Saturday, March 01, 2008

Spend Money, Gain Weight

Reading bad journalism can't make you fat or poor but following the examples given in said articles can. Let's look at this piece from MSN, via the Christian Science Monitor (red words mine):

By the time he's driven to the farmers market, bought the organic veggies and spent an hour cooking a meal for himself and his wife, Mark Chernesky figures he's spent $30.

What is he buying? $30 will buy more than enough veggies, organic or not, to feed two people. I can feed myself for an entire week for $30 using pasta, veggies and bread. Dude must be buying meat or seafood.

Dude has also factored driving and preparation time into his food cost.

That's why recently, after fighting rush hour, the Atlanta multimedia coordinator dashed in to Figo, a pasta place, for hand-stuffed ravioli slathered with puttanesca sauce. "I'll get out of here for $17 plus tip," he said.

First, an admission of prejudice. I hate anchovies. Second, dude has factored time and gas into his home-cooking expense; in the take-out example, these should apply as well- "rush hour traffic" and tip, plus $17 dollars, plus time...are we nearing $30 yet? Third, puttanesca is not especially expensive to make and the upscale-sounding phrase 'hand-stuffed' is just another way of saying that you are willing to pay someone else to stuff your ravioli for you. That's an indulgence.

Crunch the numbers, and across America the refrain is the same:is the same: Eating out is the new eating in. Even with wages stagnant, time-strapped workers are abandoning the family kitchen in droves.

The preceding paragraph adds absolutely nothing to the argument that eating out is cheaper than eating at home. It does, however, lend credence to my theory that people are lazier than ever before.

"When I add my hourly rate, the time to cook at home, I can instead take my family out to dinner, and it comes out pretty even," said Paul Howard, a manager-instructor at Café Laura, a restaurant run by college students at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pa.

Dude, how many people consider their family dinner as billable hours? By that logic, you'd have to factor your 'hourly rate' into every domestic activity. By extension, you could save hundreds of dollars a week just by canceling your cable TV. Does Dude think about his 'hourly rate ' during sex? There's a word for that. A dish as well: puttanesca sauce.

Sometimes I fantasize about what it would be like to have a family and my most pleasant images are of preparing and sharing meals together. According to this article, Americans are beginning to consider the nightly repast as a necessary evil to be dispensed with as quickly as possible in order to get back to doing whatever it is that is more important to them than spending time with their families. That is sad.

In addition to the time spent together, when you fix your own meals you can reduce and/or eliminate fats, sugars, salt, even meat if you choose ...whatever you don't want, you don't get. When you eat out, you have no idea what you are getting and how many calories it contains.

Here's a good two-step method for estimating take-out calories:

1)Look at whatever it is that you are getting ready to eat. Make a guess at it's caloric content using your worst nightmares as a guideline.

2)Double that estimate.

I know that there are some readers who will make arguments for eating out. I'm not against eating out. I'm disputing the argument that it is cheaper than eating at home.

I'll bet you dinner that I'm right.


billy pilgrim said...

as a former dishwasher and all around gopher at a snooty french restaurant i don't trust anything served in a restaurant.

strange things work their way into the finest of meals. at least i'm 90% sure of what i'm eating at home.

yellowdog granny said...

i've watched to many brat movies where the disgruntled teen spits in the customers food, or has a cold and sneezes all over your thanks..i may not be rachael raye but i cook better at home than most resturants..and the expense to me is a joke...i like my 'whoknows' casseroles..

Homey Escapeon said...

By July 1, 2008, the Big Apple's 24,000 fast and full-service restaurants must eliminate nearly all trans fatty acids or face hefty fines.

Obese people are replacing smokers as the Neo-Lepers. Heroin Chic will be uber-vogue and people will start smoking again to help lose weight and decrease their appetite.

The Karmic Boomerang has returned.

Susannity said...

The trend is towards tinier kitchens in homes as well since most folks eat out so much.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

No bet here, I know you are right.

more cowbell said...

I guarantee you eating out is more expensive than eating at home. I hate cooking and do hold it as that "necessary evil", but I'd run through my food budget in under a week, eating out.

And, I'm sorry, but "hourly rate"? hahahahaha, if I got even half my "hourly rate" for any one of the things I do, I'd be able to eat out.

Anonymous said...

Hourly rate is indeed funny. SUch a sense of entitlement in that phrase when you apply it to everyday acts of life. And cooking at home can also fun and healthy. (But, I have to admit, I wish someone would clean up after me!)

angel said...

i never looked at the "hours" involved... i simply do whatever i feel like when it comes to meal preparation. but i must admit to being lazy and getting take out when i can...

Allan said...

BP- Yep, you understand it. I used to cook for a living...if you EVER feel the need to send a plate back to the kitchen, DON'T eat the replacement- get a refund. Word.

JS- Those stories don't even touch the horrible truth. One day Ima gonna blow the lid off that sucker...
Rachael Ray should hire me to cook for her.

Homey- My inner Libertarian hates the slippery slope of that NYC we really need laws to protect us from chili dogs? I'm perfectly capable of feeding myself without causing long-term self-injury,thenk yew veddy much...
Education would be better than legislation, IMO. If I ever spawn, my bratlets will be well-versed with knives and spices, I tell ya what!

Sus- I long for a return to a simpler, agrarian society. With hi-speed interwebs, of course. And
tube amps.And indoor plumbing. on.

Whim- I am a pillar of culinary rectitude.

MC- Amen! How could anyone conclude otherwise? That guy should pay me to cook for him...Mr. Pilgrim knows what I mean.
I read your second comment and realized that my mind is quite unsanitary.

CW- I've seen pictures of your kitchen. I'd pay a reasonable hourly rate for the privilege of cleaning it.

A- Yeah, it's nuts. I only track time if I've got something baking.
I have seen pictures of you being wined and dined, you get treated well, as you should.
Watch the drive-thru though, that stuff is serious poison.*shiver*

more cowbell said...