mcdonalds cheeseburgerThis week, until Sunday, November 16, you can get two triple cheeseburgers for $3.00 at McDonald's. (Or, as a smarty pointed out, you can get three double cheeseburgers for the same price -- that is, until the price goes up to $1.19, as it may soon according to McDonald's management comments.)

I wouldn't suggest it, but it seems many consumers are turning to fast food to fix their economic blues. McDonald's this week reported same-store sales were up sharply (compared to its many depressed restaurant competitors, that is) in the U.S. and worldwide. The picture that is rapidly emerging in America is one in which hungry, time-strapped folks are turning away from spendy fast-casual restaurants like Chili's and The Cheesecake Factory and riding the value menus at McDonald's and Wendy's.

Here's why that's a bad idea, financially struggling people: all this food is nutritionally bereft. Save money now on your stacks of corn- and soybean-fed beef patties with imitation cheese, and chances are you'll be racking up thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of expenses down the road for heart conditions, early-onset diabetes, and other diet-related illness.

It turns out, you can eat just as cheap as McDonald's if you spend a little time planning meals and cooking from scratch -- and maybe eat organic too. We have lots of ideas here at WalletPop on how to eat like a peasant; it's better for your wallet (short-term and long-term), your health, and the planet!

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