• Question: Is it cheaper to buy and eat more tikka masala and cycle to work or to put petrol in the car? Assuming I don't want to lose weight.

    Asked by 262xmasen23 to Hannah, James, Meggi, Olivia, Oli, Paul, Saiful on 3 Jan 2017.
    • Photo: Oli Weber

      Oli Weber answered on 3 Jan 2017:

      This is a really good question! I can try to answer it with a back of the envelope calculation, which means the numbers aren’t exact, but should be close enough to help us out.

      A person cycling expends about 40 kilo calories / mile, so a 20 mile trip is 20 x 40 = 800 kcal extra energy used.

      A tikka masala (with rice and naan, of course) has about 1,340 kcal. So you need 800 / 1,340 = 0.6 tikka masalas per 20 mile cycle.

      If you cook it yourself, I think the ingredients could be about £4, so 0.6 masalas x £4 = £2.40 spent. If you buy a curry it is more expensive, maybe £7.50 x 0.6 = £4.50 spent.

      When I bought petrol yesterday it cost £1.19 / litre, which is £5.35 per imperial gallon. If your car does 30 miles per gallon, then the 20 mile drive will cost £5.35 x (2/3) = £3.57

      So by this estimate, it’s cheaper to cook a curry and cycle than to drive, but it’s more expensive if you went out and bought the curry!

      Have we missed anything? Yes, quite a lot!

      The fuel costs are not the only costs we have to worry about for transport. A car will have higher maintenance costs than a bike, you have to pay road tax and for parking etc.

      Also this calculation only works for the UK. Fuel and food costs are very important to people and change a lot in different countries, depending on taxes, subsidies, or how easy they are to get hold of.

      Cars also cause a lot of pollution, which has environmental costs. Producing food comes with a lot of environmental cost as well, but these sorts of things are much harder to calculate as a single cost number.

    • Photo: Hannah Moir

      Hannah Moir answered on 4 Jan 2017:

      I’m not sure I would advise you eat tikka masala every day as a varied diet is important for health, but it would certainly work out cheaper to cycle, once you have purchased a bike, which you can get for £50 you should be pretty much paying that off after a few weeks of cycling. The tikke masala is a bonus energy supply, as you need this for survival anyway, regardless of if you go by car or cycle to work. Bikes on the whole are cheaper to run (cheaper items for fixing) and do not require annual insurance, tax, MOT etc which add to your running costs of a car!


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