What if Restaurants Charged Per Calorie?

“What if calories cost money?  That is, what if one calorie cost one cent, adding up to your entire meal?  Do you think charging per calorie would change people’s eating habits?  Why or why not?”


I looked into what it would cost per calorie for a healthy and a not-so-healthy meal at McDonald’s®.  Here is what I found:

Not-so-healthy meal option:

Big Mac® = 550 calories

  • (includes: 100% beef patty, Big Mac bun, pasteurized processed American cheese, Big Mac® sauce, shredded lettuce, pickle slices, onions)

Medium French Fries = 390 calories

  • (includes:  French fries and ketchup packet)

Medium Dr. Pepper® = 190 calories

Vanilla Ice Cream Cone = 170 calories

Total Meal = 1,300 calories

Meal cost = $13.00

Healthy Option:

Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken = 230 calories

  • (includes:  Grilled chicken filet, salad mix, grape tomatoes, shredded parmesan cheese, Newman’s Own® Low-Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette)

Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait = 150 calories

(includes:  Low-fat yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, low-fat crunchy granola)

Dasani® Water = 0 calories

Total Meal = 380 calories

Meal cost = $3.80


I have to admit, that, if it was me, I would end up choosing the healthy option simply because I would want to save money.  If I wanted to pay $13.00 for my individual meal, I would be choosing to dine at a much nicer restaurant than McDonald’s®.  And, let’s face it, if it was a matter of making sure that I had enough to eat, on the healthy option, I could afford to buy even more food.  Any chance restaurants will start charging this way in the future?  I’m on board!


I am a 43-year-old, single mom of 19-year-old boy/girl twins living in an extremely small town in rural Texas. Currently, I am employed as a Site Supervisor for a prominent corporation that provides security officers for homes and businesses.

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