June 6, 2019

Food for Thought

I recently saw a video of a dog fetching a can of cold beer from the fridge and throwing the empty one in the recycle bin. This is a rare example of a pet doing something actually useful. How about a teenage daughter cooking a restaurant-quality meal at home?

I was never keen on those meal kit startups like Blue Apron, but my daughter became excited about it after trying one sample meal from Plated. The price per serving comes out to be about $10. In New York City, you could get cheap Chinese or Mexican food delivered for the same price, so, you might ask, “Why would I bother cooking if I can get someone else to cook for me for the same price?” This argument actually applies also for cooking anything at home without these meal kits. You might think it’s cheaper to cook but I’m pretty sure it’s not. It seems cheaper only because you are not accounting for the hidden costs.

Suppose the recipe you want to try calls for one tablespoon of horseradish, whole-grain mustard, or balsamic glaze? You would have to buy a whole bottle of it. I’m sure you are familiar with what happens to these bottles. You end up not using the rest of it. Since we cannot buy the exact amount of ingredients the recipe calls for, much of what you buy is wasted. If you took them into account, you would realize that it’s costing you more than $10 a meal.

If you were to take into account your time and effort for grocery shopping, economically it’s crazy to cook at home, period. There have to be other reasons besides economics: Because you need to eat healthier, because it’s fun, because you want to learn how to cook, etc.

Plated is great for my kid because it’s a convenient way to learn how to cook. If she had to grocery-shop for these meals, forget it; it’s way too much work. And, she is not going to figure out what to do with the leftover ingredients.

It’s great for me and my wife too since we don’t have to do anything but to spend the same amount of money we would spend anyway. We get to have a restaurant-quality meal (I’m not exaggerating) at home for $10 a person.

If you use one of these meal kit startups, let me know what you think of it. I’m curious.