The economics of treating yourself

At the Mail was this:

Is this the ‘saddest’ Christmas dinner ever? Diner forked out £45 for a luxury meal of turkey and trimmings – but ended up with this paltry plate of food 


A friend in hospital wrote, about this below: “Cold meats Moroccan couscous salad, and potato salad:”

hospital food

And this is one of Rossa’s [she bakes her own bread]:


That one at the top at the Marston chain branch – even with the champas and other accoutrements – that was never £45, let alone £9 worth + the glass of champas.

And this is what gets to your ever more scrooge-like blogger.  Why go out?  Answer – to get out of the house and for the ambience.  I ask what ambience there was at the Marston’s pub on Christmas Day with that crowd and that level of service?

Plus there is a sad truth, perhaps far more truthful these days than of yore, that no one cares any more, certainly not a worker on minimum wage, perhaps a student thawing out that meal and bunging it in the oven.  If you can’t trust them with your car, how can you trust them with your food?

They can’t go too far wrong with that meat platter but what of a festive spread?  Let’s proceed now to a bog standard lunch for a worker on boats:

bog standard lunch

That was a piece of breast, sliced, cooked with sage, mashed potato with rosemary, garlic and creme fraiche, plus a Russian coleslaw.  Apart from the mash, which took some work, the rest is food chain standard.  The chicken, by the way, turned out succulent.

As I said, it was a quick worker’s lunch, no embellishments but even were a sauce to be drizzled across the chicken and some greenery shoved onto the mashed-tatty, plus a couple of cherry tomatoes, even were the mash replaced with roast potatoes as I plan to do today, the total cost to me would come to £1.20 [chicken], £0.40 [tatty], £0.20 [coleslaw] £0.10 [extras].  Equals £1.90.  Plus my time at minimum wage, given that little time is actually spent doing this alone, plus electricity. Equals around £1.00.  Call it £3.00 all up.

Charge double in a modest eatery and it’s still £6 or £7 max.  Bread and wine brings it to £10 Chez Higham.

£45?  Even £20?  Plus I know this one’s not going to make me sick, having washed hands and benches, all utensils are clean, no one’s spat in it, it hasn’t fallen to the floor and then been picked up, it’s all fresh, within its use-by dates, even though the coleslaw is bottled, it was handled by utensils, not hands.  Plus no chemicals, except what was used in the growing of.  And that was proper breast, not water-filled.

To me, both the economics and taste are a given for home cooked. The killer argument for me is not trusting someone in a back kitchen to do it to that standard, given the wages, the lack of care today and so on.  For me, it’s a high-end eatery or home, that simple. and even then I don’t trust the high-end eatery.

6 comments for “The economics of treating yourself

  1. The Jannie
    January 2, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Last year(!) we were fed expensive food (£120 a head in one case) at others’ expense on two occasions. I have to confess that I don’t like being waited on but, ignoring that, the food was nicely presented but mediocre. If our brigade ( you never get to cook alone in this house ) couldn’t have done better I’d have eaten my hat; it’s a ushanka and would certainly have been less slimy than that rolled lamb.

  2. Voice of Reason
    January 2, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    We still cook most of our own meals. When we do eat out, it’s generally something I don’t cook, or as well. We used to generate a lot of our own meat, and buy locally-raised meat. Then again, we are lucky to live in the country.

  3. Kath Gillon
    January 2, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    suggestion James, maybe you should open a pop up bistro you could make a killing. 🙂
    Happy new year.

  4. Kath Gillon
    January 2, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    PS. we NEVER eat out unless my folks are visiting and even then never anywhere where you get more plate than food or more sauce than solid and never anywhere where the waiters don’t speak English.
    I have in the past had some great meals in Wetherspoons but they are very dependent on the staff if you get a bunch of idiots the foods burnt if you get a good shift it’s great for the price.

  5. January 3, 2016 at 5:58 am

    “To me, both the economics and taste are a given for home cooked.”

    Couldn’t agree more! Thanks to an unexpected (though not untimely, she was elderly) death of a family friend, I’m spending the next couple of days of my Christmas holiday helping my mum in shopping and cooking a funeral buffet.

    Most pub charges are £12-16 per head, and basic sandwich platters from supermarkets aren’t much cheaper. We’ll get out at around £6-7 per head, and for that there’ll be smoked salmon (and egg for veggies) sandwiches, potato salad, chicken legs, cold ham & roast beef meat platter, bread rolls, all the trimmings, cake & cheeseboard, plus sherry, orange juice, tea and coffee. It’ll be cooked well, and presented beautifully.

    The mark up is phenomenal on catering.

    • Rossa
      January 7, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      Yes it is Julia and I was in catering for 14 years. What you’re missing out is your labour to prepare the food, overheads like the electricity to the oven to cook your chicken legs, staff to lay out the buffet and serve if required. Clearing away and washing up. Plus cleaning and sorting out the room to put it back to a place where it can be used again.

      Add in business rates, insurance, fire and safety measures, replacements for breakages, wages and employers NI etc and that’s why they charge double what you can produce your buffet for.

      My weekly food and wine plus all household items, pet food etc is £100 a week max. A good meal out is the thick end of that now. In some places a lot more. But my bill does not include all the other parts of that bill because they are ‘free’. Well apart from paying my utility bill. And my washer upper is my Mum!

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