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Thursday, February 2, 2017

How to Get the Best Super Bowl Food

I could buy this thing in five minutes for $5, or I could make it myself for $20 and hours of work. Or I could buy it.

After having the thought vaguely roaming in my head for a while, I finally saw it articulated sassily online somewhere: I could buy this thing online somewhere in five minutes for $5, but instead I will make it myself for $20 and hours of work.

We used to have to make everything ourselves. Literally everything. Thankfully, through the millennia we’ve progressed to a point where we no longer have to make a thing ourselves. Anything. But in the last decade or so there’s been a huge revival of DIYs, to the point where you’re basically a loser if you buy your stuff. I love Why would I make a bed entirely myself – and then die in my sleep when it broke – when I can buy one for half the price of the materials?Pinterest, but I blame Pinterest. There’s even a multi-city Pinterest conference where you learn how to make the stuff you’ve been seeing and pinning. For real. (Even the conference is DIY in a sense – it isn’t sponsored or hosted by Pinterest, but by random people and businesses. But hey, what the market wants, the market gets.)

Obviously sometimes it makes sense to do it yourself, whether because of time or money or because the thing you want doesn’t quite exist as you’d like it to – “Ugh if only this were just a wee bit different, it would be perfect,” or “Le sigh, if only there was a mash-up of these two things.” Or you just like making stuff. But most of the time it makes no sense.

Most of this DIY stuff is ~crafty~: art, decoration stuff, jewelry, furniture. I mean really, why would I make a bed entirely myself – and then die in my sleep when it broke – when I could buy one at IKEA or at an antique store for half the price of the materials and a fraction of the time?

Cook for Yourself, or Get a Cook?

One thing I understood was food. It makes sense to me to make your own food – most of the time it’s a lot cheaper to make it yourself. But to be sure, I decided to test it on something I was introduced to a couple weeks ago and was planning to make for the Super Bowl: Scotch eggs.

If you haven’t had them before, you need to. Need. It sounds a little weird but it’s the perfect bar/hangover/quick breakfast/Super Bowl food (because let’s be real, the best Super Bowl foods are bar and hangover foods). It’s a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage, rolled in spiced breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes (really), and either fried or baked, depending on the recipe. So good.

But it’s messy. You need to wrap the eggs in raw sausage, which is a mess already. Then you dip them in an egg wash, which is more mess. Then you roll the whole thing in bread crumbs/whatever. Even more mess. Some recipes even have you dip the egg or sausage in flour at one point, and with eggy fingers, that’s going to get real gross real fast.

Sometimes, though, the mess is worth the money saved. So I went to Target for research. I picked one of the many variations on Pinterest and multiplied it for a dozen Scotch eggs. This is how much the recipe costs:

  • Eggs: $1.60/12
  • Sausage: $12
  • Breadcrumbs: $1.80
  • Flour: $1.50
  • Sour cream: $1
  • Olive oil: $4.90
  • Cayenne: $3
  • W sauce: $2.80
  • Dijon mustard: $1.90
  • Mayo: $2.80
  • Garlic powder: $3
  • Salt and pepper: $1.70
  • Total: $38 even (pre-tax, of course)

Six Months Later …

Of course, that isn’t truly DIYing it. If you really did it yourself you’d have to buy a chicken and wait for it to lay enough eggs. You’d need a dairy cow so you could make your own sour cream. You’d probably skip the olive oil and use butter since olive trees take a minimum of three years to produce fruit (if you have the early-producing variety) and you “conveniently” have a cow in your backyard. You would probably also skip the Worcestershire sauce because that would require distilled white vinegar, molasses, sugar, onions, anchovies, cloves, tamarind, and chili pepper. You’d sow your own wheat, grow it, harvest it, grind it into flour, bake some of it into bread (which requires sugar and a leavener as well), then toast and crumble it into breadcrumbs. You’d have to grow your own garlic, cayenne, black pepper, and everything involved in dijon mustard. And you’d have to harvest your own salt.

The modern cheating way of buying all the ingredients would take an hour and a half. Or you could order them and have them in half an hour.All of this with tools you made yourself, otherwise it’s old-school cheating.

Exhausted yet?

That way would probably take at least six months, assuming you were fast, already had all your tools pre-made, and you had a good wheat crop so you didn’t have to wait until the next year to try again. I won’t try to speculate as to the cost. I’ve lost track of the going rate for pigs.

The modern cheating way of buying all the ingredients would take about an hour and a half. Minus the shopping part or the cleaning part. The cooking and prep alone would take an hour and a half.

The other problem with a lot of recipes is that ingredients only come in large sizes. You don’t need a pound of flour for a dozen Scotch eggs, but that’s the smallest size available. You can’t even eat a dozen eggs by yourself (even without all that sausage and breading). You could get the half-dozen carton but then what are you supposed to do with all the other ingredients, some of which expire in a matter of weeks?

Welcome to Modernity

On the other hand, you could use Uber Eats and get a dozen Scotch eggs for about the same price, but in half an hour and without the mess. Or you could pick them up yourself and save about $5 but use up about $5 worth of your time.

When you order Scotch eggs at a restaurant, you get two. Unless you’re starving and eating the eggs as your actual meal, you only need two. But you can’t make two at home without wasting ingredients and money. And why do all the work and make all that mess for two eggs?

So on Super Bowl Sunday I will be ordering, either for pick-up or to go, half a dozen Scotch eggs, which are done in 30 minutes for a grand total of $18. All I’ll have to do is search the web for a restaurant and place the order. Done and done.

And suddenly I’ve saved $32, which I can now put towards my Uber Eats account for other time-saving meals instead of feeding my cow.