing eating right, I find that everything else starts slipping with regards to your health. You miss trips to the gym, you take up other bad habits, etc.

    Long story short, I would just much rather sacrifice more of other things than healthy eating.

    Thanks for the post!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

  • Sassy

    I have not started eating more packaged/fast food, and my grocery shopping has statyed pretty much the same – except I’m buying a bit more meat. I have however (just realizing this) basically quit going out to eat. (Which would explain buying more meat at the market). Not that I really went out to eat much anywyas, but we haven’t gone to dinner in weeks. Maybe even a month. But we did go to breakfast on sunday…. oooo, I’m starting to babble. Stopping now.

  • Lance

    Hi Kelly,
    Good food is definitely not something we scrimp on. I’m thinking long term, and in that mindset, saving money now at the risk of my health later on is way not worth the short term savings.

  • Dr. J

    I will not support the fast food industry. Never buy anything from them. If I’m traveling, I can just as easily stop in a supermarket if I need to.

  • charlotte

    I dunno – there are some pretty good budget recipes out there (warning: most of them involve beans!). I realize that calorie-for-calorie junk food can be cheaper but it doesn’t have to be if you work at it. Thankfully there are a lot of resources on the web right now telling people how to clip coupons, join CSAs and cook on a “destitution diet.”

  • runjess

    I’m using coupons, buying fewer frozen meals, and trying to incorporate cheaper proteins like beans and tofu. These changes have not made my diet less healthy, but not THAT much cheaper either.

  • JJ125

    I will not skimp. Pre-packaged meals do not come into my house (unless my bf makes the cute face after throwing in a box of frozen taquitos)… we have really cut back on the amount of meat we eat and cutting down on stuff like, fancy cheeses which I loooove. Overall I think we have done a lot better and some weeks our grocery bill is WAY below average. I just refuse to compromise my health and to be honest, that fast food crap doesn’t taste good anyway!

  • Fit Bottomed Girls

    I’m still eating healthy, but I eat more of healthy foods that are on sale. More canned and frozen goods, too. Also, I’ve stopped buying my $2 a container of Fage yogurt and just stick with nonfat plain yogurt. I love my Fage, but $2 a container is too much right now!

  • ModelBehavior

    While tighter budgeting has caused me to stop all splurges (no more greek yogurt or tropical fruit, no more Amy’s frozen meals, which I ADORE!! and no more fancy cuts of fish!) I have found that buying frozen bags of fish and chicken is considerably cheaper then the fresh stuff. I don’t think I eat worse because of the crunch, just different. But on that note, I have noticed food prices come down in my area, I got a gallon of 1% milk for 2.99 last week not on sale, at the height of the gas crises it was over 4$! Also not having to pay as much in case is giving me extra cash for my food budget. The worst is over for my bank account, things are leveling out now.

  • kootz

    i buy a lot of tofu because its 2 bucks and I can get 3 meals out of it. Trader Joes has the best deals by far but somehow I still end up over my budget… probably all the random chocolate shit i buy and reaaaaally don’t need to.

  • SarahF

    I’ve found that I’ve been busier so less time to go grocery shopping = less money spent on food. But that’s also because I eat at my boyfriend’s more often now…and have eaten a peanut butter sandwich and yogurt for dinner the last two nights. I’m not sure if that’s due to having no fresh food or pure laziness..I’m opting for the former

  • MizFit

    man the grocery thing is not YET a source of stress in my domicile…but I can see it coming :)

    I havent cut back there at all.
    entertainment? shopping? TOTALLY.
    but the food is the last to go for me…here’s hoping the economy swings back upward soon or my belt is gonna have to be tightened there as well.

  • Holly

    I can probably say that I helped McDonald’s sales in October by at least 1%. All size fountain drinks are only $1!

    I guess the McLover in me wants to think the increase is due to healthy items being offered (the yogurt parfait, apple dippers, salads, snack wraps…), but I have to realize not everyone eats like me.

    I agree with Miz…it’s been my “fun” spending that’s gone away or decreased (clothes, shoes, CD’s/movies), which is a bummer. But I love food more. ;-)

  • asithi

    Yep, it is the fun money that I am cutting back too. Though we try to hit the sales at the grocery store, I find that we tend to load up more on frozen meats and veggies instead of the “fresh stuff.”

    During our first 2 years in college, my husband and I had s $40/wk grocery budget. We were eating a lot of rice then at $16 for a 50 pound bag. Now our grocery budget is $70/week plus two eating out meals a week. That is still relatively cheap compare to a lot of other people I know.

  • Tim Rosanelli

    I have found myself cooking more from scratch. For example, I made pancakes this morning with flour etc. instead of the premade mix.

    Also, instead of buying out on Fridays like we usually do, I have been making my wife dinner.

    I would say I am eating healthier because I am cooking which puts you more in control of your eating.

    Tim Rosanelli
    View my blog at
    Sensei Talks
    Join our sit-up challenge at
    60 Situps in a Minute Challenge

  • Julia

    I can totally relate!
    Unfortunately, I’m not at a financially comfortable place, and DO need to make sacrifices. When I get invited for a BBQ or lunch or dinner or what have you, I try to eat as much as I can! lol, not the best policy I know, but what’s a girl to do? Dollar menu DOES sound good when you know you’ve already spend above your limit for the week/month but still need to eat. There are ways to eat healthy on a budget, but depending on the city you live in, food prices can be JACKED UP. There are people who can barely afford the necessities such as shelter, gas, electricity. It would be nice if Whole Foods had a dollar menu, but until that day, some of us don’t have the luxury.

  • Andrew R

    Hey Julia,

    A dollar menu at Whole Foods may not be that far away. Check out this article about how trends point towards a decline in organic food prices.

    All the Best,

    Andew R

  • Kara from MamaSweat

    I made a barley soup tonight that fed my family with pleny o’ leftovers to freeze and I’m thinking that pot of hearty soup cost about $5 (and only that much cuz I used organic chicken broth). I do think you can eat healthy on the cheap. But healthy, cheap AND quick? That’s more challenging. Fast food joints have us all convinced eating there is cheap. I don’t buy it! Ha, pun intended!

  • tuscanystone

    Funnily enough I’ve never eaten more healthily (fresh meat/fish/chicken, fruit & veggies) as I do now! I know I’m on a weight loss regime but that means you eat LESS! That means not only are your portions smaller but you don’t buy crap like biscuits, chocolate, cakes, alcohol, let alone the late night KFC or McD’s!! I also don’t eat out as much or don’t go out drinking as I lose control of how many calories I’m consuming.

    Basically, I think I’ve saved hundreds by just being on a diet…lol All the more for those new clothes I will need in a few months :D

    Tusc :o)

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