Fast food is not good for you. It's greesy, pretty crappy tasting for the most part (would you rather have a cheeseburger from McDonalds, or a cheeseburger from off your grill?) but the fact is, it's really easy to go to McDonalds. It takes you about five minutes to order and receive your food. You don't even need to get out of the car.
Yeah, but you have to drive to the McDonalds (those who would walk or bike to a McDonalds are pretty rare). Which takes additional time. Realistically speaking, getting in the car, waiting in the queue, and driving home will take an average of around half and hour; in that amount of time, I can easily grill fresh burgers and make a plate of tasty home-fries. At a substantial cost-savings, I might add.
This home-cooked meal is substantially healther than McDonalds fare. It's not that McDonalds is "not good for you" -- McDonalds food is actively bad for you. A McDonalds meal has far more preservatives, fat, sodium, and cholesterol than a comparative home-cooked meal; you're literally better off eating a bowl of ice cream than a Big Mac for your evening meal.
This doesn't sound like much of a deal, given that there isn't really any time savings, and that one ends up paying more for the dinner from McDonalds.
Think about a single working mother with a couple of kids: McDonalds provides her with a really valuable service -- not having to make dinner for three people after working eight hours, not having to clean up after cooking, not having to wash the pots and pans, the dishes, not having to have gone to the grocery store on her way home, picked up the groceries, carried them to the car, dealt (here in california) with the picketers yelling at her for going to the closest store to the house.
First off, the pickets aren't at every store; in fact, running into pickets is rather rare, and I've never had a problem with them barricading my entrance or giving me any real grief. The picketers are a non-issue.
Second, that single working mother still has to go to the store every week -- McDonalds still doesn't supply one with toilet paper, cleaning supplies, breakfast cerial, diapers, and so on. Since our Single Mom still needs to go to the store, she doesn't eat a time penalty for getting food while she's there.
Third, it takes as much time to prepare, cook, eat, and clean up a healthy dinner as it does to martial a few kids into the car, drive to McDonalds, place an order, get the order, eat, and drive home. So no time-savings there, either; in fact, the Single Mom has to work more hours to pay for the increased cost of a McDonalds meal, versus eating at home. On top of that, the kids can get involved in the preparation process, which eases life on Mom, teaches the kids some valuable cooking skills, and helps bring the family together more. It gives the kids a good example of how much Mom cares for them, which is pretty valuable in this day and age.
Just as important, by cooking at home, Mom is making sure her kids stay healthy -- McDonalds food is even worse for kids than it is for adults. Mom is also reinforcing healthy eating attitudes and behaviors which will benefit her kids down the road, and saving money in the process.
Fast food really loses hands-down in your example.
I'm not saying that fast food resturants are wonderfull companies...
They're not; but I can't fault them, either, because they bank on the idea that people are stupid -- if you're dumb enough to think that McDonalds food is anything other than pure lard, than you deserve what you get out of it. This is one of the reasons that I, while I will never eat there, am proudly a McDonalds shareholder -- I'm counting on the idiots of the world to continue eating McDonalds pseudo-food, because it makes me money. So far, those idiots have yet to let me down.
It would be nice if they had better, healthier food...
Check out Chipotle. McDonalds has responded to this request by creating a separate chain of restaurants that provide high-quality, healthy Mexican food at fantastic prices -- one burrito is easily enough for two separate meals, and they even sell beer. Chipotle is a place I will grab lunch at, and is the other reason I'm a proud McDonalds shareholder. grin
 This is how my parents did things, and I'm the only guy I know who moved out with the ability to cook food that didn't come out of a box. This has saved me a ton of money, kept me from getting insanely fat, and saved me a ton of time overall.
"There's this thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out." — Richard Dawkins.
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