Gas and lunch

gas pump

I had lunch today in one of my favorite cafés, which is very Portuguese in its food, clientele, and prices: five euros paid for a plate full of curried chicken and vegetables, including a side of carrots in garlic, cilantro and olive oil (I love those carrots.)

After lunch, I pulled into a gas station and filled up our tank. As with everything else in Portugal, gas prices have been going up and up — between this fill and the last one, the price has jumped 13 cents per liter. (American readers: there are about 4 liters to a US gallon.) As the numbers in the pump’s counter rolled past five euros, I thought, “There’s one lunch.” And then I began counting. Two, three, four, five, six…

The pump stopped at 72.50 euros — or, fourteen and one half restaurant lunches.

That puts things in perspective!

So, just out of curiosity: how many lunches is a tank of gas elsewhere? Using your own local lunch prices, of course.


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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15 Responses to Gas and lunch

  1. Cabelo à Lua says:

    Portuguese reader here, writing from Baltimore, MD (long-time reader, first time commenting).
    Last time I filled up, it cost about $40 – I have a Mini, with a 12-gallon tank. Lunch at work can be anywhere from $5 for a sandwich and fries to $8-$10 for a more Portuguese-style plate of food. I guess that means from 4 to 8 lunches per tank of gas.
    But the interesting part is that I think it reveals an interesting contrast between the two countries. For the Portuguese, eating is definitely more important than driving. For the Americans, you can’t do anything without a car (except for a few big cities with decent public transportation), so driving is more important than eating…

    • oregon expat says:

      This is very true, and it’s one of the things I miss about Portugal when I go back to Oregon — I can’t do anything without a car. Also, the importance that the Portuguese place on food has the nice side effect of longer lunch hours and people who actually relax during lunch, rather than wolfing down their food in order to get back to work in one hour (or in many cases, thirty minutes).

  2. Inge says:

    Mhhh.. i don’t need to fill up often since i use very little.. but the last time it was about 70 EUR (but i drive to almost empty) and counting it into meals…. mhh a not so fancy/local restaurant it’s about 12 eur so 6 meals (also curried chicken).

  3. Lilaine says:

    I’ve a 45 to 50 liters tank (yes, 45 is what’s said in the car’s notice, and 50 is what some(not all, that why it’s funny :s ) gas station says when the tank is filled up…. 😮
    Anyway, ‘le plein d’essence’ costs me regularly around 72 Euros.
    ‘Le plat du jour’, Mediterranean(Provence, Italy) cuisine mainly, but not systematically, as we have about every cuisine of the world represented on the French Riviera, can oscillate between 8€ (little ‘bistrot’ not very far hinterland) to around 12€ (‘bistrots’ in seaside towns) and a ‘little’ more in ‘Chic’ restaurants…there is a price to pay for living here. 😦
    The quantity and quality of the food is not everywhere related to the price, alas!
    That makes at best 9 meals for one not-expandable tank filled, in the back country.
    But living *really* near the sea, in a quite touristic town(Antibes), I’m afraid I can only eat 6 ‘plats du jour’ for one tank.
    Lucky for me, public transportation is well developed here, and for a few euros, I can go inland to eat a 8€ meal, which will amount to 12€ with the transport costs… :p
    Bon appétit, et roulez prudemment ! 😀

  4. JR says:

    I used to measure things in chicken sandwiches when I was a starving graduate student. “Five bucks!?! That’s a chicken sandwich!”

    But filling up the tank…that’s a complicated metric. The simple part is–I can get a decent lunch on campus for 8USD (5USD if I want to give up the fruit or salad).

    But filling up my 13.2 gallon tank…that’s not simple. If I fill up in Illinois (where I work), the price is 3.33USD/gallon (this morning–it will be different by evening). If I fill up in Indiana (where I live), the price is 3.17/gallon. I usually fill up right before I leave for work on Monday, and then again before I leave for home on Friday. About half of the time, I’ve run up enough points on my grocery card to get .10 off every gallon, usually coinciding with my time in Indiana.

    So…if I filled up before I left home yesterday, with the grocery card discount, that is about 40.52, or five decent lunches worth of gas Or 8 chicken sandwiches, I suppose.

    Gas is cheap compared to coffee, that’s for sure. And for this American, coffee is more important than eating OR driving.

    • oregon expat says:

      This sounds familiar! In my “working for love, not money” days (which includes most of my professional career), I priced things by the standard of our local Mexican restaurant’s soft taco. (A buck fifty; perfect for starving, overeducated professionals.)

      • JR says:

        Actually, I think I misspoke (mistyped?). It should’ve been: “Four bucks!?! That’s a chicken sandwich!” Looks like Taylor’s prices have doubled since 1994, though.

  5. M. says:

    A little difficult question because we don’t have euros and lunches really, but I’ll try my best 😉
    So 70 litres of a gas cost as of today 400 PLN
    I think it is safe to say that a lunch-like meal can cost between 5 and 20 PLN (KFC set of chiken stripes, fries and never-ending coke cost 14 PLN, and everybody thinks it’s overpriced :D). So it can be between 80 and 20 lunches.

  6. JJ says:

    What puzzles me about the whole lunch is cheaper than gas scenario, is that those chickens and various vegetables had to be transported to the restaurant in a vehicle that uses gas, so why isn’t the price of food raising as well? To my knowledge, Diesel fuel is a different price than standard unleaded, but still.

    If gas prices keep escalating, then will the farmers and growers be reduced to using horse drawn plows and carts again?
    I live in a farming community, and it puzzles me how the farmers survive and feed their families using the desolate wages they receive for their hard work.

    • M. says:

      The price of food at my place raises all right. I would say 2011 year average was 20% up, but prices of some food stuff skyrocketed even 100% up and not because of seasonal reasons. The question is did these money go to farmers?

  7. Alma says:

    With a huge tank like that of my father’s van (80 liters), a gas price of 14,50 Swedish kronor/liter and a decent lunch going for about 70 kr, that would be sixteen and a half lunches. Of course it depends on the size of your tank and where you live, since lunch is cheaper in places that aren’t Stockholm…

    This is fascinating!

  8. Joan says:

    I virtually never have lunch, so I’ll calculate breakfasts: two rolls and four slices of pie amount to € 1.60. My car’s tank can hold 36 liters, so that makes € 55.80 or about 35 breakfasts in Germany.

  9. xenatuba says:

    Interesting….My truck (18 usg, usually $50+ usd when I fill it close to empty) is just about 5 sit-down plate lunches plus drink. The motorcycle, now…$16 usd, and roughly the same miles. The motorcycle is not being ridden in the snow and rain at the moment. And I usually fill when I’ve got cents off via the grocer or go to CostCo for fuel, although we have a new biofuels station in the neighborhood, and I’ll probably start getting fuel there.

  10. CathyW says:

    This is really interesting. I tend to count in ‘cat food’ as opposed to meals, so half a tank cost approx £50 at £1.32pl (UK is 5L/gallon) and that equates to nearly 8 dinners at £6.50 ( I can make that stretch to double ) but it is the eqivalent of 243 foil trays of cat food lol .


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