4. A fatter wallet.
If you think 79-cent-per-pound chicken is a good deal, consider this. Last year, reporters from The New York Times conducted their own test to see how cheaply a family of four could eat. They paid $28 for dinner for four at McDonald’s, but were able to pay $14 for a dinner of chicken, potatoes, and a salad and just $9 for a mostly vegetarian dinner of pinto beans, rice, bacon, and various seasonings. And that $9 meal also had the fewest calories of the three. In most areas, you can buy a pound of dried beans—a 1-cup serving of cooked beans contains almost as much protein as a 3-ounce serving of beef—for less than $3, and it will yield 12 servings of beans, cooked.