Thank you, Rachel and Amol, for writing this and sending it to me last week! Rachel and Amol are two of our favorite clients. They’ve been ordering several meals a week from Portable Chef for nearly four years and counting, and have been vocal supporters of what we do. After reading this, I was excited to go out and order from us myself!
The Hidden Cost of Cooking
By Amol Tembe and Rachel Schwartz
We are longtime customers (and fans) of Portable Chef, and if you’re considering it, I know what you’re probably thinking: the meals are too expensive. On the surface, it may seem that way. But you’re likely not considering all the costs and how Portable Chef and cooking yourself actually compare.
I’m always interested in knowing whether what I’m doing is worth it or not. If you’re a cost-conscious person like me, you understand. One afternoon in August 2013, I sat down and thought about how much value we were actually getting. We were already sold on the deliciousness of Portable Chef. But that afternoon, the cost factor became a no-brainer. We’ve been customers ever since.
Here’s a behind the scenes look at what I put down that August afternoon, and below, are some explanations and considerations.
Money Value of Time
What do you make per hour, and how much is your time worth? We work approximately 2,000 hours in a year at an average of 40 hours per week (50 weeks per year). Now take your salary, and divide it by 2,000. For illustration, a $70,000 salary translates to $35 per hour. That’s the figure I used.
You Have Less than Four Hours Free Per Weekday
If there are 168 total hours a week (24×7), of which you sleep 56 (8×7) and spend 60 hours on work, including getting ready and commuting, you’re left with 52 hours per week. Thirty two of those hours are on a weekend. So you’re left with 20 hours during the work week, or four hours per day of ‘free’ time.
If you work more than 45 hours a week, there goes another one of those four free hours. A 50 hour work week gives you ONLY two truly free hours a day. Crazy world.
Value of Free Time
Your free time should be worth far more than your hourly rate, because there’s less of it. That is economics 101. But let’s leave it at $35 and be conservative.
Shopping for Meals
You have to go shopping. This is a two hour affair a week, likely, and this assumes that you’re planning perfectly, going on a weekend and getting EVERYTHING you need for the week. How many times have you said, “I’ll get it tomorrow?” What about dealing with the lines and crowds, especially in the winter? Only the dedicated can do this with such forethought. The rest of us aren’t thinking about the day ahead when it comes to food, and that forces us to make multiple trips a week to get what we need. With Portable Chef, meals are conveniently delivered Monday evenings to your door by the friendliest of folks, in the rain and snow, and on days I’m certain you would choose to avoid shopping and order pizza instead. Full disclosure: We still shop, but it’s for items like fruit, nuts, milk, cereal, eggs.
The average meal takes at least 45 minutes in preparation and cooking. There goes some of that precious four hours of free time we mentioned earlier. After a long day of work, are you then going to come home and prepare a perfectly healthy meal? Good luck with that. With Portable Chef, each meal heats up in a few minutes with some oil in a pan. You go from stove top to table in less than 15 minutes.
You have to think about what you’re going to eat, right? Ever get stuck in a rut, eating the same thing? And your menu is sure to be less healthy, since you’re not a professional chef. That doesn’t happen with Portable Chef. You leave the selection to them, and you can count on it being the healthiest foods sourced from small family farms from throughout upstate New York and beyond!
How often do you make bad food decisions? You get home late, you didn’t shop on Sunday, and so you order delivery. I think the average person is doing that 2x per week. Can we even estimate the costs of these poor food choices? With Portable Chef, they are making good choices for you, and you can communicate with the chef on your dietary preferences.
How often do you throw food out? Forty percent of food purchased by American households ends up in the trash1. This used to happen to us, but with perfectly portioned meals from Portable Chef, we never throw out food anymore.
I approximated your weekly cost of food as $100 for five dinners for two people. But let’s be honest – if you’re living in NYC and buying organic groceries, you could be spending A LOT more.
You’ll Never Look Back
Take my advice. Try Portable Chef for two weeks. Order just a few meals. With Portable Chef, we eat with confidence. We know our food is locally sourced, organic, healthy, and the way food was meant to be. We don’t have to worry about meal choice or preparation at the end of a longer than usual or stressful day. Is your preference to be sweating over the stove or unwinding with loved ones? Oh, and did I mention, the food is simply delicious?!!
- Source: Gunders, Dana, Natural Resources Defense Council, Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food From Farm to Fork to Landfill, August 2012.