Tuesday, May 13, 2014

It's a wrap!

Sometime last week, one of my coworkers wanted to "have lunch" to "talk".  I never know anymore if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I agreed to go anyway.

He invited me to a cafeteria - literally.  There is a local large company with an in-house cafeteria open to the public, so we went there.  It's a very short walk from our offices, so it's the "go to" place for a quick lunch, and some of my coworkers eat there every day.

The quality of the food there varies.  They have a hot lunch special every day, plus sandwiches, salads, and soups.  The sandwiches are decent, the burritos...well...it's California and I wouldn't choose a burrito there.

I like wraps and the wrap special that day was a BLT with avocado.  For some reason I was STARVING - I'm not sure why - I hadn't slept well in a couple of days, so I skipped my morning workouts, so I shouldn't have been so hungry.  Anyway, the BLT wrap came with a salad (basically lettuce and dressing).  I succumbed to a soda also (I mentioned that I hadn't slept well?  In the end, that soda, after 2 cups of coffee, was a bad idea.  I didn't sleep that next night either.)  My total bill was $9.  (Yeah, I know, I should have made him pay - he's a VP and he invited me.  But we go way back, so I didn't.)

I wolfed down that wrap and have been thinking about it ever since.  In addition to the bacon, lettuce, and tomato and avocado - it had cucumber, cabbage, carrots. Delish.  Today, at the grocery store, buying emergency coffee filters (how could I not realize that I ran out!!), I bought wrap/ burrito tortillas.  I bought the 10 inch size, and being cheap, bought what was on sale - which was not, of course, the whole wheat version.

Today for lunch I made (and wolfed down, so - no picture, sorry!) my own version of the wrap.  Here's a comparison of my version and their version on price:

Pretty amazing, isn't it?  By making my own wrap (that took 15 minutes - the length of time to walk over and back, not including waiting for them to make it), I saved $5.27.  And when you consider I don't buy soda - if I make it myself and eat it with a glass of water (which is what I usually do), then I am saving even more - $6.76.

That comes out to "earning" $6.76 in 15 minutes, or $27.04 an hour.

I know many people who eat out regularly.  I admit, I can see why.  Every night after dinner I pack lunches - 2 to 3.  I usually make myself a salad, which involves washing and chopping: lettuce, 2 vegetables, a protein (often hard boiled eggs).  I make salad dressing.  I scoop out cottage cheese and fruit.  When I make a wrap with so many ingredients, it means I am washing and chopping every ingredient - I washed the lettuce, shredded cheese, sliced the avocado, washed and sliced the radishes and cucumber.  If you are cooking for one (or two) that is a lot of work.


Daniel said...

I like the thinking here Marcia. But how would you really calculate the savings per hour if there is no time "lost" making your lunch vs going to the restaurant?

If it took, say, 15 minutes *more* to make your lunch than to eat out, your hourly wage would be as you calculated it. In other words, the denominator in the wage/hour savings calculation is the incremental time spent on the lower-cost activity. This assumes a tradeoff between time and savings. But as we know, and as you've shown in your example, often cooking at home or making a lunch takes less time!

So, since the two things took the same amount of time, the denominator in the wage per hour fraction is zero (or close to it). In such a case, your hourly wage rate goes parabolic, right?


Marcia said...

I know - that's why I pointed out that to actually walk there, and wait, and walk back - takes longer. Of course, I usually use my lunch break to walk (and eat at my desk).

So really the savings is the amount of time I am waiting in line. That's probably 15 minutes?

I don't know. I ate out a lot this week, because I had lunch with friends, and everyone wants to eat out. Normally I would suggest brown bagging at the beach, but it was 102. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but the BLT you got at one meal inspired another one, how do you value having someone else's creativity? ideally, we would work with people who brought in their dinner leftovers and trade with them. I also think you need to assess how you amortize the ingredients. If I buy bacon primarily for 3 blts, then I have to count the bacon/3 per sandwich (even though there's some leftover for salad).