DIY Taco Bell: more actual beef for less actual money
If Taco Bell's beef mixture gives you pause, make your own tacos and save a buck.
Over the past week, the fast food restaurant chain Taco Bell was sued for claiming that the taco mixture used in their products was actually beef. According to USDA standards, a beef mixture served by businesses must contain at least 40% beef in ordered to be labeled as such, and the lawsuit alleges (with some evidence) that their taco mixture only contains 36% beef., not the 88% beef that they claim.Skip to next paragraph
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Taco Bell themselves list ingredients in their “meat filling products” that include “water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, maltodrextrin, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch, sodium phosphate and silicon dioxide.”
Here’s the thing: the lawsuit itself isn’t really all that important. It’s the broader issue that scares me. Consider that the USDA only requires that something contain 40% meat to be called “meat,” whether at Taco Bell or anywhere else you might buy a “meat product.”
If you start digging into the standards for what can be labeled as particular foods, the issues get quite disturbing. Check out this article in which it’s revealed that the standards for meat in school lunches are lower than the standards for meat in fast food.
The point of all of this is that whenever we buy a product, we’re relying on both the company being honest with us about its contents as well as government regulations that do not always have the best interest of the consumer in mind. This goes for not just food, but for all manner of things from toothpaste to makeup to even product placements in television and film.
The most common arguments in favor of such products revolve around convenience and cost. All right, let’s look at those.
For comparison’s sake, I took a look at Taco Bell’s value menu. An $0.89 value menu five layer burrito there – which you’ll also have to pay tax on – weighs 248 grams.
In this picture, you can see my homemade bean burritos. I weighed one of these out of the freezer (because I have several frozen). The weight? 340 grams. It costs $0.20, while you’re dropping $0.95 at Taco Bell.
What about something “better”? I compared Taco Bell’s Chicken Ranch Taco Salad with our own burrito bowls, pictured below. The Taco Bell salad weighs 420 grams, while my homemade one weighs about 470 grams (excluding the bowl). The homemade one costs $2.25, while the Taco Bell version costs $5.69 plus tax, carrying the price up to $6.
And think of the “meat” you’re getting in that “bargain”!
The best solution for this problem is to stick with the most basic ingredients possible and exert the most control you can over those ingredients. Be picky about the ingredients you buy for your food – don’t just settle for whatever prepackaged meal has a tasty picture on the box. Be picky about what you watch on television – don’t just settle for channel surfing (or, better yet, read a book from the library).
I think it’s fairly clear at this point that there are huge cost savings that can be found from being more involved in the things you consume.