Author Topic: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home  (Read 7038 times)

Norgirl

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"In light of yesterday's OECD news confirming that Americans remain the most obese nation in the world, and as McDonalds' blockbuster results yesterday showed, American consumers are increasingly spending more on food away from home. As shown in the chart below, spending on food at home and food away from home have been converging over the past 60 years, with traditional home-cooked family meals on the decline. In fact, according to the USDA, for the first time ever, the amount spent eating out has surpassed what US consumers spend on food at home

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for increasing levels of convenience and on demand. Globally, on average, they are willing to pay 14% more for online grocery delivery, 25% more for meal kits, 30% more for prepared meals and 55% more for restaurant take-outs "

This sounds unhealthy, expensive, lonely and miserable.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-26/first-time-americans-spend-more-eating-out-food-home
« Last Edit: July 26, 2017, 10:36:25 PM by Norgirl »

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2017, 02:49:20 PM »
It doesn't surprise me a bit.

Earlier this year while school was still in session, one of my daughter's friends was working 25 hours a week at minimum wage while still going to high school. She definitely had bills to pay related to some minor luxuries like her cell phone, but more than two-thirds of her after-tax income went for the daily Starbuck's plus breakfast, lunch, and dinner out. Most of the time it was drive-through because she was too rushed and exhausted to pack a lunch and cook.

I told her that if she cut all the junk food out, I mean went completely cold turkey, she could get by working just two evenings a week and have the rest of her time free. Or, if that sounded too extreme and she wanted a more middle-of-the-road approach, she had the option of eating cereal at home, packing a lunch for school, and working only three evenings a week or perhaps a Saturday. The poor kid looked like I'd hit her in the back of the head with a board. Consuming less in order to have to work less never crossed her mind.
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MgoSam

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2017, 02:55:45 PM »
The poor kid looked like I'd hit her in the back of the head with a board. Consuming less in order to have to work less never crossed her mind.

A guy at my gym's job revolves around him driving from location to location in the Twin Cities so he said that he was getting McDonalds and other fast food for lunch. I just shook my head at this, but on Tuesday I overheard him saying that for the past few weeks he's been packing PB+J sandwiches and felt very happy for him. He commented how much better he was feeling at the gym.

Norgirl

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2017, 10:04:11 PM »

I told her that if she cut all the junk food out, I mean went completely cold turkey, she could get by working just two evenings a week and have the rest of her time free. Or, if that sounded too extreme and she wanted a more middle-of-the-road approach, she had the option of eating cereal at home, packing a lunch for school, and working only three evenings a week or perhaps a Saturday. The poor kid looked like I'd hit her in the back of the head with a board. Consuming less in order to have to work less never crossed her mind.

I hate to say this but yes that is exactly what my husband used to do before I put him on the straight and narrow.

He used to have takeaway for breakfast, lunch and dinner and would buy soft drinks from delis in between. He was spending A$100 DAILY on junk and was incredulous how anyone could possibly get by on less.

iowajes

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2017, 10:10:02 PM »
Americans probably have the largest kitchens too. Sad no one uses them

gardeningandgreen

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2017, 10:49:43 AM »
Americans probably have the largest kitchens too. Sad no one uses them

I was watching property brothers and the couple said that they wanted a really nice kitchen but NEITHER of them knew how to cook. Once the property brothers spend tens of thousands of dollars on the kitchen remodel their comment was well maybe we need to learn to cook. I go on vacation and get sick of having meals out so we pack lunches and breakfasts.

kaypinkhardhat

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2017, 11:28:37 AM »
I was just on a 1 year work placement away from home, and relied way too much on take out food and restaurants. My SO also got into a bad habit of the same since "cooking for 1 is hard" (I self shamed myself/him on an earlier thread). Since returning home 9 days ago, our restaurant spend went from ~150 A WEEK, to ~25. If we keep this up we are going to be saving  ~550 a month. That is a PARTIAL MORTGAGE ON A RENTAL PROPERTY!!!!!!!!  The first few days were kind of challenging to be honest, I was on my way home from work and didn't have a meal planned out and went "oh i could just pick up some pizza" when I realized the grocery store was ON ROUTE! I picked up some canned beans, tomatoes, limes, cilantro and avocado, and used some corn on the cob and quinoa I had at home to quickly throw together a delicious Mexican Salad, that lasted us 8 meals. Probably cost us ~$1 a meal..max. I have major regrets for all the money I wasted last year!

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2017, 01:03:47 PM »
A lot of people get takeout food thinking it's going to save them a whole lot of time. The reality is that the time saved is almost nothing (if it exists at all), while the cost of the food doubles or more. I really think the reason for this kind of thinking is people's exposure to advertising. We are psychologically manipulated into going against our own well-being.

libertarian4321

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2017, 01:50:15 PM »
A lot of people get takeout food thinking it's going to save them a whole lot of time. The reality is that the time saved is almost nothing (if it exists at all), while the cost of the food doubles or more. I really think the reason for this kind of thinking is people's exposure to advertising. We are psychologically manipulated into going against our own well-being.

I'd love to see the math on how cooking at home takes less time than grabbing a take out meal.

Not only do you have to buy, put away, and store the ingredients.  You have to clean and prepare them prior to cooking.

Then you have to cook them.

As we are both working professionals, we get take out frequently during the week (we cook on the weekends). 

For the life of me, I can't see how buying and preparing the ingredients for, and cooking up, something like Pad Thai would take the same amount of time as if my wife ordered it online just before leaving the office, then picked it up curbside on the way home (maybe 5 minutes of effort, including the time online).

You can argue that home cooking is cheaper and healthier, yes.  If you are a heck of a cook (most people aren't), it might even taste better.

But faster?  Not a chance.  It's not even close.  Even for a simple meal, cooking at home takes significantly more time.  And for anything more complex than a cheeseburger, the time difference becomes quite large.

libertarian4321

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2017, 01:56:18 PM »
Now that I think about it, isn't this discussion relevant to a lot of other things in modern life, where few of us are expert at many of the tasks that need to be done in life?

Like home repairs?  When it comes to anything to do with tools, I have low skills.  My Dad could fix anything.  I did not get the gene.  I can usually figure things out and get them done, after much trial and error and significant cursing.  8-hours later, the job that would have taken a professional an hour is done.  Hopefully.

But at this point, my wife often says "don't even bother trying, we'll just call someone or buy a new (whatever is broken)- the money saved isn't worth the time and aggravation."




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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2017, 02:35:49 PM »
A lot of people get takeout food thinking it's going to save them a whole lot of time. The reality is that the time saved is almost nothing (if it exists at all), while the cost of the food doubles or more. I really think the reason for this kind of thinking is people's exposure to advertising. We are psychologically manipulated into going against our own well-being.

I'd love to see the math on how cooking at home takes less time than grabbing a take out meal.

Not only do you have to buy, put away, and store the ingredients.  You have to clean and prepare them prior to cooking.

Then you have to cook them.

As we are both working professionals, we get take out frequently during the week (we cook on the weekends). 

For the life of me, I can't see how buying and preparing the ingredients for, and cooking up, something like Pad Thai would take the same amount of time as if my wife ordered it online just before leaving the office, then picked it up curbside on the way home (maybe 5 minutes of effort, including the time online).

You can argue that home cooking is cheaper and healthier, yes.  If you are a heck of a cook (most people aren't), it might even taste better.

But faster?  Not a chance.  It's not even close.  Even for a simple meal, cooking at home takes significantly more time.  And for anything more complex than a cheeseburger, the time difference becomes quite large.

That logic is correct if you start from scratch for every meal and cook things that require direct attention the whole time, such as cooking burgers on a grill. However if you make a large batch of something to last a few days or several meals, the prep time for the leftovers is nearly zero. On the average it works out to far less time per meal.

Also, I save a ton of time by doing the kind of cooking that doesn't require my direct attention. I can have stew fixings sliced up and thrown in the slow cooker in the time it takes to drive to the nearest fast food joint, stand in line to order, pay, get the food, and come back home. Bean dishes, roasts, or simple things like my chicken dish are even faster: I'm talking 2 minutes or less. If I allocate the time in the morning before work, the dish is simmering deliciously when I walk back in the door several hours later.

A cheeseburger, by contrast, is relatively complex and labor intensive to make from scratch.
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WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2017, 10:25:20 PM »
A lot of people get takeout food thinking it's going to save them a whole lot of time. The reality is that the time saved is almost nothing (if it exists at all), while the cost of the food doubles or more. I really think the reason for this kind of thinking is people's exposure to advertising. We are psychologically manipulated into going against our own well-being.

I'd love to see the math on how cooking at home takes less time than grabbing a take out meal.

Not only do you have to buy, put away, and store the ingredients.  You have to clean and prepare them prior to cooking.

Then you have to cook them.

As we are both working professionals, we get take out frequently during the week (we cook on the weekends). 

For the life of me, I can't see how buying and preparing the ingredients for, and cooking up, something like Pad Thai would take the same amount of time as if my wife ordered it online just before leaving the office, then picked it up curbside on the way home (maybe 5 minutes of effort, including the time online).

You can argue that home cooking is cheaper and healthier, yes.  If you are a heck of a cook (most people aren't), it might even taste better.

But faster?  Not a chance.  It's not even close.  Even for a simple meal, cooking at home takes significantly more time.  And for anything more complex than a cheeseburger, the time difference becomes quite large.

Most of the time involved in getting takeout meals involves ordering, going to the place, waiting around for your order, going home with your food (or going home after consuming your food), etc. Of course, if you want to get garbage like McDonald's, it's already made for you and sitting under a heat lamp, but that would mean you would have to eat McDonald's (barf.) I guess I assumed that people would want to eat food that wouldn't make them get obese and die of either heart disease or diabetes, but that's a pretty big assumption these days.

I've gotten to the point where I despise eating meals at restaurants, because it takes me like an hour or an hour and a half to choose the food, have my order taken by the server, wait for the cook to prepare the food in the back, have the food served to me, wait around for the check, etc. I can do that much, much more quickly at home and it takes very little effort.

Maybe I'm just a better and faster cook than other people. I am pretty good at a lot of different things.

Norgirl

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2017, 12:12:31 AM »
I couldn't agree more @whitetrashcash.

We meal plan for a family of four on a fortnightly basis. I shop once every two weeks which takes me about 2-3 hours including setting up the plan, storing away and allocating days / dishes to the adults in the house. That's the equivalent of 4 mins per meal.

Most meals take less than 20 mins of active time to prepare and many will double for several meals (leftovers from dinner = lunch).

Also once you have small kids 99% of take-away just isn't an option. I can't feed my 12 month old McD.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 12:16:58 AM by Norgirl »

ooeei

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #13 on: August 01, 2017, 06:40:06 AM »
I'd love to see the math on how cooking at home takes less time than grabbing a take out meal.

This morning I had a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast. Approximately 1 minute of active time (putting in toaster, taking out of toaster, spreading cream cheese) and 5 total minutes for toasting during which I was getting ready. I'm not sure I've ever been somewhere that only took 1 minute out of my day.

For lunch I'll have leftover Mexican casserole and Spanish rice.  Together these were probably about 30 minutes of active time, an hour or two of passive time last weekend. We froze a bunch (10 servings or so) of the casserole in single serve containers, and thaw them out as needed.  We made enough Spanish rice for the week.  Reheat time is approximately 3-4 minutes total, most of which I can be doing other things if I really need to. There's nowhere I can even drive that's not going to take at least 5 minutes to get to, not to mention standing in line and ordering and waiting for food.  Even adding in the initial prep time of 3 minutes per serving we're looking at 6 minutes total time.

For dinner I'll have leftover roast chicken and rice, or maybe some stir fried veggies. Reheat time again is probably 3 minutes, along with maybe 2 minutes per serving of active time for the cooking when I roasted the chicken.  If I decide to get fancy and stir fry some frozen veggies, add 5-10 minutes.  We're still at a max of 15 minutes for the meal here.  I could probably pick something up on my way home in less than 15 minutes (although leaving to get something, waiting for it, then coming back home would be longer than 15), but then again if I decide not to stir fry the veggies I can get it all done in maybe 5 minutes, which is tough to beat.

If someone is the type of person who just can't handle reheated food, and needs everything cooked from scratch and is very particular about their specific meals, then my system won't work. I feel about as much sympathy for that person as I do for someone who just can't handle clothes that aren't made of silk. I cook really good big meals most weekends (bbq brisket, homemade pizza, traditional ramen, sushi, etc) but those do take longer.  During the week we generally eat reheated leftovers.

If someone is actually concerned about time, preparing your own food and reheating it is tough to beat if you focus on saving time.  I've found that many people use time as an excuse because they're lazy. I specifically remember when I first started cooking, watching a Jamie Oliver video where he's teaching underprivileged kids how to cook.  At some point time comes up, so he sends a member of the crew to find a place to get some pasta to go.  He then proceeds to make pasta and sauce from scratch (flour, water, canned tomatoes) before the guy gets back with the takeout just to prove the point to the kids. The only exception I can think of might be if you're out traveling in certain areas and don't have access to cooking supplies to make the big batches.

Granted, if you're doing all of your takeout "on the way" to places, the added travel time isn't much.  I could see where if you got dinner on the way home from work it might only add a few minutes to your schedule as opposed to if you're leaving home to go get it.  Still, we're talking a savings of MAYBE 3-4 minutes in exchange for an extra $5-10 you're paying (far more than that if you're the type who needs fancier foods). 4 minutes for $5 is $75/hour you get to cook.  3 minutes for $10 saved is $200/hour.

If you're a super high performer in the business world who literally does need that extra 4 minutes a day, paying someone else to cook for you might make sense.  For the other 99.9% of us who have 4 minutes a day to spare, cooking generally makes sense.

kaypinkhardhat

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #14 on: August 01, 2017, 06:55:20 AM »
If someone is the type of person who just can't handle reheated food, and needs everything cooked from scratch and is very particular about their specific meals, then my system won't work. I feel about as much sympathy for that person as I do for someone who just can't handle clothes that aren't made of silk.

Thank you for that chuckle!! 

Another way to look at it, is the amount of money saved and how much time that is worth. Per month, I'm looking at saving ~$550 by cooking at home vs going to restaurants. $550/$27 per hour (average household income) is 20 hours. Which means a person would have to be working an extra ~4.5 hrs per week to pay for the food they are eating out of the house. I don't think I spend 4.5 hrs a week on meal prep and cooking and I tend to pick from scratch semi complex recipes.

Here is another fun fact: On average people are watching 35.5 hrs of TV a week, so spending a fraction of that time cooking/meal prepping would help.

That all being said, the sad truth is that for people with lower incomes, the convenience of take out food is too high. There are many factors that  influence this, but think about a single parent families, working shift work, commuting by bus. Getting to a 9am-9pm grocery store is way more challenging than swinging by fast food place that is open 24/7. Even just on my short commute home, I pass 1 affordable grocery store, but approximately 200 restaurants/take out food places. :(

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2017, 07:24:39 AM »
That all being said, the sad truth is that for people with lower incomes, the convenience of take out food is too high. There are many factors that  influence this, but think about a single parent families, working shift work, commuting by bus. Getting to a 9am-9pm grocery store is way more challenging than swinging by fast food place that is open 24/7. Even just on my short commute home, I pass 1 affordable grocery store, but approximately 200 restaurants/take out food places. :(

This is why I try to spread the gospel of the slow cooker far and wide. I was given a slow cooker as a Christmas gift and I got a cookbook for it from Amazon Kindle for $0 as a promotion. It's so incredibly cheap and easy to use. You just throw in the ingredients and turn it on, go to work for the day, then come home and VOILA! The food is cooked. After dinner, you wipe the inside of the crock and you are done.

It's saved me lots of money, but low income people don't seem to know about it. Gee, I wonder why? Could it have to do with corporations trying to keep knowledge away from people? Hmm, I wonder...

ooeei

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2017, 07:57:52 AM »
That all being said, the sad truth is that for people with lower incomes, the convenience of take out food is too high. There are many factors that  influence this, but think about a single parent families, working shift work, commuting by bus. Getting to a 9am-9pm grocery store is way more challenging than swinging by fast food place that is open 24/7. Even just on my short commute home, I pass 1 affordable grocery store, but approximately 200 restaurants/take out food places. :(

This is true, if I was to magically get a low income job tomorrow I'd have no problem cooking because I've had lots of practice. For someone who's on the razor edge with their money, and may not have the energy, time, or patience to learn to cook/shop, it's a vicious cycle. There's also the fact that their kids may be having a rough time, and they don't want to force them to also eat shitty "haven't learned to cook yet" food for the month or two it takes to learn.

Grocery store availability is also a big deal, and would be a big factor in where I decide to live, but everyone doesn't have that luxury.

This is why I try to spread the gospel of the slow cooker far and wide. I was given a slow cooker as a Christmas gift and I got a cookbook for it from Amazon Kindle for $0 as a promotion. It's so incredibly cheap and easy to use. You just throw in the ingredients and turn it on, go to work for the day, then come home and VOILA! The food is cooked. After dinner, you wipe the inside of the crock and you are done.

It's saved me lots of money, but low income people don't seem to know about it. Gee, I wonder why? Could it have to do with corporations trying to keep knowledge away from people? Hmm, I wonder...

I think it's more because they have other things they're doing with their time. Remember slow cookers are made by companies, it's apparently not worth it to them to advertise big in low income places.

I will say I don't get the love for slow cookers. Everything always turns the same mushy texture, and while the food that comes out of it is edible it's never been anything all that great to me. I can see the appeal for a few dishes (stew and chili I guess), but if I was constantly eating slow cooker food I think I'd go crazy.  Chicken in one is always overcooked, and veggies all turn into the same flavored mush.  Shredded beef or pork works, but I've never had an issue just doing that on a weekend on the stove and then freezing servings of it.  I'd way prefer regular cooked food frozen for re-heating than "fresh" slow cooker food every day.

Granted, slow cookers have a super easy learning curve, and are dead simple.  I think espousing them as the "cure all" for someone to cook at home is a bit of a reach though. A week of slow cooker food and I'd be willing to pay anything for some takeout.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2017, 07:58:44 AM »
That all being said, the sad truth is that for people with lower incomes, the convenience of take out food is too high. There are many factors that  influence this, but think about a single parent families, working shift work, commuting by bus. Getting to a 9am-9pm grocery store is way more challenging than swinging by fast food place that is open 24/7. Even just on my short commute home, I pass 1 affordable grocery store, but approximately 200 restaurants/take out food places. :(

This is why I try to spread the gospel of the slow cooker far and wide. I was given a slow cooker as a Christmas gift and I got a cookbook for it from Amazon Kindle for $0 as a promotion. It's so incredibly cheap and easy to use. You just throw in the ingredients and turn it on, go to work for the day, then come home and VOILA! The food is cooked. After dinner, you wipe the inside of the crock and you are done.

It's saved me lots of money, but low income people don't seem to know about it. Gee, I wonder why? Could it have to do with corporations trying to keep knowledge away from people? Hmm, I wonder...

Giving you a slow-cooker "amen" and "hallelujah". PREACH that gospel.
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TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2017, 08:21:50 AM »
That all being said, the sad truth is that for people with lower incomes, the convenience of take out food is too high. There are many factors that  influence this, but think about a single parent families, working shift work, commuting by bus. Getting to a 9am-9pm grocery store is way more challenging than swinging by fast food place that is open 24/7. Even just on my short commute home, I pass 1 affordable grocery store, but approximately 200 restaurants/take out food places. :(

This is true, if I was to magically get a low income job tomorrow I'd have no problem cooking because I've had lots of practice. For someone who's on the razor edge with their money, and may not have the energy, time, or patience to learn to cook/shop, it's a vicious cycle. There's also the fact that their kids may be having a rough time, and they don't want to force them to also eat shitty "haven't learned to cook yet" food for the month or two it takes to learn.

Grocery store availability is also a big deal, and would be a big factor in where I decide to live, but everyone doesn't have that luxury.

This is why I try to spread the gospel of the slow cooker far and wide. I was given a slow cooker as a Christmas gift and I got a cookbook for it from Amazon Kindle for $0 as a promotion. It's so incredibly cheap and easy to use. You just throw in the ingredients and turn it on, go to work for the day, then come home and VOILA! The food is cooked. After dinner, you wipe the inside of the crock and you are done.

It's saved me lots of money, but low income people don't seem to know about it. Gee, I wonder why? Could it have to do with corporations trying to keep knowledge away from people? Hmm, I wonder...

I think it's more because they have other things they're doing with their time. Remember slow cookers are made by companies, it's apparently not worth it to them to advertise big in low income places.

I will say I don't get the love for slow cookers. Everything always turns the same mushy texture, and while the food that comes out of it is edible it's never been anything all that great to me. I can see the appeal for a few dishes (stew and chili I guess), but if I was constantly eating slow cooker food I think I'd go crazy.  Chicken in one is always overcooked, and veggies all turn into the same flavored mush.  Shredded beef or pork works, but I've never had an issue just doing that on a weekend on the stove and then freezing servings of it.  I'd way prefer regular cooked food frozen for re-heating than "fresh" slow cooker food every day.

Granted, slow cookers have a super easy learning curve, and are dead simple.  I think espousing them as the "cure all" for someone to cook at home is a bit of a reach though. A week of slow cooker food and I'd be willing to pay anything for some takeout.

You're cooking the vegetables too long and probably selecting the wrong kind of vegetables. Also, the hot setting is only for reheating.


Try this:

Grim's Ex-Girlfriend's Chicken Recipe

4-6 chicken breasts (can be frozen)
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 jar salsa
Any leftover frozen chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions especially if there's not quite enough salsa

Dump all of this it in a slow cooker. Cover it with enough water to completely submerge the meat. Cook it on *low* heat while you're at work. Return to delicious chicken that is fully marinated and so tender it comes apart with two forks. Serve it in burrito shells, with tacos, on rice, or however.


Grim's Pinto Beans

1 lb pinto beans, washed
1/2 lb cubed ham
1 onion, chopped coarsely (for stealth vegetables)
2 cups coarsely chopped celery (same logic)

This recipe can be easily doubled.

Throw it all in the crockpot. Stir. Add water to at least triple the volume of the beans. Cook it low and slow. Go to work, come back, eat. Leftovers can be reheated or else mashed and refried in a pan for bean burritos.


Grim's Brisket

1 beef brisket, rinsed with the most obvious fat cut off
1 onion, chopped
Seasoning salt or smoke flavor (optional: to taste)
3 cups beef bouillon (approximately)
Barbecue sauce

Toss everything into the slow cooker except the barbecue sauce. Add enough water to cover the meat by about 1 inch. Cook it low and slow, go to work, come back. Fish the meat out of the water, scrape off any excess fat, shred it with forks, douse it in the barbecue sauce.


Yogurt

Pour 1/2 gallon whole milk into the crock pot. Cook it on low heat for 2 1/2 hours while you make a grocery or hardware store run. Then turn off the slow cooker and let it sit another 3 hours while you do something else. The result will be yogurt. If you want to get really fancy, strain the yogurt through cheesecloth and the result will be Greek yogurt with whey.
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kaypinkhardhat

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2017, 08:39:37 AM »
Yogurt

Pour 1/2 gallon whole milk into the crock pot. Cook it on low heat for 2 1/2 hours while you make a grocery or hardware store run. Then turn off the slow cooker and let it sit another 3 hours while you do something else. The result will be yogurt. If you want to get really fancy, strain the yogurt through cheesecloth and the result will be Greek yogurt with whey.

This may have just changed my life. I'm now going to try this, and then make homemade frozen yogurt! Thank you kindly!

ooeei

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2017, 08:49:04 AM »
You're cooking the vegetables too long and probably selecting the wrong kind of vegetables. Also, the hot setting is only for reheating.

Yeah, but the whole point is that you just dump everything in.  If I'm having to time certain vegetables it gets rid of most of the convenience factor for me.  In any case, this is more a stew issue, and I can only handle so much stew.

Quote
Try this:

Grim's Ex-Girlfriend's Chicken Recipe

4-6 chicken breasts (can be frozen)
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 jar salsa
Any leftover frozen chopped tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions especially if there's not quite enough salsa

Dump all of this it in a slow cooker. Cover it with enough water to completely submerge the meat. Cook it on *low* heat while you're at work. Return to delicious chicken that is fully marinated and so tender it comes apart with two forks. Serve it in burrito shells, with tacos, on rice, or however.

Blah, I've done the chicken thing in a slow cooker.  I get that it will come apart with two forks, but it will be super dry.  Yeah it'll have sauce and the overall bite won't be dry, but the chicken will be.  I don't know if that really explains it.

Chicken exudes a ton of its internal moisture once it clears about 155F, leaving it in a slow cooker it's going to go WAY beyond that.  Like I said, edible but overcooked. Thighs or drumsticks would fare better, but still I'd rather just roast or pan fry them. My go to is spatchcocking and roasting two whole chickens at once.  Shred them up and add whatever flavorings you want (tacos included).  It won't be dried out, and is dead simple.  Bonus is you have a leftover carcass for homemade chicken stock.

Quote
Grim's Pinto Beans

1 lb pinto beans, washed
1/2 lb cubed ham
1 onion, chopped coarsely (for stealth vegetables)
2 cups coarsely chopped celery (same logic)

This recipe can be easily doubled.

Throw it all in the crockpot. Stir. Add water to at least triple the volume of the beans. Cook it low and slow. Go to work, come back, eat. Leftovers can be reheated or else mashed and refried in a pan for bean burritos.

This is a good one, I do make beans occasionally.  I do either the pressure cooker or just the stovetop though.  They're so easy to reheat I just do it on the weekend, I see no reason to use the slow cooker. You can brown the ham/bacon in a pot, and cook onions down in the grease, then leave it with the beans to simmer awhile.  That'll give you much better flavor than just dumping everything in, and takes only marginally longer.

Granted you could brown the ham/bacon, then cook down onions, then transfer to the slow cooker, but that's not really much of a convenience over just simmering on the stove.  If you soak the beans overnight before cooking they only take around 4 hours (depending on the variety) to tenderize.

Quote
Grim's Brisket

1 beef brisket, rinsed with the most obvious fat cut off
1 onion, chopped
Seasoning salt or smoke flavor (optional: to taste)
3 cups beef bouillon (approximately)
Barbecue sauce

Toss everything into the slow cooker except the barbecue sauce. Add enough water to cover the meat by about 1 inch. Cook it low and slow, go to work, come back. Fish the meat out of the water, scrape off any excess fat, shred it with forks, douse it in the barbecue sauce.

If I'm doing brisket I'm putting it on the smoker.  It's a ton of work, but boy is it worth it (and lots of leftovers).

Quote
Yogurt

Pour 1/2 gallon whole milk into the crock pot. Cook it on low heat for 2 1/2 hours while you make a grocery or hardware store run. Then turn off the slow cooker and let it sit another 3 hours while you do something else. The result will be yogurt. If you want to get really fancy, strain the yogurt through cheesecloth and the result will be Greek yogurt with whey.

Yogurt is such a low part of our budget this doesn't seem worth it.  Might be good for someone who eats a ton of it.

I don't mean to rain on your parade (although I totally did), but to me a slow cooker doesn't really do anything better than other cooking methods. You sacrifice flavor, texture, or something for that convenience, and in many cases if you plan right it isn't even much more convenient. It's really limited in what you can do with it, and generally there are better ways to make anything you put in there. I'd way rather spend a bit more time and make giant batches other ways and freeze the leftovers. 

It really depends on your cooking style and what's valuable to you.  A pot that only has one temperature isn't particularly useful to me.  The only thing I've used it for lately is rendering fat I trim off of my briskets before smoking, it's great at that. Not so hot that it scorches easily, but hot enough to render it out.  I go in and snip the trimmings with kitchen shears or smash with a spoon once in awhile to mix it all up.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 08:51:02 AM by ooeei »

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2017, 09:10:44 AM »

Blah, I've done the chicken thing in a slow cooker.  I get that it will come apart with two forks, but it will be super dry.  Yeah it'll have sauce and the overall bite won't be dry, but the chicken will be.  I don't know if that really explains it.

You're not using enough water. The chicken should be moist and tender, and if it's not then either the heat was too high or there was too little liquid. Slow cooker recipes take about twice as much liquid as people think. It's wildly unsuited for things that must be cooked hot and fast (fish comes to mind) but during the summer I particularly appreciate not heating up the house.

Quote
I don't mean to rain on your parade (although I totally did), but to me a slow cooker doesn't really do anything better than other cooking methods. You sacrifice flavor, texture, or something for that convenience, and in many cases if you plan right it isn't even much more convenient. It's really limited in what you can do with it, and generally there are better ways to make anything you put in there. I'd way rather spend a bit more time and make giant batches other ways and freeze the leftovers. 

It really depends on your cooking style and what's valuable to you.  A pot that only has one temperature isn't particularly useful to me.  The only thing I've used it for lately is rendering fat I trim off of my briskets before smoking, it's great at that. Not so hot that it scorches easily, but hot enough to render it out.  I go in and snip the trimmings with kitchen shears or smash with a spoon once in awhile to mix it all up.

There are actually three heat settings on a slow cooker, not one. But I think we're digressing, and rather than derail the thread I believe I owe you an apology. I thought you'd be open to tips about how to use the appliance differently to get results besides the rather unsatisfying ones you've been getting; I was wrong. It sounds to me you've got other cooking techniques you use far more effectively and the results do sound tasty. Investing the time and effort to practice with the slow cooker may not give you an immediate "bang for the buck".
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jezebel

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2017, 09:37:10 AM »
The slow cooker is fantastic for people who don't have time/want to spend time in the kitchen on the weekends and like a hot meal to come home to at the end of a work day.  I have two small children and I don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen or at the stove by choice and/or necessity. 

We typically do a pork shoulder or whole chicken, but I need to need to throw together a bunch of frozen meals for the chest freezer for more regular use.

ooeei

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2017, 09:44:52 AM »
You're not using enough water. The chicken should be moist and tender, and if it's not then either the heat was too high or there was too little liquid. Slow cooker recipes take about twice as much liquid as people think. It's wildly unsuited for things that must be cooked hot and fast (fish comes to mind) but during the summer I particularly appreciate not heating up the house.

It's not about quantity of water, it's about the temperature the chicken reaches.  You can boil a tiny chicken breast in a swimming pool sized vat and it will still turn out dry if it goes over about 160F, preferably it should be more like 150-155F. You can then drown that overcooked chicken in as much sauce as you want, but it will still be dry (even if it looks and seems like it should be wet/moist). Think of it like smothering a well done steak in ketchup.  Even though it's covered in a wet sauce, the meat is still dry. 

If you happen to have a slow cooker that cooks at 155 or so, then you're basically in sous vide territory.  The "keep warm" setting might be that low on some models.  Chicken breast is especially susceptible because it doesn't have the same quantity of connective tissue the darker cuts do to keep it moist. The darker cuts actually do better at higher temperatures, you might want to give them a try and see how it works out in your recipe.

Basically chicken breast is comparable to a sirloin, chicken thighs are more like brisket.

Also just to clarify, I've eaten plenty of overcooked chicken and it's not horrible.  I just much prefer hitting the right temperatures, because the result is better in my opinion.  It's like the difference between a well done and medium rare steak. I've eaten plenty of well dones in my life, but if given the choice I won't make them that way.

Quote
There are actually three heat settings on a slow cooker, not one. But I think we're digressing, and rather than derail the thread I believe I owe you an apology. I thought you'd be open to tips about how to use the appliance differently to get results besides the rather unsatisfying ones you've been getting; I was wrong. It sounds to me you've got other cooking techniques you use far more effectively and the results do sound tasty. Investing the time and effort to practice with the slow cooker may not give you an immediate "bang for the buck".

That's true there are three settings, it doesn't really change the utility for me though.  Of course no apology is necessary, I do sincerely appreciate the effort, and hopefully some 3rd party observer is making use of your recipe recommendations.

I like cooking, so a little extra effort for better (in my opinion) results is worth it to me, especially in big batches.  An extra 10 minutes of effort for something I'm making 10-20 servings of is worthwhile if it improves the final product, that's less than a minute per serving.  If I were cooking from scratch every day my math would change, but for now I'm happy where I am.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 09:47:09 AM by ooeei »

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2017, 10:48:31 AM »
It's not about quantity of water, it's about the temperature the chicken reaches.  You can boil a tiny chicken breast in a swimming pool sized vat and it will still turn out dry if it goes over about 160F, preferably it should be more like 150-155F.

Which is why I put in an amount of water that won't get beyond 160F in the amount of time I leave it cooking.

Getting the timing, volume, and temperature right is definitely a balancing act based on ingredient selection. For chicken, I prefer to start with it frozen if I'm going to be away at work all day just to avoid the problem you described. It was a trial and error process for me. During the "error" phase I admit I made some mediocre food. It's easy *now* because I've got the balance right.

I agree that searing and pan frying some of the ingredients helps improve flavor and texture. I like to do that with ham or kielbasa before throwing it in with cabbage, onion, and sauerkraut (current crockpot contents). When I make Brazilian feijoada, for example, I do pan fry the bacon, onions, and sausage before putting them in to cook using whatever method. For that dish, though, I'm usually cooking for a few dozen and last time it was 100. The crockpot wasn't big enough and I had to use my biggest canner. Also there's so much cutting and slicing that the feijoada can't be considered fast or easy.
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mm1970

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #25 on: August 01, 2017, 10:50:09 AM »
It doesn't surprise me a bit.

Earlier this year while school was still in session, one of my daughter's friends was working 25 hours a week at minimum wage while still going to high school. She definitely had bills to pay related to some minor luxuries like her cell phone, but more than two-thirds of her after-tax income went for the daily Starbuck's plus breakfast, lunch, and dinner out. Most of the time it was drive-through because she was too rushed and exhausted to pack a lunch and cook.

I told her that if she cut all the junk food out, I mean went completely cold turkey, she could get by working just two evenings a week and have the rest of her time free. Or, if that sounded too extreme and she wanted a more middle-of-the-road approach, she had the option of eating cereal at home, packing a lunch for school, and working only three evenings a week or perhaps a Saturday. The poor kid looked like I'd hit her in the back of the head with a board. Consuming less in order to have to work less never crossed her mind.
It doesn't surprise me either.

I just got back from a week of vacation in Colorado.  We were not able to find reasonably priced Air-BNBs, so we were in 2 hotels in 2 different cities.
- We got free breakfast at the hotel every morning.
- We had a mini-fridge in one hotel, and an efficiency kitchen at the other (Residence Inn), so we had fruit, veg, and sandwich makings.
- We ate out 1 meal/ day  or less.

- So meals out: 1. takeout pizza dinner.  2.  food truck Middle eastern sit-down lunch.  3.  Dinner out tacos/ burgers (only thing cheaper was the pizza)  4.  Dinner out pizza with friends.  5.  Very late lunch at a bistro.  6.  Ice cream.  7.  Burgers on the drive home from the airport

- Meals in: lunches: 6.  Dinners: 4  (there were 2 days we didn't eat out at all, had sandwiches for lunch and met our child-free friends at a park for a potluck so the kids could play).

So: 8 days. 6.5 meals out (ice cream is more of a snack), 10 meals "in" (groceries) and 7 meals free (breakfast)

Cost for 6.5 meals out: $292 = $45 each
Cost for 10 meals in: $100 = $10 each

That's more than 4x the cost to eat out than to eat something in the hotel room.  It doesn't take very many meals out for the cost of eating out to surpass the cost of groceries.

Total cost for the week for food: $400

Edited to add: this is for 2 adults, and two boys - aged 11 and 5
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 11:15:39 AM by mm1970 »

mm1970

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #26 on: August 01, 2017, 10:59:26 AM »
A lot of people get takeout food thinking it's going to save them a whole lot of time. The reality is that the time saved is almost nothing (if it exists at all), while the cost of the food doubles or more. I really think the reason for this kind of thinking is people's exposure to advertising. We are psychologically manipulated into going against our own well-being.

I'd love to see the math on how cooking at home takes less time than grabbing a take out meal.

Not only do you have to buy, put away, and store the ingredients.  You have to clean and prepare them prior to cooking.

Then you have to cook them.

As we are both working professionals, we get take out frequently during the week (we cook on the weekends). 

For the life of me, I can't see how buying and preparing the ingredients for, and cooking up, something like Pad Thai would take the same amount of time as if my wife ordered it online just before leaving the office, then picked it up curbside on the way home (maybe 5 minutes of effort, including the time online).

You can argue that home cooking is cheaper and healthier, yes.  If you are a heck of a cook (most people aren't), it might even taste better.

But faster?  Not a chance.  It's not even close.  Even for a simple meal, cooking at home takes significantly more time.  And for anything more complex than a cheeseburger, the time difference becomes quite large.

It is definitely faster, but it depends on your parameters.  With practice, you can get a meal on the table in 30 minutes.  Yes, you have to buy and put away the ingredients, but we are assuming here that you have gained the experienced, know how to cook, and keep a stocked fridge and pantry.  If you don't, then yeah, it's going to be harder.

Second, parameters:
- if you are in the habit of calling before you leave work and picking up on the way home, it can be as short as 15-20 minutes.  I am figuring you have to get out of the car and go get the food.
- if you have to go out of your way to the restaurant?  Not faster.
- if you go home, are exhausted, have to argue about where to go?  Not faster.

- type of food.  Some food is going to take longer to make.  No, you aren't likely to make Pad Thai all that fast, but I can make a Thai chicken curry and rice in 30 minutes.  If I want Pad Thai, or something more labor intensive, I do it on the weekend.

With practice (I didn't learn to cook until I was 32, having gotten fat on takeout and my husband's cooking), I can now say that my food is better than what I can get when I eat out.  I've slipped a bit (that second kid certainly has streamlined my mid-week cooking to very simple things).

Finally, it comes down to variety, maybe a little bit of hedonistic adaptation.  I love food.  I love different kinds of food.  Growing up, I ate "American" food.  I mean, you can eat very easy, very simple meals mid-week that can be done quickly.  But you don't want to.  You want chicken tikka masala, burritos, Pad Thai, sushi.  Because we have access to all these cuisines and all these flavors and eating simple food is "boring".  Beans & rice.  A simple stir-fry.  Pasta with sauce.  Grilled salmon and a steamed vegetable.  None of these take a lot of time. 

I mean, I get it.  I get bored too.  Certainly my kids get bored and want more exciting fare from time to time (they are happy with pizza and Mexican though).

Gondolin

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #27 on: August 01, 2017, 11:05:00 AM »
Quote
That's more than 4x the cost to eat out than to eat something in the hotel room.  It doesn't take very many meals out for the cost of eating out to surpass the cost of groceries

You beat me to this point! I'm interested if there's data on the percentage of meals eaten out vs. In. I find that I spend roughly equal amounts in groceries vs. eating out despite eating ~80-85% of meals homemade.
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ooeei

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2017, 11:11:36 AM »
Which is why I put in an amount of water that won't get beyond 160F in the amount of time I leave it cooking.

Getting the timing, volume, and temperature right is definitely a balancing act based on ingredient selection. For chicken, I prefer to start with it frozen if I'm going to be away at work all day just to avoid the problem you described. It was a trial and error process for me. During the "error" phase I admit I made some mediocre food. It's easy *now* because I've got the balance right.

Now that does make sense. You're the only person I've ever talked to who's used that sort of strategy, granted I don't talk about slow cooking to this degree with most people.  Everyone I know who uses one just tosses everything in, and comes back when they remember it's there.  Chronically overcooked food.

I'd still rather just pan fry or roast my chicken then mix it in with taco stuff, but now I do have more faith that yours is good!

Quote
That's more than 4x the cost to eat out than to eat something in the hotel room.  It doesn't take very many meals out for the cost of eating out to surpass the cost of groceries

You beat me to this point! I'm interested if there's data on the percentage of meals eaten out vs. In. I find that I spend roughly equal amounts in groceries vs. eating out despite eating ~80-85% of meals homemade.

I've found that even as I eat more at home, the out/in cost ratio doesn't decrease at the same rate.  It seems that the less often we go out to eat, the more we want to splurge when we do.  If we eat out daily, burgers from Jack in the Box are reasonable.  If we eat out once or twice a month, we tend to go to nicer places that make stuff we can't make at home.  Dim sum, pho, sushi, Indian, etc.

Right now we're around once or twice a month by ourselves, plus maybe once or twice a month with friends/family.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 11:15:22 AM by ooeei »

Laura33

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2017, 07:06:54 AM »
Finally, it comes down to variety, maybe a little bit of hedonistic adaptation.  I love food.  I love different kinds of food.  Growing up, I ate "American" food.  I mean, you can eat very easy, very simple meals mid-week that can be done quickly.  But you don't want to.  You want chicken tikka masala, burritos, Pad Thai, sushi.  Because we have access to all these cuisines and all these flavors and eating simple food is "boring".

This is my issue, right here, most particularly with DH, but TBH I have learned some bad habits from him.  I do the cooking and he does the cleaning, which is great in theory, but in practice, it is mentally exhausting.  He doesn't like anything slow-cooked; he's not a fan of chicken, pork chops/tenderloin, or most vegetables; he likes variety; and he *hates* leftovers.  Oh, and he prefers low-carb.  Meanwhile, I am trying to eat lighter, so I want more chicken, but I don't eat fish and also struggle with most vegetables.  So to manage a "proper" menu that is both healthy and frugal, and that makes everyone happy, I need to come up with a half-dozen different menus, based on affordable ingredients but minus the starches, where I can re-use the main ingredients in different flavor combinations and different ethnicities, so they don't seem like "leftovers," and where I have some lighter options.  And I need a new set each week, or it's too repetitive and boring; at best, I can rotate each month-ish. 

And it is fucking exhausting (did I mention I also have a full-time job and two kids?).  I am a very good cook -- but I do not have the mental bandwidth to be an excellent cook of all of the different varieties of ethnic food we like; I've gotten very good at Italian, decent at Mexican/New Mexican and some Chinese, passable at limited Thai and Vietnamese recipes, and am out of my element in almost everything else. 

And then there is the time element.  This weekend, I may make DH one of his favorite Italian meals for his birthday (vitello alla tonnato, homemade pasta with lamb ragu, and almond cakes with macerated strawberries).  It is honestly better than I have had in most restaurants (I learned it from a professional chef), but it takes me all fucking day, so I do it once or twice a year.  I also have a freaking awesome potsticker recipe -- but again, it's a giant production for when I have a Sunday free.  Weeknights are limited to much simpler things that don't give us that same "wow" as the fabulous stuff I am capable of making if I have the time/energy to do so.

So we eat out way too much, just to get the variety or quality that I can't reasonably provide at home.  I am working on it (primarily by deciding that DH can suck it up and eat some damn chicken and leftovers, and alternating ethnicities by the week vs. the day).  But I still need to plan on eating out more than I would personally choose, because DH needs to be happy, too, and we have some really delicious options nearby.

Tl;dr:  I think this is an issue at both the lower and upper ends of the spectrum.  We've already talked about time/availability/etc. for people working OT on minimum wage jobs.  But on the UMC side of things, we have been exposed to a huge variety of delicious, high-quality flavors, and we can "afford" to eat out, so it is very, very easy to cook less and eat out more.
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WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2017, 09:44:52 AM »
Finally, it comes down to variety, maybe a little bit of hedonistic adaptation.  I love food.  I love different kinds of food.  Growing up, I ate "American" food.  I mean, you can eat very easy, very simple meals mid-week that can be done quickly.  But you don't want to.  You want chicken tikka masala, burritos, Pad Thai, sushi.  Because we have access to all these cuisines and all these flavors and eating simple food is "boring".

This is my issue, right here, most particularly with DH, but TBH I have learned some bad habits from him.  I do the cooking and he does the cleaning, which is great in theory, but in practice, it is mentally exhausting.  He doesn't like anything slow-cooked; he's not a fan of chicken, pork chops/tenderloin, or most vegetables; he likes variety; and he *hates* leftovers.  Oh, and he prefers low-carb.  Meanwhile, I am trying to eat lighter, so I want more chicken, but I don't eat fish and also struggle with most vegetables.  So to manage a "proper" menu that is both healthy and frugal, and that makes everyone happy, I need to come up with a half-dozen different menus, based on affordable ingredients but minus the starches, where I can re-use the main ingredients in different flavor combinations and different ethnicities, so they don't seem like "leftovers," and where I have some lighter options.  And I need a new set each week, or it's too repetitive and boring; at best, I can rotate each month-ish. 

And it is fucking exhausting (did I mention I also have a full-time job and two kids?).  I am a very good cook -- but I do not have the mental bandwidth to be an excellent cook of all of the different varieties of ethnic food we like; I've gotten very good at Italian, decent at Mexican/New Mexican and some Chinese, passable at limited Thai and Vietnamese recipes, and am out of my element in almost everything else. 

And then there is the time element.  This weekend, I may make DH one of his favorite Italian meals for his birthday (vitello alla tonnato, homemade pasta with lamb ragu, and almond cakes with macerated strawberries).  It is honestly better than I have had in most restaurants (I learned it from a professional chef), but it takes me all fucking day, so I do it once or twice a year.  I also have a freaking awesome potsticker recipe -- but again, it's a giant production for when I have a Sunday free.  Weeknights are limited to much simpler things that don't give us that same "wow" as the fabulous stuff I am capable of making if I have the time/energy to do so.

So we eat out way too much, just to get the variety or quality that I can't reasonably provide at home.  I am working on it (primarily by deciding that DH can suck it up and eat some damn chicken and leftovers, and alternating ethnicities by the week vs. the day).  But I still need to plan on eating out more than I would personally choose, because DH needs to be happy, too, and we have some really delicious options nearby.

Tl;dr:  I think this is an issue at both the lower and upper ends of the spectrum.  We've already talked about time/availability/etc. for people working OT on minimum wage jobs.  But on the UMC side of things, we have been exposed to a huge variety of delicious, high-quality flavors, and we can "afford" to eat out, so it is very, very easy to cook less and eat out more.

I guess due to my impoverished upbringing I've never really had this problem. Other than food allergies, I will accept pretty much any food and I like lots of different things. It's funny how people adapt to easy modern lifestyles of abundance by seeming to create issues for themselves. I'm not trying to be insulting or say anything personal, but much of the world (including many areas of our own country like my old home on Hillbilly Mountain) would love to have our kind of problems.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #31 on: August 02, 2017, 09:51:26 AM »
This thread inspired me to get out the slow cooker for tonight's dinner. I'm making homemade pulled pork.

Here's my recipe:

2 lbs of boneless pork loin
Half a diced onion
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp paprika
8 oz bbq sauce
1/2 cup of water

Throw everything in the crock and cook it on low for 8 hours while you are at work.

Total prep time: Maybe five minutes if you cut the onion slowly.

There really is no legitimate excuse for not cooking meals at home. It's so quick and easy.

mm1970

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #32 on: August 02, 2017, 09:55:59 AM »
Finally, it comes down to variety, maybe a little bit of hedonistic adaptation.  I love food.  I love different kinds of food.  Growing up, I ate "American" food.  I mean, you can eat very easy, very simple meals mid-week that can be done quickly.  But you don't want to.  You want chicken tikka masala, burritos, Pad Thai, sushi.  Because we have access to all these cuisines and all these flavors and eating simple food is "boring".

This is my issue, right here, most particularly with DH, but TBH I have learned some bad habits from him.  I do the cooking and he does the cleaning, which is great in theory, but in practice, it is mentally exhausting.  He doesn't like anything slow-cooked; he's not a fan of chicken, pork chops/tenderloin, or most vegetables; he likes variety; and he *hates* leftovers.  Oh, and he prefers low-carb.  Meanwhile, I am trying to eat lighter, so I want more chicken, but I don't eat fish and also struggle with most vegetables.  So to manage a "proper" menu that is both healthy and frugal, and that makes everyone happy, I need to come up with a half-dozen different menus, based on affordable ingredients but minus the starches, where I can re-use the main ingredients in different flavor combinations and different ethnicities, so they don't seem like "leftovers," and where I have some lighter options.  And I need a new set each week, or it's too repetitive and boring; at best, I can rotate each month-ish. 

And it is fucking exhausting (did I mention I also have a full-time job and two kids?).  I am a very good cook -- but I do not have the mental bandwidth to be an excellent cook of all of the different varieties of ethnic food we like; I've gotten very good at Italian, decent at Mexican/New Mexican and some Chinese, passable at limited Thai and Vietnamese recipes, and am out of my element in almost everything else. 

And then there is the time element.  This weekend, I may make DH one of his favorite Italian meals for his birthday (vitello alla tonnato, homemade pasta with lamb ragu, and almond cakes with macerated strawberries).  It is honestly better than I have had in most restaurants (I learned it from a professional chef), but it takes me all fucking day, so I do it once or twice a year.  I also have a freaking awesome potsticker recipe -- but again, it's a giant production for when I have a Sunday free.  Weeknights are limited to much simpler things that don't give us that same "wow" as the fabulous stuff I am capable of making if I have the time/energy to do so.

So we eat out way too much, just to get the variety or quality that I can't reasonably provide at home.  I am working on it (primarily by deciding that DH can suck it up and eat some damn chicken and leftovers, and alternating ethnicities by the week vs. the day).  But I still need to plan on eating out more than I would personally choose, because DH needs to be happy, too, and we have some really delicious options nearby.

Tl;dr:  I think this is an issue at both the lower and upper ends of the spectrum.  We've already talked about time/availability/etc. for people working OT on minimum wage jobs.  But on the UMC side of things, we have been exposed to a huge variety of delicious, high-quality flavors, and we can "afford" to eat out, so it is very, very easy to cook less and eat out more.

I can relate SO MUCH to all of this!  I am the primary cook also, and it is mentally exhausting.  Especially to get variety, eat frugally, and eat healthfully.  OH and a full time job, two kids at two different schools (until August, whee! One year same school!)  And baseball, and swimming, and music, and ...

- We have a produce delivery, so step #1 is to figure out what to make with it each week, and make sure to use the stuff that will go bad FIRST
- To cook frugally, I've been increasing the pasta dishes and baking bread dishes - BUT -
- I personally try to eat "lower carb" (2 servings a day)
- AND I've been having an issue with bloating.  So I've been running a lot this year, eating more carbs (esp bread and pasta).  So now I'm testing giving up wheat to see if it will help things.  It seems to be helping a bit.  But my hubby and kids love pasta and bread.  One pot pasta is a real hit in our house, so I have to figure out "something else" to eat on those days.

At least hubby and kids are pretty much good with most vegetables. 

Before kid #2 I was cooking a lot more elaborate things, with a lot more variety.  I still dig through my blog from years past to get the occasional idea.  But it's really exhausting to do that.  So if I feel like Indian, it's curry lentils and rice, roast cauliflower, and storebought naan for the boys.  If it's Thai, it's red chicken curry with vegetables, even though I love Pad Thai, it's too much work.  Mexican is easy (tacos, quesadillas, beans and rice.)  For Italian, I'll occasionally go crazy with a risotto (pressure cooker), but usually just eat Polenta with red sauce on top.  Chinese is also easy.  I've got a couple of good Middle Eastern recipes.  With the crazy schedule, I'm down to: carb, protein, veg.  Sometimes they go together, sometimes not.  I know some people get "bored" with this.  But whatever.

I stopped eating out (mostly) years ago when I got fat.  I realized a couple of years ago that my husband's desire and kids' desires to eat out (and ability to do so), far surpasses mine.  So, I do things like:
- Have my husband go out to lunch with friends - i.e., if there's no easy thing to pack for his lunch, I tell him to go out.
- Have hubby and kids go out a couple of times a month on the weekends as a treat for the kids and him.
- On vacation this month, they got takeout pizza, and I ate cheese and veggies, rice crackers and hummus.

libertarian4321

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #33 on: August 02, 2017, 11:06:58 AM »

Most of the time involved in getting takeout meals involves ordering, going to the place, waiting around for your order, going home with your food (or going home after consuming your food), etc.

I want to tell y'all about something new and wonderful I just found out about.

It's called the internet.

Many restaurants will allow you to order online, and have the food ready to go at a specified time.

So you order from a place that's on your way home from work.

Takes next to no time at all. 

If, as one person said, your idea of a "meal" is slapping cream cheese on a bagel, you can maybe do it faster at home.  But for most meals complex than a bologna sandwich, even if you prep enough in advance to feed the 82nd Airborne Division and freeze it, it's going to take more time than ordering online and picking up the food on your way home at a drive through window.

You've still got to buy the ingredients (something most folks seem to be ignoring in their "prep" time- those stew ingredients didn't magically appear in your house), you've got to clean them, cut them, cook them.  If you are making enough for an Army and freezing it, you have to portion it out, put it in containers, freeze it.  Then unthaw it and reheat it and plate it. 

So I think you are deluding yourself if you think it's "faster" to cook at home.

jezebel

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #34 on: August 02, 2017, 11:29:06 AM »

Most of the time involved in getting takeout meals involves ordering, going to the place, waiting around for your order, going home with your food (or going home after consuming your food), etc.

I want to tell y'all about something new and wonderful I just found out about.

It's called the internet.

Many restaurants will allow you to order online, and have the food ready to go at a specified time.

So you order from a place that's on your way home from work.

Takes next to no time at all. 

If, as one person said, your idea of a "meal" is slapping cream cheese on a bagel, you can maybe do it faster at home.  But for most meals complex than a bologna sandwich, even if you prep enough in advance to feed the 82nd Airborne Division and freeze it, it's going to take more time than ordering online and picking up the food on your way home at a drive through window.

You've still got to buy the ingredients (something most folks seem to be ignoring in their "prep" time- those stew ingredients didn't magically appear in your house), you've got to clean them, cut them, cook them.  If you are making enough for an Army and freezing it, you have to portion it out, put it in containers, freeze it.  Then unthaw it and reheat it and plate it. 

So I think you are deluding yourself if you think it's "faster" to cook at home.

By and large, it is at least as fast to cook or thaw basic or frozen meals at home as it is to drive to the location to pick up the food.  And it is much more convenient to cook at home in the sense that I can do several other things at the same time - like start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, let the dog out, and supervise my children, who still need time to play, do homework, practice an instrument, etc.  So in that sense, it is "faster" because it doesn't subtract more time from my evening.  If we are solely talking about internet ordering on the way home from work, I'm sure it is faster under the right circumstances.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #35 on: August 02, 2017, 11:41:40 AM »

Most of the time involved in getting takeout meals involves ordering, going to the place, waiting around for your order, going home with your food (or going home after consuming your food), etc.

I want to tell y'all about something new and wonderful I just found out about.

It's called the internet.

Many restaurants will allow you to order online, and have the food ready to go at a specified time.

So you order from a place that's on your way home from work.

Takes next to no time at all. 

If, as one person said, your idea of a "meal" is slapping cream cheese on a bagel, you can maybe do it faster at home.  But for most meals complex than a bologna sandwich, even if you prep enough in advance to feed the 82nd Airborne Division and freeze it, it's going to take more time than ordering online and picking up the food on your way home at a drive through window.

You've still got to buy the ingredients (something most folks seem to be ignoring in their "prep" time- those stew ingredients didn't magically appear in your house), you've got to clean them, cut them, cook them.  If you are making enough for an Army and freezing it, you have to portion it out, put it in containers, freeze it.  Then unthaw it and reheat it and plate it. 

So I think you are deluding yourself if you think it's "faster" to cook at home.

I frequently don't read all the posts on threads too. I'm guessing that's why you missed the post I had two posts above where I demonstrated how it's going to take me five minutes to make dinner tonight.

cats

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2017, 11:52:15 AM »

Most of the time involved in getting takeout meals involves ordering, going to the place, waiting around for your order, going home with your food (or going home after consuming your food), etc.

I want to tell y'all about something new and wonderful I just found out about.

It's called the internet.

Many restaurants will allow you to order online, and have the food ready to go at a specified time.

So you order from a place that's on your way home from work.

Takes next to no time at all. 

If, as one person said, your idea of a "meal" is slapping cream cheese on a bagel, you can maybe do it faster at home.  But for most meals complex than a bologna sandwich, even if you prep enough in advance to feed the 82nd Airborne Division and freeze it, it's going to take more time than ordering online and picking up the food on your way home at a drive through window.

You've still got to buy the ingredients (something most folks seem to be ignoring in their "prep" time- those stew ingredients didn't magically appear in your house), you've got to clean them, cut them, cook them.  If you are making enough for an Army and freezing it, you have to portion it out, put it in containers, freeze it.  Then unthaw it and reheat it and plate it. 

So I think you are deluding yourself if you think it's "faster" to cook at home.

By and large, it is at least as fast to cook or thaw basic or frozen meals at home as it is to drive to the location to pick up the food.  And it is much more convenient to cook at home in the sense that I can do several other things at the same time - like start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher, let the dog out, and supervise my children, who still need time to play, do homework, practice an instrument, etc.  So in that sense, it is "faster" because it doesn't subtract more time from my evening.  If we are solely talking about internet ordering on the way home from work, I'm sure it is faster under the right circumstances.

I think also if you have the time/foresight to place an order online so it will be ready for pickup...you have the time to engage in *some* level of meal planning and prep.

If you grocery shop at all (you mention cooking on the weekends...) it's not that much extra time/effort to pick up some additional items while you are at the grocery store.

Yes, chopping vegetables is time-consuming, our solution has been to do a weekly meal prep session and buy a food processor with slicing and grating attachments.  My husband did ALL the chopping required for a week's worth of vegetables in <1 hr.  We will roast several pans of vegetables at the same time, cook some beans and/or rice in the pressure cooker, and prepare some kind of protein (pressure cooker chicken curry, seitan, etc) on the same day, and then have the basis for loads of meals during the week.

We do make use of things like casseroles, soups, stews, and chili where you can make a big batch of food at once, but we don't eat those *every* night.  We alternate between those and things that are super quick to cook, like an omelet and side salad, or stirfry (fast if the veg are already chopped and you cooked a big batch of rice on the weekend so you just need to heat up).

For me, picking up food on the way home would be a PITA because all the restaurants near my office close down between 3 and 5PM, and I don't pass any decent takeout options on my way home from the train stop.  So I'd have to go out of my way to pick up takeout.

Also, while people complain that home cooking = lack of variety compared to eating out, I see so many co-workers basically getting the same damn thing for lunch every day when they do eat out, or rotating between the same 3 places.  That's not really any more variety than I'm getting with my rotation of lunches from home.  And while *some* restaurant food is amazing and better than anything I could make at home, the majority of what is available for a quick takeout option is loaded with fat and sugar, or if it's healthy it's blander and not any more interesting than most of what I bring from home.

FWIW, we are also a household of 2 working professionals, with an 18-month old.  If you are committed to eating healthy and keeping the costs down, home cooking is worth prioritizing.  Once you get in the habit and figure out a process that works for you, eating out (and even picking up takeout) starts to seem like a hassle.

mm1970

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #37 on: August 02, 2017, 12:14:28 PM »

Most of the time involved in getting takeout meals involves ordering, going to the place, waiting around for your order, going home with your food (or going home after consuming your food), etc.

I want to tell y'all about something new and wonderful I just found out about.

It's called the internet.

Many restaurants will allow you to order online, and have the food ready to go at a specified time.

So you order from a place that's on your way home from work.

Takes next to no time at all. 

If, as one person said, your idea of a "meal" is slapping cream cheese on a bagel, you can maybe do it faster at home.  But for most meals complex than a bologna sandwich, even if you prep enough in advance to feed the 82nd Airborne Division and freeze it, it's going to take more time than ordering online and picking up the food on your way home at a drive through window.

You've still got to buy the ingredients (something most folks seem to be ignoring in their "prep" time- those stew ingredients didn't magically appear in your house), you've got to clean them, cut them, cook them.  If you are making enough for an Army and freezing it, you have to portion it out, put it in containers, freeze it.  Then unthaw it and reheat it and plate it. 

So I think you are deluding yourself if you think it's "faster" to cook at home.

As I pointed out upthread, the speed depends a lot on where you live, what you like to eat, etc.  If you are literally ordering by phone or internet, and picking up at a place on the way home, you *may* be saving time. 

However -
- if you don't live/ work near places where you can get takeout, that changes things.  You have to go out of your way.
- if you have to exit the freeway, and drive 4 blocks in traffic to get your takeout, then get back on the freeway, that changes things
- if you pick food up at a place with no parking... then you gotta search for parking first, get out, get food, etc.

Also, if you are grocery shopping *at all*, it's not hard to buy extra to fill the rest of the week.
If you are willing / able to "take help from the store" (like Rachael Ray used to say), there's not a lot of prep.  (Buy already chopped and bagged broccoli, or frozen items.)

The big aha moment for me happened, I admit it, after having kids.  It's a complete PITA to eat out with kids.  It's MUCH more time-saving to eat at home EVEN with takeout.  Any takeout place in my town requires leaving the freeway and going a few blocks off, and getting out of the car (with two kids), going to get the food (with two kids), strapping the little one BACK into the carseat...

WAY easier to throw some rice in the rice cooker when I get home and make a fast red lentil curry.  Or if I'm REALLY not feeling it "hey hon, we are almost out of milk, so stop at Costco on the way home and pick up a roasted chicken while you are at it."  Plus, there's nothing wrong with cooking interesting food on the weekend and subsisting on veggies and grilled cheese, quesadillas, pasta, or beans and rice mid-week.

Of course, the same can be said for other areas, not just food, when you talk about time.  I had this single friend, who would tell me that she didn't have time to grocery shop, cook, or do laundry.  HA HA HA HA HA.  I had a full time job and a kid at the time, and I laughed, because I remembered.  When I was single - I had work, I took classes, I played in volleyball leagues 4-5 days a week.  I played in tournaments on weekends.  After games we'd go out for beer.  I went to movies.  I mean, I remember all that.  I was having FUN, and working long hours, and getting a master's degree.  Who has time for chores?

Laura33

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #38 on: August 02, 2017, 12:25:37 PM »
I guess due to my impoverished upbringing I've never really had this problem. Other than food allergies, I will accept pretty much any food and I like lots of different things. It's funny how people adapt to easy modern lifestyles of abundance by seeming to create issues for themselves. I'm not trying to be insulting or say anything personal, but much of the world (including many areas of our own country like my old home on Hillbilly Mountain) would love to have our kind of problems.

No insult taken at all, and ITA with your conclusion.  In fact, I grew up more like you (and will happily eat the same thing day-in, day-out, as long as it's not fish), but my DH grew up UMC, eating fancy dinners at home (after MIL retired to stay home with kid #2, she went to cooking school to learn French cuisine), and eating out all the time (after they moved to the country club and MIL decided she was done with cooking, period).  I had never even tried Thai or Japanese or many other things until I met him.  And between the temptation of discovering all of these delicious other foods, wanting him to be happy with sufficient quality and variety, having more combined income than I had ever dreamed of, and just flat-out getting lazy, I went over to the dark side, until we were eating out or having takeout/premade 3-4x on the weekends and 2-3x/week. 

It is a massively good problem to have compared to, well, just about all of the other ones out there.  But still bad for health, bad for the budget, and bad for overall happiness -- "lazy" doesn't sit well long-term.  Which, after all, is why I'm here.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

ooeei

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #39 on: August 02, 2017, 01:06:05 PM »

Most of the time involved in getting takeout meals involves ordering, going to the place, waiting around for your order, going home with your food (or going home after consuming your food), etc.

I want to tell y'all about something new and wonderful I just found out about.

It's called the internet.

Many restaurants will allow you to order online, and have the food ready to go at a specified time.

So you order from a place that's on your way home from work.

Takes next to no time at all. 

If, as one person said, your idea of a "meal" is slapping cream cheese on a bagel, you can maybe do it faster at home.  But for most meals complex than a bologna sandwich, even if you prep enough in advance to feed the 82nd Airborne Division and freeze it, it's going to take more time than ordering online and picking up the food on your way home at a drive through window.

You've still got to buy the ingredients (something most folks seem to be ignoring in their "prep" time- those stew ingredients didn't magically appear in your house), you've got to clean them, cut them, cook them.  If you are making enough for an Army and freezing it, you have to portion it out, put it in containers, freeze it.  Then unthaw it and reheat it and plate it. 

So I think you are deluding yourself if you think it's "faster" to cook at home.

The bagel and cream cheese was just an example of my breakfast, and is something plenty of people order at restaurants/coffee places.  I can make scrambled eggs in a couple minutes as well, and wrap them up in a tortilla with some leftover meat and salsa in another minute.

You could make a stir fry with rice from a rice cooker or leftover, some sliced up sausage, and frozen vegetables in about 10 minutes, 8 of which you don't have to be in the same room as the pan (just near enough to not burn the house down). Add an extra 3 minutes and you can have a runny fried egg to go on top.

Around here even if I preorder, there's usually a line waiting for pre-orders, or they don't have everything ready right away.  Even when all goes perfectly with no line, simply turning into the parking lot, going in, paying, coming back out, and getting back on the road adds at least 5 minutes, and that's if I'm rushing. The more realistic situation is going to somewhere a block or two out of the way, waiting in line for a bit, then another few minutes for the food, total time back on the road is around 15 minutes.  If I decide I'm hungry once I've already gotten home for the day, I have to count in travel time too, now we're probably closer to 30 minutes, or roughly the same amount of active time plenty of large batch foods take to make.

But yes, if you never go to the grocery store for anything, and on your way home there is a variety of online savvy restaurants with good food who are punctual, but not all that busy, eating out is definitely faster (but still significantly more expensive, and likely less healthy).


« Last Edit: August 02, 2017, 01:10:57 PM by ooeei »

kaypinkhardhat

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #40 on: August 02, 2017, 01:31:06 PM »
- We have a produce delivery, so step #1 is to figure out what to make with it each week, and make sure to use the stuff that will go bad FIRST


MM 1970, I too have a produce delivery bag, and after not having one for a year due to work travels I find this actually helps me be more creative and yet focused in my meal planning. Our bags come in on Tuesday, but the contents are posted on Monday, so Monday I plan the food, Monday or Tuesday PM is groceries, and then we are trying to do Wednesday meal prep and then a second meal prep if needed on the weekend. This allows us to use the veggie bag quickly.

Previously, we were trying to do all our meal prep on the weekend, so where we were failing was the Friday night dinner, and then weekend lunches, and then being busy on the weekend, and having to get groceries/meal prep, and by then the veggies weren't super fresh. Shifting everything a few days earlier in the week instead of the weekend has really helped us so far, and it means we are eating leftovers on the weekend. We haven't been doing full meal prep, but more so a few "longer items" the night before so the next day we can come home and immediately eat dinner.

Some samples of what we have had to eat the past two weeks.
Veggie "Pad Thai" made with spiralized zucchini and other veggies
Fish tacos with nappa cabbage, fennel, and orange slaw
BBQ Chicken Wings with blueberry and plum bbq sauce (with left over slaw), and corn on the cob
Swiss chard burritos with chili rice, refried beans, tomtillo sauce (can), chiptole peppers with adobe sauce (can), black beans, roasted corn on the cob, homemade pico di gallo
Broccoli, Sweet Potato, Bean Quinoa buddha bowl with sun dried tomatos, balsamic reduction, and goat cheese
Tofu and veg spring rolls, chinese cabbage salad, and dumplings (frozen premade)

All these meals were 2 30 min trips to the grocery store, and approximately 6 hours of cooking/clean up? (2 weeks)

Yes, these meals probably take me longer than going to a restaurant, but the time saved isn't worth the extra restaurant markup for food, when if I wasn't cooking these meals, I would probably just wasting my evening time with another unproductive task. I guess if you are 100% efficient with your time, then you would need to assess if the additional cost is worth your extra free time. By this I mean if I'm saving ~4 hours a week by ordering take out, but it is costing me an extra $100, am I making more than $25 in those "saved" 4 hours (for example)?

Also, the health benefits, with the above meals I get to make sure I'm eating low calorie options and there isn't any hidden sugar. Saves me time (and money) from working out at the gym to burn off the restaurant food!

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #41 on: August 02, 2017, 02:36:39 PM »
I think it's important to also emphasize the negative impact of laziness, which is the primary reason that people don't cook their own food. Laziness costs a lot of money and leads to obesity and all the health problems associated with that. People should avoid laziness at all costs.

hightower

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #42 on: August 02, 2017, 02:46:31 PM »
Great thread!  My wife and I are currently working on cutting down on how much we spend on food.  We have traditionally been the type that eats out WAY too often.  We've begun tracking our monthly spending on food to help us see where the problems are.  For the month of June we spent $2300 on food (how's that for shameful)!  Our biggest problem...eating at restaurants.  Also I buy lunches out too often (chipotle).  So, we're working on a plan to learn to cook good food from home and we've set a limit on how much we can spend on restaurants each month.
We're also learning to shop for food at the grocery in a cheaper way.  We've been guilty of shopping at expensive stores (whole foods) and buying too many expensive pre-made items.  So, I downloaded a cheap and healthy recipe book today and we're going to start learning ( https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf ).  It's so stupid to spend too much on food!  MMM has been a big inspiration for us when we saw how cheaply his family eats.

pachnik

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #43 on: August 02, 2017, 02:52:03 PM »
Great thread!  My wife and I are currently working on cutting down on how much we spend on food.  We have traditionally been the type that eats out WAY too often.  We've begun tracking our monthly spending on food to help us see where the problems are.  For the month of June we spent $2300 on food (how's that for shameful)!  Our biggest problem...eating at restaurants.  Also I buy lunches out too often (chipotle).  So, we're working on a plan to learn to cook good food from home and we've set a limit on how much we can spend on restaurants each month.
We're also learning to shop for food at the grocery in a cheaper way.  We've been guilty of shopping at expensive stores (whole foods) and buying too many expensive pre-made items.  So, I downloaded a cheap and healthy recipe book today and we're going to start learning ( https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf ).  It's so stupid to spend too much on food!  MMM has been a big inspiration for us when we saw how cheaply his family eats.

You might also check out the Budget Bytes website.  Lots of archive on there.  I heard about the site here on MMM.  The instructions are very detailed - good for someone learning to cook. 

hightower

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2017, 02:54:41 PM »
Great thread!  My wife and I are currently working on cutting down on how much we spend on food.  We have traditionally been the type that eats out WAY too often.  We've begun tracking our monthly spending on food to help us see where the problems are.  For the month of June we spent $2300 on food (how's that for shameful)!  Our biggest problem...eating at restaurants.  Also I buy lunches out too often (chipotle).  So, we're working on a plan to learn to cook good food from home and we've set a limit on how much we can spend on restaurants each month.
We're also learning to shop for food at the grocery in a cheaper way.  We've been guilty of shopping at expensive stores (whole foods) and buying too many expensive pre-made items.  So, I downloaded a cheap and healthy recipe book today and we're going to start learning ( https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf ).  It's so stupid to spend too much on food!  MMM has been a big inspiration for us when we saw how cheaply his family eats.

You might also check out the Budget Bytes website.  Lots of archive on there.  I heard about the site here on MMM.  The instructions are very detailed - good for someone learning to cook.

Thanks!  I will look at that

A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #45 on: August 02, 2017, 03:30:26 PM »
I think it's important to also emphasize the negative impact of laziness, which is the primary reason that people don't cook their own food. Laziness costs a lot of money and leads to obesity and all the health problems associated with that. People should avoid laziness at all costs.

Yup, laziness is the killer. There's some benefit to taking the fast food option, but those should be (IMO) rare occasions.

Decent cooking does take some practice, unfortunately. I'd say it took around 4-5 years before I was putting out dishes that weren't often mediocre.

Slow-cookers are a great way to start out. They CAN lead to overcooked meat, but additional liquid can be used to slow down how much it heats up (and those things take a damn long time to heat up). Most people think the liquid itself is ensuring meat moistness, which is wrong, but it has the right effect!

Eventually, gotta move into different cooking techniques....would be nice if everyone knew how to sear properly.

I shouldn't cast stones, though, I totally screwed up my provencal bean recipe that I made batches for this week. :(
Too much ham...TOO MUCH HAM!

faithless

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #46 on: August 02, 2017, 03:47:51 PM »
I second the Budget Bytes recommendation. I love a recipe I found there for crack slaw (it's amazing) and a fake quick Pad Thai which used some of the same ingredients I had to buy.

https://www.budgetbytes.com/2016/08/beef-cabbage-stir-fry/

https://www.budgetbytes.com/2014/12/spicy-pork-pad-thai/

I have got totally bad at scratch cooking since I started a new job and moved house in the same month. Everything is a mess and training is so tiring I'm knackered after work each day, and when we've been busy at the weekends too haven't had the energy/time to meal plan and grocery shop. Need to find some inspiration and get back on the wagon!

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #47 on: August 02, 2017, 06:12:48 PM »
Great thread!  My wife and I are currently working on cutting down on how much we spend on food.  We have traditionally been the type that eats out WAY too often.  We've begun tracking our monthly spending on food to help us see where the problems are.  For the month of June we spent $2300 on food (how's that for shameful)!  Our biggest problem...eating at restaurants.  Also I buy lunches out too often (chipotle).  So, we're working on a plan to learn to cook good food from home and we've set a limit on how much we can spend on restaurants each month.
We're also learning to shop for food at the grocery in a cheaper way.  We've been guilty of shopping at expensive stores (whole foods) and buying too many expensive pre-made items.  So, I downloaded a cheap and healthy recipe book today and we're going to start learning ( https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf ).  It's so stupid to spend too much on food!  MMM has been a big inspiration for us when we saw how cheaply his family eats.

Good for you for getting started on cooking at home. You should keep an eye on Amazon Kindle, because they frequently offer cookbooks for free. That's how I got my slow cooker cookbook and an excellent book of baking recipes.

ooeei

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #48 on: August 03, 2017, 06:42:38 AM »
Great thread!  My wife and I are currently working on cutting down on how much we spend on food.  We have traditionally been the type that eats out WAY too often.  We've begun tracking our monthly spending on food to help us see where the problems are.  For the month of June we spent $2300 on food (how's that for shameful)!  Our biggest problem...eating at restaurants.  Also I buy lunches out too often (chipotle).  So, we're working on a plan to learn to cook good food from home and we've set a limit on how much we can spend on restaurants each month.
We're also learning to shop for food at the grocery in a cheaper way.  We've been guilty of shopping at expensive stores (whole foods) and buying too many expensive pre-made items.  So, I downloaded a cheap and healthy recipe book today and we're going to start learning ( https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf ).  It's so stupid to spend too much on food!  MMM has been a big inspiration for us when we saw how cheaply his family eats.

My main learning to cook recommendation is, cook the same thing multiple times without a huge pause in between.  If you want to learn how to roast a chicken, do it once a week for a few weeks until you get it right. If you only roast a chicken every 2-3 months, you're going to forget what you need to change from the last time and it'll always be meh.  Food Lab has a great tutorial on chicken roasting (and many other things, although a lot of them are way complicated).  Follow the recipe exactly the first time, then change small things if you want to. Bonus points if you make stock out of the bones.  Once you make a really good roast chicken 2-3 times in a row, pick a new thing to become good at. 

Also, don't be afraid of salt and/or butter.  Those restaurants you eat at are loading up with it. If you find your food tasting good but not really great like a restaurant, there's a decent chance it needs more salt or you needed more oil while cooking.  Once you learn how to make the food really great tasting, you can start focusing more on being healthy and reducing things where you want to. I know a few people who try to cook insanely healthy at home, and the result is they end up going out to eat because they get sick of all the bland stuff they make. Lots of recipes these days have super low amounts of salt or butter (1 tsp salt, 2 tsp butter for a giant dish) because people are more likely to choose and cook it if it looks healthier.  I'd advise you to ignore those recommendations except in baking.

Personally I prefer websites with review sections over cookbooks.  If you have a problem with a recipe, someone in the comments usually had the same problem and can tell you how they fixed it.  Either that, or you read the reviews beforehand and find out it's not a great recipe.  So many recipe books seem to me like the author didn't even make all of the things, and just needed to fill up their book. Either that or they make something that photographs well and sounds good, but in practice is pretty meh.

A probe thermometer is something you should really have if you want to consistently hit restaurant quality with your meats. The Thermapen is great (although expensive), and the Dot by thermoworks is a great "leave in" thermometer for things like roast chicken.  If you already spend over $2k on food a month, I think $100 on a couple thermometers is probably a reasonable buy.  I also got a cheap dial thermometer to go in my oven, most ovens are pretty accurate, but I've cooked in a few that are off by 75+ degrees.

« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 06:46:38 AM by ooeei »

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
« Reply #49 on: August 03, 2017, 07:10:11 AM »
Great thread!  My wife and I are currently working on cutting down on how much we spend on food.  We have traditionally been the type that eats out WAY too often.  We've begun tracking our monthly spending on food to help us see where the problems are.  For the month of June we spent $2300 on food (how's that for shameful)!  Our biggest problem...eating at restaurants.  Also I buy lunches out too often (chipotle).  So, we're working on a plan to learn to cook good food from home and we've set a limit on how much we can spend on restaurants each month.
We're also learning to shop for food at the grocery in a cheaper way.  We've been guilty of shopping at expensive stores (whole foods) and buying too many expensive pre-made items.  So, I downloaded a cheap and healthy recipe book today and we're going to start learning ( https://cookbooks.leannebrown.com/good-and-cheap.pdf ).  It's so stupid to spend too much on food!  MMM has been a big inspiration for us when we saw how cheaply his family eats.

Also, don't be afraid of salt and/or butter.  Those restaurants you eat at are loading up with it. If you find your food tasting good but not really great like a restaurant, there's a decent chance it needs more salt or you needed more oil while cooking.  Once you learn how to make the food really great tasting, you can start focusing more on being healthy and reducing things where you want to. I know a few people who try to cook insanely healthy at home, and the result is they end up going out to eat because they get sick of all the bland stuff they make. Lots of recipes these days have super low amounts of salt or butter (1 tsp salt, 2 tsp butter for a giant dish) because people are more likely to choose and cook it if it looks healthier.  I'd advise you to ignore those recommendations except in baking.

A probe thermometer is something you should really have if you want to consistently hit restaurant quality with your meats. The Thermapen is great (although expensive), and the Dot by thermoworks is a great "leave in" thermometer for things like roast chicken.  If you already spend over $2k on food a month, I think $100 on a couple thermometers is probably a reasonable buy.  I also got a cheap dial thermometer to go in my oven, most ovens are pretty accurate, but I've cooked in a few that are off by 75+ degrees.

I just wanted to also recommend that you practice spicing your food so you can learn which spices work best for different dishes and how much you should use. Most spices add basically no calories to the meal and they can be the difference between a healthy meal you'll want to eat regularly and a bland meal that will make you end up reaching for the takeout menu instead.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2017, 08:41:09 AM by WhiteTrashCash »