Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Over at Priceonomics, Karin Klein asks, "Are rotisserie chickens a bargain?" Her exhaustive analysis of price alone shows them not to be a bargain compared to raw chicken, at least on a pound-for-pound basis:
Rotisserie chicken might not be a huge discount for the consumer, or a loss leader for the store, but it is a pretty good deal for takeout food. It's certainly the winner if home cooks view their cooking time as money spent. When a cook's time is included as labor costs in the above calculation, whole chickens become more expensive than rotisserie options.That may be true, but the story about time savings is trickier than that, and often includes more than just time spent in the kitchen, as I once noted regarding frozen, pre-cooked meals:
...I have often gotten friendly advice on how to save time cooking, only to see immediately that it would actually cost me time, money, or both, compared to what I usually do. Here's an example I'd hoped would work, but which didn't: There are some really good things out there, like frozen pulled pork, that can make good meals quickly -- but they make just one meal, and even the minimal preparation (starting with defrosting) alone takes far longer than just microwaving the complete meals I make. (I also have some quick meals in my repertoire that take about the same amount of time to prepare -- and yield leftovers). I'd had the pulled pork and liked it, so I tried it anyway. It was tasty, but I was right about it not saving any time.For rotisserie chicken, which I also like, the story is similar. making a special trip to the store for it ends up costing me time, unless I was planning to go anyway and the trip is shortly before time for a family meal. (This is rare enough that the option rarely occurs to me.) Even then, saving time in the kitchen would require me either to already have leftovers on hand or buy a second chicken. So, at least the way I do things, a rotisserie chicken might be a convenient way to get in some variety during the week. Only if I cooked every night, or most nights, would I realize a time savings with the purchase of a single bird.