Let's just think of the waste involved with buying a few snack items:
*Banana – a sticker on the bunch and that's it, unless you put it in a bag, which I never do and at about 50 cents a pound. The peel you will just compost.
*A box of cookies – are usually in a plastic container wrapped in plastic and sometimes even have a box around that and at $2-$3+ a pound.
Which sounds like the cheaper option and also has less waste? That's easy – the bananas.
*Carrots - in a plastic bag or just a tie if you buy with stems on and at $1 a pound if you buy baby carrots, cheaper still if you buy whole carrots & peel yourself.
*Goldfish Crackers – in a multi-layered paper bag which is about 8 ounces for $1.50, which is $3/ pound.
I think you get the idea.....it's the carrots that are cheaper and have less waste.
Now let's try something similar, like oatmeal.
*A canister of oatmeal for about $2 for a couple pounds and were you have a lid & cardboard container to reuse (oatmeal containers have many creative uses for kids crafts.)
*Bulk Oatmeal can be bought using a bag & tie (or bring your own container & right on weight if store allow this) for 60-99 cents a pound depending upon if you buy organic or not.
*Instant Single Serve Packets come in a box of less than a pound for $2-3 and then you have each single serve waxed paper wrapper and a box.
With oatmeal you can have several different options on how to save money and save on waste.
The other thing is that processed food tends to have more sugar, salt & fat in it that whole foods, which tend to have more fiber and are lower in calories. So, if you tend to eat more processed food and less whole foods, you could have health issues that will cost you more money in the long run.
That's not to say we don't have processed food in our house, but I do try to make sure I have plenty of whole foods available and make sure I allow extra time to cook/prepare that might be needed instead of using processed convenience foods.