There is nothing like rummaging around in the freezer for a tv dinner to bring for lunch and finding, instead, a surprise leftover. A frost-bitten tupperware that’s maybe a month old and you forgot all about it. But the food inside still looks totally viable, and better yet it’s something you don’t regret making. So you go for it.
I experienced this pure joy this morning in the rushed moments before blasting to work. It’s free food!! Sure, I took credit for the lean $1.60 servings produced by the Buitoni pre-packaged ravioli and canned pasta sauce a month ago. That was April’s triumph.
But on some level, if a rogue serving escaped your notice for a whole month or so while you moved on in your culinary cost-saving adventures, you can go ahead and congratulate yourself on finding free food. That’s right, I’m calling the $1.60 a sunk cost. But it’s not just about the money. It is a small miracle of modern food preservation.
It is amazing enough to think about how early food preservation included salt, canning, and vinegar, and then involved large blocks of ice delivered into a box in the home. To do what, I have no idea. I could never picture how a block of ice actually works. And then fast-forward to the present, in which digital cooling chambers refrigerate a plethora of textures and sizes of food with the precision and consistency of industrial equipment.
My handy kitchen cooling chamber lets my dollars and food stretch much longer than is reasonable by historic standards, cinching up the gaps rather than forcing me to hunt or gather. In a manner entirely out of the question for the entire history of mankind until the past 60 years or so, I can declare last month’s costs sunk, and say “heh, I can’t believe there’s more of that ravioli!” Who says there’s no free lunch?