Thursday, November 09, 2006

Freakonomics in the Kitchen

I read this book Freakonomics where this economist uses advanced statistical techniques to solve problems, like finding teachers who cheat on high-school tests or something. I am going to use those same techniques to show that Taco Bell is better than home cooking.

I have carefully calculated the price of the meals people cook at home, including main dishes (entrees, if you're French), side dishes and drinks.


1. Pasta with ground beef sauce
Pasta - $1.50/box. $0.50/serving
Ground beef - $2.99/lbs. $1.00/serving
Newman's Own Marinara - $2.79/jar. $1.39/serving
Total cost: $1.89/serving (Correction: $2.89--more expensive still!)

2. Chicken with rice
Chicken breast - $3.49/package. $1.74/serving
Flavoring (marinade, seasoning, etc.) - ~$0.50/serving
Uncle Ben's Rice - $1.99/package. $0.67
Total cost: $2.91/serving

3. Macaroni and cheese
Kraft Mac & Cheese - $1.19/package. $0.60/serving
Milk - $1.50/package. $0.15/serving
Butter - $4.95/package: $0.20/serving
Total cost: $0.95/serving

4. Sandwich
Bread - $3.19/package. $0.31/serving
Salami - $3.89/package. $0.77/serving
Kraft Cheese Singles - $4.19/package. $0.52/serving
Mustard - $2.89/package. $0.10/serving
Total cost: $1.70/serving

1. Frozen vegetables - $0.50/serving
2. Bread (buttered) - $0.40/serving
3. Chips - $0.50/serving

1. Milk (2 glasses) - $1.00
2. Coke (2 glasses) - $1.00

As you can see, the average cost of a home-cooked meal is $3.33 (half the mark of the beast). That's $1.86 for the main course, $0.47 for the side, and $1.00 for the drink. The average preparation time for each of these meals is 15 minutes. Assuming most champions are making at least $8.00/hour, it costs an additional $2.00 of your time to prepare a home-cooked meal, bringing the total cost to $5.33.

NEWS FLASH: The average cost of a TB meal is <$5.00. I can hear the scales falling from eyes world-wide! We've debunked the myth that cooking at home saves money! If someone ate Taco Bell every day instead of cooking at home, they would have enough money at the end of the year to buy Seasons 1 & 2 of Lost on DVD at full price! Baste that, Rachael Ray.


This post has caused such a groundswell of discussion, that I've created in index here, cataloging the various related posts and comments.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, maybe. But they'd be really fat

Anonymous said...

I can't believe linked this post. It must have been Dubner. Levitt knows that Kevin Murphy showed that the medical costs of a fast food meal is around $2

Anonymous said...

You neglect to include the time invested in going out to the closest Taco Bell, waiting in line and returning home (Which is easily 15 minutes itself if not more) additionally the cost of Gas.

WesHartline said...

Learn how to do some math before you post this. The $1.89 should be $2.89 if you had added correctly.

.50 serving for Pasta
1.00 for beef
1.39 for sauce

I think this should equal $2.89. In reality, this actually HELPS your argument that a Taco Bell meal is cheaper than cooking at home. However, you cannot begin to scratch the surface on the long term financial implications of eating Taco Bell every day. HealthCare costs, medication, etc.

Taco Bell Champion! said...

THANK GOD FOR WES HARTLINE, who discovered an error in my initial calculations. As he points out, correcting this error (as I've done in the post) actually SUPPORTS the case that Taco Bell is cheaper than cooking at home.

As for all these comments that eating Taco Bell adds to eventual medical costs, clearly you're ignoring the fact that Taco Bell is HEALTHY FOOD. See this earlier post that makes the case convincingly:

Wes said...

Mr. 'Champion'-

I was only trying to help out.

I am going to disagree with any research that shows Taco Bell food is Healthy. As was noted in another comment, the cost of eating a fast food meal (medically) outweighs the cost of cooking a meal at home.

At least you tried to produce something interesting.

Anonymous said...

Health costs associated with Taco Bell?

Well if you created your own Tacos at home and eat them all the time your health care costs would not be too different.

So the difference in health care costs would be between zero and negligble

Anonymous said...

You read a book? Awesome!

Anonymous said...

Short sighted much?

The vast majority of opportunity cost is irrelevant, people are limited at 40 hours a week in virtually all jobs. That 30 minutes or whatever you calculate at 8/hr couldn't be spent working since most people aren't allowed to work overtime.

Just one small aside to the total idiocy of that post.

johnny said...

Great zingers, Anonymous! Hilarious much? YES!

Ignore the IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE, jackass, and keep fighting this, your bizarre personal Iraq. The Bell stops ringing for no one!

ryan said...

sorry to get pedantic, but entree actually means appetizer in french. main dish would be plat principal.

that aside, not only would the medical cost of eating taco bell outweigh the cost of cooking at home, it's just not worth the digestive distress. you must have worse gas than anyone in america.

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