Can cooking be more expensive at home?

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by Fiona Jennison

munroes stew 1A while back I wrote about the Monroes restaurants in Moraira and Pedreguer, and what good value the meals are. If you are the main chef in the family, like me, I bet that mentally (sadly not in reality) you charge someone out there for your labour of trawling round the supermarket and slaving over a hot stove.

The old 'should I get a cleaner and be able to work more' syndrome. Well it is time we asked ourselves whether some restaurants actually work out cheaper than DIY cooking.

So to put theory to the test. Monroes in Pedreguer now offer lamb stew and dumplings every Tuesday for 6.95€. Last week we feasted upon said stew, and when the plates were notably empty, my father awarded the Monroes? stew nine and a half out of ten. It was filling, tasty, and the meat fell off the bone.

So the following week, declaring my time worth 20€ an hour (don't snigger), I set the stop watch, googled easy lamb stew and went shopping. First stop was the English shop to buy dumpling mix, but unfortunately it is apparently SO English it closes at 5pm! Precious time wasted. Next stop was the local supermarket where I queued at the meat counter where Pablo was not rushing the slicing of dead things for anyone. I paid a whopping 8€ for the lamb and lost ten minutes of my life although I did get him to cube it as I don't have those sexy mesh wire gloves at home. Yet. Christmas is coming?

So, at least one hour down, and cooking commenced. It's not a hard meal to make, if you have dumpling mix. If not, it's a stressful, messy business - and god knows how out of date my suet was. A chef friend of mine had told me red wine makes stew shiny so I added as much as I could bear not to be seen in a glass. Not that food should be shiny should it? Shoes maybe. I digress.

So what were the scores? Does it matter? With shopping, cooking and washing up (OK, I delegated that last bit) the total cost was 25€ for my time and 19€ for shopping, compared with 20€ including drinks at the restaurant. Not taking my time into account, it was still more expensive at home once a bottle of wine was added.

Ok. I got eight from my Dad (mainly for effort) and two from my daughter, who said hers was 'too shiny' (She eavesdrops professionally).

My dumplings were rubbish. I'm booking us into Monroes in Pedreguer every Tuesday for the rest of the winter. At least we won't be able to put the TV on and risk seeing Donald Trump on the screen?.

Check out the amazing Christmas Carvery offers by going to the Monroes website