As you’re washing, peeling and chopping a small mountain of vegetables for dinner, have you ever silently cursed to yourself and wondered why you decided to cook this dish in the first place? After all, you’re tired from work and running around. You want time to relax with your family, have some downtime to yourself, but it’s 6:30pm and your family’s gotta eat something besides chips and hummus so you power through. And then, if you’re like me, you eat, you forget, and you might not think about it again until you find yourself doing the same thing, cursing to yourself once again some days later.
Here’s why I did it (past tense because now we mostly eat SomaFare):
- Because takeout isn’t healthy enough – If we could afford it, I would be delighted to have my family eat food from places like Viale, Alden and Harlow, etc (you know – nice ‘New American’ restaurants) on a daily basis. These places have a lot of vegetables, well-prepared proteins, and complex carbs. Unfortunately, they also run $50+ per person so for our family of 3 adults and 1 child… that would be over $5000 per month just for dinner… so um, no. I’m not actually even sure that they do take out?? All the other takeout options that are at a more moderate price point (let’s say under $20 per person) are very carb-heavy (think pizza, burritos, noodles) or are cold salads (I can’t have cold salad every night. I just can’t).
- Because you have a specific cultural heritage to carry on through food – I fit into this category. I’m Korean American and food is an important part of Korean heritage that I want my son to experience. So our food is about 30% Korean – we often have kimchi and rice with our more American-/Mediterranean-/European- influenced meals if they go together and we also have 1-2 meals a week that’s entirely Korean.
- Because you have some specific dietary restrictions – like allergies or a strict diet for medical reasons.
- Because you love to cook. I love to cook too, but I don’t want to do it every night, especially after work.
What I’m not sure of is the money side of it. Of course eating out is more expensive than cooking yourself, but Americans spend more than 8 hours per week in food preparation. If you value your time at $30 per hour or above, then you should probably eat out most of the time if you can find a service that fits your taste and charges ~$15 per serving (*big fat asterisk here – see the bottom of this post). Roughly, the math is 8 hours per week spent on cooking at $30 per hour for a family of four = $10 of labor per serving. If you assume that the ingredients alone are $5 per serving, then it should be roughly comparable between cooking it yourself and having someone else cook it.
And (here it comes… drumroll please ;p) – that’s why I started SomaFare! I wanted the sauteed vegetables, those meats marinated in herbs and slow-roasted, the pastas that were a step above meat-sauce-over-Barilla-pasta… the nutrition-dense foods that were prepared with interesting flavors. And I wanted it to be around $15-20 per serving, not $50.
Does this resonate with you? How do you think about eating out vs cooking yourself? Also check out SomaFare too, obviously.
*I just want to acknowledge here that $30 per hour is a lot for a lot of Americans and that paying $15 for most of your dinners isn’t reasonable for many people. I don’t think it means that the service shouldn’t exist or that it doesn’t serve a good purpose but I don’t want to make it sound like this makes sense or is feasible for everyone.