If you can believe it, I just added up in my head 28 traditional fast food places within 15-20 minutes of my house, and I live in the suburbs. I also didn't count the ice cream and donut shops, small mexican and pizza places or the food court at the closest mall!
Let's go back to the temptation of fast food based on cost, in terms of time and money. We've established it's fast, convenient and cheap. So fast food wins, right? I say wrong. You're either going to pay now, or you're going to pay later.
Think about the fast food menu. It feels like a dollar here and a few dollars there right now. But think about what that type of food over a sustained period of time can actually cost you. Consider the simple things such as additional clothing costs due to weight gain, all the way up to strain on your body (joints, heart, lungs, organs and blood) doctor bills, prescription drugs, insurance issues. It's a vicious cycle. Now consider having to try to reverse your lifestyle under duress, damaged self esteem, potential loss of abilities or activity due to obesity and its associated health problems. It's not worth it. You can learn to order in a fast food restaurant if you must eat there, but better yet, avoid them completely.
Now think about the grocery. True, it may cost a little more to buy that extra lean ground beef, the 99% fat free ground turkey, the non-fat greek yogurt, chicken breast and lots of eggs. But if you shop the perimeter of the store and focus on fresh fruits and veggies, meat, eggs, non-fat dairy, whole wheat grains, and frozen veggies the prices are very reasonable. Much more so than the conveniently packaged foods you pay for in the center of the store that have no nutritional value. In the summertime it's highly likely you can find a farmer's market or stand selling fresh local stuff. I'm not even talking about organic, just not fast food and not the trans-fat laden center section of the grocery store.
Approximately $10 at the local farmer's market
A well planned trip to the grocery followed by a designated time for food prep can do wonders. My husband grills a ton of chicken breasts at a time, we hard boil at least a couple of dozen eggs at a time (even my dogs eat hard boiled eggs, but that's a different story). Veggies stay fresh when they are chopped and refrigerated. Last night we put several cups of steel cut oats on the cooktop for 40 minutes while we were doing other things and then split them up into 1 cup containers for the week.
Are we perfect at this? No! Do we eat perfectly? No. But with very deliberate and focused effort we've turned our kitchen around and our bodies are showing the results of it, and I'm 43 with a husband that is 59. If you have young kids, involve them now, there is so much to gain from it. Our grown, married kids are still trying to adjust to the way we eat now and they are relatively healthy eaters. If I knew then what I know now. We don't get a do-over, but we can start making changes right now, so we're not paying and sacrificing so much later. I hold my sweet grandbabies and know that it's all worth it.