The One Food Shortcut That Isn’t a Shortcut at All

by Vincent King · 8 comments

Most people don’t have nearly enough time in the day.

Running short on time often means looking for shortcuts whenever possible, and taking them whenever doing so makes sense. When it comes to food, shortcuts often include drive-thrus and fast food joints. Yet, idling through a drive thru is a shortcut you should rarely, if ever, take.

Ordering a meal with your window rolled down almost always comes with some version of the question: “Would you like that in a value meal?” Most people say, “Yes, please.” Because who can resist a value?

You’re trying to save money, so piggy-backing a gallon drink with a large fry for a dollar less than you would spend to get them separately, makes perfect sense. But have you ever taken the time to add up those “value” items alone to see how much you are really saving?

Saving Time and Money Isn’t Always The Way To Go

Sure, drive-thru saves you the time it would have taken to go to a sit down restaurant, or to cook your own food, but you’re trading that time for an inflated cost in health and money. When you take the cashier’s offer for the value meal, you aren’t saving the money that you feel like you’re saving. Poor diet decisions add a slow decay to your wallet, and your health. The fatty, salty foods found in most fast food joints are a prime contributor to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and many more diseases that can be avoided with consistent, intelligent choices.

Are you willing to ruin your health and run up medical bills to save a half hour and a dollar each day?

Just Because You’ve Always Done It Doesn’t Mean You Still Should

It’s easy to develop the drive-thru habit. They make getting food fast, simple, and seemingly cheap.

But habits that are detrimental to your health or your well-being should be severed immediately. Being in debt erodes your peace of mind, yet many people find it easier to keep their bad habits than to try and form new ones that take time and effort to change.

But you can do it.

This is How You Make it Happen

The solution is simple: Prepare healthy food at home to take with you.

Keeping your food with you means you’ll be less likely to hit the burger hut, since there’s nothing faster than eating the lunch you already have with you. Being prepared will save you from temptation, and resisting temptation means saving your money and preserving your health.

Keeping healthy food on hand also means you’ll be taking the appropriate measures to safeguard yourself as well as your wallet.

Follow These Steps To Avoid the Value Meal Shortcut

You’re busy, here’s a solution that works for your schedule to help you avoid the value meal shortcut. Try the following steps to initiate a positive change, and move from an unhealthy and expensive diet to a healthy, frugal future.

  1. Slow and steady is often best. Crockpot cooking saves time and energy for those without them. Start your dinner cooking for the next day before going to bed, then have it ready when you wake up.
  2. Cook two birds with one pot. Prepare your lunch and your breakfast at the same time.
  3. Cook every other day. Choose three days a week to cook and eat leftovers for lunches at work on the following days. You will always save time and money when you cook ahead.
  4. Make plenty of extras. Cook more than you need, then freeze it for later. You can always thaw and eat your pre-cooked food when you’re running short on time. Homemade freezer foods offer you a healthier and less expensive option.
  5. Plan Ahead. Always start your week with a plan and stick to it. Knowing what you need to do ahead of time will always help you get it done.

What are your tips to avoid the Value Meal Shortcut?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Jean says:

    I completely agree. I take time to fix a sandwich, an apple or a pair of bananas and some juice with me before I head out for my part-time job in the morning. I do eat fast food once or sometimes twice a week but that’s purely because I just enjoy them so much but I am very wary of their unhealthy effects too, and try to work it off whenever I do.


  • indio says:

    When we need fast or easy food, cereal is our go to food. A pot of oatmeal requires 3 ingredients, 5 if you want to get fancy and add nuts and fruit. It’s cheap, easy, hearty and much healthier for you.

    • russell says:

      Healthier than what? You might not believe this, but data show that eggs and bacon is actually healthier. Before you laugh at that assertion, check to see what the real clinical data show. I don’t think you’ll find a study that supports your claim.

  • Marbella says:

    With the right diet and exercise so you feel better and you are performing more and faster in your job and get more time to your family.

  • Financial Advice for Young Professionals says:

    I enjoy having leftovers for lunch or making a nice brown bag lunch feast(sandwich, chips, veggies with ranch, fruit, cookie, etc). You definitely save a ton of money by doing this.

    Have you ever noticed how the price of the combo meal at In N Out is the same price as all 3 separately? haha

  • KM says:

    I eat lunch with my coworkers so rarely that they stopped asking me if I want to come a long time ago. Making a lot to feed my whole family for a few days with lunches and dinners is a habit and always has been – I don’t like the taste of fast food. I think forcing yourself to do it consistently for a while is the best way. Once a habit is born, it’s easier to stick with the plan.

  • russell says:

    “The fatty, salty foods found in most fast food joints are a prime contributor to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and many more diseases that can be avoided with consistent, intelligent choices.”

    More and more research is showing it’s not the fat that’s causing those conditions, it’s the carbohydrates.

  • Modest Money says:

    This is definitely an area I’m trying to improve upon. I’ve always been one to hit p fast food for lunch on a regular basis. It was costing me a lot of money and wasn’t good for my health. For me, always making enough dinner for leftovers is key. That way I’ll still have a great tasting lunch without needing to spend extra time preparing something in the morning. I find that when I try to just stick to something basic like sandwiches I get too bored of it. If you can find other healthy meals you like instead, it is a great decision.

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