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Around the Internet => Antimustachian Wall of Shame and Comedy => Topic started by: Northern gal on July 26, 2017, 10:33:52 PM

Title: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Northern gal on July 26, 2017, 10:33:52 PM
"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
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: MgoSam 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Northern gal 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: I'm a red panda on July 30, 2017, 10:10:02 PM
Americans probably have the largest kitchens too. Sad no one uses them
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: gardeningandgreen 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: kaypinkHH 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!
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: libertarian4321 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: libertarian4321 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."



Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Northern gal 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: kaypinkHH 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. :(
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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...
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: kaypinkHH 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!
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker 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".
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: charis 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: TheGrimSqueaker 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: mm1970 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
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: mm1970 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).
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Gondolin 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Laura33 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: mm1970 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: libertarian4321 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: charis 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: cats 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: mm1970 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?
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Laura33 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei 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).


Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: kaypinkHH 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!
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: hightower 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: pachnik 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. 
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: hightower 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
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: A Definite Beta Guy 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!
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: faithless 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!
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei 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.

Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash 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.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: A Definite Beta Guy on August 03, 2017, 07:59:59 AM
Second the salt recommendation! My Wife refused to salt foods. I had her do a side-by-side comparison of her zucchini tacos, and that had the recommendation sink in. :)

Thermapen is on my list...but damn, it's a pretty penny. How long do those things last? My frustration with most thermometers is that they lose effectiveness or something. They start reading temperatures that are absolutely inaccurate (90 degrees on a chicken that's been roasting for an hour? Yeah, that ain't right).

If Thermapen lasts for a while, I'd be okay with it.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei on August 03, 2017, 11:57:02 AM
Thermapen is on my list...but damn, it's a pretty penny. How long do those things last? My frustration with most thermometers is that they lose effectiveness or something. They start reading temperatures that are absolutely inaccurate (90 degrees on a chicken that's been roasting for an hour? Yeah, that ain't right).

If Thermapen lasts for a while, I'd be okay with it.

I've had mine for around 4-5 years now and it's still going strong, I think they've come out with a newer model now so this one is reduced in price a bit.  Get on their mailing list and every 2-3 months they have some sort of sale, and you can probably snag an open box one for around $60-70. I also got the magnetic cover for it, which lets me stick it on the fridge. It also has a calibration function in case it starts reading erratically, but I haven't had to use it yet. I did have an issue awhile back where it would randomly turn the screen off once in awhile, but adjusting how much it was open would fix it. It randomly stopped doing it and has been fine ever since.  I googled it and it's not unheard of, but the company has a pretty good reputation for doing repairs at a reasonable cost rather than telling you to just buy a new one.

I also have an RT600C from them that I keep in my shaving kit, since I kept forgetting to bring my Thermapen when traveling. Looks like it's around $20 right now. We visit family pretty often and usually cook a big (expensive) meal where they buy the supplies.  I don't want to over/under cook 10 steaks or a brisket because I don't have a thermometer. It works well, but isn't quite as fast as the Thermapen.  Not sure on the longevity of it and not having the probe angled will make it trickier to use, but you can read some reviews around the web. I'm pretty confident it's better than most things you'll get at a grocery store or Walmart.  ttp://www.thermoworks.com/RT600C

$70 seems like a lot at first, but a single family gathering where you cook steaks or a brisket can cost nearly that much.  It also gives you the confidence to cook things like that and assure they'll be good!  For example, I roast my own chickens now instead of getting the rotisserie ones at the store, and they're fantastic.  I tried roasting chicken before having a good thermometer and it was always a roll of the dice whether it'd be over or under cooked. For awhile I just used the Thermapen and that was fine, but I was opening the oven/grill/smoker a LOT near the end of cooking, and checking on things way too often to make sure they didn't overcook. I bought a Dot which is a probe with an alarm, so now I'm not opening the oven every 3-5 minutes to check on the chicken when I think it's getting close.  It's not strictly necessary, but if you cook a lot I think it's worth it.

I basically paid around $130 for three great thermometers that'll let me cook damn near anything, and should last many years to come. I look at it like buying a power drill or something, they're tools that let you do things you otherwise would hire someone else to do (restaurants) and save money in the long run, while likely getting a better result.  I don't hesitate to volunteer to grill high end steaks for my girlfriend's extended family for someone' s birthday because I know they'll be good.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: NeonPegasus on August 03, 2017, 12:21:35 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.

I'll back you up on this.

I have a husband and three kids. I cook all of our meals. My oldest daughter now prepares a side every night to help out. Even so, cooking and the associated tasks take me hours every day. I do this because I want to save money and be healthy but it definitely does not save time.

Here's what I'm talking about:
Every day, I check to see if we have the following items prepared and ready to eat: bread, rice, chicken, yogurt, beans & soft-boiled eggs. If we are running low, I make them. None of these things takes a ton of time to prepare (10 min on avg to assemble things in the breadmaker, rice cooker or pressure cooker, though yogurt is a 2 day process) but I must also do all dishes associated with their preparation.

Everyone gets their own breakfast but we all must do our own dishes too. DH and I take turns making lunch for our kids and we make our own lunches from the food above that I've already prepared. Every night, I make dinner for the 5 of us. Dinner takes at least an hour though I usually cook enough for two nights. Dishes take 30 min, with both me and a daughter helping (so 1 man-hour total). So we're spending 1.5-2 hrs on cooking and dishes every day. And that doesn't include the 2-3 hrs for grocery planning and shopping every week.

Takeout would save time, no doubt.

The flip side is that all of my work keeps my grocery bill under $600/mo for the 5 of us whereas that is what we'd spend in 1.5-2 weeks of takeout.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: YoungInvestor on August 03, 2017, 05:58:16 PM
I'm not sure this article is so meaningful. We spend about 80-90$ a week on groceries, and assuming we each eat out once and have a restaurant meal together, we get to at least as much, even though that's not too excessive.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Rural on August 03, 2017, 07:01:23 PM
I'm not sure this article is so meaningful. We spend about 80-90$ a week on groceries, and assuming we each eat out once and have a restaurant meal together, we get to at least as much, even though that's not too excessive.


$80 for just one meal for two people is way beyond excessive in my world.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 03, 2017, 10:40:34 PM
I'm not sure this article is so meaningful. We spend about 80-90$ a week on groceries, and assuming we each eat out once and have a restaurant meal together, we get to at least as much, even though that's not too excessive.


$80 for just one meal for two people is way beyond excessive in my world.

Yeah, jeez. It's much better to put that money into your Vanguard account instead of buying a meal that's just going to get pooped out in a few hours.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: forumname123 on August 03, 2017, 10:55:38 PM
I'm not sure this article is so meaningful. We spend about 80-90$ a week on groceries, and assuming we each eat out once and have a restaurant meal together, we get to at least as much, even though that's not too excessive.

You're talking about spending $700+ per month on food for 2 people, which most here would consider quite excessive. Not unusual, maybe, but excessive nonetheless.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei on August 04, 2017, 07:10:42 AM
Dishes take 30 min, with both me and a daughter helping (so 1 man-hour total).

Are you hand washing everything?  30 minutes with two people working seems like a really long time.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 04, 2017, 07:26:56 AM
Dishes take 30 min, with both me and a daughter helping (so 1 man-hour total).

Are you hand washing everything?  30 minutes with two people working seems like a really long time.

Yeah, numerous studies have shown that you actually use less water by using a dishwasher instead of washing by hand. It's cheap and saves you time. I only hand wash my pots and pans and serving utensils.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: cats on August 04, 2017, 08:54:25 AM
How about factoring in the extra time you spend working to afford that takeout food?

For me, let's say home cooking time (between 2 people) is roughly:

4 hrs of prep on the weekends (at most)
15 minutes of putting stuff together in the evenings M-F
10 minutes of cleanup afterwards
15 extra minutes at the grocery store
15 extra minutes putting stuff away

Or about 6.5 hours.

If we eat ate out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner M-F, we would easily spend $50-$60/day on food beyond what we currently spend on groceries for our M-F meals, or an extra $250-$300/week.  And, even assuming this is all takeout food that's conveniently located and that we can just walk in and pick up after ordering online, it's still going to take *some* time out of our day.  Let's say 25 minutes (5 minutes per meal for each of us on breakfast and lunch, and then let's say one of us spends 5 minutes in the evening picking up dinner for everyone), which is about 2 hours per week.  So the time cost of home cooking (vs. eating out 3x/day M-F) is really 4.5 hours.

Assuming a 25% tax rate, you need a household income of at least $150k to justify that rate of eating out, which would put you in the top 8% of househould income in the US (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States).  If your household *is* earning $150k, well...over a 10 year period, eating out 3x/day vs. cooking your own will add nearly another year to your career. 

Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: 4alpacas on August 04, 2017, 10:17:36 AM
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.
Laziness is why we cook at home in the evening!  The thought of going back out to get something...or wait the 30-45 minutes for delivery just sounds exhausting. 

I will admit our meals are much simpler than the recipes on this thread.  I usually toss something in our instant pot right when I get home (takes ~25 minutes to do chicken breasts from frozen).  Then I greet the dogs, take them out, feed them.  Then I toss a bag of frozen vegetables into the microwave (those steamable bags are amazing). I'll grab a few tortillas or make a little hummus.  And that's it. 

I'm also a big fan of avocado toast with an egg on top. 

If I'm really lazy, I keep Evol mac & cheese in the freezer.  After 5 minutes, I have a cheese-y, gooey unhealthy meal in front of me. 

We do pay to have our groceries delivered.  I do try to batch cook on the weekend, but I haven't done that in over a month.  And we do have a dishwasher.  We do a lot, so our time at home can be relaxing. 
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: NeonPegasus on August 04, 2017, 10:32:05 AM
Dishes take 30 min, with both me and a daughter helping (so 1 man-hour total).

Are you hand washing everything?  30 minutes with two people working seems like a really long time.

Yeah, numerous studies have shown that you actually use less water by using a dishwasher instead of washing by hand. It's cheap and saves you time. I only hand wash my pots and pans and serving utensils.

Are you ready for this? We have an apartment-sized dishwasher, not a full-sized dishwasher. It is located in our kitchen in such a way that we would have to demolish cabinets and redo them in order to fit a larger dishwasher in. The dishwasher we have sucks. Any replacement for it also sucks because it would be an apartment-sized dishwasher and there are very few choices, none of which are good.

It makes no sense to replace shit with shit, especially when our cabinets are falling apart and should all be replaced and especially when our sink is chipped and rusty and awful and is an odd size that I can't find a replacement for and can find nothing that will work in the counter cutout and any money spent on our crappy counters is an utter waste when the whole thing needs to be demo'd. I curse the man who built this kitchen so that nothing was standard sized. I've been going round and round like this for years and the end result is I'm going to put up with my crappy dishwasher until we sell this house next year and either completely redo the kitchen so we can sell it or offer some sort of allowance.

So, I stop up the sink (to minimize water usage) and pre-clean all of the dishes. Yes, I've read the articles about how you shouldn't preclean your dishes because your dishwasher needs the grime and I've tried it and it was an epic fail. That includes dishes for 5 people for 2-3 meals/day. Yes, I am making my daughters clean up their own breakfast dishes but from a water standpoint, that's actually wasteful.

After pre-cleaning and loading all dishes (which is like a game of tetris in that stupid f-ing dishwasher), I stop up the sink again and wash all of the pots and pans and serving spoons, etc, that would NEVER fit in that dishwasher. Because I cook items for breakfast and lunch - yogurt (2 gal/wk), chicken (5 lbs/wk), beans (2 cups/wk), rice (2 cups/wk) and eggs (1 doz/wk) - along with dinner, I have pots from those too. So, I typically have 1-2 non-dinner pots (every cooker has its own pot, which is okay because I typically have at least 2 cookers going at time) combined with dinner pots. I cannot fit all of them on my two drying racks and have to spread towels out on either side for additional drying.

So, 5 people + all home cooked meals + homemade staples + shitty apartment-sized dishwasher means A LOT of dishes and washing time.

Even when you're not eating out, there's a big difference between buying all prepared foods at the store and making most of it yourself to save money. If I didn't prepare as much food as I do, we'd easily spend another $100-200 every month.

Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 04, 2017, 10:42:05 AM
Dishes take 30 min, with both me and a daughter helping (so 1 man-hour total).

Are you hand washing everything?  30 minutes with two people working seems like a really long time.

Yeah, numerous studies have shown that you actually use less water by using a dishwasher instead of washing by hand. It's cheap and saves you time. I only hand wash my pots and pans and serving utensils.

Are you ready for this? We have an apartment-sized dishwasher, not a full-sized dishwasher. It is located in our kitchen in such a way that we would have to demolish cabinets and redo them in order to fit a larger dishwasher in. The dishwasher we have sucks. Any replacement for it also sucks because it would be an apartment-sized dishwasher and there are very few choices, none of which are good.

It makes no sense to replace shit with shit, especially when our cabinets are falling apart and should all be replaced and especially when our sink is chipped and rusty and awful and is an odd size that I can't find a replacement for and can find nothing that will work in the counter cutout and any money spent on our crappy counters is an utter waste when the whole thing needs to be demo'd. I curse the man who built this kitchen so that nothing was standard sized. I've been going round and round like this for years and the end result is I'm going to put up with my crappy dishwasher until we sell this house next year and either completely redo the kitchen so we can sell it or offer some sort of allowance.

So, I stop up the sink (to minimize water usage) and pre-clean all of the dishes. Yes, I've read the articles about how you shouldn't preclean your dishes because your dishwasher needs the grime and I've tried it and it was an epic fail. That includes dishes for 5 people for 2-3 meals/day. Yes, I am making my daughters clean up their own breakfast dishes but from a water standpoint, that's actually wasteful.

After pre-cleaning and loading all dishes (which is like a game of tetris in that stupid f-ing dishwasher), I stop up the sink again and wash all of the pots and pans and serving spoons, etc, that would NEVER fit in that dishwasher. Because I cook items for breakfast and lunch - yogurt (2 gal/wk), chicken (5 lbs/wk), beans (2 cups/wk), rice (2 cups/wk) and eggs (1 doz/wk) - along with dinner, I have pots from those too. So, I typically have 1-2 non-dinner pots (every cooker has its own pot, which is okay because I typically have at least 2 cookers going at time) combined with dinner pots. I cannot fit all of them on my two drying racks and have to spread towels out on either side for additional drying.

So, 5 people + all home cooked meals + homemade staples + shitty apartment-sized dishwasher means A LOT of dishes and washing time.

Even when you're not eating out, there's a big difference between buying all prepared foods at the store and making most of it yourself to save money. If I didn't prepare as much food as I do, we'd easily spend another $100-200 every month.

You may want to consider making some lifestyle changes (at least attempting to move toward them.) I mean absolutely no offense, but I'm hearing a lot of excuses instead of hearing valid reasons. Mustachianism involves taking control of your finances by taking control of all aspects of your life. It involves evaluating priorities and being willing to tolerate discomfort for greater gain. If you really objectively sit back and look at how mealtime is conducted with your family, you will see that there are bad choices being made and family members seem to be unwilling to sacrifice unnecessary luxuries to meet financial goals. That has to change if you want the situation to improve.

I say this respectfully out of concern. I'm not trying to be insulting.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: kaypinkHH on August 04, 2017, 10:56:23 AM
@Neonpagasus, it sounds like you are wasting more time on that silly dishwasher than it is worth! A few extra seconds to turn your pre-rinse into a full wash and you wouldn't even have to bother loading the dishwasher at all! Kuddos for you for making fresh meals for 5 instead of succumbing to take out!

@Cats, your math was what I was trying to get at before (but you did a much better job explaining), yes take out food can save time, but the time-money balance doesn't work out unless you are using that saved time to make more money!

A friend of mine (med school student working crazy hours) has started to do a meal delivery service thing, where everything is portioned/chopped and ready to go. She did the math, and for her the meals (At $8 a serving) were a better plan than her previous combo of take out food/buying groceries with the best intentions and letting groceries go bad. I wonder how the influx of these delivery services will impact the balance of spending between food at home vs food away from home.
 
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: NeonPegasus on August 04, 2017, 11:22:03 AM
Dishes take 30 min, with both me and a daughter helping (so 1 man-hour total).

Are you hand washing everything?  30 minutes with two people working seems like a really long time.

Yeah, numerous studies have shown that you actually use less water by using a dishwasher instead of washing by hand. It's cheap and saves you time. I only hand wash my pots and pans and serving utensils.

Are you ready for this? We have an apartment-sized dishwasher, not a full-sized dishwasher. It is located in our kitchen in such a way that we would have to demolish cabinets and redo them in order to fit a larger dishwasher in. The dishwasher we have sucks. Any replacement for it also sucks because it would be an apartment-sized dishwasher and there are very few choices, none of which are good.

It makes no sense to replace shit with shit, especially when our cabinets are falling apart and should all be replaced and especially when our sink is chipped and rusty and awful and is an odd size that I can't find a replacement for and can find nothing that will work in the counter cutout and any money spent on our crappy counters is an utter waste when the whole thing needs to be demo'd. I curse the man who built this kitchen so that nothing was standard sized. I've been going round and round like this for years and the end result is I'm going to put up with my crappy dishwasher until we sell this house next year and either completely redo the kitchen so we can sell it or offer some sort of allowance.

So, I stop up the sink (to minimize water usage) and pre-clean all of the dishes. Yes, I've read the articles about how you shouldn't preclean your dishes because your dishwasher needs the grime and I've tried it and it was an epic fail. That includes dishes for 5 people for 2-3 meals/day. Yes, I am making my daughters clean up their own breakfast dishes but from a water standpoint, that's actually wasteful.

After pre-cleaning and loading all dishes (which is like a game of tetris in that stupid f-ing dishwasher), I stop up the sink again and wash all of the pots and pans and serving spoons, etc, that would NEVER fit in that dishwasher. Because I cook items for breakfast and lunch - yogurt (2 gal/wk), chicken (5 lbs/wk), beans (2 cups/wk), rice (2 cups/wk) and eggs (1 doz/wk) - along with dinner, I have pots from those too. So, I typically have 1-2 non-dinner pots (every cooker has its own pot, which is okay because I typically have at least 2 cookers going at time) combined with dinner pots. I cannot fit all of them on my two drying racks and have to spread towels out on either side for additional drying.

So, 5 people + all home cooked meals + homemade staples + shitty apartment-sized dishwasher means A LOT of dishes and washing time.

Even when you're not eating out, there's a big difference between buying all prepared foods at the store and making most of it yourself to save money. If I didn't prepare as much food as I do, we'd easily spend another $100-200 every month.

You may want to consider making some lifestyle changes (at least attempting to move toward them.) I mean absolutely no offense, but I'm hearing a lot of excuses instead of hearing valid reasons. Mustachianism involves taking control of your finances by taking control of all aspects of your life. It involves evaluating priorities and being willing to tolerate discomfort for greater gain. If you really objectively sit back and look at how mealtime is conducted with your family, you will see that there are bad choices being made and family members seem to be unwilling to sacrifice unnecessary luxuries to meet financial goals. That has to change if you want the situation to improve.

I say this respectfully out of concern. I'm not trying to be insulting.

Um, wuh? I'm not sure what lifestyle changes you're advocating or why you think I am making bad choices (cooking too much?). I do believe that you're trying to be helpful and, as a side note, I have very much enjoyed reading your blog.

My rant above was me explaining why it takes us 1 man-hr to do dishes as a dovetail to why I'm not impressed with the argument that it takes less time to cook than to order out.  I think it clearly illustrates I'm tolerating a lot of discomfort for greater gain (e.g. lots of labor cooking and cleaning). Maybe you're confusing my posts with someone else's?
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: NeonPegasus on August 04, 2017, 11:24:53 AM
@Neonpagasus, it sounds like you are wasting more time on that silly dishwasher than it is worth! A few extra seconds to turn your pre-rinse into a full wash and you wouldn't even have to bother loading the dishwasher at all!

If the dishwasher weren't a closed machine with no ventilation, it would be better suited as drying rack. lol

I do often just hand wash dishes when there aren't a lot of them (so I have enough room on the dish drains).
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei on August 04, 2017, 01:11:30 PM
Are you ready for this?

I was not ready for that.

That sounds like a shitty situation, and you're doing what you can with it. I do think it's important to note that this isn't necessarily a "cooking takes longer than takeout problem" though. You can buy paper plates and plastic silverware (the same stuff you get with takeout) for pretty cheap. That alone would save you a lot of dishes, and therefore time.

Granted, I'm not advocating using disposable things, but I don't really see spending lots of time cleaning dinner plates as a mark against home cooking.  Pots and pans, sure, but I doubt those take all that much of your time compared to the rest of the stuff. You're not spending an hour doing dishes because you cook at home, you're spending an hour doing dishes because you want to use reusable dinnerware.

This is also not really a standard situation, so it's probably not terribly relevant to the average person making the comparison (although still a good data point). For example, I know someone who lives 40 minutes away from the nearest restaurant and works near his home. I could use him as an argument why eating out is never faster than cooking at home, but it wouldn't be terribly productive unless whoever I'm talking to is in that same situation.  As your example shows, a few changes in one direction or another can tilt the balance.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: faithless on August 05, 2017, 07:38:31 AM
Can I derail the thread and ask for quick evening recipes/weekend meal prep ahead recipes? I've gotten out of the hang of it.

Eg what are you preparing at the weekend that's assembled in 15 mins cats?


4 hrs of prep on the weekends (at most)
15 minutes of putting stuff together in the evenings M-F
10 minutes of cleanup afterwards
15 extra minutes at the grocery store
15 extra minutes putting stuff away

Or about 6.5 hours.

Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: MrsPete on August 06, 2017, 07:33:56 AM
I'd love to see the math on how cooking at home takes less time than grabbing a take out meal.
This is a fuzzy point, and the truth lies in how you structure your time: 

- If you spend an hour shopping for a whole week's groceries, it's not much time at all; however, if you stop in every day on the way home from work -- and, yeah, I know people who grocery shop every day, saying it prevents them from buying stuff that doesn't get used -- it adds up to a whole lot of time. 

- If you're already at home and you run out to get take-out food, it's time consuming.  If you're already on the way home, and you go through a drive-through, it probably adds only minutes to your commute.

- If you're cooking at home, some meals are quick to put together, while others are quite complicated. 

- It depends upon how you "count" the time.  For example, last night I made roasted chicken fajitas.  10 minutes chopping chicken and vegetables, 40 minutes for the meal to cook.  Another 5 minutes to set out tortillas, sour cream, and salsa.  I say that's a 15-minute meal because it was 15 minutes of hands-on work, and I was free to do whatever else while the meal was in the oven... someone else might say it's a 50 minute meal because that's the total time for the food to prepare.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: kaypinkHH on August 07, 2017, 12:32:54 PM
Can I derail the thread and ask for quick evening recipes/weekend meal prep ahead recipes? I've gotten out of the hang of it.

Hi Faithless,
Here is my structure that works for me! I think in terms of servings vs meals to plan (lunch and dinners are interchangeable).
DH and I keep breakfast really quick and simple- hard boil egg, and toast with PB, so i don't count that in the meals.

We would do groceries on Saturday and then meal prep on Sunday. We often were away from home both lunch and supper during the week days, so we had to do ALL meal prep on Sundays.

2 People- 2 meals per day, 5 meals per week= 20 servings. Normally this leaves us with enough leftovers to throw something extra together on the weekend, or we can raid the pantry for a quick weekend meal.

Groceries:
Carrots
Broccoli
Green things (spinach/kale/etc.)
Tomatoes
Red and Green Peppers
Apples
Bananas
Berries (if on sale)
Hummus
Almonds
Tortilla Wraps
Cheese
Deli meat (turkey)
Quinao or Rice
Chickpeas
Black beans
Salsa
Can Corn (or fresh if in season)
Canned Tomatoes
White Fish

Prep on the weekend: Chop/wash all the veggies. Cook a big batch of rice or quinoa.

What this makes:
6 Wraps-Turkey, Cheese, Greens, Red Peppers, or add some sunddried tomatoes, mustard if you have it
6 servings Mexican Quinoa Bowls- Quinoa+Corn+Black Beans+Peppers+ Mexican Spices. Cook the quinoa, fry up the peppers (and onions if you have it), rinse all the canned items, mix together with some salsa and cheese portion for later
6 Servings Itailan Rice Dish- Chick Peas+ Rice+ Stewed Tomatos+ Greens+Cheese+ Italian Spices- Cook the rice, throw it all in a frying pan, warm up, portion for later.

There are 18 servings already good to go. 
Another thing I can do is some steam some carrots+broccoli, use the cooked rice and quickly cook the white fish (either with lemon and garlic, or with salsa) as a quick meal on a day I'm actually home (Sunday PM?) that gives me my remaining servings.

Weekend meal prep ~1 hr?, And then you just grab your ingredients and mix them together on the stove, ~15 mins per night? Or you could do it all on sunday, and portion them out, so you just have reheat! Snacks for the week are hummus and carrots (or broccoli or peppers), and berries/fruit and nuts.

Check out Mind over Munch, and other youtube vloggers for some good ideas!
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: mm1970 on August 07, 2017, 02:11:35 PM
Quote
Can I derail the thread and ask for quick evening recipes/weekend meal prep ahead recipes? I've gotten out of the hang of it.

I sympathize.  I've also gotten a bit out of the hang of it.  As my life changes, my prep method changes.  Some are better than others.

When my 2nd kid was a baby, and my big kid was in kindergarten to 1st grade - this is what I did:

Weekend: Prepped 3 big meals
- 2 of them for dinner
- 1 of them for lunches

Hubby and I ate the same thing for lunch every day, so we needed a total of 10 servings.  It wasn't always "cooked".  Sometimes we'd make 10-15 bean & cheese burritos.  Sometimes it would be sandwiches.  Sometimes pasta, soups, stews, lasagna.  But the important thing was it was designated for lunch.

- The 2 dinners could be anything else.  Some sort of roasted meat and a grain and vegetables. 

- Sat night, cook big meal.  Eat it.  Still 2-3 meals left.
- Sun day/ night: cook/ prep lunch meal.  Cook Sunday big meal.  Eat it.  Still 2-3 meals left.

- Monday: eat Sat leftovers
- Tue: eat Sun leftovers
- Wed: crockpot day
- Thu: eat last of Sat leftovers put rest of all in freezer
- Fri: Wed leftovers.

Mybodymykitchen.com has some good tips on weekend prepping too.  He cooks 2 big meals on the weekend, packages them in individual servings in the freezer, and rotates.


Quick options if no leftovers:
- One pot pasta (even faster in an instant pot)
- Crock pot dishes (pulled pork, tri-tip with salsa, BBQ chicken, black bean soup, refried beans).
- Grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas
- Grilled fish (I buy individually flash frozen salmon fillets from Costco.  Take out of freezer and put in fridge before work.  Grill on George Foreman grill.)
- Scrambled eggs
- Baked chicken fingers - the kids like the breaded kind, but you can buy flash-frozen tenders at many stores.  25 min at 350 in the oven and they are done.
- Curried red lentils (25 min in a pot, on top of rice)

The "heavy lifting" in my house is the vegetables.  We eat a lot of them.  I mostly steam, roast, or eat raw.  You can roast veg in 30-40 min, so fill the oven!  When I steam, it's on the stovetop or in the microwave.  Or raw with hummus or in a salad.

I always have frozen veg on hand.  Steam, stir-fry, or roast.  For the days when I can't chop another head of broccoli!
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: cats on August 07, 2017, 10:15:06 PM
Can I derail the thread and ask for quick evening recipes/weekend meal prep ahead recipes? I've gotten out of the hang of it.

Eg what are you preparing at the weekend that's assembled in 15 mins cats?

Sure! Some quick stuff that I make often:

-cheese omelet plus soup or salad (make soup or chop up salad veg on weekends)
-veggie and seitan stirfry over rice (lately I really like bell peppers, bean sprouts, and sugar peas.  Chop the vegetables and cook rice on the weekend)
-hearty salads with sprouted lentils and hard boiled eggs (boil eggs, start lentils sprouting, and chop vegetables on the weekend, assemble on the day of consumption). You can do plain olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dressing, or get fancy. I really like thai red curry dressing in this recipe (http://www.nwedible.com/thai-red-curry-cabbage-salad/).

Also, on the weekends I think it's important to focus as much on making big batches of meal components as it is to make big batch meals.  Then you have stuff you can mix and match throughout the week. I usually make a large volume of at least one of the following:

-rice
-beans
-chicken (we recently got an instantpot and I am a big fan of sauteeing a couple onions, dumping in a packet of thighs, some tomatoes, and seasoning, and then 25 min later, you have a pot of shredded chicken)
-seitan (super easy to make a large batch of this in the instant pot also, I can post a recipe if you are interested)

The trick with any of these is that I make more than we are likely to eat in a week, because it's really no extra trouble to cook double or triple batches of these items.  I'll portion of the stuff I don't expect to use immediately into 2-4 servings size containers, and freeze for subsequent weeks.  So I rarely have a weekend where I want to make all four of the things on that list.

In addition, we also roast several trays of veggies on the weekends.  Most of these get packed into lunches with beans and chicken or seitan, but we'll also have some available to add as a side to dinners as needed.

I am happy to blather on more about cooking and meal prep but will shut myself up for now :)
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: SeaEhm on August 08, 2017, 09:50:46 AM
I didn't read all of the thread, but did glimpse at many responses.


If your idea of eating out is a meat and potatoes place like Denny's, AppleBees, etc. Then one might as well eat at home by following WhiteTrash's recommendation of a 5 minute slow cooker meal. 

However, when meals start to become more complex than one or two main ingredients it becomes a challenge to make at home. 
One example...  Might as well pay the $13 and not have to deal with all of the preparation.

(https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/mUNLE1uHE_pdNN3xs70Bzw/o.jpg)

Especially when my SO orders this one with nearly completely different ingredients.

(https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/bY1K-AnUINL1TBkP00hPvQ/258s.jpg)

my SO and I eat out a lot.  In an ideal world, I would eat out for 90% of my meals.  However, we also eat at home for fairly cheap.  Chicken and veggies, eggs and veggies,  chicken/rice/veggie dishes, etc. 

Yesterday, I had to drive about 20 miles to run some errands.  The area in which I had to go is known for great cuisine with some amazing restaurants, however, I ended up just going back home and eating leftovers because the value was there for me.

Eating out is an experience for me, so eating alone at a restaurant wasn't worth the money I would have spent at that particular time.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 08, 2017, 11:07:06 AM
I didn't read all of the thread, but did glimpse at many responses.


If your idea of eating out is a meat and potatoes place like Denny's, AppleBees, etc. Then one might as well eat at home by following WhiteTrash's recommendation of a 5 minute slow cooker meal. 

However, when meals start to become more complex than one or two main ingredients it becomes a challenge to make at home. 
One example...  Might as well pay the $13 and not have to deal with all of the preparation.

(https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/mUNLE1uHE_pdNN3xs70Bzw/o.jpg)

Especially when my SO orders this one with nearly completely different ingredients.

(https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/bY1K-AnUINL1TBkP00hPvQ/258s.jpg)

my SO and I eat out a lot.  In an ideal world, I would eat out for 90% of my meals.  However, we also eat at home for fairly cheap.  Chicken and veggies, eggs and veggies,  chicken/rice/veggie dishes, etc. 

Yesterday, I had to drive about 20 miles to run some errands.  The area in which I had to go is known for great cuisine with some amazing restaurants, however, I ended up just going back home and eating leftovers because the value was there for me.

Eating out is an experience for me, so eating alone at a restaurant wasn't worth the money I would have spent at that particular time.

I feel like a lot of people who post on the forum want to know how they can keep living the lifestyle they lived as a spendypants while also getting the rewards of the Mustachian lifestyle. Unless you have an absolutely massive income, that's not really possible and sacrifices have to be made. Our society -- particularly through the pernicious influence of advertising -- has convinced all of us that not only can we have it all, but we should have it all. That's a really destructive way of thinking.

Think about the way our ancestors lived. Until extremely recently, nearly all meals were prepared at home by people who learned the recipes from each other and made the food with in-season ingredients purchased locally. And people were really happy living that way. Somewhere along the line, Madison Avenue ad executives convinced us that our way of living was inadequate and we had to eat foods from every corner of the planet for every meal and we had to pay someone else for their expertise in preparing these dishes.

Now we have a massive industry built on telling everyone that only poor people prepare their own food and that great meals can only be made by TV celebrities and people who paid tens of thousands of dollars to go to culinary academies. Our ancestors would stare at us like we were aliens from another planet.

For most people, if you want money and success, you need to be prepared to make uncomfortable choices. You need to tell yourself that you are not only capable of doing things for yourself, but it's actually preferable to DIY. This is how you obtain power and with that power comes money and success.

At least, that's the way I see it.

Besides, I just came back from a vacation where tourists were paying big money to eat "rustic" food exactly like the stuff I make at home because it is "authentic", "natural", and "organic." Why not just make it yourselves and become rich?
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: kaypinkHH on August 08, 2017, 11:45:56 AM
But WhiteTrashCash, my avocado toast tastes so much better when someone else makes it for me and charges me 800% markup...I can't make those kind of sacrifices!
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: mm1970 on August 08, 2017, 01:23:37 PM
Quote
I feel like a lot of people who post on the forum want to know how they can keep living the lifestyle they lived as a spendypants while also getting the rewards of the Mustachian lifestyle. Unless you have an absolutely massive income, that's not really possible and sacrifices have to be made. Our society -- particularly through the pernicious influence of advertising -- has convinced all of us that not only can we have it all, but we should have it all. That's a really destructive way of thinking.

Think about the way our ancestors lived. Until extremely recently, nearly all meals were prepared at home by people who learned the recipes from each other and made the food with in-season ingredients purchased locally. And people were really happy living that way. Somewhere along the line, Madison Avenue ad executives convinced us that our way of living was inadequate and we had to eat foods from every corner of the planet for every meal and we had to pay someone else for their expertise in preparing these dishes.

Now we have a massive industry built on telling everyone that only poor people prepare their own food and that great meals can only be made by TV celebrities and people who paid tens of thousands of dollars to go to culinary academies. Our ancestors would stare at us like we were aliens from another planet.

For most people, if you want money and success, you need to be prepared to make uncomfortable choices. You need to tell yourself that you are not only capable of doing things for yourself, but it's actually preferable to DIY. This is how you obtain power and with that power comes money and success.

At least, that's the way I see it.

Besides, I just came back from a vacation where tourists were paying big money to eat "rustic" food exactly like the stuff I make at home because it is "authentic", "natural", and "organic." Why not just make it yourselves and become rich?

I agree that there is some of that on this board.  It's the same with many things, including vacations.

You can "travel-hack" and get fantastic vacations for free, or for much less.  And if it's your thing, and you are willing to work at it (figure out which cards to use, how to manufacture spending to get the bonuses, etc etc), then yay.  Live like a spendypants without spending the money.  (My personal choice is to just ... travel less.)

When it comes to the food topic it's the same.  "Eating out is faster because I stop on the way home", etc etc.  And, depending on your lifestyle, it may very well be.  I know people who LOVE eating out, and they buy Groupons or use Entertainment book coupons, etc., to feed their lifestyles for less.

And, like travel hacking, cooking food is work.

I didn't learn to cook until I was 32.  Oh, the money I blew eating out, and the pounds I gained, and the blood pressure that I had.

In many many cases, people just need to consider simplifying
- Even just 40+ years ago, when I was a kid, we almost NEVER ate out.  We ate American Food.  Often with a German twist (my ancestry, sauerkraut!)  Sometime exotics like spaghetti and meatballs or tacos using the Ortega taco kit.  And who remembers the Chef Boy Ardee pizza kits?  Shake and bake chicken.  Meatloaf.  Eggs or fish on Fridays.  PB&J or bologna for lunch.  Cereal for breakfast.

- "I want to eat..."  Fill in the blank.  Good food.  Fancy food.  Variety.  Ethnic.  I mean, I get that.  I like ethnic food too.  I can totally see where people would look at my meal plans and think "really?  Boring."  I mean, how many ways can you combine rice, protein, and vegetables?  But it's a bit like hedonistic adaptation.  The more variety we get, the more variety we want.  I've seen that myself in my own life.

I touched on the method I used while working with 2 small children.  One of the meals that I cooked on the weekend was lunch.  Yes, we ate the same thing for lunch 5 days in a row.  You know what?  I never overate that lunch.  It could have been the most delicious, most favorite meal of mine.  But after 5 days?  I'm over it.  But it was always *just fine* and I didn't die from eating the same thing for 5 days.

(And now I eat salad for lunch every day.)

Some people like special food.  I get it.  So do I.  So, I have learned to make special food.  Yeah, it's work.  It takes practice.  Just like taking the time and effort to get a vacation for less or free, learning to cook special food takes a bit of time and effort in the beginning, but pays off in the end.  And there are some things that I just don't bother to learn to make.  But still, learning to cook "special" things cuts down on my eating out massively.

Learning to make (and like) "simple" things cuts down on food costs a HUGE amount.  If you insist on "special" food frequently, then at some point, it's no longer special.  If you insist on "special" food on special occasions - then it's still special.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: SeaEhm on August 08, 2017, 02:09:07 PM
But WhiteTrashCash, my avocado toast tastes so much better when someone else makes it for me and charges me 800% markup...I can't make those kind of sacrifices!
I didn't read all of the thread, but did glimpse at many responses.


If your idea of eating out is a meat and potatoes place like Denny's, AppleBees, etc. Then one might as well eat at home by following WhiteTrash's recommendation of a 5 minute slow cooker meal. 

However, when meals start to become more complex than one or two main ingredients it becomes a challenge to make at home. 
One example...  Might as well pay the $13 and not have to deal with all of the preparation.

(https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/mUNLE1uHE_pdNN3xs70Bzw/o.jpg)

Especially when my SO orders this one with nearly completely different ingredients.

(https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/bY1K-AnUINL1TBkP00hPvQ/258s.jpg)

my SO and I eat out a lot.  In an ideal world, I would eat out for 90% of my meals.  However, we also eat at home for fairly cheap.  Chicken and veggies, eggs and veggies,  chicken/rice/veggie dishes, etc. 

Yesterday, I had to drive about 20 miles to run some errands.  The area in which I had to go is known for great cuisine with some amazing restaurants, however, I ended up just going back home and eating leftovers because the value was there for me.

Eating out is an experience for me, so eating alone at a restaurant wasn't worth the money I would have spent at that particular time.

I feel like a lot of people who post on the forum want to know how they can keep living the lifestyle they lived as a spendypants while also getting the rewards of the Mustachian lifestyle. Unless you have an absolutely massive income, that's not really possible and sacrifices have to be made. Our society -- particularly through the pernicious influence of advertising -- has convinced all of us that not only can we have it all, but we should have it all. That's a really destructive way of thinking.

Think about the way our ancestors lived. Until extremely recently, nearly all meals were prepared at home by people who learned the recipes from each other and made the food with in-season ingredients purchased locally. And people were really happy living that way. Somewhere along the line, Madison Avenue ad executives convinced us that our way of living was inadequate and we had to eat foods from every corner of the planet for every meal and we had to pay someone else for their expertise in preparing these dishes.

Now we have a massive industry built on telling everyone that only poor people prepare their own food and that great meals can only be made by TV celebrities and people who paid tens of thousands of dollars to go to culinary academies. Our ancestors would stare at us like we were aliens from another planet.

For most people, if you want money and success, you need to be prepared to make uncomfortable choices. You need to tell yourself that you are not only capable of doing things for yourself, but it's actually preferable to DIY. This is how you obtain power and with that power comes money and success.

At least, that's the way I see it.

Besides, I just came back from a vacation where tourists were paying big money to eat "rustic" food exactly like the stuff I make at home because it is "authentic", "natural", and "organic." Why not just make it yourselves and become rich?

Regarding Avocado toast - I can't believe people actually spend money on avocado toast that has off the shelf bread and nothing specialized at all!  Quite the convenience upsell.   I will admit that when I was in SF, I bought three different "avocado toasts" for two people.  One of them had things that I never had before and I wanted to try it.  There are times that I complacent with "possibly missing out on the best thing I could ever eat" and there are times that I am not.

Just like the latest dieting fad "Flexible dieting", I live with flexible spending.

No one got fat from one cookie and no one got skinny from eating one salad. 
Same can be made for spending.  Flexible spending that will still allow one to achieve one's financial goals.

Yes, I agree that advertisers have done an amazing job at brainwashing people!   Look at companies like Blue Apron where they cut and prep meals, deliver them, and then make you cook them and clean the dishes!  The prices for the meals aren't even cheap.  PASS!
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Rural on August 08, 2017, 05:01:57 PM
I didn't read all of the thread, but did glimpse at many responses.


If your idea of eating out is a meat and potatoes place like Denny's, AppleBees, etc. Then one might as well eat at home by following WhiteTrash's recommendation of a 5 minute slow cooker meal. 

However, when meals start to become more complex than one or two main ingredients it becomes a challenge to make at home. 
One example...  Might as well pay the $13 and not have to deal with all of the preparation.

(https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/mUNLE1uHE_pdNN3xs70Bzw/o.jpg)




See, this right here would be dead easy at home, and mine would be much better and healthier than the restaurant version. Plus I could have more tomorrow,


 10 years ago, I would've thought this would've been very hard to make, too. But moving away from anywhere to get Asian food of any sort forced me to be creative, and now I'm much better at it than most restaurants.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: ooeei on August 09, 2017, 06:53:24 AM
I didn't read all of the thread, but did glimpse at many responses.


If your idea of eating out is a meat and potatoes place like Denny's, AppleBees, etc. Then one might as well eat at home by following WhiteTrash's recommendation of a 5 minute slow cooker meal. 

However, when meals start to become more complex than one or two main ingredients it becomes a challenge to make at home. 
One example...  Might as well pay the $13 and not have to deal with all of the preparation.

[img]https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/mUNLE1uHE_pdNN3xs70Bzw/o.jpg[img]

Especially when my SO orders this one with nearly completely different ingredients.

[img]https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/bY1K-AnUINL1TBkP00hPvQ/258s.jpg[img]

my SO and I eat out a lot.  In an ideal world, I would eat out for 90% of my meals.  However, we also eat at home for fairly cheap.  Chicken and veggies, eggs and veggies,  chicken/rice/veggie dishes, etc. 

Yesterday, I had to drive about 20 miles to run some errands.  The area in which I had to go is known for great cuisine with some amazing restaurants, however, I ended up just going back home and eating leftovers because the value was there for me.

Eating out is an experience for me, so eating alone at a restaurant wasn't worth the money I would have spent at that particular time.

Yeah there are some things that totally make sense to eat out. Off the top of my head: Pho, Indian buffet, dim sum, pretty much anything fried, bibimbap, good pizza, and I'm sure many others. The thing is, that's not what most people eat day in day out, you need only look at the distribution of restaurants to see that. For every great Vietnamese restaurant there are probably 50 low end burger places, and that's assuming you live somewhere that actually has a great Vietnamese place. Additionally, many of the things that are hard to make at home aren't all that quick when eating out either.

There's also the debate on what you do/don't need with regard to variety. Yeah it'd be great to get a different super complex dish cooked by a professional every day, but can we admit that's pretty extravagant? Paying someone else to cook some foreign specialty from a different corner of the earth every single day? To me that's like someone who can't bear to stay in less than a 4 star hotel, or who simply can't ride in a car without leather seats. There are people who live that way and enjoy it, but it seems pretty high maintenance to me, which isn't generally the message of this community.

Personally I do eat all the things I listed, but I'd say we eat at one of those places maybe 2-4 times a month. When it gets to more than once or twice a week, for example on vacation, I find myself craving some homemade food that doesn't have the density of a dying sun. I used to eat out constantly, and as someone above said when you eat special food every day, it's no longer special. I'd go home annoyed with something at work, and barely even notice the pad thai I was eating because I had special stuff every day. If I'm going to not notice my food, I'd rather it be something cheap and slightly healthy that I made quickly. Now today for instance I may be meeting with a friend at a great burger place for lunch, and I'm amped about it. Regardless of what happens at work today I'm going to enjoy the hell out of that burger.

In any case, the majority of this thread is in response to a few posters saying cooking at home doesn't save time, which has been shown to be wrong at least some of the time depending on your specific circumstances. If you simply must have a variety of foods no one could've dreamed of 40 years ago every day and night, then by all means pay restaurants to make it for you, that will certainly be easier.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: SeaEhm on August 09, 2017, 09:12:42 AM

Yeah there are some things that totally make sense to eat out. Off the top of my head: Pho, Indian buffet, dim sum, pretty much anything fried, bibimbap, good pizza, and I'm sure many others. The thing is, that's not what most people eat day in day out, you need only look at the distribution of restaurants to see that. For every great Vietnamese restaurant there are probably 50 low end burger places, and that's assuming you live somewhere that actually has a great Vietnamese place. Additionally, many of the things that are hard to make at home aren't all that quick when eating out either.

Definitely anything fried! Clean up for fried foods is quite tedious!  I agree with each item above.

There's also the debate on what you do/don't need with regard to variety. Yeah it'd be great to get a different super complex dish cooked by a professional every day, but can we admit that's pretty extravagant? Paying someone else to cook some foreign specialty from a different corner of the earth every single day? To me that's like someone who can't bear to stay in less than a 4 star hotel, or who simply can't ride in a car without leather seats. There are people who live that way and enjoy it, but it seems pretty high maintenance to me, which isn't generally the message of this community.

Life is always about where do you stand today on the spectrum of need versus want. If I had the financial means to have someone cook for me everyday could actually mean that I really enjoy food.  Someone on this forum mentioned that with the money they saved in hotel fees, they were able to spend extravagantly on food purchases.  Rob Peter to pay Paul so to speak.  This forum is definitely high maintenance in the form of not being the traditionally defined term of high maintenance. 

Friend: Do you want to go and grab some coffee?
Person:  Sorry, I don't want to pay $1 for coffee when I can brew it at home.  Do you want to go to the park?
Friend: Umm, Ok! Let's go to Astrid Park.  They have a beautiful lake to walk around."
Person: Sorry, Astrid Park makes you pay $1 for parking and it's actually 2.62 miles farther away from Lakeless park and that can save me $.21 in gas."
Friend: Ummm. Ok...


Personally I do eat all the things I listed, but I'd say we eat at one of those places maybe 2-4 times a month. When it gets to more than once or twice a week, for example on vacation, I find myself craving some homemade food that doesn't have the density of a dying sun. I used to eat out constantly, and as someone above said when you eat special food every day, it's no longer special. I'd go home annoyed with something at work, and barely even notice the pad thai I was eating because I had special stuff every day. If I'm going to not notice my food, I'd rather it be something cheap and slightly healthy that I made quickly. Now today for instance I may be meeting with a friend at a great burger place for lunch, and I'm amped about it. Regardless of what happens at work today I'm going to enjoy the hell out of that burger.

Enjoy the burger!  Personally, I do not see repetition as a determining factor in liking something less and less.  Therefore, your idea of less special holds no water with me.

In any case, the majority of this thread is in response to a few posters saying cooking at home doesn't save time, which has been shown to be wrong at least some of the time depending on your specific circumstances. If you simply must have a variety of foods no one could've dreamed of 40 years ago every day and night, then by all means pay restaurants to make it for you, that will certainly be easier.



That bolded part is what many people on this forum always fail to see.  They seem to be so egocentric that they fail to see that others may have a different life than them.  Every person is different and every situation is different.  Each person's financial goals, lifestyles, etc.  Therefore, it seems like people should provide suggestions to others.  Instead, they tell them they must do this or else they are not adhering to some moral/financial code.   


Ohh and I haven't had a great burger in a while.  Burgers are like pizza, even an ok burger is still delicious.

But from what I gather with many meat and potatoes people, cooking at home is not nearly the chore that many people think it is.  They just need to find out the system that makes it very efficient.   Crock pot cooking is super easy and convenient.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: A Definite Beta Guy on August 09, 2017, 10:28:50 AM
I actually have a pretty fun time frying chicken at home. I've been tinkering with a fried chicken recipe for years. I love fried chicken so much, and there are no places nearby where it's good.

My home recipe is getting pretty good....buttermilk.....mmmmm...of course, that's a luxury meal, because I am soaking it in buttermilk. Any time you start marinating or creating special sauces or anything like that, stuff starts getting pretty expensive.

I think this is right:
Quote
But from what I gather with many meat and potatoes people, cooking at home is not nearly the chore that many people think it is
Simple meals are quite tasty, usually don't take a ton of time, and are relatively cheap if you don't go overboard on ingredients. They are not the awesome, complicated, show-stopping meals championed by our culture.

But going against the grain to have good, simple, cheap stuff is very Mustachian, IMO.


I definitely visit here a lot to get face-punched. I am a lot like what WTC criticizes, want to keep on being a spendy-pants. Gotta keep coming here to stay in the right mindset. 
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: SeaEhm on August 09, 2017, 11:18:58 AM
I think this is right:
Quote
But from what I gather with many meat and potatoes people, cooking at home is not nearly the chore that many people think it is
Simple meals are quite tasty, usually don't take a ton of time, and are relatively cheap if you don't go overboard on ingredients. They are not the awesome, complicated, show-stopping meals championed by our culture.

But going against the grain to have good, simple, cheap stuff is very Mustachian, IMO.


I definitely visit here a lot to get face-punched. I am a lot like what WTC criticizes, want to keep on being a spendy-pants. Gotta keep coming here to stay in the right mindset.

I even said so myself, I would eat fancy foo foo everyday if I was financially able to.  However, I don't.  I love food so much that I have spent face kicking (not punching) amounts on meals with 0 regrets.  I can still eat eggs with spinach for dinner or other simple meat and potato types of meals because at the end of the day I am a flexible spender and there are times where a fancy meal just won't satisfy me nearly as much as the money saved.

Beta Guy - look at my signature and location, :) 
And fried chicken sounds so good right now! 
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Chesleygirl on August 11, 2017, 09:18:05 PM
I used to eat out fast food, almost every day. So did  my spouse. We realized it was costing us $500 a month.

I had to wean myself away from it and it look a long time. Started cutting down to once a week, at Subway. Then cut out restaurants altogether.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Chesleygirl on August 11, 2017, 09:19:09 PM
Americans probably have the largest kitchens too. Sad no one uses them

Yes. Expensive and large with granite countertops. Always clean, never used.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Plugra on August 12, 2017, 05:38:59 AM
The statistic I've seen is that the average middle class American family spends 50% of its food dollars at restaurants. In our family we are at about 20%, which means we go out for lunch or dinner once or twice a week.

I visited a friend who lives in a super-HCOL area. He constantly complains about being broke and short of time. He and his wife both work. I visited him at his office.  For lunch, he didn't have time to pack a lunch so we walk over to a sandwich shop and wait for sandwiches. That takes about 30-45 minutes. On other days he swings by Starbucks at lunchtime and picks up a premade sandwich because he and his wife don't have time to stock up on bag lunch foods.

For dinner, he calls his wife and asks her what she'd like for takeout because they're both too tired to cook. We then drive over to an Italian restaurant and spend 25 minutes standing around in the foyer waiting for our takeout order. We then drive home to his place and eat out of plastic cartons. The whole time he is bitching about his mortgage payment.

I just can't believe they live like this.  I feel bad for the guy but there is just no way this lifestyle is saving him time, effort or money.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Chesleygirl on August 12, 2017, 02:10:38 PM

On other days he swings by Starbucks at lunchtime and picks up a premade sandwich because he and his wife don't have time to stock up on bag lunch foods.


My friend overheard a conversation at a diner, where the man was eating a meal and complaining to his friends at the table, that he couldn't afford to buy food for his family. She said, for the same amount of money he spent on that meal, he could buy some lunch meat and a couple of loaves of bread, and eat sandwiches for two weeks.

I got tired of dealing with rude service people in restaurants and it wasn't worth the money I was paying, so I started making food at home more often.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: KellyM on August 12, 2017, 04:43:29 PM
Americans probably have the largest kitchens too. Sad no one uses them

Yes. Expensive and large with granite countertops. Always clean, never used.

A few years back I had a new sliding patio door installed. One of the contractors on the job told me he really liked my kitchen. I thanked him, but mentioned I was slightly surprised by the compliment because my kitchen is very dated. He said in his line of work he mostly sees high-end, lavishly renovated kitchens where it's obvious that no one ever cooks anything in them. So I guess Canada's not far behind the US in the unused kitchen category.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Chesleygirl on August 12, 2017, 05:27:52 PM
Americans probably have the largest kitchens too. Sad no one uses them

Yes. Expensive and large with granite countertops. Always clean, never used.

A few years back I had a new sliding patio door installed. One of the contractors on the job told me he really liked my kitchen. I thanked him, but mentioned I was slightly surprised by the compliment because my kitchen is very dated. He said in his line of work he mostly sees high-end, lavishly renovated kitchens where it's obvious that no one ever cooks anything in them. So I guess Canada's not far behind the US in the unused kitchen category.

Even sadder when people with these large homes and fabulous kitchens have credit card debt and can't pay their mortgage.

Ok, I know I'm being a little judgy here, but I'm glad I didn't go down this road. Bought a moderate-sized home well within my budget. The kitchen could use some remodeling but I decided to put it of for a very long time. The countertops I have are cheap ones from the 70s and they are just fine.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: KellyM on August 12, 2017, 08:32:00 PM
Americans probably have the largest kitchens too. Sad no one uses them

Yes. Expensive and large with granite countertops. Always clean, never used.

A few years back I had a new sliding patio door installed. One of the contractors on the job told me he really liked my kitchen. I thanked him, but mentioned I was slightly surprised by the compliment because my kitchen is very dated. He said in his line of work he mostly sees high-end, lavishly renovated kitchens where it's obvious that no one ever cooks anything in them. So I guess Canada's not far behind the US in the unused kitchen category.

Even sadder when people with these large homes and fabulous kitchens have credit card debt and can't pay their mortgage.

Ok, I know I'm being a little judgy here, but I'm glad I didn't go down this road. Bought a moderate-sized home well within my budget. The kitchen could use some remodeling but I decided to put it of for a very long time. The countertops I have are cheap ones from the 70s and they are just fine.

Good for you! I did the same, and renovating isn't a priority for me either. I eat almost entirely at home, my kitchen gets a lot of use, and it doesn't bother me one bit that the cupboards are from the 80's. I prefer older things though, so it might be more of a personal preference than a virtue for me lol.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 13, 2017, 06:49:38 AM
Americans probably have the largest kitchens too. Sad no one uses them

Yes. Expensive and large with granite countertops. Always clean, never used.

A few years back I had a new sliding patio door installed. One of the contractors on the job told me he really liked my kitchen. I thanked him, but mentioned I was slightly surprised by the compliment because my kitchen is very dated. He said in his line of work he mostly sees high-end, lavishly renovated kitchens where it's obvious that no one ever cooks anything in them. So I guess Canada's not far behind the US in the unused kitchen category.

Even sadder when people with these large homes and fabulous kitchens have credit card debt and can't pay their mortgage.

Ok, I know I'm being a little judgy here, but I'm glad I didn't go down this road. Bought a moderate-sized home well within my budget. The kitchen could use some remodeling but I decided to put it of for a very long time. The countertops I have are cheap ones from the 70s and they are just fine.

Good for you! I did the same, and renovating isn't a priority for me either. I eat almost entirely at home, my kitchen gets a lot of use, and it doesn't bother me one bit that the cupboards are from the 80's. I prefer older things though, so it might be more of a personal preference than a virtue for me lol.

Our house came with granite countertops in the kitchen the the previous owner self-installed, which are fine, but I don't really care about them. Honestly, I had kind of hoped that I could install some of that counter surface made from recycled bottles and other materials that Ed Begley Jr. uses in his house, but I guess granite is a natural surface so it will do. We are very much into sustainable living as much as possible because it's not only good for the Earth but also generally quite good for our wallets.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: KellyM on August 13, 2017, 09:26:17 AM

Our house came with granite countertops in the kitchen the the previous owner self-installed, which are fine, but I don't really care about them. Honestly, I had kind of hoped that I could install some of that counter surface made from recycled bottles and other materials that Ed Begley Jr. uses in his house, but I guess granite is a natural surface so it will do. We are very much into sustainable living as much as possible because it's not only good for the Earth but also generally quite good for our wallets.

Absolutely, thrift and environmentalism both have a common tenet of minimizing waste IMO. Which, come to think of it, is something I've not seen mentioned yet in this eat at home/eat out thread - the waste associated with take-out containers. It positively makes me shudder.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: pachnik on August 13, 2017, 09:48:24 AM
Absolutely, thrift and environmentalism both have a common tenet of minimizing waste IMO. Which, come to think of it, is something I've not seen mentioned yet in this eat at home/eat out thread - the waste associated with take-out containers. It positively makes me shudder.

We very rarely get take out.  But a few weeks ago, we had some guests from out of town and decided to get Chinese take out.   I was shocked at the amount of containers left.  They can all be recycle but still. 
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 13, 2017, 10:03:11 AM
Absolutely, thrift and environmentalism both have a common tenet of minimizing waste IMO. Which, come to think of it, is something I've not seen mentioned yet in this eat at home/eat out thread - the waste associated with take-out containers. It positively makes me shudder.

We very rarely get take out.  But a few weeks ago, we had some guests from out of town and decided to get Chinese take out.   I was shocked at the amount of containers left.  They can all be recycle but still.

I have saved the plastic containers from the few times we have gotten Chinese takeout over the years and we use them as tupperware for our leftovers. They are at least reusable that way and when they eventually die they are recyclable. That's the best we could do with that particular situation, but a lot of people get takeout at least a couple times a week and then they just throw out the containers. I can only imagine what that's doing to our environment.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: KellyM on August 13, 2017, 10:27:51 AM
Absolutely, thrift and environmentalism both have a common tenet of minimizing waste IMO. Which, come to think of it, is something I've not seen mentioned yet in this eat at home/eat out thread - the waste associated with take-out containers. It positively makes me shudder.

We very rarely get take out.  But a few weeks ago, we had some guests from out of town and decided to get Chinese take out.   I was shocked at the amount of containers left.  They can all be recycle but still.

I have saved the plastic containers from the few times we have gotten Chinese takeout over the years and we use them as tupperware for our leftovers. They are at least reusable that way and when they eventually die they are recyclable. That's the best we could do with that particular situation, but a lot of people get takeout at least a couple times a week and then they just throw out the containers. I can only imagine what that's doing to our environment.

Nice to hear you're practicing all 3 R's:-) I save most food containers, whether a coffee can or an occasional take-out container, with the high hopes of reusing at least a few times before recycling. Some do get reused, some just pile up until I give up and dump them in the recycler. And I have some plastic Chinese food containers that stay permanently with my "Tupperware" as well.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 13, 2017, 11:55:38 AM
Absolutely, thrift and environmentalism both have a common tenet of minimizing waste IMO. Which, come to think of it, is something I've not seen mentioned yet in this eat at home/eat out thread - the waste associated with take-out containers. It positively makes me shudder.

We very rarely get take out.  But a few weeks ago, we had some guests from out of town and decided to get Chinese take out.   I was shocked at the amount of containers left.  They can all be recycle but still.

I have saved the plastic containers from the few times we have gotten Chinese takeout over the years and we use them as tupperware for our leftovers. They are at least reusable that way and when they eventually die they are recyclable. That's the best we could do with that particular situation, but a lot of people get takeout at least a couple times a week and then they just throw out the containers. I can only imagine what that's doing to our environment.

Nice to hear you're practicing all 3 R's:-) I save most food containers, whether a coffee can or an occasional take-out container, with the high hopes of reusing at least a few times before recycling. Some do get reused, some just pile up until I give up and dump them in the recycler. And I have some plastic Chinese food containers that stay permanently with my "Tupperware" as well.

We reuse all kinds of stuff. I saved the cups from when I used to eat store bought yogurt (before I learned how easy is was to make at home). I punched some holes in the bottoms of the cups, filled them with potting soil, placed them in an old plastic doughnut box I rescued from work, and VOILA! Instant seedling tray to put in the front window when I was starting up the garden. Saved a bunch of money on gardening equipment that way.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: KellyM on August 14, 2017, 05:38:30 PM

We reuse all kinds of stuff. I saved the cups from when I used to eat store bought yogurt (before I learned how easy is was to make at home). I punched some holes in the bottoms of the cups, filled them with potting soil, placed them in an old plastic doughnut box I rescued from work, and VOILA! Instant seedling tray to put in the front window when I was starting up the garden. Saved a bunch of money on gardening equipment that way.

What a great use for those little yogurt cups. I've always thought them kinda useless because they didn't have a lid.
So, just how easy is it to make home made yogurt?
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 14, 2017, 07:04:19 PM

We reuse all kinds of stuff. I saved the cups from when I used to eat store bought yogurt (before I learned how easy is was to make at home). I punched some holes in the bottoms of the cups, filled them with potting soil, placed them in an old plastic doughnut box I rescued from work, and VOILA! Instant seedling tray to put in the front window when I was starting up the garden. Saved a bunch of money on gardening equipment that way.

What a great use for those little yogurt cups. I've always thought them kinda useless because they didn't have a lid.
So, just how easy is it to make home made yogurt?

It's super easy to make your own yogurt if you use... DA DA DAAAAAAAAAAAA! A slow cooker! :-)

Seriously, between the slow cooker my mother gave me and the bread machine I bought off Craigslist for $30, making my own food is no problem at all. Did you know you can make your own jam in a bread machine?
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: KellyM on August 14, 2017, 07:32:24 PM

It's super easy to make your own yogurt if you use... DA DA DAAAAAAAAAAAA! A slow cooker! :-)

Seriously, between the slow cooker my mother gave me and the bread machine I bought off Craigslist for $30, making my own food is no problem at all. Did you know you can make your own jam in a bread machine?

No, I did not know that lol. I've never used a bread machine or baked bread of any kind. I would like to try baking rolls or flour tortillas, but haven't taken that step yet.
I'm intrigued by your slow cooker pulled pork recipe. Just took a pork loin out of the freezer to start thawing:-)
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: A Definite Beta Guy on August 15, 2017, 03:21:49 PM

We reuse all kinds of stuff. I saved the cups from when I used to eat store bought yogurt (before I learned how easy is was to make at home). I punched some holes in the bottoms of the cups, filled them with potting soil, placed them in an old plastic doughnut box I rescued from work, and VOILA! Instant seedling tray to put in the front window when I was starting up the garden. Saved a bunch of money on gardening equipment that way.

What a great use for those little yogurt cups. I've always thought them kinda useless because they didn't have a lid.
So, just how easy is it to make home made yogurt?

It's super easy to make your own yogurt if you use... DA DA DAAAAAAAAAAAA! A slow cooker! :-)

Seriously, between the slow cooker my mother gave me and the bread machine I bought off Craigslist for $30, making my own food is no problem at all. Did you know you can make your own jam in a bread machine?

You can make jam in a bread machine? Now this is something I need to google.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: MarciaB on August 15, 2017, 07:41:36 PM
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...

And slow cookers are cheap - go to Goodwill and spend maybe $5 and you're set! I love them, and have saved many a post-work evening by just ladling out something cooked and yummy only minutes after I get home.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: gggggg on August 20, 2017, 05:32:44 PM
I almost never, and I mean never, eat out. The only time I do is if it's someone's birthday or something similar, and the group wants to go. I may eat out like this 4-5 times a year, tops.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 22, 2017, 07:22:54 AM
As a follow-up on my previous comments about how easy and cheap it is to cook at home, I made a fancy dinner for my wife that cost nearly nothing. My in-laws sent us a box of Omaha Steaks meats as a gift a few months ago which I stuck in the freezer, so I decided to make filet mignon. I made the steaks on a frying pan which took a total of eight minutes and seasoned them with homemade Montreal steak seasoning that I made from some spices I had in my cabinet. I also made baked potatoes from a bag I bought for $4.50 for 10 lbs at the warehouse store and some vegetables I bought at the farmer's market for maybe $2. I measured the internet temperature of the steaks with a mechanical meat thermometer I bought off Amazon a couple years ago for $3. Then, I added a bottle of excellent locally produced wine that I would put up against anything from Europe that cost me $10.

Total cost for the food for the meal: $12.45 including the wine. If I had gotten the meats at the warehouse store, it would have been $18.00.

Total cost of similar meal at a fancy restaurant: $150.00

If you can do a fancy meal for $18.00, how cheap do you think it would be to make simpler meals? That's why I'm telling you that cooking at home is a really frugal way to do things. That's a lot of savings that can go into your Vanguard fund for early retirement.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: SeaEhm on August 23, 2017, 05:52:58 PM

If you can do a fancy meal for $18.00, how cheap do you think it would be to make simpler meals? That's why I'm telling you that cooking at home is a really frugal way to do things. That's a lot of savings that can go into your Vanguard fund for early retirement.

Meat and potatoes isn't a fancy meal. 

What would one define as a simpler meal than putting seasoning on a piece of meat, some vegetables, and a starch and cooking them in a pan?
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: WhiteTrashCash on August 23, 2017, 07:48:59 PM

If you can do a fancy meal for $18.00, how cheap do you think it would be to make simpler meals? That's why I'm telling you that cooking at home is a really frugal way to do things. That's a lot of savings that can go into your Vanguard fund for early retirement.

Meat and potatoes isn't a fancy meal. 

What would one define as a simpler meal than putting seasoning on a piece of meat, some vegetables, and a starch and cooking them in a pan?

I sense that you are one of my own kind. Welcome to the wider world.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Northern gal on August 30, 2017, 04:54:55 PM
Quote from: TheGrimSqueaker link=topic=76593.msg1644568#msg1644568
.


Try this:.


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.


Not to take away from your love of slow cookers, but slow cooked beans are dangerous and have killed people. Some beans are worse than others but the principle applies to all. Always preboil for at least 10 minutes.

http://www.medic8.com/healthguide/food-poisoning/red-kidney-bean-toxins.html

Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: NorCal on October 29, 2017, 09:09:10 PM
As a note on the original article, I call bullshit on the whole study.

I used to work in the payments world, and this type of "study" would typically be based on payments volumes that are incredibly hard to interpret.  Here's some examples that I can think of off the top of my head:

1. The "Merchant Category" of grocers excludes Wal-Mart and Target.  As Wal-Mart and Target have picked up grocery sales, that appears to be a decline in grocer volume.
2. Many studies of payments volumes only include payments where you "sign" for a purchase, and not PIN debit transactions (I'll spare you the reasons why).  This may or may not have happened in this study.
3.  Debit has always been popular in grocery stores.  However, many smaller restaurants only started accepting cards over the last few years (think Square).
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Kyle Schuant on October 30, 2017, 12:25:49 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),
Well, once you factor in the travel, it's true. Of course for home cooking you have to go shopping and clean up afterwards, so that time counts against home cooking, too. But they call it "convenience", which is a word meaning, "I'm lazy."

Now, if you factor in the work you have to do to pay for that food... it takes longer to prepare takeout than home-cooked, for most people on an hourly wage, anyway. For example, if you earn $20 an hour, then that $20 meal actually cost you 30 minutes, on top of however long it took to go there and get it. Which is a normal hot meal preparation time. Of course, some people would prefer working 30 minutes at their paid job than working 30 minutes in their kitchen.

I don't think it's wrong to do any of these things. Everyone chooses, will I spend money or time? Will I spend time on X or time on Y? I just say: be aware of the choices, be aware of the costs. The choices we make thoughtlessly tend to be worse for us than the choices we make thoughtfully.

Edited to add:

For example, once a week I go out and play a game with friends. I eat out, Schnitz or some place like that. It's $15-$20. I buy some junky snacks, $5-$10. I'm also taking the train there, that's $5 on average depending exactly when I head out. In all, the evening costs me $25-$35. I do it about 40 times a year, so that's $1,200 or so.

Most days I'm up at 0645. It's kids and housework until 1600 when people come to my garage to train. At 1800 my wife will have heated the meal I made earlier in the day and we sit down to dinner. We put the kids to bed. At 1900 it's back in the garage until - it's supposed to be 2100, but often they're not all gone until 2145. Clean up a bit, read a book, lights out 2230.

My life is barbells and babies. I love them both, but not enough to have nothing else in my life. So far in writing this edit I've had to stop 11 times, 3 to respond to the 6yo boy and 8 to respond to the 20 month girl, and 7 of those times I had to get up - she was tearing into the pantry or something. It's nice to go out once a week for a few hours and someone else cooks the meal and does the dishes for me, and then I go and sit down with adults and talk about something other than barbells and babies. I'll pay $1,200 a year for that. It's cheaper than alcoholism or psychotherapy.

But this is a considered choice. If I just did what I felt like without thinking about it I'd sleep in till 10, have no breakfast, and eat takeout lunch and dinner every day.

We should try not to be frugal, but to have considered frugality. It's not that we don't spend, it's that we consider each spend to decide whether it's worth it. When things are looked at in their turn to decide if they're worth it, this always leads to less spending.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Northern gal on October 30, 2017, 02:40:52 AM
As a note on the original article, I call bullshit on the whole study.

I used to work in the payments world, and this type of "study" would typically be based on payments volumes that are incredibly hard to interpret.  Here's some examples that I can think of off the top of my head:

1. The "Merchant Category" of grocers excludes Wal-Mart and Target.  As Wal-Mart and Target have picked up grocery sales, that appears to be a decline in grocer volume.
2. Many studies of payments volumes only include payments where you "sign" for a purchase, and not PIN debit transactions (I'll spare you the reasons why).  This may or may not have happened in this study.
3.  Debit has always been popular in grocery stores.  However, many smaller restaurants only started accepting cards over the last few years (think Square).

Interesting. Thans for sharing that Perspective.

Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: horsepoor on October 30, 2017, 04:38:07 AM
Last night I ended up staying at the barn later than expected with a sick horse, so I decided to cruise through the local burrito drive-through on the way home instead of making the salmon, carrots and roast cabbage meal I'd planned to do.  Hadn't been there in many months, and had to double-check the menu pricing when she announced that my total was $17.60 for 2 burritos and 2 tacos (no drinks).  The dinner I had planned was about $4 worth of salmon (wild caught coho, portioned out and frozen when on sale), 50c for carrots and $1 for cabbage, plus let's say another $1 for seasonings, though the peach salsa on the salmon, and most of the other herbs I would have used are from the garden and nearly free.  So $11 less for a really healthy, delicious meal, and probably not much more time than it took to detour to the burrito place and wait in the drivethrough (and it could have taken longer, there was one car just getting its order when I arrived, then the line started stacking up behind me).  The alternate meal involved dropping the sealed bag of salmon in the sous-vide pot, chopping the cabbage into steaks and dressing with salt and oil and popping in the oven, then peeling carrots and throwing them in the InstantPot.  Cleanup time, maybe another 5-10 minutes.

So this may have saved 15 minutes at a cost of $11, or $44/hr.  Coincidentally, that is very close to my current wage, but more than I take home after taxes; it seems people fail to consider their post-tax wage in this calculation.  Of course it's moot for me because I don't have the ability to work OT at my job.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: onehair on October 30, 2017, 08:11:29 AM
Or you can soak the beans before leaving for work and cook them when you get home as well as the mighty slow cooker.  I was taught since I don't use pork to add butter or margarine either way to make up for the fat.  For kidney for chili I do use the peppers and tomatoes and ground meat.  Red beans and rice smoked turkey or smoked sausage.  Cornbread I have been purchasing lately (shamefaced look) since I can't seem to eat beans with out it and I could bake it I am just lazy.  I cook once or twice weekly myself.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Just Joe on October 31, 2017, 08:21:04 AM
Are you ready for this? We have an apartment-sized dishwasher, not a full-sized dishwasher. It is located in our kitchen in such a way that we would have to demolish cabinets and redo them in order to fit a larger dishwasher in. The dishwasher we have sucks. Any replacement for it also sucks because it would be an apartment-sized dishwasher and there are very few choices, none of which are good.

It makes no sense to replace shit with shit, especially when our cabinets are falling apart and should all be replaced and especially when our sink is chipped and rusty and awful and is an odd size that I can't find a replacement for and can find nothing that will work in the counter cutout and any money spent on our crappy counters is an utter waste when the whole thing needs to be demo'd. I curse the man who built this kitchen so that nothing was standard sized. I've been going round and round like this for years and the end result is I'm going to put up with my crappy dishwasher until we sell this house next year and either completely redo the kitchen so we can sell it or offer some sort of allowance.

So, I stop up the sink (to minimize water usage) and pre-clean all of the dishes. Yes, I've read the articles about how you shouldn't preclean your dishes because your dishwasher needs the grime and I've tried it and it was an epic fail. That includes dishes for 5 people for 2-3 meals/day. Yes, I am making my daughters clean up their own breakfast dishes but from a water standpoint, that's actually wasteful.

After pre-cleaning and loading all dishes (which is like a game of tetris in that stupid f-ing dishwasher), I stop up the sink again and wash all of the pots and pans and serving spoons, etc, that would NEVER fit in that dishwasher. Because I cook items for breakfast and lunch - yogurt (2 gal/wk), chicken (5 lbs/wk), beans (2 cups/wk), rice (2 cups/wk) and eggs (1 doz/wk) - along with dinner, I have pots from those too. So, I typically have 1-2 non-dinner pots (every cooker has its own pot, which is okay because I typically have at least 2 cookers going at time) combined with dinner pots. I cannot fit all of them on my two drying racks and have to spread towels out on either side for additional drying.

So, 5 people + all home cooked meals + homemade staples + shitty apartment-sized dishwasher means A LOT of dishes and washing time.

Even when you're not eating out, there's a big difference between buying all prepared foods at the store and making most of it yourself to save money. If I didn't prepare as much food as I do, we'd easily spend another $100-200 every month.

May I make a suggestion? Look for European sized kitchen equipment. They have some really nice but smaller than American fixtures and appliances.

Question: are poor people poor (and perhaps unhealthy) b/c the same lack of imagination and motivation that plagues their income generation also plagues other things in their life like what to eat?

I count myself as a recovering unimaginative eater. Studying these topics here, AllRecipes.com, BudgetBytes and motivation to learn to cook have all helped. I find my ability to visualize different things to eat is assisted by learning to cook. Big thanks to DW for her guidance, patience and adventurous spirit when eating what I cook.

I like good food and try to balance live to eat and eat to live.

Also have recently decided to swear off eating out at lunch so often. Easy to "relapse" b/c nearest coworker eats out every day and invites me along. $350+ goes *poof* if I did eat out every day with CW. Frankly I'd rather have that money for savings or even garage toys. Or hire out home repairs/renovations.

Frankly I've lived here for a long time and I'm tired of what most lunchtime restaurants offer. Especially the drive-through fast food. Was tempting as we drove home between them but then one day I thought about WHAT we were smelling and most often it is some sort of greasy fryer. Never mind.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: NeonPegasus on October 31, 2017, 09:06:08 AM
Question: are poor people poor (and perhaps unhealthy) b/c the same lack of imagination and motivation that plagues their income generation also plagues other things in their life like what to eat?

No. First, you're assuming that poor people are poor due to lack of imagination. This statement shows you've read next to nothing about poverty in the US, its causes (both on a macro and micro level) as well as how difficult it is to break the cycle. I recently read (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/economic-inequality/524610/) that it requires going almost 20 years without anything major going wrong to break out of poverty. There are so many different things that make it difficult to break out of poverty, ranging from income inequality, greater burdens to support family, higher charges for food, loans, etc, due to being poor (i.e. can't take advantage of bulk buying, poor credit so stuck with high interest rates, zero financial assistance from family so you must rely on title loans).

Specifically regarding food, two of the issues that come to mind are food deserts and government subsidies for things like corn that make junk food way less expensive than fruits and veggies. Here's a great article on food deserts - http://www.atlantamagazine.com/great-reads/stranded-in-atlantas-food-deserts/. Imagine how your diet would be different if you had to take multiple buses to get to a store to do grocery shopping and then take all of your food back the same way in a process that takes nearly your whole day. Would you shop every week? What would you do instead and would you buy as much perishable food?
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Just Joe on October 31, 2017, 10:08:03 AM
Yeah - I am aware of the problems you detailed. I've read similar studies and believe that these are valid studies too. There are other contributing reasons as well though.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: horsepoor on October 31, 2017, 11:30:50 AM
Last night I ended up staying at the barn later than expected with a sick horse, so I decided to cruise through the local burrito drive-through on the way home instead of making the salmon, carrots and roast cabbage meal I'd planned to do.  Hadn't been there in many months, and had to double-check the menu pricing when she announced that my total was $17.60 for 2 burritos and 2 tacos (no drinks).  The dinner I had planned was about $4 worth of salmon (wild caught coho, portioned out and frozen when on sale), 50c for carrots and $1 for cabbage, plus let's say another $1 for seasonings, though the peach salsa on the salmon, and most of the other herbs I would have used are from the garden and nearly free.  So $11 less for a really healthy, delicious meal, and probably not much more time than it took to detour to the burrito place and wait in the drivethrough (and it could have taken longer, there was one car just getting its order when I arrived, then the line started stacking up behind me).  The alternate meal involved dropping the sealed bag of salmon in the sous-vide pot, chopping the cabbage into steaks and dressing with salt and oil and popping in the oven, then peeling carrots and throwing them in the InstantPot.  Cleanup time, maybe another 5-10 minutes.

So this may have saved 15 minutes at a cost of $11, or $44/hr.  Coincidentally, that is very close to my current wage, but more than I take home after taxes; it seems people fail to consider their post-tax wage in this calculation.  Of course it's moot for me because I don't have the ability to work OT at my job.

I made the salmon dinner after work yesterday.  I decided to clock myself, and it was seven minutes to get the salmon packet going in the sous vide bath, cut the cabbage into "steaks" and season with some oil, salt and chile powder, peel and chop carrots and get them into the oven.  Then for extra credit I made a mushroom soup in the Instant Pot - that was time consuming @ about 16 additional minutes, though I did change into my gym clothes while the mushrooms were sauteeing.  Time could have been reduced if I'd purchased baby carrots and sliced mushrooms.  I suppose I could have purchased pre-chopped onions too.  I then got a workout done while everything was cooking, and spent an additional 2 minutes pureeing the soup.  DH cleaned up after dinner in about 10 minutes.  About two large servings of the soup are waiting in the fridge to be taken for work lunches the rest of the week.

Modern kitchen gadgets can be really helpful in streamlining the kitchen tasks.  I consider it money well spent to have a few appliances that effectively cut down on our eating out and purchasing convenience foods (even including condiments).

Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: LadyDividend on October 31, 2017, 11:48:13 AM
Personally, the convenience of take out or restaurant food is the most tempting to me. I've gotten better since I freeze leftovers which can be defrosted and heated in an hour or so (with minimal effort), and my "go to" healthy, quick and cheap meal are frozen vegetables and stock cooked with white rice.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Chesleygirl on November 01, 2017, 10:15:48 AM
I have never done online grocery shopping.

I know some moms who do it, because they say if they take their kids to the grocery store, the kids will start throwing all kinds of "extras" into the cart. So they actually save money, if they do online grocery shopping.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: MgoSam on November 01, 2017, 10:23:34 AM
I generally have a good amount of meals in my fridge both at work and the office and I still face constant temptation to buy pizza or fast food or Chinese. Sad part is that I generally don't get all that much enjoyment off the meal when I do get take-out so I've stopped doing it. I plan on eating out on the weekends when there is a social component to it. It is sad how irrational my desire for restaurant food is when

a. It isn't objectively any tastier than what I make
b. It costs a hell of a lot more
c. It doesn't really save me any time
d. It is way less healthy

That said, I do need to do a better job at my meal prepping because I've realized that part of the reason I want to eat out is for the variety of it. Some times I am choking down my lunch/dinner because I've had this particular dish 8 times in the past 2 weeks and am sick of it.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Chesleygirl on November 01, 2017, 11:11:58 AM

That said, I do need to do a better job at my meal prepping because I've realized that part of the reason I want to eat out is for the variety of it. Some times I am choking down my lunch/dinner because I've had this particular dish 8 times in the past 2 weeks and am sick of it.

Same here. I get tired of eating leftovers and sometimes I need variety.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: 4alpacas on November 03, 2017, 11:02:24 AM

That said, I do need to do a better job at my meal prepping because I've realized that part of the reason I want to eat out is for the variety of it. Some times I am choking down my lunch/dinner because I've had this particular dish 8 times in the past 2 weeks and am sick of it.

Same here. I get tired of eating leftovers and sometimes I need variety.
This is why I buy frozen meals.  An individual portion of something that's totally different than what I usually cook.  I like eVol (especially the truffle mac & cheese).  It's so much faster to grab a box from my freezer than deal with the hassle of a restaurant.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Chesleygirl on November 03, 2017, 01:19:23 PM
Question: are poor people poor (and perhaps unhealthy) b/c the same lack of imagination and motivation that plagues their income generation also plagues other things in their life like what to eat?

No. First, you're assuming that poor people are poor due to lack of imagination. This statement shows you've read next to nothing about poverty in the US, its causes (both on a macro and micro level) as well as how difficult it is to break the cycle. I recently read (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/economic-inequality/524610/) that it requires going almost 20 years without anything major going wrong to break out of poverty. There are so many different things that make it difficult to break out of poverty, ranging from income inequality, greater burdens to support family, higher charges for food, loans, etc, due to being poor (i.e. can't take advantage of bulk buying, poor credit so stuck with high interest rates, zero financial assistance from family so you must rely on title loans).


That's very true. Poverty is a very complex issue.

Poor people often can not take advantage of bulk buying or can't wait until something goes on sale, because they might not have the money for it later on. They can't afford a Sam's Club membership. They might wind up spending more for things at convenience stores because they don't have a car to drive to Wal Mart to get it cheaper. Those are just a few examples.

I actually worked at a place where they fired someone simply for being homeless. They didn't like it that he gave a PO Box as his address. Prejudice can also play a role in keeping people in poverty.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Northern gal on November 03, 2017, 07:11:23 PM
Quote from: horsepoor link=topic=76593.msg1753597#msg1753597
,

Modern kitchen gadgets can be really helpful in streamlining the kitchen tasks.  I consider it money well spent to have a few appliances that effectively cut down on our eating out and purchasing convenience foods (even including condiments).

I could not agree more.

We don't have a sous vide bu a Thermomix and once you get used to it, it can save you heaps!

I fully accept that having a nice clean kitchen with a roomy fridge and the safety of knowing that what you put in there will still be there (I.e.not raided by flat mates or intoxicated people) also makes it easier to meal plan, eat well and save. There was a time when I had to make do without these things and i know full well how privileged I am.
Title: Re: Americans spend more on food away from home than on food at home
Post by: Kyle Schuant on November 03, 2017, 09:55:44 PM
I actually worked at a place where they fired someone simply for being homeless. They didn't like it that he gave a PO Box as his address. Prejudice can also play a role in keeping people in poverty.
Let me guess: they also said they were annoyed that so much of their taxes went to welfare?