Time’s money garcon

The tax may also limit the financial incentive to eat pre-cooked meals. An official report published last week found that the average home-cooked meal for four was €0.60 (about 54p) cheaper than its industrial equivalent. But when time spent preparing the meal was factored in at an hourly-rate equivalent to the French minimum wage, the home-cooked dish was on average €5.34 (about £4.76) more expensive.

At least they’re doing the calculation right. Time is money and time spent on domestic unpaid labour should be valued at the undifferentiated labour rate – the minimum wage.

25 thoughts on “Time’s money garcon”

  1. What tax is that? The link took me to a pay walled article that seemed to be about stock levels at Primark. I would love to know how a home-cooked meal could ever cost more than a commercial one

  2. Got it now. It would have to be a whopping big tax to have any effect if cook-chill meals in France cost the same as in the UK. Tesco sell a Charlie Bigham lasagna, stuffed full of salt and enough chemicals to preserve a mammoth, for £7.75. To make it at home, costing in labour, it would come to, maybe, £5, of which the labour is the majority. You see trolley after trolley pass by laden with the stuff. The Tesco own brand equivalent goes for £3.50. Romanian horse must be very cheap

  3. If Germany starts taxing salt in processed meals, people wouldn’t be able to afford to eat.

  4. It depends how far back on the food chain you want to go. Personally I find peeling, boiling and mashing spuds very boring, so am happy to by ready made. Likewise I could go organic and butcher a sheep in the bathtub. But I prefer to get my chops from the butcher. I’m not the only one who hasn’t done the cost accounting.

  5. The Meissen Bison

    France has been levying tax on salt off and on since King Louis IX. It’s always been troublesome and unpopular but, like socialism, it’s always worth giving the scheme another go just to see if it can be made to work properly this time.

    It’s surprising that Professeur Frites hasn’t thought to introduce the gabelle in the UK in the interests of ‘MOAR’.

  6. I keep getting into arguments about this regarding recycling. Apparently my mother-in-law’s council are adding extra bins because people are not washing up their glass and the paper is getting contaminated. You get the quality of work you pay for, says I.

    Of course all they have done is change the job from washing to sorting. I’m sure the quality of work won’t greatly improve. I wonder why they don’t just pay people to do the sorting and washing at the depot. It would be more efficient due to scale. Then we would discover the true cost of recycling, but I answer my own question.

  7. It is down to economies of scale. For a singleton like me, pre-prepared food actually works out quite well. Buying the ingredients for a single portion of curry will work out much more than the offering from Tescos, especially if it is soecial offer/sell by date.

  8. For a singleton like me, pre-prepared food actually works out quite well.

    Agreed. Although you can get round this if you have sufficient freezer space. And making a proper curry is quite satisfying, although not on a Wednesday night after a busy day.

    I had a look at the tesco website and the ‘cheat’ options, not just ready meals but prepared and semi-prepared food, look pretty good and reasonably priced. Here in HK, it’s either M&S Simply Food or random things in supermarket freezers. The alternative for proper cooking for most people is a cheap takeaway, of which there are many. I still see people filling their trolley with instant noodles though.

  9. @ Ottokring
    Quite true but the average figure quoted confounds your example (or our very occasional Chinese takeaway for which your analysis is equally valid) with my steak or pork chop or sausages, carrots and mushroom which is far cheaper than a pre-prepared meal, as well as including better quality food.
    As usual, any one-size-fits-all comment is highly misleading.

  10. MC and John77

    Both of you are right: we are talking here for a single portion lasagne or tikka massala, I had one the other day that cost £1.75 and was much nicer than I could cook myself ( and only took 6 mins in the micro as opposed to an hour or so in the oven). I can,however, make a pound of sossies last 3 meals for instance and they cost circa two quid. I made the mistake of buying a cheap steak the other day and expended more calories chewing the damned thing than it provided.

    Such ready meals in Germany and Austria were universally terrible and it was much better to nip down to the local Turkish run Italian restaurant and pay 7 Reichsmarks (which turned into 20 after a few beers and a tiramisu and there was football on their telly).

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    Such ready meals in Germany and Austria were universally terrible and it was much better to nip down to the local Turkish run Italian restaurant and pay 7 Reichsmarks (which turned into 20 after a few beers and a tiramisu and there was football on their telly).

    You know, my knowledge of the fair shores of the Rhine is somewhat rusty, but I would have sworn that back when Germany used Reichsmarks, there weren’t a hell of a lot of Turkish run places in Germany. Or Austria. Probably not a lot of Italian restaurants either come to think of it.

  12. It won’t limit it, because it’s a far more complex thing than that. It’s not just about time, it’s about things like experience, how tired people are, how well they are set up and whether they even like cooking.

    People go out for a steak when it’s quicker to drive to Aldi, buy a steak, go home and cook it (and Aldi steak is better than most of the stuff you get in a Beefeater).

  13. @ MC
    It always mildly surprises me how many people in Hong Kong can’t (don’t know how to) cook hence the plethora of canteen-style eateries and the sight of children being fed from lunch boxes in public.

  14. When did they start doing chilled ready meals in France? Must be a recent thing. Never saw much of them in either E-LeClerk or Carrefour. Tinned ready dishes they had aisles of. Superb!

  15. When I munch one of M&S’s excellent Melton Mowbray pies, nothing could be further from my mind than “how much would it have cost me to make this myself”? It’s a daft question. Hell, most of us could brew our own beer more cheaply than buy it but almost nobody bothers. We did make our own wine when we were young, but that was mainly for the fun of the hobby – especially tramping the hedgerows picking fruit.

    Anyway that anti-salt fandango is bogus for almost all the population. The few people who are genuinely at risk should be identified and cautioned about it. Leave the rest of us alone.

  16. Bloke in Germany who would rather be in Hong Kong right now

    asiaseen,

    If you’ve ever lived there (and I don’t mean on an expat jaunt in Repulse Bay with service staff and valet parking) you will know how big the average apartment kitchen is.

    In fact, how big the average apartment is.

    Therein, along with every street having a dozen eateries where you can fill up for HK$25, have you your explanation.

  17. @ dearieme
    M&S pies are OK but not as good as Saxby’s (I still miss them) or Dickinson & Morris. Nevertheless I agree with you that it wouldn’t occur to me to try to work out how much it would cost me to make it *even if I knew how*.
    As to salt – how much I should eat depends on how much I sweat off – as I have aged and slowed down my tastebuds have tolerated a diet with less added salt so I am evidence (albeit anecdotal) for one size does *not* fit all on salt (as on everything else).

  18. Nar, D & M pies are too peppery.

    I don’t use a lot of salt on my food m’self, but I loathe being nagged about it by people who don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

  19. @ dearieme
    Agree to differ on the “too” – I do notice they are peppery but I forgive them for that.

  20. @Diogenes

    How often have you made lasagna yourself? Years ago one of those “save money on food” shows had a chef shopping with a family. He studied a Tesco serves 4 lasagna and told family it was cheaper than he/they could do. Mac cheese, Spag bol is diff, as is soup

  21. dearieme said:
    “When I munch one of M&S’s excellent Melton Mowbray pies, nothing could be further from my mind than “how much would it have cost me to make this myself”?”

    I tried it once, out of interest. Making a pork pie is a huge faff and shockingly expensive. Special pastry; huge amounts of meat; pressing the damned thing. The end result was good, better than basic supermarket pork pies, but not as good as their top notch ones. Would never do it again.

  22. I sneeze in threes

    Shouldn’t you only consider any actual opportunity to earn cash forgone? If you say I could have actually earned cash at the minimum wage when I couldn’t how does that help me make a choice of what actions to under take (cooking versus say having a wank)? Either action generates the minimum wage in the equation. What actions, or inactions don’t get to add the minimum wage in to their calculus?

  23. Even though we lived in a 140sqft flat, we made sure our three nephews downstairs knew how to cook. At least one of them worked as a chef to pay his way through collage and save up for university. Eee’s now an airline pilot after having been refused entry to the UK.

    But as a couple the majority of our cooking was slow-cooked stooo.

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