I recently read an Atlantic Monthly piece on how healthy, affordable fast food could be a boon to women by freeing them from the drudgery of cooking.
The author's point is that if you could buy a healthy dinner for a family of four for less than $24 ($6/person), fast food would actually represent a savings over home-cooking.
On the one hand, as a fast food aficionado (In-N-Out anyone?), I'm intrigued by the idea of healthy fast food.
On the other hand, I wonder if fast food is any faster or cheaper than cooking at home.
The way our family works, I do most of the cooking for the week on Sunday afternoon. I cook or prepare the various dishes so that we can apply the final heating or reheating during the week.
Both Alisha and I work, so on weekdays, I don't start our dinner cooking until after 6 PM, yet we still generally start dinner before 7. And it's not like I'm cooking the entire time; usually, I'm just turning on the oven or taking food I've previously prepared and making it ready for microwaving.
In contrast, getting fast food takes time and gas, which is why we generally do it as a treat for the family, rather than as a necessity.
The best fast food deals we generally go for are Costco's combo pizza ($9.95 before tax, feeds us for two meals) and In-N-Out (about $12 for dinner). When I need to go to places like KFC as a treat, I rarely get out of there for less than $20.
In contrast, all the ingredients we buy each week probably account for less than $200 for the entire family. And the time that I spend cooking on Sundays is probably offset by not having to drive to get fast food.
I'm curious--are we remarkably frugal and unusual? Or is it just that journalists aren't experts on home economics.