2007/05/01

Takeout ROI

These days, who has time to cook? I know that at least once or twice a week I just throw up my hands and get takeout, but what to get? Setting nutrition aside, there must be some way to measure the value of your options. So...it is with considerable pride that Blognonymous introduces the handy-dandy, Takeout Return on Investment scale! ((c), TM, and patent pending)

Simply stated, you divide the number of meals by the cost to get the ToRoI. And here are how some of my favorites stack up:

CuisineOrderMealsToRoI
IndianChicken Saag with a double portion of rice4 for $12.25.326
ThaiYellow Vegetable Curry with a single portion of rice2 for $6.95.288
MexicanBurrito the size of your head2 for $6.95.288
PizzaMedium (14") combo pizza4 for $15.10.284
ChineseMongolian Beef with double portion of rice3 for $12.45.241
BurgersSingle 1/4 lb. cheeseburger from a local joint around the corner1 for $4.95.202
SushiCalifornia roll w/a side of salted soy beans1 for $7.20.139

So... in the end the subcontinent has it all over the other options. Especially when you consider that I was conservative in saying that I get just 4 meals out of an order of Saag. (I often get 5.) Sushi though tasty, is something your really should go out for. As take-out it sucks value-wise and...usually...freshness wise, but on the other hand it is probably the best for your health.

So there you have it. Your mileage will vary.

16 Comments:

"the subcontinent has it all over the other options" I never eat anything that comes out looking the same as it went in.
Mind you I'm not really excited about the other options either. Back to the hot plate, or just a sandwich for me...
I wish.
I can make two meals for myself from ten chicken wings so my return may differ. :)
I can produce an excellent meal in half an hour to 45 minutes. You don't have half an hour to cook your own dinner? And did you ever look at how much salt is in takeout? Or the nutritional factors?

And you don't have to cook the entire half hour to 45 minutes. I only included 45 minutes because that's how long it takes to simmer brown rice. You start the brown rice first, using vegetable broth as the liquid, after 20 minutes you start the red lentils and also use vegetable broth. In the meantime you have made your salad. You can also add some chopped chicken breast, if you want meat, to the lentils. Eat your salad while everything cooks. Five to ten minutes before the lentils are done, add cumin, turmeric, a couple of dashes of hot sauce, ginger, and anything else you like (I usually pluck a variety of herbs from my herb garden on the back deck--the herb garden lives in one strawberry pot plus one clay pot and I grow about a dozen herbs and they really take off and keep me supplied with fresh herbs all summer and dried herbs all winter, and they take, over the course of the year, no more than about ten hours of care spread over six-eight months). Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in bowls. When I am done, the entire operation, including eating it and cleaning up, took an hour or an hour and a half, but that wasn't continuous work. Cutting up ingredients for the salad was the most time spent. You could skip the salad and the actual time working on the meal would be about fifteen minutes. Then all you have to do is spend ten minutes washing the dishes and pots (or put everything in the dishwasher) and the rest of the time is just eating.

I don't get people who complain that cooking takes too much time. I think maybe they just don't know how to cook. Cooking takes hardly any time. It isn't like you have to shuck the lentils or the quinoa or separate the brown rice from the outermost hull first. This isn't 2000 BCE. And the reward of freshly prepared food that you season to your own taste is enormous. I make curried lentils and rice that are so much better than the stuff you can order in, and with so much less salt, no MSG, and everything fresh and tasty and nutritious...well, I don't get why people order out. When I order out, I have to drink a couple of bottles of water afterwards because of all the salt.

I do get the roasted chicken at Costco sometimes. Mrs DBK and I can eat three meals from that if we are greedy and eat a lot. Two chicken dinners and then a big pot of soup loaded with brown rice and red lentils or quinoa. Still, even that has too much salt. Removing the skin takes care of that, though.
Takeout definately has its place. Since I'm the only person in my house, I'm responsible for the cleaning, animal welfare, gardening, repairs, laundry, and various other chores.

I am also the proud holder of a full-time professional job (accountant) and have a 30 - 45 minute commute (one-way) each day which eats a considerable chunk of my time.

Oh, and I quilt. And I read. And I play around on the computer some.

I'm sure that in a family situation with two adults sharing the load that cooking isn't an issue, but for a loner like myself - carryout can be a blessing.

Besides. I live near Chicago. Ordering pizza delivery on a fairly regular basis is a law.
or something.
Cartledge... That was the kind of overshare that I so didn't need this early in the morning! ;-)

Sumo... You wish...uh...what? Context my dear lady, context. :-)

PoP... Those must be tiny wings--as in "Buffalo" style.
I can produce an excellent meal in half an hour to 45 minutes.

DBK... Me too. This is really all in good fun.

In fact I do cook three or four times a week (a full meal), and on the weekends I usually make a big pot of...something...stew, soup, whatever. Stew provides great value for money--ingredients that cost about $12 for 8 to 9 meals.

Ordering pizza delivery on a fairly regular basis is a law.
or something.


Sewmouse... You know, I've heard that and Chicago has some great pizza, even though I'm a thin crust guy personally.
You need a book deal, sort of a consumer's digest of eatery.
I've eaten Indian food before, and have to agree with Cartledge.

We've got a bake and take pizza chain up here. (You have them there too. Papa Murphy's.) 10.99 gets you a "family sized" pizza. That, and about 15 minutes worth of natural gas, and we get a one topping pizza that's pretty decent and lasts for a couple of meals, depending on who's helping us eat it. (OK, OK, 20 minutes tops with pre-heat.) I'll not bother with the math, but I believe it to be a decent ROI.

We do make our own pretty decent pizza. We use the breadmaker to mix the dough, and we can our own pizza sauce in the fall using tomatoes obtained at the farmer's market.

But the dough takes time, and sometimes we're hungry "now!"
You need a book deal, sort of a consumer's digest of eatery.

Aaron... If only... :-)

Haris... I would be hard for me to eat enough Indian to satisfy my deep and enduring love of curry, but different strokes for different folks, eh? We get some decent pizza out here in Sodom by the Sea but not like what I could get on the East Coast.
DBK, I've remodeled my kitchen, you are welcome to cook any time you wish.

Seriously, I cook at home most nights - however, a couple times a week I eat out with friends. I bring my lunch to work - beats getting take out every day - and I love a good breakfast.

And when I am in Chicago, what Sewmouse said is true. To that end, my son-in-law OWNS a Pizza parlour, and they make really great Pizza! Yum. So for me, when we do Pizza take-out? One large, FREE. Return on Investment! MORE PIZZA.
I'm surprised the food in your area somewhat reasonable. I just assumed your prices would be on par with NYC.
Diva... A modern, remodeled kitchen is one of the great joys of home ownership. And...I'm going to have to get the name of your son's pizza parlor.

Kathy... It is one of the great things about the Bay Area. Though you can certainly find food that is every bit as expensive as New York, prices generally are very reasonable. When the Frogette and I first moved here from the East Coast we were delighted every time we went out ot eat.
I cook all the time, it's what i do, and I find I can feed myself for a week for under $20.00 (of course, breakfast and lunch are taken care of at work).
You have an excellent idea here and should expand the list, adding Subway and Pizza Hut (for the moms).
Lew... No question cooking for yourself is cheaper and healthier. I try to keep a stock of ready-to-heat stuff in the freezer for those nights when I might order takeout. But nonetheless...sometimes...

Nvisiblewmn... Got pizza on there but didn't think to add Subway--suspect that they'd have a pretty good ToRoI. I mean...at 2 meals for...what...$4?

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