4

votes

McDonald's is so cheap? Cost of food for college students.

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 22, 2012 at 7:48 PM

Most decent fast food combo meals cost around $4-6. I can eat an entire days worth of food for $6 (i don't buy grass-fed). I feel guilty when I'm around kids my age who say they can't afford to eat healthy when i'm stuffing my face full of spinach, eggs, carrots, sweet potatoes, olive oil, chicken, canned fish ect....but I really don't think I spend much more than normal.

I typically spend ~$40-70 per week(variability mostly due to refueling my olive oil stock). And considering I only spend ~$20 dollars per month on alcohol I'd say I'm in good shape.

How does this compare to other people's food bills?

D3abaaead845d9da842938514ddb24bf

(90)

on October 04, 2012
at 06:18 AM

hey ours is a food court, and when you budget it out it leaves you at 8 dollars a day. Thats mcdonalds side salads at every meal nix the cheese :P

E45c5a1c8df73da5e03bb6e7e90f8420

(644)

on September 26, 2012
at 03:22 AM

That sounds pretty good... do you just stick to eating very basic and have your diet revolve only around those main items?

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on September 24, 2012
at 02:45 AM

tip: chicken breasts are stupid expensive, I'm always so confused when I see "poor, starving college kids" with only chicken breasts in their cart. Buy a whole chicken, or turkey legs, and you will save major $$$.

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 24, 2012
at 02:44 AM

+1 to that. Healthy body = healthy mind.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 24, 2012
at 02:33 AM

Try keto, fat is cheap and once you are in ketosis your apatite is gone.

32d059a467e99a4fc83201407a4a238d

on September 23, 2012
at 10:00 PM

"Today I did a big grocery shopping for the week and spent $250 and when I got home and unloaded my bags my fridge still looked empty!!!" omg. The same thing happens to me. It's terrible. It's like WTF did I buy?!

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 08:04 PM

eggs, potatoes, bacon, olive oil, spinach lots of carrots...Sweet potatoes/yams are $.89 per pound. You can get 5 dozen eggs for about $7.50..4 weeks of Olive oil for ~$18. Yesterday I bought 1.92lbs of spinach for $3.82...fruit is usually around .50 per piece. We can get 3lbs of carrots for 2.99

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:47 PM

why don't you just eat alot of rice? Is rice more expensive than pasta & ramen? It's probably a little healthier.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:45 PM

Damn..im sorry. we have a mandatory meal plan for 1st and 2nd year students but I've been here for 4 years so I'm free. however Our veggies were actually fresh. I got lucky. Hang in there.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:41 PM

your more likely to get a well paying job when your in a good mood & healthy.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:36 PM

I live in Ohio...way way cheaper than SF haha...well at least you get to live in an awesome city.

98266ae0c87836d4bb714b6d31cacbf9

(1632)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:36 AM

eggs are cheap.

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on September 23, 2012
at 05:27 AM

I hear you. I spend as much on food too, but as a trade off I spend no money on anything else really. Cooking is my entertainment, trying new foods is fun, and I am happy with my life as it is and like to be minimalistic in terms of possessions.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on September 23, 2012
at 04:49 AM

Lucky. Our mandatory meal plan including frozen vegetables reheated and smothered in margarine, or a salad bar full of iceberg lettuce and floppy, canned veggies. It was AWFUL.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 03:20 AM

haha the meal plan...I use to eat insane amounts of veggies when I had a meal plan. Only problem is our meal plan averages out to about $8.50 per meal. It wouldn't be so bad if our retarded youth didn't throw away half their goddamn tray.

138be7a21edcd70c350bdebfd05948db

(170)

on September 23, 2012
at 12:05 AM

It can be cheap! Buy in bulk. They usually have sales on chicken leg quarters and beef at the store. Shop at Aldi's. Mustard from the dollar store is good too! Buy frozen veggies. It may seem cheaper to eat at McDonald's because your paying for a meal rather than at the checkout, but in reality it it cheaper to buy your own food. My meals range from $1-5 a piece when eating at home and eating conventional food. Eating organic costs be $3-12 per meal.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 22, 2012
at 09:44 PM

So yes, it can be very cheap....or ultra expensive if you wish ....we splurge....but hey college was 15 years ago....I've done my time ;)

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 22, 2012
at 09:42 PM

Wow...4-6? I can do 2$ paleo meal with all the bells and whistles when I like.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on September 22, 2012
at 07:59 PM

Fast food really isn't as cheap as it can seem. If you buy in bulk you can make it yourself and save money. I can make fries with potatoes and coconut oil for more than 1/3 of what I'd pay at mcdonalds with the added benefits of no nasty pufa's oxidized in a frying vat all day.

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17 Answers

4
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on September 23, 2012
at 01:40 AM

Just being out and about jogging and riding my bike, in the last couple days I've spied:

  • 2 fig trees with ripe, ignored figs, one that was full of crows
  • 1 apple tree dropping fruit
  • 2 walnut trees being attacked by crows for the nuts
  • Macadamia nuts rolling in the gutter
  • Avocado trees with fruit in several parking strips and unattended areas

And I wasn't even looking for free food. I'm thinking maybe those figs deserve a visit from Diane's Midnight Produce. It might be wise to pay attention to crows.

3
E95216c62a14d21c371fcbf2fed8469b

(1867)

on September 23, 2012
at 04:42 AM

I spend a lot of money on food in lieu of clothes. I rather eat good food.

3
Bd2b91cfddb12f88b18645a663d8315f

on September 23, 2012
at 12:50 AM

I'm a college student and I live alone. I spend 150-200 a week. It's insane, I know. Hearing all of your bills makes mine seem even more absurd. :( I'm a huge foodie, and like RacerRex9727, experiment quite a lot. It's so much fun for me. It drives me absolutely insane when kids my/our age eat like crap because of money. I dated a guy once who exclusively ate McDonalds, because of financial reasons. Little did he know it would be cheaper to go to the store and actually buy REAL food! :)

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on September 23, 2012
at 05:27 AM

I hear you. I spend as much on food too, but as a trade off I spend no money on anything else really. Cooking is my entertainment, trying new foods is fun, and I am happy with my life as it is and like to be minimalistic in terms of possessions.

2
93eea7754e6e94b6085dbabbb48c0bb7

on September 23, 2012
at 08:55 PM

When you think about all the health problems and bills you will have to pay at the hospital for eating SAD it is fiscally worth it to eat healthy. I eat a largely plant-based paleo diet and it is way cheaper to buy lots of veggies in bulk and splurge the remainder on a little good quality meat/fish. It's not hard to buy in bulk online either on things like coconut oil which lasts months.

2
30687d2ffd4ceaff67fec43e6a4af728

on September 23, 2012
at 07:11 AM

Hi! I'm also a college. I live by myself and only spend about $60 a week. Basically its cheaper for me to be Paleo than be on the SAD diet - before I was buying a lot of bread and my bill was on average $90.

I don't have a big fridge so I shop three times a week, $20 each time. Plus I walk to the shops so its extra fitness. $10 will give me either two large chicken breasts or 2 packs of sausages or about 15 slices of bacon. I live in a cheaper area than a lot of people so I'm glad that I don't have to fork out $300 like other people I've heard on this site. I also eat more vegetables than meat as well.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on September 24, 2012
at 02:45 AM

tip: chicken breasts are stupid expensive, I'm always so confused when I see "poor, starving college kids" with only chicken breasts in their cart. Buy a whole chicken, or turkey legs, and you will save major $$$.

2
76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on September 23, 2012
at 05:28 AM

dumpster diving behind produce stores is always an option...just saying

2
68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on September 23, 2012
at 05:01 AM

Priorities. It's simple. I'm not in college nor did I even have a clue what Paleo was in college (started college 10 years ago), it's all about perspective. I've got a pretty good job now and can afford to be a bit more selective with food quality, quantity and variety. With that said, it's still a choice. A bit extra for quality food? A bit extra at a smaller, non-chain store? A little longer drive to a local farm or farm market? To me, it's worth it. Not only the health benefits, but the overall well-being and good feeling I get from it.

I know this kind of went off tangent from the original topic, but I still think it comes down to priorities. For those needing to stretch every dime, understandable. However, for most I think there are many other cuts/changes that could be made, many unrealized, that could allow for some better adherence to food quality/quantity. For instance, the thread starter could turn $20/month in alcohol to $0/month in alcohol and probably enhance 5-7 meals to grass-fed beef quality.

Not judging anyone as long as it's understood that until you're at your bare minimum in-terms of what can be substituted, it's always a priority thing. Being in college once I completely understand the $20/month on alcohol being important than the extra 10% adherence to Paleo. As long as you don't hear "it's impossible to even consider eating Paleo in college" argument from someone with this trade-off possible.

2
06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 23, 2012
at 04:49 AM

Here's a real simple argument concerning the cost of food.

  • Food is cheap . . .healthcare is expensive.

  • Food is cheap . . .shortening your life can also save you money.

  • You want cheap gas for your car, why not for your body??

The point to make is over the long run it's impossible to quantify the positive financial impact of keeping your body healthy especially at a young age. But I know over the long run:

  • Your peers will be sick more than you.
  • Your peers will have less energy than you.
  • Your peers will be more depressed than you.
  • Your peers will look older than you.
  • Your peers will envy you.

Take care of your body, it's the only one you get.

Matt
PhysiqueRescue.com

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:41 PM

your more likely to get a well paying job when your in a good mood & healthy.

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 24, 2012
at 02:44 AM

+1 to that. Healthy body = healthy mind.

1
Fb10cf8e5dbac271762e13721181d5dc

(453)

on September 23, 2012
at 05:27 PM

Of course McDonalds is more expensive-- they're trying to make a profit off of already-prepared food. And cafeteria food at my college costs about the same or more.

What is cheaper than eating real food is eating stuff like ramen, chef boyardee, mac and cheese... then you're kidding yourself if you say real food costs less. It's well worth the money spent IMO, but at least I have that extra money to put towards diet! Some people honest-to-god don't, you have to remember. Yes it's better to spend it on food than hospital bills, great... if you have the money in the first place.

Bacon, eggs, and some organic beef for a week (not grassfed; I'm in college too man) or halal goat cost me about $30-40. Things like butter/oil/produce bump the bill up to around 60 sometimes, I don't know-- I'd guess 40-70 as well.

1
E45c5a1c8df73da5e03bb6e7e90f8420

(644)

on September 23, 2012
at 05:35 AM

WOW- Where are you living???!!!! I can't believe you are able to eat like that for $6 a day? I live in San Francisco- which is one of the most expensive cities to live in the world- and since I buy organic and expensive items such as raw milk (10 a half gallon) I usually spend about $300 a WEEK, so $1200 a month or more- on food just for me, one person. I'm majorly trying to cut back but one bag from Whole Foods is easily $80. Today I did a big grocery shopping for the week and spent $250 and when I got home and unloaded my bags my fridge still looked empty!!!! I also eat out a few times a week since I work such long hours. But yah, the majority of my income goes towards food every month. Share your tips! What do you eat each day?

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 08:04 PM

eggs, potatoes, bacon, olive oil, spinach lots of carrots...Sweet potatoes/yams are $.89 per pound. You can get 5 dozen eggs for about $7.50..4 weeks of Olive oil for ~$18. Yesterday I bought 1.92lbs of spinach for $3.82...fruit is usually around .50 per piece. We can get 3lbs of carrots for 2.99

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:36 PM

I live in Ohio...way way cheaper than SF haha...well at least you get to live in an awesome city.

32d059a467e99a4fc83201407a4a238d

on September 23, 2012
at 10:00 PM

"Today I did a big grocery shopping for the week and spent $250 and when I got home and unloaded my bags my fridge still looked empty!!!" omg. The same thing happens to me. It's terrible. It's like WTF did I buy?!

E45c5a1c8df73da5e03bb6e7e90f8420

(644)

on September 26, 2012
at 03:22 AM

That sounds pretty good... do you just stick to eating very basic and have your diet revolve only around those main items?

1
32d059a467e99a4fc83201407a4a238d

on September 23, 2012
at 12:30 AM

I definitely spend way too much money on food. I've just figured out all the good food sources in my college town, and it looks like I'll have a grocery bill of about $50/wk, maybe more. I consider well-sourced animal products top priority, so the bulk of my spending goes toward organic, pasture-raised eggs, pork, beef, and dairy, and wild-caught salmon. Then I have odds and ends like coconut flour, strained tomatoes, unsweetened applesauce for baked goods (apple coconut bread, meatza, etc). I don't buy any veggies. I'm on an unlimited meal plan and my college has a wonderful, well-stocked salad bar... lots of local/organic produce. But yeah, if I had to buy veggies I'd easily be up to at least $100/wk. Ridiculous.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on September 23, 2012
at 04:49 AM

Lucky. Our mandatory meal plan including frozen vegetables reheated and smothered in margarine, or a salad bar full of iceberg lettuce and floppy, canned veggies. It was AWFUL.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:45 PM

Damn..im sorry. we have a mandatory meal plan for 1st and 2nd year students but I've been here for 4 years so I'm free. however Our veggies were actually fresh. I got lucky. Hang in there.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 03:20 AM

haha the meal plan...I use to eat insane amounts of veggies when I had a meal plan. Only problem is our meal plan averages out to about $8.50 per meal. It wouldn't be so bad if our retarded youth didn't throw away half their goddamn tray.

D3abaaead845d9da842938514ddb24bf

(90)

on October 04, 2012
at 06:18 AM

hey ours is a food court, and when you budget it out it leaves you at 8 dollars a day. Thats mcdonalds side salads at every meal nix the cheese :P

1
Da2c728c093488e4f2ea87b81619682f

on September 22, 2012
at 10:34 PM

I can only afford $100-125/month on food. I don't find McDonalds that cheap but pasta and ramen noodles are definitely more affordable than all the paleo foods. I end up buying lots of carrots, canned tuna, and huge packs of beef and chicken (all icky grain fed kind). But what happens is I end up buying cheap pasta and ramen anyway because I just can't afford the paleo stuff, even the apparently cheap foods, and I just don't know how other people do it. I suppose they actually have more than $200/month to live on (after rent). :(

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 24, 2012
at 02:33 AM

Try keto, fat is cheap and once you are in ketosis your apatite is gone.

0b4326a4949718451a8571b82558dc10

(2349)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:47 PM

why don't you just eat alot of rice? Is rice more expensive than pasta & ramen? It's probably a little healthier.

98266ae0c87836d4bb714b6d31cacbf9

(1632)

on September 23, 2012
at 07:36 AM

eggs are cheap.

1
D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

on September 22, 2012
at 09:29 PM

My husband and I spend around $300/mo. We're on a budget, but we do buy grass-fed (our local resource is not much more expensive than conventional). We don't have much in the way of organic food around here, but I usually try to get it when I can find it, as budget allows. We also do eat some grain and legumes, so it drives down our costs somewhat.

About half of that budget is in animal protein, between my monthly order from the local rancher, a monthly subscription for Wild Planet Sardines from Amazon, and quality fish when I find it. Then there's eggs (we eat about 2 dozen a week), which we can get locally, but at the rate we eat them, they're prohibitively expensive, so we get large packs of conventional eggs. I also make a point of ordering meat on the bone, some organs, and cheaper cuts. I make bone broth regularly, and in addition to soups and things, I use it to cook well soaked beans and quinoa and rice.

1
61c3d2c07376ee667da321cc20a1e94b

on September 22, 2012
at 08:58 PM

My budget has been rather expensive lately, about $150 a week. I know, that's a lot for one person. But I guess I've been experimenting with more ambitious paleo cuisine too, so I tend to buy more ingredients to have a well-stocked pantry with variety rather than sticking with the basics.

0
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on September 24, 2012
at 02:49 AM

Recently found out that this year is going to be really tight for my BF and I (bad fishing season :( hopefully next year is better). So far we've been really stretching things out buy getting the 30% off "use today or freeze" antibiotic free cuts of meat, ground beef, and with LOTS of bone broth. I buy huge packs of chicken feet for super cheap and make broth, then cook all my rice and small amount of meat in it. Very little muscle meat, some egg yolks, some liver, some frozen/canned seafood, lots of broth, lots of rice, lots of nice starchy veg, lots of greens, some coconut milk. So far so good. I'm just starting to realize how much I can cut back on eating muscle meat via this method.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 24, 2012
at 02:34 AM

We are on shoestring for the time being so we are switching to Keto. My wife works at Sbux and can bring home a Large heavy cream with 2 shots of espresso in it and that last two days of breakfast. Have hamburger and slightly wilty veg and some extra coconut oil for lunch and you are pretty much done.

0
Ba20b502cf02b5513ea8c4bb2740d8cb

on September 24, 2012
at 02:29 AM

Check out Trader Joes, or buy bulk protein at a one of those warehouse discount stores.

When it comes down to your own personal health there really is no quantifiable value you can attach to your life.

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