Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

How batch cooking yields a 360% return on your investment

The cost and health benefits of cooking in bulk far outweigh ordering a takeaway or dining out

People need to realise that the more they batch cook, the more they stand to gain a 360 per cent return on their investment. Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
People need to realise that the more they batch cook, the more they stand to gain a 360 per cent return on their investment. Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I love batch cooking. If you’re new to me or the topic, batch cooking is simply making a large batch of food, then eating it over sequential days. You can also freeze some, then eat it whenever, so you don’t get tired of the food.

For me, I find I can eat something for about four days before I get tired of it and need variety. Another trick I love is to do this for dinners instead of lunches, because I find dinners are more expensive than lunches. It also means that I get to keep my evenings free and don't need to go out to eat or cook.

Today, I cooked a large batch of curry.

So far, so what? Today my numerically oriented mind started breaking down the amount of money I was saving from this one meal to figure out my return on investment. Because I meticulously track my spending, I was able to know that number exactly, plus figure out the average amount I pay when I eat out or order food for delivery. I wanted to see the impact of batch cooking on money spent and time gained.

The meal itself cost about Dh100. Some of the produce was organic. It took me about an hour to cook it and clean up. I got nine servings out of it, so my average cost per serving is about Dh11. Whenever I want to eat it later, I will just pop it in the microwave for three minutes, and it will take me about 15 minutes total to eat it and clean up. So, the average cost for a great meal is Dh11 and 15 minutes. The total cost is Dh100 and the total time investment for nine servings is 2 hours and 15 minutes (9 x 15 minutes) plus an hour for the prep time.

If my time is worth my average hourly wage of Dh200, those 3 hours and 15 minutes translates into Dh650. If you add that to the Dh100 for ingredients, the batch cost me a total of Dh750 for nine meals.

When I go out to eat, I spend on average Dh100 per meal. Between travel and eating, it easily takes me on average an hour per meal, if I include food I order in to lower the travel time. So, going out for dinner and delivery generally costs Dh100 and one hour. If I were to go out or get delivery nine times, equivalent to the nine servings of the curry, that would cost me around Dh900 and nine hours of my time. Going by the same calculation above, that nine hours would be worth Dh1,800. The total cost of those nine meals would be about Dh2,700.

This system has helped me to save over 60 per cent of my salary in the last year and given me back tonnes of time to focus on other things

Zach Holz

Compare the two and Dh750 vs Dh2,700 is a 3.6x return on your investment. If you could invest in the stock market or real estate and get a 360 per cent return in nine days, wouldn’t you do it?

Now, I’m not saying to do this every day. You can still be social and invite people over to eat. When you get sick of the meal you have made, freeze the rest for a time when you’re not tired of it, and go out to eat with friends. Just realise that the more you batch cook, the more 360 per cent returns on your investment you can gain.

This doesn’t even count the major health benefits you get by controlling what you eat. Restaurants are notorious for making food that is loaded with fat, sugar and salt. When you cook for yourself, you can eliminate all those calories and health-eroding ingredients. Again, I’m not saying to eliminate going out to eat, but if you make it something special, not every day, then you gain a huge amount of control over your health. I didn’t even try to calculate how much you can save in healthcare costs by eating healthy meals versus the restaurant alternative. Needless to say, it’s substantial.

This is not just theoretical either. This system has helped me to save over 60 per cent of my salary in the last year and given me back tonnes of time to focus on other things. It’s also helped me lose about 30 kilograms at this point, along with too many other health benefits to count. Wouldn’t you like more money, time, and health? Batch cooking is a big part of that solution.

Dubai schoolteacher Zach Holz (@HappiestTeach) documents his journey towards financial independence on his personal finance blog The Happiest Teacher

Updated: October 1, 2020 08:18 AM

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