An unmentioned benefit of Soylent


#1

I’ve noticed a few people saying that Soylent “isn’t that cheap” at $65 per week. Now obviously these are the people who are mostly uneducated on the issue who haven’t been paying attention and who seem to ignore the “we’re going to make it cheaper after mass production” rebuttal.

However, I just thought of another benefit to Soylent that is a good rebuttal of the “it’s not that cheap” argument: You will save money on gas by not having to grocery shop as much.

I don’t know about you guys, but my mother regularly makes a minimum of 2-3 trips to the grocery store per week because she cooks regularly for our family. And I am sure there are millions of people in the same boat. Eliminating just one of those trips per week for the average consumer could possibly save them hundreds of dollars on gasoline costs per year.

Paying for gas regularly is something that everyone can relate to, so I think this is a good thing to mention to people when trying to sell them on the cost benefits of Soylent.


#2

Good point.

You could even add other “externatilies” to this equation:

  • In some countries you could add the cost of the car (in some places you really need it only for food transport).
  • Some countries/cities bill you for your garbage per kilogram of waste. This could additionally reduce your cost.
  • Refrigeration and kitchen cost. You can live with a smaller refrigerator and overall smaller kitchen.
  • The opportunity cost of your time driving to the grocery store, thinking about meal planning, and the time spent going out to eat during work time.

I still have a question about the economics of scale though. Just how much can the price be reduced? What can we expect?

For Soylent to become truly a game changer it needs to be at a competitive price point with low-nutrient monthly food rations in the middle-class developing world and up (at the very least). That would be at around 100 USD per month per person. Is that even realistic with current production techniques?


#3

I’m sure there are a ton of hidden opportunity costs associated with food that we never think about because “that’s just the way things are.”

They say you need 8 hours of sleep. With really good and balanced nutrition, I’d bet your sleep needs will drop. Even a half hour more waking time means you’re getting almost 8 days worth of extra time per year than someone sleeping 8 hours a night. Healthy adults should be getting 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep according to most of the information I can find (example.)

If you save time cooking and eating (an average of 39 minutes, more like 90 minutes for me) and if nutrition pushes you down to the 7.5 hours of sleep range, then you’ve given yourself more than an extra hour each day. I’d be willing to bet that on a normal day, someone who gets consistently good nutrition will be able to thrive on 7.5 hours of sleep.

That’s got nothing to do with the hidden costs of being sick or having poor nutrition in general. The time savings alone would be like adding 17 days a year to your life. Start factoring in the 3-4 hours spent traveling, shopping, and organizing food, other factors like fewer trips to the doctor and dentist, and you have a whole host of secondary and tertiary time-sinks that simply disappear. Garbage production, cleaning dishes, purchasing detergent, water costs, running and repairing the dishwasher, hair and skincare costs from poor nutrition, and so on, down the line. There are a ton of things we do in pursuit and management of food.

We like to think our time is valuable - how awesome is a product (if it works as promised) that literally gives you extra time?


#4

I believe that the hidden costs of food budgets are highly impacted by spoilage, which is a well-discussed topic on this forum anyway. As complex as food budgets are, spoilage only further complicates things, and this tends to happen when you least expect it - such as opening the milk and discovering that it’s gone bad.

After all, who keeps detailed reports on when things are going to go bad in their fridge? I don’t. If you factor in that sometimes if you’re already in the middle of cooking something of which you discover that an ingredient is missing because it has gone bad, that’s another trip to the grocery store - just to get that one thing.


#5

Another very significant area of saving is simply that the less time one spends in supermarkets or other grocery outlets, the less money will be wasted on impulse purchases. Supermarket shelves and displays are carefully planned to maximise impulse buying; a lot of sophisticated psychology is employed and there are few of us who are totally immune. If you aren’t onsite, you can’t buy crap you don’t need that probably isn’t good for you anyway.

(How do I know? Being broke has kept me out of the stores for a few weeks and I’m stunned at how little I’m suffering by that. As I’ve said, I have a fairly deep pantry including a lot of nitrogen-packed emergency reserve stores; with my RealFoods Analogue Soylent approach, I’m now making much better use of my food reserves, I’m still eating healthily, and I’m just NOT SPENDING fifty to a hundred dollars a week on fresh meat, dairy, veg and weekly “specials”. The experience will – I hope – permanently affect my buying habits. And it has enormously deepened my respect for the Soylent approach to nutrition.)


#7

Well, for me this is an incredible savings!
Anyone with dietary restrictions that mandate specific ingredients (like kosher/halal, sensitivity toward processed foods, or even a proclivity for organic) can find their food bills quickly skyrocketing if they’re not careful.

My current soylent base is only $4 a day, and that could easily be made cheaper by better sourcing. In my notes, I mention buying oat flour in bulk and possible recipe changes that will drop costs even further into the $3 range. But this is just a base - the real benefit is the ability to get food variety (via spice combinations) but still avoid time consuming cooking and food expenses. Even if you can eat cheaper off the McDonald’s dollar menu, no one is delusional enough to think that it’s a healthy diet. Why not just pound HFCS, if the only thing you’re worried about is your $ per Calorie ratio. Calories are cheap. Nutrition is what’s hard.

I see no reason why a larger (manufacturing) operation like @rob’s shouldn’t be able to beat what I can accomplish on my own via efficiencies of scale.


#8

This is foolish talk, most of the population in Europe lives in cities and all cities either have trams, monorail or subway…if you have a monthly card the cost is negligible.
But I know that you Americans have the worst public transit system of all the developed nations.


#9

Hey now, careful with those generalizations. I’ll give you that some places in America have poor public transit. Perhaps even many. I’ll even give you the benefit of the doubt and assume “most”, given that I’m not providing any actual data.

But Tri-Met == :yellow_heart:.


#10

Economy of scale unfortunately works in reverse for public transit: getting the kind of quality public transit you have in Europe, across all of the sparsely populated states, with routes convenient for the individual and cost effective for usage as local ordinances is a logistical nightmare.

I’m not saying it’s not doable, but our entire economic structure is very different than yours. We pay more for individual conveniences, but we’re less heavily taxed. I think there’s value in the discussion on whether or not Soylent is cost effective in one locale versus another, based on the logistics and real variances in related economic structures. But saying our public transit is the ‘worst’ is out of context: it ignores that our public transit requirements would also be the largest and most unwieldy, requiring a different organization.