In today’s tough economy, many families are using a budget and learning to calculate the amount of money they spend on food for the first time. Often, busy families and those on-the-go stop for meals at fast food restaurants, grabbing the cheapest items on the ‘dollar menu’ or ‘value menu’, thinking they’re saving on food costs. But how well do you know your food? Though the cost of a one-dollar cheeseburger seems minimal, is the ‘value menu’ really a better value? Let’s compare the cost of similar value cheeseburgers from Burger King and McDonald’s, and contrast it with the cost of making a burger yourself at home:
Burger King’s Double Cheeseburger – $1.00.
McDonald’s McDouble Cheeseburger – $1.00.
A homemade cheeseburger– $0.62.
You may wonder, how did I come up with 62 cents? Here’s how:
The bun – At our local Schwebel’s bread outlet, I can buy an 8-pack of hamburger buns for 89 cents. Broken down, a single bun costs approximately 11 cents.
The cheese – At our local Save-a-Lot discount grocery store, I can buy a 16-pack of American cheese slices for $1.79. Broken down, a single slice of cheese also costs approximately 11 cents.
The ketchup and mustard – At our local Save-a-Lot discount grocery store, I can also purchase a container of ketchup and mustard each for one dollar or less. For the amount of product used on a burger – let’s say half an ounce – the cost may be approximately 3 cents total.
The hamburger patty – Also at Save-a-Lot, I recently purchased a 5 lb. package of ground beef for $7.45. From this 5 lb. package, I was able to divide it into 20 patties, that each weighed one-quarter pound. Thus, the cost analysis of a quarter-pound meat patty would be 37 cents each. Although I only have one meat patty on my homemade burger (compared to the two patties at the fast-food restaurants), the total weight of the single meat patty used is greater than or equal to the two combined patties on the other burgers.
Granted, the Burger King and McDonald’s cheeseburgers may come with pickles – however, I don’t like them and request that they not be included. This does not change the original price of their burgers, though, and they remain $1.00 each.
Now, add up the costs of my basic homemade cheeseburger: 11 cents + 11 cents + 3 cents + 37 cents = $0.62.
Let’s say I use the entire 8-pack of hamburger buns, to make a nice dinner for my family. I can still make 8 entire cheeseburgers – bun, meat, cheese, ketchup and mustard – for approximately $4.96 (less than five dollars!).
In comparison, buying 8 “value menu” cheeseburgers would cost $8.00 – about 40% more than making them myself, with items from the grocery store.
As you can see from the calculations above, it is a much better value to purchase your own ingredients and cook your own cheeseburgers at home. The ‘value menu’ at most fast-food restaurants isn’t really that great of a value when you compare the costs. For families on a tight budget, this is important ‘food for thought’!