With our movement now being restricted due to the government’s Circuit Breaker, a rather inconvenient problem is now posed; how are we supposed to get our [insert food here] fix?
For me in particular, I’ve been craving spaghetti for the longest time. I can’t just survive on Roasted Pork Rice leh!
With no stores that sell this delectable dish, there are now only two options available that will light the path to italian goodness — delivery and cooking, but which is the better choice?
If you are like me and need to have a taste of Italy/Japan/wherever country your food comes from, fret not! I did my own research to determine which should be chosen. Perhaps this might prove illuminating for other spaghetti lovers too.
We’ll be looking at three factors to consider which is more worth doing: cost, effort and “time to meal.”
The headline speaks for itself. With the Circuit Breaker affecting jobs at the moment, we need every opportunity to save a little extra cash. The lower the cost of getting a meal, the better.
With deliveries, you will, of course, open yourself up to more options of vendors; you have the usual suspects in Pastamania and Pizza Hut, while also having local western stalls from local hawker centres.
These have a range of prices — Pastamania in particular has priced them at $8.90 and $9.20 while smaller franchises like The Tree Cafe are more affordable at $6.50 — so it is certainly possible to get a cheaper price.
The problem here is an unavoidable one; the delivery fee. Do I really want to pay another $2 to $3? You can buy a few Apple Pies from McDonald’s with that! Though, not like you can anyway since they’ve closed till May. Still, to use The Tree Cafe as an example, that’s nearly half the price of the meal itself. The wallet would surely shed a few tears.
Needless to say, cooking is infinitely cheaper than a ready-made meal. Most local supermarkets retail spaghetti noodles at about $1.50 and canned tomato sauces under $2.50.
You can also definitely scale-up for better brands while still being cheaper than deliveries. So it is a definite winner then? Not exactly.
The problem here is wastage. Using up all the ingredients in one go is enough to feed around four to five people, and if you live alone or with just one person, that is a lot of food wasted and money down the drain.
Sure you can save the ingredients for future use, but then the quality of said ingredients are no longer at its peak and you risk making them go bad, incurring further wastage of both food and money.
Some say the effort you put in makes the outcome all the more enjoyable. Well, sometimes it really is too much effort. Since we’re mostly sitting about at home, we’ll base our calculations loosely on a commonly-accepted metric: calories burnt.
Deliveries are seemingly as effortless as you can get. Simply open up the delivery app, do a few finger taps and just wait. You can relax and wait on your couch until your food arrives. Surprisingly though, you do indeed put in effort just to wait. Sitting down burns about an average of 40 calories in the time you wait for your meal.
Cooking spaghetti bolognese isn’t exactly high effort, but there’s still prep work to be done. Getting the ingredients and preparing them over a hot stove is enough to make anyone tired, not to mention you still have the cleaning up to do afterward. Well at least you’re washing your hands at the same time.
From the cooking to the washing, an average of 200 calories would be burnt.
Which is better? Honestly, it depends on how much you value being able to do something that’s not bum around.
Time to meal
Waiting is, by all accounts, the worst part of getting a meal. But time to meal isn’t just about waiting for the meal, it is also about the integrity of the food. Every second your dish stays uneaten is another second sinking to its grave. Hence, we are not only looking at waiting time but also “food integrity”— the taste of the food over time not eaten.
Food deliveries have come a long way since they were implemented in Singapore. Now they can arrive as soon as 30 minutes.
With that being said, that is still food not eaten for at least 15 minutes. Yes the food arrives hot, but surely the “food integrity” is compromised. Think about those soggy Spaghetti noodles!
Cooking on the other hand definitely takes some time. Based on recipes available online (where most beginner home chefs like us will likely refer to), I found the average cooking time for spaghetti bolognese dish is about an hour and a half.
Not too bad especially seeing that the meal comes hot off the pan, meaning near-complete food integrity. Gordon Ramsay would be pleased.
So where does that leave us then? With so many people in Singapore with contrasting backgrounds, how do we determine which way presented the most worth?
If you are a major foodie who wants the best selection available, deliveries offer the best chance of getting a good meal. With the wide range of options they have, it is easy to get some restaurant quality spaghetti bolognese with just a couple of taps. However, for that of quality, that comes at a price, a hefty one at that. Not to mention the waiting time and loss in “food integrity” would probably make the meal less satisfying than it should. Stick this under the once in every two weeks category, especially if you need to save cash.
Whereas, if you are looking to scrimp during this period, cooking saves a lot of cash for most people considering you can feed a whole family at the cost of ordering a single dish from a store and it might even taste better. Singles might have to watch out for potential food wastage though and even keeping the leftovers will sully the quality of the food. The biggest issue is effort, is it worth the effort to go through the trouble for a good meal? Well, families will probably agree and this would then be the best solution.
Regardless, each one of us comes with our own unique background and circumstance. But perhaps most important of all: we probably won’t be able to eat the same thing for every single meal, so where possible, let us do what makes sense for ourselves, and tide through these trying times together, at least till we get our McSpicys again.
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Photos by Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC team. Additional visuals of ingredients and cooking courtesy of Pexels.