The “fact” that junk food is cheaper than real food has become a reflexive part of how we explain why so many Americans are overweight, particularly those with lower incomes. […]
This is just plain wrong. In fact it isn’t cheaper to eat highly processed food: a typical order for a family of four — for example, two Big Macs, a cheeseburger, six chicken McNuggets, two medium and two small fries, and two medium and two small sodas — costs, at the McDonald’s a hundred steps from where I write, about $28. […]
You can serve a roasted chicken with vegetables along with a simple salad and milk for about $14, and feed four or even six people.
I’ve been thinking about that the past few days as I’ve been trying to recreate the food I ate in Albania. It’s heavy as a red dwarf, but pleasingly simple and surprisingly cheap.
This recipe, for example, (which I unrepentantly stole from a great restaurant in Tirana) cost about $2. And there’s even leftovers!
I’m amazed there isn’t more emphasis from the foodies that healthy food doesn’t have to be difficult to make or expensive. For this, all I did was chop some peppers and onions into little strips, drizzle them with olive oil and put them in my oven at the highest temperature it has. Half an hour later, I cracked eggs overtop and they were ready in five minutes.
In Albania they do this in a clay pot, on a bed of shredded cheese (oh my god it’s Alpine Eggs!), which makes it less healthy, but still cheap, and still significantly better than a Big Mac or a kebab, which would have cost the same thing.
I think the ‘junk food is cheaper!’ argument for the West’s growing obesity problem is a bit of an excuse. Sure, calorie-for-calorie an Extra Value Meal is cheaper than my Albanian food, but the goal isn’t to keep people eating the same number of calories at a lower cost. It’s to steady the costs, but lower the calories.
Eating cheaply and healthily isn’t all that difficult if you have a kitchen and don’t mind doing some chopping. Publicizing recipes for people as lazy as I am is a step in the right direction.