This post originally appeared on By Hook or By Cook.
Glad you could stop by for a visit.
I have just recently begun to plan weekly menus again, so this carnival came at a perfect time for me! I've been very excited to share some of my favorites with everyone. Plus, I figured it would be fun to actually see how much my meals cost per serving, and how that compared to the other participants.
Above is the food I purchased to prepare three days' worth of meals, as well as several items from my pantry that I planned to use.
Breakfast: Fruit-Topped Waffles
Lunch: Veggie Calzones
Dinner: Chicken Under Biscuits
Breakfast: Hearty Granola (variation)
Lunch: Rustic Hummus with veggies
Dinner: Meatball Subs
Breakfast: Chocolate Popovers
Lunch: Spinach Risotto
Dinner: Bacon Vegetable Quiches
Unfortunately, after breakfast on the second day, my daughter broke my camera, so I don't have photos of any later meals.
I have linked to the recipes I have posted previously. Several of the recipes were new to me, however, so I want to get the kinks worked out before posting them.
Since many of the ingredients I used, beyond fresh fruits and vegetables, were already in my freezer and cabinets, I found the cost calculations to be maddeningly imprecise. While I happen to know, for example, that I normally pay about $1.70 for a 5-lb bag of white flour, I'm not really sure how much the raisins left over from my daughter's birthday were or what I paid for the arborio rice I bought several months back when I first read a recipe for risotto and thought I should try it out. Bearing that in mind, I made my best guestimates for my pantry items and took the rest of the prices directly from my register receipts.
My total for the whole three-day period was $30.81. Because my daughter is only three years old, I figured our family size at 2.6 people, so our three-day, per-person cost was $11.85. That averages out to $3.95 per person, per day. We did have a few leftovers, which all together were probably enough for each person to have a single additional meal, for an overall cost of 99¢ per serving.
Do you think you could budget like this all month?
Hmmm ... probably not. This particular menu didn't use many prepared foods, which is fine when I'm able to plan ahead, set menus, bake regularly, and so forth. Some weeks are crazier than others, though, and I don't think we could manage meals like this every day of the year--even if we were tossing in a meal of leftovers every fewdays.
Based on the per-serving price for these meals, our monthly food budget would be about $235. We generally run about $300-$325 per month, when we are watching our expenses. If my only concern were financial, I could probably cut down the food budget another $65-$90 a month. I could spend several hours of my day, every day, making food in the kitchen. I might choose to buy margarine or "buttery spread" rather than real butter (though, for the record, I only pay about $2.25/lb for butter because I refuse to buy it unless it's on sale). I could skip the organics and save maybe 50¢/lb on my produce. But, for me, some things simply aren't worth the sacrifice just to save money.