And so one wouldn’t expect the restaurant’s new boxed meal-delivery service to be pedestrian — or inexpensive. It’s certainly not — the price tag for an Eleven Madison Home box meant to feed two people for one day is $285, with a single-serving box going for $150. In addition to the breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks provided, you can add granola for $65 or a whole roasted head of cauliflower for $75. It’s being marketed as a sort of gateway for the veg-curious, with the premise that adopting a plant-based diet one day a week might convince the skeptics. “Each delivery is different, with a weekly-changing menu designed to show just how delicious plant-based food can be,” the website reads.
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See, you’re not just paying for food, you’re getting a whole new mind-set — it’s a deal, really! And there’s a charitable element, too, with each box purchased providing a meal to hungry New Yorkers through a food truck Eleven Madison operates with the nonprofit Rethink Food.
Certainly, there are people for whom this is a sensible fiscal proposition. How people spend their money is a personal decision, of course. As Johnny Depp—who reportedly once paid $3 million to shoot the ashes of his friend Hunter S. Thompson into space—said, “it’s my money. If I want to buy 15,000 cotton balls a day, it’s my thing.”
So merely as a thought exercise, we wondered, what other foods could one get for the kind of money EMP is charging?
Lots and lots of groceries.
You could certainly fill up a few grocery carts for what you’ll spend to get a day’s worth of chef-crafted EMP-approved nosh. The average US household spending on food at home is $411 a month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning that you could foot the grocery bill for a family for less than the price of a box and a half.
Right now, inflation is causing many food prices to rise, but Leanne Brown’s 2015 book “Good and Cheap” is a blueprint for eating on $4 a day, the budget afforded by SNAP benefits. Many of the recipes are vegetarian and vegan, too. And with $285, you could budget $9.50 a day for a month of meals.
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So maybe you really dig the concept of a box arriving at your door — the menus are all planned out, and there’s no grocery run needed. Plenty of people feel the same, and services such as HelloFresh and Blue Apron have been a lifeline. Many of them, such as Purple Carrot, offer plant-forward options. A two-person Purple Carrot plan for four dinners a week is $96, meaning you could have nearly 12 dinners delivered for the cost of the EMP box.
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Many charitable organizations feeding hungry people could do a lot with a couple hundred bucks. At Citymeals on Wheels, the organization founded by food writers Gael Greene and James Beard in 1981 to feed older New Yorkers, donations are earmarked. A $103 contribution — the organization says that all public donations go directly to meals — pays for 14 Sunday meals, according to its website. By that math, $285 would fund 38 meals. The Eleven Madison Home service donates one plant-based meal per box, a spokeswoman said.
Of course, you could fill the trunk of your car at most drive-throughs. Take the “poor man’s Big Mac,” a concoction recently brought to my attention by prominent fast-food hacker Kiley Libuit. It’s a McDonald’s McDouble with Big Mac sauce, and was $2.49 at my local Golden Arches (a deal compared to the actual Big Mac, which was $4.99). You could score 114 of them for $285. But if it’s EMP’s plant-forward approach you’re craving, there’s the fast-food menu item often touted by convenience-seeking vegans: the bean burrito at Taco Bell for $1.59, ordered sans cheese.
What could you do with 179 of them? Whatever you want! As Depp would say, it’s your money.