With the looming economic crisis at hand, the boy and I have decided — er, rather the boy has decided — that we are going to eat in more often.
“It saves money,” he says. “This is a time to be frugal.”
I grumbled something that sounded like an agreement, but as I trekked to the grocery store for the second time this week, I got to thinking: Is it really cheaper to eat in? People around the country are skirting restaurants and instead laying out the silverware at home, but let’s think about this from pure economic terms.
The truth is, women still do the majority of the cooking in the household. Although we don’t spend the 44 hours a month in food preparation that our American foremothers once did, women are still responsible in most households for preparing the grub. (Learn more about the role of women and household chores by taking a look at this Economic Research Service study).
As we well know, the work that women do at home is not often valued in the same economic terms as the work done in the office. If families had to pay someone for cooking, cleaning and childcare (traditional women’s roles), the costs would be astronomical, particularly because women often work “overtime” all the time.
So now let’s think about the average cost of a meal if a woman, let’s take me as an example, was actually paid as much as I could make outside of the home.
At my old job, I made approximately $28 an hour. With benefits, let’s say I made around $35 an hour.
It takes me approximately, from start to finish, 45 minutes to an hour and a half to get dinner on the table (this takes into account everything from getting out the ingredients to putting the plates on the table). To make this calculation easy, let’s round it to an hour.
We start with $35
Although the boyfriend does the cleaning, there is often some cleaning to do (taking out the dishes, wiping the kitchen clean, etc), so let’s add another hour to clean the kitchen per day.
We add $35, so already, we’re at $70 per dinner.
I go to the grocery store 2-3 times per week, which takes about 2 hours per trip, counting the time it takes to get there, park, shop, pay, drive back, and put the groceries away. Add the gas money.
Let’s add $25 per day if we include all of these tasks.
Plus menu planning, which takes about 1-2 hours per week.
Add $5 per day.
Plus the cost of food, which let’s say is about $5-$10 per person, depending on what we are eating.
Grand total — if I was paid fairly for my time, our dinner would cost $105 – $110.
Compare this to the cost of a sushi dinner which we had recently — $45. Looks like it is actually cheaper to eat out, depending on where we go, of course, than it is to pay women fairly for their work.