How much is that chick pea in the window?

Posted February 12, 2005 @ 4:30pm | by S. Cutshall


Where we live eating out is so commonplace that we actually know friends who don't own any pots or pans.  None.  They either eat out, get take out or have food delivered.  And we thought we were bad.

But in all fairness, we are worse.  Number one we're worse because we know better about this stuff  which of course makes for even less excuses on our part. 
Number two: We are in actuality 3 not just 1.  Our budget gets split up by 3 for nearly everything and on top of that lets face it, children cost more for a myriad of different reasons.  The people we know who don't cook at all are single.  While we might make more money as a couple-which we don't as Amy works and I stay at home with Chloe-we certainly spend more providing for 3 people.  This isn't high brow economics... we make the same or less than a single person and spend 3 times more, and yet we somehow always try to eat out which costs us even more than cooking at home.

Amy and me constantly try to stop the financial bleeding that is-ordering food from somewhere other than our own kitchen.  It's a huge money drain.  We have talked about this until we are blue in the face and just when we have been good for a few days or even a week we blow it yet again.  Seems like we even break with a good run of eating in just because we feel like we've done good and deserve to order out.  There is NO end in sight to this and it drives me & Amy fugging nuts. 
My curmudgeon of a dad-the CPA-is always fond of telling anyone who'll listen, "The problem with people today is they piss all their goddamn money away on eating out, owning houses that look like mansions and having 2 or more cars sitting in their driveway.  No one lives within their means and everyone thinks they're goddamn Donald Trump because they have 4 credit cards.  What they don't know is this; you gotta pay back those debts so they own none of it.  Their whole life and very existence is on loan to them and none of them can afford it.  Jackasses."

Me and my dad do not get along on much but on the above he's probably correct.

What follows is an example of our attempt at scientifically breaking down the savings, any savings between having someone make your food versus us making our own.

Last night we had a jones on for some hummus.  We make really good hummus... truthfully, better hummus than we've ever had out (or in for that matter) from any Middle Eastern joint.  The closest place to us that serves hummus charges $3.95 for an order of it.  With that they include a single piece of pita bread and 1 measly kalamata olive.  We figure their portion of hummus comes out to around 1 cup.  So that's $3.95 for basically 8 ounces or a half a pound of hummus.  Rounding up for ease lets make it 4 dollars per half pound or 8 dollars per pound.  Yikes.

Next, what's involved in the making of hummus?  Well lets see...

You need chick peas, garlic, a couple pinches of salt, some fresh lemon juice, tahini and olive oil.  Beyond that you need a can opener, a bowl, a food processor, a spoon or two, a spatula and some electricity.  Truthfully though the processor and electricity are purely optional as hummus clearly predates both in a culinary timeline.  Also, I forgot... pita bread.

Continuing on with this line of thinking I can buy a single can of chick peas for 59 cents.  That can has 12 ounces of chick peas in it.  Also I can get a head of fresh garlic for 50 cents and typically it will yield 10-15 cloves and additionally I need 1 clove per can of chick peas in our recipe so that's 10-15 batches of hummus. 
Fresh lemons run 5 or 6 for a couple dollars and a large box of kosher salt can be had for around a $1.50. 
Tahini is probably the most costly (and non-universally usable item out of the recipe... you can make other things with it but certainly it's not as across-the-board-usable as the garlic, salt, chick peas or olive oil) at $4.95 for a jar of the stuff.  That said, we finished off our jar of it last night while making hummus and we recalled having purchased it in early 2004... not too bad.
Last, olive oil.  If you buy it in the large metal cans like we do you get the lowest cost and freshest oil (the cans are aluminum and unlike glass bottles don't allow the damaging effects of  sunlight through).  We have 2 rules for olive oil... 1).  It must be extra virgin (best flavor) and 2).  Must be on sale.  Outside of that we aren't too picky.  Typically we pay around 15 dollars for 1 gallon and will go through 4 of these per year.  Almost forgot... a bag of pita costs around $1.50.

Last night we made 2 pounds of hummus and the breakdown would be this...

2 cans of chick peas $1.18
2 clove of fresh garlic .05 cents
3 tablespoons of tahini .50 cents
2 lemons-squeezed .60 cents
3 pinches of kosher salt .01-.02 cents
1/3 cup xtra-virgin olive oil .85 cents
electricity needed to run food processor for about 15 seconds  .10 cents  & food processor itself  .66 cents per 15 seconds of use  (the food processor formula is... it cost 100 dollars x 15 uses per year x 10 yrs min. of use)

total cost of 2 pounds of our hummus  $3.96  or 1.98 per pound or .99 cents  per 1/2 pound/cup....

pita at .15 a slice....

.99 cents 1 cup of hummus  +  .15 pita = $1.14 of ours (Homemade) versus $3.95 of theirs (Middle Eastern joint).

savings of $2.81

Now on the other hand the one thing we left out of all this was/is time!  That most elusive of qualities.  The errand to the store for everything would be around an hour and the prep & serve time on our hummus last night was 12 minutes. 

The last time we ordered hummus from up the street after calling we heard a knock on the door 65 minutes later...

Also, we gave the delivery guy a 2 dollar tip.

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