The cost of Soylent in labor-hours

I’m done with food. Seriously.

What does food cost us everyday? By my calculations, our simple dinner of burritos last night cost me 3 hours- 2 for shopping, cooking, cleaning and eating and then another hour of work to make the money to buy the food. Lunch is usually lighter and cheaper, so let’s round that off as 2 hours and breakfast I think deserves an estimation of 1 hour.

Eating out you save a little time but spend a little more money. But I’ve found as long as you aren’t eating fancy, they are about the same.

So thats 6 hours a day devoted to food! Absurd!! Families and roommates can divide the burden up a little, but singles are just screwed. No wonder people eat out so much!

Let’s consider the same thought experiment with Soylent. How much time does Soylent cost?

The effective preparation time of Soylent is so little, I’m estimating it a mere 1 hour per month. I work for 20 hours to pay for a month of Soylent. so that’s 21 hours / by 30 days = 0.7 hours a day.

From 6 hours to less than 1. That’s over 5 more productive labor-hours per day. Very few inventions can claim to free 5 hours of every human being, every day, forever.

Let that thought explode in your head for a moment. Modern Americans are spending nearly a third of their labor-hours to simply sustain. Not a great diet by a long shot either. Just getting by. Now, think about just how cheap and convenient our food is compared to most places on Earth.

This is not funny anymore, it’s inhumane.

Thanks Rosa Labs. You guys are doing amazing work for the species. Soylent should be considered one the crowning achievements of the human race. It should sit on a shelf next to the Apollo missions, vaccines and running water. The capacity for soylent to minimize human toil is startling. Soylent drastically improves human life. Far from the dystopic connotations, shedding my egoic, privileged and consumptive diet has been one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done.


You reminded me of something an anthropologist said.

Chimpanzees, he commented, do all their daily work in three hours. The rest of the time is play. Why can’t humans do that?

Maybe Soylent brings a three-hour workday closer.


Eh, Chimpanzees don’t have airplanes, computers and nukes… takes a bit more work to have all our nice shiny toys.


This has been posited as a reason for humans being more obese, food is easily accessable and we no longer have to work for it. Yes you go to the store pick it up and cook it but we are no longer gathering and hunting ourselves to get it… it makes sense.

Im with you bud, but I have compulsive issues… so I eat whatever I want for dinner as long as I keep my daily calories at 1800-2000. (Soylent for Breakfast and Lunch)

You forgot another cost of non-Soylent food: the emotional wear and tear of trying to figure out what to make for all those meals that is healthy enough and that you aren’t bored of eating (and the associated guilt, anxiety, and frustration). After over a year on Soylent (almost every meal, three times a day) , I don’t get bored with it. It’s quick and easy to make two day’s worth at a time, and I don’t have major decisions to make, just something along the lines of “Raspberry syrup or strawberry and orange?”.


This is why 2.0 is so awesome, and why I never bought any Soylent until 2.0. I was intrigued as far back as 1.0, but then read all these posts saying you had to mix the water, let it sit, then add the oil, then shake real well, etc. I remember reading one post about either Soylent 1.x or Super Body Fuel (don’t remember which) saying they’d found the perfect solution, which was about 10 minutes of alternating the blender between slow, fast and rest. Turned me off Soylent and Super Body Fuel: I was interested in these products as a way to avoid lengthy food preparation, not replicate it with a different appliance!

2.0 solved these problems neatly. Previously, time spent on my workday food consisted of stopping at McDonald’s before work for two Sausage McMuffins and an oatmeal, then either going to the bistro in my building for lunch, driving somewhere for it, or nuking leftovers. Now, my workday food prep consists of grabbing two (for an eight-hour shift) or three (ten-hour shift) bottles of Soylent out of the fridge.


Hmm… Well setting aside for a moment the (IMHO) better taste and macro profile of 2.0 over 1.5…

I take in 2500-3000kcal/day but even doing the math on a standard 2000kcal daily intake 2.0 costs an extra $4.37 per day. This is all complicated for me by the fact that I add whey isolate and light olive oil to 1.5 in an attempt to bring the macro profile closer to 2.0. This whole process adds cost and calories but lets suppose the cost/kcal is about the same as that of 1.5 (the protein is a tad more, the fat is a tad less).

Arguably the time spent on 2.0 is zero… (maybe a few minutes for unboxing but that goes for 1.5 as well).
I spend probably 7-8 minutes/day cleaning the pitcher, mixing the 1.5+whey+oil+water.

That puts me at about $35/hour… (not including the time spent on this mental masturbation) :smirk:

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I think the question is rhetorical.

[quote=“adamwong246, post:1, topic:25159”]Very few inventions can claim to free 5 hours of every human being, every day, forever.[/quote]Several inventions have done better then that.

Cars for instance. It would take me about 8 hours to walk to work, and 30 minutes to drive. That’s 7 hours a a day.

It used to take months to cross from europe to the states, now it takes hours. That’s like 1800 hours.

Try taking your laundry down to a river and spending a day cleaning it. Now see how fast plumbing and a washing machine is by comparison.


[quote=“adamwong246, post:1, topic:25159”]So thats 6 hours a day devoted to food![/quote]Par for course for most of humanities existence.

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I am a big fan of Soylent. That aside, many of these “labor hour” arguments are slightly off base. For instance:

Not really. If you didn’t have a car, you wouldn’t work so far away.

Also when people add up all the time they save, such as grocery shopping. In this example, you are throwing in the entire shopping trip for this one meal. Was your shopping trip only for tortillas, beans, cheese, and meat? Did you use every last bit of the shopping trip in this one meal?

When people shop, they don’t shop one meal at a time. So you have to split up that 60-minute trip into all the meals that result from the single shopping trip. Comes out to minutes, not hours. Not to mention an hour to make money to buy the food. I could be wrong on this (as I don’t know the specifics of your hourly wage), but burrito ingredients probably cost less than an hour of wages. Burritos (by chance, as they are the food cited here) are actually one of the cheapest meals to make. You could probably purchase ingredients for a burrito meal for under $4.

All this aside: obviously Soylent saves in labor hours. I have spent 20 minutes total in a grocery story in the last six months. I’ve not run my dishwasher in a year. For me (results vary, depending on your location), Soylent comes out much cheaper than if I ate out or shopped (burritos exempted? :grin:). My only, curmudgeonly point is that Soylent doesn’t save us anywhere close to five labor-hours per day. Let’s not oversell the benefits; the real benefits speak for themselves.


Even less time (labor cost) if you purchase them already prepared. Frozen burritos. I ate a lot of those earlier in my life simply because they were so cheap. Microwave, add some hot sauce, done.

I once had a roommate who ate burritos every meal. Three meals a day. He had lived in a South America country for several years, where that was the standard diet.

He purchased rice, black beans, tortillas and hot sauce. Made a couple burritos three times a day. :burrito:

If you don’t agree with those rough calculations, I’m curious to see how much tine in labor-hours your diet costs.

Soylent probably saves me 45 minutes a day? Average people/families, maybe 2 hours a day, max.

It isn’t that I “don’t agree with those rough calculations.” It is simply math. It would be great if a product could “over 5 more productive labor-hours per day.” But like I say, most people’s calculations factor in massive time saved by less grocery trips, by saying “I saved one hour of grocery shopping” by drinking SOylent for dinner. No. People save one hour of grocery shopping spread over a weeks’ worth of meals. So that hour gets divided into 21 meals. So 5 minutes per meal, roughly.

And again, say I make $20/hour. It doesn’t cost most families one hour of wages to make a meal. One hour of wages per meal means 38% (3 of 8 work hours a day) goes directly to food purchases. This wrong assumption would have us thinking we pay more for food than housing itself. In fact:

"From 2002 to 2003, food and housing together took up about 45% of incomes, with 13% on food and about 33% on housing. About 4% was spent on clothing and 22% on transportation. Health care took up about 6 percent, entertainment required about 5 percent And reading was about 2 percent. Alcohol was about 1 percent of a consumer’s income. Other expenses claimed the final 15%.

So simple math (as well as logic) says it does not take an hour to make money for a meal of burritos. 40 hours x 13% = 5.2 hours a week, divided by 21 meals (I won’t go with RL’s definition of 4 meals/day) = roughly 15 minutes of wages per meal. Not one hour of wages per meal.

This is getting too geeky, even for me. So I will end by saying that Soylent saves labor hours. But people tend to overestimate how much preparation time and resources go into an individual meal.