Due to demand for more articles more often, we will begin to study specialty store info. If you have a place you want to see the math for, post it in the comments or shoot me an email.
Cheapest McDonalds Food
With over 35,000 locations, this one will probably end up coming in handy.
How To Use
Select higher items that are similar – You get 50% more buying a Jr. Mac instead of a Big Mac. Not sure how picky you are, but some items are simply better deals.
Remove things you wouldn’t have ordered anyway – If you are a repeat customer, eliminate the over-the-top expensive items you weren’t a fan of. I never really liked their Fillet-o-Fish much anyway.
Fill up when desperate on Cheese Burgers – The protein + calories is going to be the best you are going to get. Consider purchasing a preferable item and one cheese burger for calories.
Should you get a drink? Drinks are technically Infinity Calories Per Dollar. Is it ethical to buy a soda pop and use McDonalds as a wifi hub all day? I can imagine drinking a lot of Calories, Caffeine and getting some work done.
McDonald’s Calories Per Dollar
If you frequent a specific location and want your customized data, download the list and enter your prices. The orders, calories, and protein servings are there for you. Also included in the excel file is Protein/Calorie and a dimensionless weighing system. Prices were similar enough between restaurants to make Efficient decisions.
After a weekend of lots of coffee, infinity CPD cream, and infinity CPD sugar later- we have our Caffeine Per Dollar List
EDIT 2-7-17: It was pointed out that the caffeine content in coffee was about 20% higher than it should be. Accuracy is the most important and the photo and excel download below has been updated.
Bolded are some products I found interesting to compare. Take note of how similar products have similar amounts of Caffeine Per Dollar. McDonalds and Starbucks were comparable to each other, but much more expensive than their home brew counterparts.
>Take Caffeine Pill with a bunch of water
>Set timer for 40 minutes, enjoy life to the fullest- aka game.
>Timer rings, caffeine kicks in, get to work
>Set timer for 5 hours (you study until the half life hits)
>Dream about the subject matter
Bonus points if you ran or napped recently. Worked best for Organic Chem, I used to dream in compounds.
I hope I dont kill anyone
There are two items I didnt list above, but collected data for.
1,500 g Caffeine Powder Pure (Synthetic) From PureBulk – 22,000 mg Caffeine Per Dollar
25 kg 100% Pure Caffeine Anhydrous USP From Nutra Vita Shop – 38,400 mg Caffeine Per Dollar
The problem with pure caffeine is that a scoop of it will kill you. That teaspoon you use to scoop sugar with could kill a few people. Not easy to use.
Ever since BOFAD(Bag of Flour A Day) became a meme on fitness message boards, I’m a bit more conservative on what I put in an infographic.
I’ll take my delicious house coffee. Black or lots of cream lots of sugar – I love coffee.
Is getting your daily caffeine intake something I should do a time study on? Find anything interesting in the data? How can we make life Efficient? Comment below
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Happy Thanksgiving! Fun topic for this week, don’t take it too seriously.
We are looking for sources of Infinity Calories Per Dollar or as most people will call it, free food.
1 Calorie / 0$ = infinity
(technically this doesn’t equal infinity, but rather approaches infinity however – no calculus until after dinner)
Originally I thought this was going to be silly – telling people to eat sugar at their local coffee store, but I think there is something fascinating about
How much time people will spend for free food
Companies advertise to you in exchange for food
How the easiest sources of free food are the least nutritious
I often see engineer’s cubicles have this printed:
Given those, there are all sorts of ways to classify each ‘deal’.
Mail in samples
Free after Rebate
Unnecessarily going to a food bank
Not actually free, but an incentive
Buy One Get One Free
Often involve tipping, or bringing others along to pay full price
Non Free Sources Of Infinity Calories Per Dollar (Theoretical)
These assume either Sunk Cost, or Calories are infinite (infinity/30$ is still tending towards infinity)
Taking receipt surveys
Costs money at point of service
You were going to go to the wedding anyway
Parmesan packets from Pizza Places
Shoutout to Jaci who said you can use this to make a ‘good enough’ grilled cheese
Bread + Olive Oil
Free Refills on Drinks
Right away, there are a few things that caught my attention:
There is a fine line between frugal and theft, I don’t feel bad about taking an extra few sugar packets, but I don’t think its right to take all of the sugar packets.
Deals are misleading
Buy one get one free, is not actually free.
Coupons/rewards usually require an expensive upfront cost.
Unless you are walking to a location, gasoline costs money.
There is time cost to doing any of these. How often do you drive by the place you have a coupon on the way home from work?
Upon doing this I decided – its SOOO much easier, tastier, and healthier to just cook food.
We eat for ~3$/day and personally, I’d put more time into looking for a higher paying job before signing up for Red Robin Birthday Coupons.
My exception is Work Food and Sunk Cost when they are healthy. I’ve outgrown work’s weekly donuts, but I’m a sucker for protein filled sandwiches. Regarding the chips and salsa, I can’t tell if I love salsa or I love getting Infinity Calories Per Dollar.
Don’t take this topic too seriously, its a fun little exception when math extremes intersects with life. Hope you enjoyed some quirky math this week. Next time, Caffeine per Dollar, I hope I dont kill anyone….
Do you have any places you get free food? Comment below and I’ll do the data science.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about this information. It seemed replacing your dining ware(forks, spoons, utensils, cups, plates, bowls) with plastic or disposable was clearly the time efficient solution. It isn’t responsible to release an article encouraging people to increase their waste.
It sparked us to looked deep for a solution, which we were shocked to find. It wasnt ‘green’ disposable, as it was was 3-4 times more expensive. And really? How ‘green’ is something its manufactured and shipped? Disposable dining ware is affordable but the time savings didnt add up.
I’ll post the raw data without commentary for informational purposes, but continue reading to see our surprising conclusion and recommendation.
We did a Timestudy on loading and unloading the dishes vs disposable. Pretty basic, but we wanted to put real numbers with tasks. We found:
Silverware is bought once. Disposable plates and utensils are bought a few times a year, adding a few minutes at the grocery store.
Daily transportation of dining ware and food are identical in steps/timing.
After use at the dining room table, the dishes must be moved to the trash or dishwasher. Considering the dishwasher and garbage are pretty close to each other. Loading into a dishwasher takes negligible additional time.
Note: This may fail if the dishwasher is full, causing rework.
When cleaned, the time putting dishes away is noteworthy
3 loads of dishes later and a weirded out friend on a Friday night, I have a good range of data regarding the time it takes to unload dishes.
It takes average 2.8 s per meal to put away a clean plate.
It takes average 3 s per meal to put away a fork/knife/spoon
It takes average 6 s per meal to put away a cup
A Wok took 75 seconds to hand clean
Odd objects took minimum 6 seconds and upwards of 24 due to distant storage locations or failure to clean.
To replace all your forks, spoons, plates, with disposable you would save:
1 Fork + 1 Plate = ~6s/meal
6s/meal * 3 meals/day = 18s/day
18s/day * 365 days/year = 2190 s =
109 minutes a year per person. But it takes more than 18 seconds a day to do dishes, where does that come from?
The painful part of dishes arent the silverware or plates, its the odd objects. Stacking Tupperware, building to-go mugs, and putting away single objects away are time heavy.
Having to walk across your kitchen to put something away takes seconds going there, and seconds going back. I could put away 4 meals worth of plates in the time it takes me to put away a special appliance.
Comparing only disposable to dishwashed cups, forks, spoons, bowls, and plates we can find out
The Math – Should you replace your silverware with disposable?
From above, 18s a day/person = 109min/year
109 min/yr = 1.8 hrs/year
$120 for 1 year all disposable dining ware
$120/1.8 hrs = $66/hour luxury
If you are making less than 66$/hour, its a luxury to use disposable dishware.
From the original table it only costs 120$/yr to use low cost disposable dishware. ~400 dollars for the ‘green’ alternative($220/hr).
A few people have pointed out this is only the price mathematics, using this much disposable stuff might cause an environmental disaster. Regardless, disposable forks seems expensive for the time you actually save, I’ll let you use the data make your own decisions.
Final Thoughts + Tips
The biggest surprise to me, was how quick plates and forks were to put away and take out of the dishwasher. The big lesson learned was seeing how long it took to clean or put away a unique object. Pareto rule, 80% of the time comes from 20% of the dishes.
Reduce the number of times you bend and lift(pick up) items, try to get many in. That action can take up to 60% of the time doing dishes.
You are greatly time rewarded if the dishwasher is clean, cups, forks, spoons can all go straight into it. Eliminating rework time
Pots and pans that finished cooking should be cleaned right away. If that isnt possible- run warm water in the pot, thank yourself later.
Clean while you cook – when you are waiting around for things to get hot, put a few away
If you are going to splurge, I recommend cups to save time. It takes 6s to put away a cup, double the time saved over a plate/fork.
I wont be switching to disposable any time soon, however I’ll be looking to move our oven pans and wok closer to the action.
Can you move anything in your kitchen to reduce walking distances? Look around and think about it when you are cooking or doing the dishes. If you can find a way to save 30s a day, it would add up to be more than 150 hours of your life. Thats like 4 weeks paid vacation! Efficiency!
If you want me to look into kitchen or home time-studies or ergonomics comment below.
Note: I have a huge study coming up in the realm of – “paper plates per dollar”. Its been a struggle trying to find an environmentally responsible, cost efficient, and time saving solution – BUT I’m almost there.
Grounded Reason finds solutions to cutting your cable bill, reducing or eliminating your monthly bill. Midway through the interview I do a calculation that even sunrises me:
Average American watches 2 hours a day
Each hour has 20 minutes of commercials
40 minutes a day of commercials
40 minutes of commercials x 365 days x 50 years= 730,000 minutes or 12,000 hours.
If you could get that in 8 hour vacation days, that would be 1,500 days off work.
That is one of the biggest uses of time I’ve ever seen – with solutions
Various Entertainment – This is what Grounded Reason does best
Check out the Grounded Reason website and see how they can save you money on the cable bill – at $90/month that comes out to $54,000 in a lifetime. Not even mentioning getting rid of 12 thousand hours of commercials.
And definitely listen to this podcast when you have a chance. Be double efficient and do it on an unavoidable car ride.
Lentils have more than 110 grams of protein per dollar, and 100% of your daily fiber in 140 calories.
Everyone has their own super food, I hear things like grapefruit, quinoa, and whatever the latest hipster craze.
Lentils are a Super Efficient Food, here are 4 reasons:
70+ Grams Of Protein Per Dollar
Cooked in 15 minutes
They don’t need to be stirred when cooked, 0 effort!
They go with every flavor
When I diet, I eat lentils daily. They are filling, have protein, and are great for portioning out.
They are more than 2x more cost effective than Chicken, and almost 20x more cost effective than Subway for protein.
First, buy a bag of lentils. A 1 pound bag is good enough to get started. Its like a dollar and can be found near the dry beans or Rice.
Begin to boil a pot of water.
Efficient Tips To Boil Water Fast:
Turn on your water faucet and run it hot(Less Energy Delta to Boil) EDIT: CMILLER from the comments points out if using lead pipes you risk lead poisoning using hot water.
Fill up the pot of water, Lentils don’t expand, but error on the side of too much water.
Put the pot of water on High heat.(More Heat)
Add a lid to the pot(Contains Energy In System)
That will get boiling FAST.
Once boiling, cook for 15 to 20 minutes. No stirring needed.
I usually don’t wait for the water to boil, I throw it in, set the timer for 18 minutes, and come back to cooked lentils.
Note: If the lid is on, and the water is on high heat – You may cause the water to boil over, turn down the heat and crack the lid once boiling
Get a strainer and dump the water and:
“You have obtained 1 Lentils!”
Flavoring Lentils Fast
I have 5 ways to enjoy the heck out of your first lentils experience. The first is the easiest:
French Fry Style
Add a fast food amount of olive oil
Add a fast food amount of salt
Make your first experience with lentils a good one. If you like it, next time don’t add as much oil and salt. However, they are so healthy and cost efficient, one splurge day using extra oil and extra salt is worth it.
Similar to French Fry style, but adding fresh pepper. Grounded up pepper doesnt seem to do the trick.
Olive Oil (or Sour Cream)
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Garlicky Lentils And Rice
I usually don’t like using premade stuff, but seasoning shakers are pretty close to the same price as regular spices and give decent flavor to anything. I’ll recommend them for a quick and easy way to flavor something. Make note, they have salt already, so there isnt a need to add your own. Add everything to taste.
McCormick Grill Mate Montreal Chicken (Garlic, Salt, Onion, Black Pepper, Parsley, Red Pepper, Orange Peal, Paprika, Green Bell Pepper)
Herb And Lentils
Sour cream adds a different dimension to these flavors, highly recommended when mixing spices and rice.
McCormick Grill Mate Roasted Garlic & Herb (Salt, Onion, Black pepper, Coriander, Parsley, Garlic, Paprika)
I often cheat when I make this, using Onion Powder and a little sugar, with salt. My advice is to taste as you go. When you brown onions they get sweet.
Onion Powder(even better with an onion browned in olive oil for 10-20 minutes on medium low)
What to do next?
Next time – mess around with the cook time. Like it softer? Cook longer. Like firmer? Cook less. We make lentil soup that cooks for an hour.
Try adding some lentils to a soup. I particularly like adding it to vegetable soup or chicken noodle soup. We make our own Lentil Soup. Its similar to Alton Browns Lentil Soup with a few time saving and cost saving methods.
My challenge to you:
This week when you go to the grocery store, buy a small bag of lentils. Give one of these a try. They are a top Protein Per Dollar. If you don’t like it, you are out a dollar. If you like it, you are going to be saving money for the rest of your life.
This was another way we used our Protein Per Dollar list to save money and get more time. Subscribe to our newsletter and learn easy ways to apply engineering principles to your life:
I just finished my diet. I started 3 months ago and lost 15 lbs.
I am often asked,
‘Why are you trying to lose weight?’
Unfortunately it isn’t some noble cause – I plan to eat a lot of food and drink a lot of beer this summer.
I didn’t have self control
Over the last 3 years, I’ve found myself gaining weight by simply enjoying life during the months of June through February. Between Summer camping, Fall football, and the holidays, I seem to put on weight throughout the year.
This would be unsustainable to my health if I didn’t take a moment every year to slightly adjust my diet.
When I diet I still have lavish dinners, but I shape up my morning meals and weekends. Imagine the freedom to eat a donut, pizza, potatoes and gravy. This breakfast and lunch routine gives me 1,000 calories to spend throughout the day on whatever I want to enjoy.
Protein Per Dollar
Using my extensive list of items, sorted by protein per dollar, I’ve developed processes to prepare protein cost effectively during my diets. Here is the extensive list of items, sorted by Protein Per Dollar:
Want More Efficiency? I do the math for everything – you get the results, you save time and money. Get Efficient Tips:
Cool numbers, now lets apply it to your life!
Delicious Data-Driven Breakfast or Lunch:
140 Calories of Lentils, Beans, or (Brown) Rice (7-14g protein)
1 tbsp Olive Oil, 14g of cheese, or 2 tbsp Sour Cream (70 Calories)
150-200 grams of Chicken, approx 1 full chicken breast. (200 Calories, ~50g Protein)
Now here is the greatest diet tip I have: Add an absurd amount of seasoning shaker.
If you have The Cookbook, you know I never like using the premade stuff because I make homemade seasonings once a year Mass Production Style.
My reason for the exception- Variety.
You want your chicken to taste like Fresh Garlic Herb? Change your mind, right next to that shaker is Savory Montreal Chicken. Sick of those two? Sweet Smoky Spice Rub is a fine alternative. Check out your grocery store’s spice isle and have fun.
I recommend looking at the ingredients and trying to get a variety, if the first 3 ingredients are Garlic, Onion, and Salt its going to taste similar to the shaker with the first ingredients Onion, Garlic, Salt.
It wont feel like dieting when you are excited to feast on an Exotic Garlic Chicken and Lentils with sour cream. Its a perfect blend of Carbohydrates, Protein, Fats, and Fiber to keep you full and satisfied.
Lets Apply Engineering! Mass Production Time
My Sunday Routine:
Make 7 Servings of:
Beans – Throw in Slow Cooker on low with lots of water for 8 hours
Lentils – Throw in boiling water for 15 minutes
Note: Beans and Lentils really are this easy, strain the water and enjoy
Divide(I usually weigh or scoop with a measuring cup)
Add cheese, sour cream, or olive oil to each container.
When it comes time to eating, I put a Fast Food amount of salt or seasoning shaker on. Make your first experience with Beans and Lentils a good one.
For Chicken Breasts:
Turn on oven to 375F (190C)
Spray non-stick on a oven safe pan
Get Chicken – Cut off any fat or gross things you dont want to eat
(optional) Butterfly the chicken breasts to cook faster and evenly
Throw on the pan, put in oven for 8 minutes, flip, wait another 8 minutes
Take out and divide in containers. Refrigerate.
That usually takes about 25 minutes to make 14 meals. Each for around $1. “Fast” Food companies, get on my level – I’m still bitter about a 30 minute drive through after a drunken night…
Challenge for you – buy a small bag of beans or lentils your next grocery trip, and try it. Its not like they are expensive or difficult this is about easy, cost efficient food.
Breakfast and Lunch done? What do you want for dinner, Creamy Alfredo or Pad Thai?
I suppose I should mention here, you should be counting your Calories after Lunch. 1,000 Calories goes a long way, but that doesnt mean you should binge. I find that eating a consistent number of calories a day kept me less hungry, had me losing weight at a regular rate, and limited my hunger to the moments the microwave was heating food than between meals.
The Ultra Lazy
Don’t have time to eat a meal? Need to eat on the go? Forgot to prep food?
A double scoop of Protein Powder (40g Protein, 200 calories)
8 Oz Milk (8g Protein, 120 Calories)
1 Bag Frozen Veggies (~200 Calories)
This isnt a bad meal, this is merely a boring meal. Looking forward to a Rich Stew or Cheesy Casserole for dinner, this lunch will do the trick. Veggies can be eaten Frozen, Room Temperature, or Hot.
Are you still hungry? I give you the 2 biggest cheats that got me under ~6% body fat:
As a caffeine addict, I have a special place in my heart for copious amounts of coffee, even if we almost set our office on fire due to our outrageous consumption. Protip: use filter paper, not paper towel…
I know everyone says you need to have a breakfast to boost metabol- yeah yeah… I found that a cup of coffee in the morning could buy me a few hours, meaning a later breakfast, a later lunch, a later dinner, and no need for a late night snack.
That worked well for the first few weeks, then I started drinking about 4 cups of coffee a day. I could have went an entire morning and afternoon without eating. The blend of water to hydrate and the stimulant that our population enjoys seem to be a great combination to fight hunger. Before splurging on a snack, if you drink coffee, have another cup.
What about cream and sugar?
Don’t be weak, black coffee makes you tough. You want to be tough right?
If you must have sugar/cream, count your calories. I’d rather eat more mexican food for dinner.
Fool your body into thinking its eating. If I was hungry after a meal, I’d drink a huge glass of water and chew on some sugar free gum. After 20 minutes, my body would be full from the actual meal I ate. Mint or Cinnamon were choice as they have that weird taste that makes me not want to eat anything.
When I was going for an absurdly low body fat, I’d alternate coffee and gum for hours.
A stimulant, a trick that fooled me into thinking I was eating, lots of water, and a healthy diet. Its a recipe for success.
BONUS: Delicious Healthy Late Night Snack
Get frozen veggies(mixed or a specific), put in a covered bowl, microwave for 99 seconds, stir, another 99 seconds. Once it is hot, add a Fast Food amount of salt to it and enjoy. Still less salt and calories than a candy bar. When you use the same tricks as Food Companies, you can make fresh food taste even better than their processed food.
What does a $0.90 meal look like? Get Your First Efficient Recipe- Delicious, Nutritious, And Takes 2 Minutes To Prepare: