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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Do you do this, too?

This is one of those crazy/brilliant things that only frugal people seem to get enjoyment from. Do you cost out your meals?

It's something of a game for me, to price out a family meal. This month, we are attempting to limit our grocery shopping to milk, eggs and canning supplies, and live off of our stores, foraged food and garden produce. So, it's no surprise that most of our meals, this month, rely heavily on fruits and vegetables.

This last Sunday, lunch was just such a meal. We had a vegetable-bean-pasta salad and a large bowl of fresh blackberries, each, with ice water and iced tea to drink.

The salad was composed of lettuce, zucchini, wax beans, herbs, garlic and carrots from the garden, along with bulk purchased black beans, and dollar store macaroni noodles, in a homemade dressing of rosemary-thyme vinegar (made last summer) and olive oil.

The blackberries were picked in the wild that day.

The tea was a gift from a friend.

The only purchased ingredients for lunch were the black beans, macaroni, plain vinegar, olive oil and salt. I estimated, to feed the five of us lunch, my cost was 50 cents max, that's 10 cents per person.

I had put together the salad before we left for church, so it could chill while we were out. And my kids went out blackberry picking (on foot) while I pulled everything together at noon. We could have stopped at Mickey D's and picked up, oh, half a burger from the dollar menu for the same price, to split 5 ways. But I think it's safe to say that what we came up with, was far more satisfying.

Have you costed out a meal lately? And do you get the same entertainment value as I do? The rest of you can stop laughing at my frugal insanity now!


  1. I'm not laughing- I have black beans soaking even as I write this. : ) It sounds absolutely wonderful to me. Angela

    1. Hi Angela,
      I'm glad you're not one of the scoffers!
      I've come to really appreciate black beans this summer, as they cook up so quickly, compared to my other summer favorite, garbanzo beans. And they have a mild flavor! Enjoy your dinner of black beans!

  2. Add me to the crazy list, although I don't do nearly as well as you on food costs. I find it keeps me motivated to estimate the cost of a meal per person. Then I compare it to eating out. I can buy half our week's groceries for the same amount of money that we would spend for the four of us to eat dinner at a moderately priced restaurant. I love to eat out, but ...

    1. HI Kris,
      another crazy lady, welcome to the party!
      The other little game that I enjoy is, when eating in a restaurant, I like to guess how much (little) I could make the same meal for. Some restaurants are just way over-priced!

  3. I normally cost it out per meal more so than person. Don't know why I don't do that last little bit of division lol

    Having to eat a high meat protein diet at present has run our costs up some but we are still doing pretty well.

    Your salad sounds great. I can include vegetable protein in my meals but not as the main source. I am just thankful for sales and having freezer space.

    1. Hi Shara,
      Oh I understand how expensive it is to have to eat mostly animal protein. When I was on a strict elimination diet a couple of months ago, to figure out my sensitivities, there was a point when all I could eat was fruit, vegetables and meat, and that drove up our costs. Can you eat eggs as part of your protein? At least turkey and chicken can be less expensive.

    2. I can have eggs, cheese (which is pretty near as expensive as meat) and yogurt. I'm using a lot of those to

    3. Sadly, cheese has had to go on my "expensive food, ration carefully' list. I can buy whole chickens, for less per pound than cheese, even accounting for the bones, skin and anything else that isn't what I think of as meat.

  4. I have figured out the cost of meals before, so I have a good feel for the general cost of what we're eating and how it compares to other options. However, I haven't done it recently because generalities are good enough for us right now. However, I do like doing that sort of thing. I'm geeky, just like you.:)

    1. Hi live and learn,
      just who are you calling geeky?!! ;-) Okay, so maybe just a bit!
      Many nights I don't bother figuring the costs, as I know that as long as we're staying within the monthly budget, it doesn't matter. But I find it fun and entertaining. And as someone pointed out to me today, I am easily amused!

  5. I do this with meat since I'm still a relatively new to buying it. I try to keep it under $1.50 per serve, but it's difficult because food is so expensive here! Chicken drumsticks, kangaroo mince and offal are the best bets.

    1. Hi Economies,
      I can't imagine paying what you do for food. At least you can console yourself with this -- although most of your meat prices are higher than mine, your price on kangaroo meat is way lower than mine!!

  6. I really enjoy doing that too. It also helps keep the urge to get fast food "just this once" when you know how inexpensively and quickly you can make something just as tasty at home.

    1. Hi Judy,
      It's a great motivator, isn't it?! And I like to think up ways that I can improve on the fast food experience, like better quality meat, whole grain buns, fresh tomatoes, lettuce and onions. So much better than standard fast food fare. And even though I prefer McDonald's fries to home oven fries, at least mine are healthier.

  7. Yes, I do it all the time! Your meal prices sound like ours!


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