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That's an interesting hypothesis about the economies of home cooked food. I'm not so sure about your conclusion though. Certainly there is no way I could purchase equivalent food that I cook for even a vastly inflated accounting of my own labour costs. I'm not entirely sure why that is, but here are some ideas:

Some food I cook has to be prepared fresh. This becomes a last mile problem, where to have someone else do it they must either already be in my home or travel to it when I want food. There is still a travel problem if we instead say that I have to go somewhere else to eat.

I do cook some food ahead of time (lunch, for example) which would be more feasible. But I still have some problems with this. One of which is customization -- allergies, food preferences etc are numerous and present infinite combinations. That kind of customization eats into economies of scale rapidly.

Freshness is still a problem here -- say you can make food for the next week ahead, but that still basically means the travel/shipping time from the point of 'manufacture' is limited to a few hours at best if refrigerated.

Another problem is it becomes much harder for me to verify what was put in the food. There are strong incentives for a third party to put preservatives, sugar and salt, or cheap substitute ingredients that I don't want. You can work to regulate something like that, but it's expensive to police products with such a short life span.

Maybe no one has tried hard enough to solve this yet, or there are big cultural obstacles, but I'm not convinced that there really are economies of scale here, even if you account for unpaid labour.

These are real economic costs to outsourcing food making. I would love to outsource it, but there just isn't a cost effective way of doing it. I suspect that if the economies of scale here were real someone would already be doing it on a large scale and making a lot of money.




Besides all the points you elaborated, I think even from labor perspective it is cheaper for me to cook in sense I would not get paid my professional or any wage for that matter beyond 8-10 hrs of work. Same as being chauffeured around would be cheaper if I get paid full wage even when driving.


Presumably you value your marginal hour of free time at more than what you could earn driving an Uber/doing Taskrabbit/doing a side hustle instead.


At some point you have to think at yourself and your life as something valuable per-se, regardless of whether it’s being monetized or not


Yeah, if there's one thing I've learned, my life and the people in it have value beyond the paycheck I can earn by forgoing it and working 90-hour weeks. In my mind it's foolish to arrange your life around how big your paycheck is. You need money to live and make plans, but your paycheck isn't some great accomplishment in itself. It's everything else the paycheck enables that matters. And it's quite an accomplishment to know when it's enough.


Of course. But just because you decide not to monetize an incremental hour doesn't mean you can't assign it a monetary value. To the contrary, the value can be measured by what opportunities to make money you turned down in return for having that free time. E.g. I wouldn't get up an hour earlier each day to earn $10 per day more. I'd sure as hell do it to earn $10,000 per day more. My sleep is valuable to me per se, but the amount of that value can be measured against how much money I'm willing to forgo by doing it.

Cooking is the same thing. I could almost certainly earn an extra $15 each night driving Uber for an hour, instead of going home to my family. The fact that I don't do that puts a lower bound of $15 on how much I value that hour. If I'm forced to do some chore during that hour instead, like cooking or cleaning dishes, you have to account for the $15 in lost value of free time.


Good point. But the person getting an extra $10,000 a day for losing an hour of sleep every day would need financial discipline (harder when we don't sleep) not to bump up their expenditures otherwise it would just set themselves up trading health for short term financial gain. It's very difficult to just snap your fingers when you're wealthy and overweight with blood pressure issues in your 40's and 50's to get back to and maintain a normal BMI for the rest of your life.

I think the hard part is that cooking and cleaning (some items) can be done while effectively multi-tasking, chatting about someone's day or collecting one's thoughts. I have a young daughter and when I put something in the microwave, cut up vegetables, fetch spices, or load the dishwasher, we can generally keep the conversation and activity going. Cooking or baking something from scratch is obviously much more time-intensive. Getting food delivered doesn't really save that much time. However, cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming are generally blocking activities and thus easier to rationalize outsourcing. I would agree that we as humans have a very hard time valuing our present and future time, so I would always love to have sometime critique my day. "Hey, you enjoy your job at tech company X enough for the next two years, so it seems like you can afford a laundry service for the next 10 years, time which you can spend more at playgrounds and working out, why don't you do it?"




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