Feb 5: Sushi; Beef and broccoli stir fry


Since it there was a supermarket trip anyway, we choose Sushi again. $12.78 or $6.39 a serve.


The Stir Fried Beef and Broccoli we were going to have last night got moved to tonight. Good thing it’s quick because we were back late from having the flooring finished at our new house. The slowest part was cooking the sprouted brown rice. On the table 35 minutes after arriving home.

We used slightly less meat than the recipe calls for and added mushroom to recipe to compensate.

  • Stir fry beef $10.49 or $5.25 per serve
  • The broccoli was $3.79 or $1.90 per serve
  • Ginger 28c or 14c per serve
  • Sprouted rice is 92c per serve
  • Other ingredients add up to around 20c per serve.

Tonights meal cost $8.41 per serve. It could be less with more conventionally grown protein, but we are happy to pay a little more for the quality of life of the animal.

Feb 4: Lunch out; Quick Snack!


We were recording another Lunch with Philip and Greg so we ate out for the second day running. Today we recorded in Gordon Biesch and we both had the Beer Battered Fish and Chips. That’s their picture featured above.

Atlantic cod dipped in märzen batter and fried, with tartar sauce, apple cider slaw and salt & pepper fries

The batter was appropriately crispy, the fries (regular) are always good, and our coleslaw was served in another small bowl, preventing fries or batter from becoming soggy.

On the menu for $16.75 the reality is much closer to $22 with tax and tip. It’s a huge serve and, although we didn’t finish everything on the plate, we both felt over filled afterward.

One reason we chose the dish was because it’s not something we’d ever cook at home. Maintaining oil for frying, and safe conditions to fry in, is more effort than most fried food is worth. So, it’s an eat out/take out treat for us.


That stuffed-full-of-food feeling didn’t go away, despite burning up some energy at our new home. So we postponed the planned dinner until tomorrow night.

We ultimately had a ‘Quesadilla’ of flatbread, refried beans, salsa and cheddar. We last did this for lunch on Jan 20th where it cost $1.49 per serve.

Feb 3: Chicken Pot Pie; Quinoa Chowder (repeat)


We were recording an episode of Lunch with Philip and Greg today, so we ate out. Two of three had the chicken pot pie at $6 each, or close to $8 with tax and tip.


Because we were uncertain what time we’d be back today after lunch and some meetings, so we planned on leftovers: Quinoa Chowder from two nights ago.

As it did on Feb 1, tonight’s soup cost us $2.72 a serve plus 20c for a slice of toast to dip in the egg yolk.

Feb 2: Quesadilla; Chicken adobo with rice and steamed bok choi


We did this quesadilla pretty regularly. Today’s version has no eggs, and we just used cheddar.

  • One flatbread (half of two) costs 50c a serve
  • Half a can of refried beans, shared across two halves: 33c
  • Fontera salsa is expensive (and tasty) at $4.69 a jar, but it breaks down to 16c a serve
  • 2 oz of cheddar split between two is 50c per serve

Lunch today cost $1.49 per serve and came together in about 10 minutes. Frying in bacon fat is recommended.


Greg has long been a pressure cooker fan, so tonight Philippino classic dish is a quick pressure cook: Pressure Cooker Chicken Adobo.

We cut back to six thighs and reduced proportions to half on everything else. The six thighs made three serves. We also dropped the brown sugar to keep sweetness under control.

  • Six chicken thighs cost $5.98 or $2 a serve
  • Coconut oil and pepper – 5c a serve
  • One onion – 20c a serve
  • Garlic – 5c a serve
  • Soy, rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar – 45c
  • The bok choy came from a friend’s CSA box (as she was heading overseas) but would typically be $1 a serve
  • The sprouted brown rice is 66c a serve

Tonight’s dinner cost us $4.41 a serve.

February Summary and Observations

Compared to last month we’ve eaten a lot more lunches out of home, largely because we were in the process of moving during the month.

The averages for this month:

  • Lunch prepared at home $1.98 ($3.17 in January)
  • Lunch eaten or purchased outside the home: $8.16 ($10.08)
  • Dinner eaten at home: $4.83 ($5.59)
  • Dinner eaten out: $18.70 ($12.00)

Our most expensive meal was Commonwealth Restaurant at $47.00 a serve, but absolutely worth it for food that we would never cook ourselves. Eight of our home cooked meals this month I would consider ‘restaurant quality’ with most expensive being the NY Strip steak on February 18.

We ate dinner in a restaurant four times in February, but lunch was at home only 11 days in the month, half what it was in January. Again, attributable to moving to a new location 25 miles away.

Had we purchased every lunch and prepared none it would have cost us $236 per person in February. We actually spent $21.79 for lunches at home plus $138.72 for lunches purchased or eaten out: $160.51. So, although we ate more lunches out our overall spend in February was less than January. I suspect because fewer lunches were at the Country Deli!

Had we purchased every dinner out at the same average it would be $542.30 each, compared with $115.81 for meals prepared at home and $74.80 for meals out, or the $190.61 total.

That’s just working on the average. Several of the meals we had would have been well over $30 a serve in a restaurant.

Feb 1: Sushi lunch; Quinoa Chowder


Today was again supermarket sushi: $12.78 for the two choices, or $6.39 per serve.


Tonights Quinoa Chowder with Spinach, Feta, and Scallions recipe comes courtesy of Chowhound. We dropped the cilantro – yep, we’re in the group that doesn’t like it. We used leek instead of the scallions, and soft poached eggs nstead of the hard boiled eggs Chowhound want to use.

Chowhound say 2-4 serves, and it turns out four seems to be right.

The soft poached egg melts into the soup in a way that hard boiled eggs would not.
The soft poached egg melts into the soup in a way that hard boiled eggs would not.
  • Quinoa – $3.49 for the packet, but we’re only using about 1/4 or 22c a serve
  • Olive oil about 15c
  • Garlic clove – 5c a serve
  • Chipotle pepper substituting for the jalapeño – 10c a serve
  • Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 large potato) – $1.56 of which this recipe uses 1/4 – 10c a serve
  • Seasonings -15c a serve
  • Leek (in place of the scallions) – 35 a serve
  • Spinach leaves from the balcony garden – 0c a serve.
  • We used the whole 8oz of Feta cheese in the $5 pack – $1.25 a serve
  • Organic egg, 50c per serve

Tonight’s soup cost us $2.72 a serve plus 20c for a slice of toast to dip in the egg yolk.

Jan 31: Lunch out; Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup reprise


A friend visiting from Australia took us out to lunch, so technically our lunch was free! My sweet and spicy seafood fried rice was $10.95 on the menu, but with tax and tip would be close to $12 a serve.


A repeat of last night’s Lemon Orzo Soup but accompanied by the ready-to-bake roast garlic bread.

  • Lemon chicken orzo soup – $1.15 a serve
  • Simple Truth Ready to bake garlic bread – $3.99 for the loaf (expensive for bread but delicious) or $2.00 per serve because we ended up eating the whole loaf between us.

Jan 30: Smoked salmon and avocado; Lemon Chicken Orzo soup


Wild caught smoked salmon and avocado on a toasted English Muffin.

  • Smoked salmon was sadly back to normal $7.99 or $4.00 a serve
  • The English muffin is 50c a serve
  • Avocado is on special at 69c each, or 35c per serve.

Lunch today cost $4.85


A return to the lemon chicken orzo soup. By using the precooked chicken this is a very quick dish to put together. We upped the amount of Meyer lemon – if a dish is supposed to taste lemony, let it taste of lemon!

It’s interesting how dishes get interpreted into a local variant based on what ingredients are available. For example, Lemon chicken is one of the ‘standard’ Chinese “dishes” in Australia. Lemons are abundant in Australia but not so much in the USA where oranges are the abundant citrus. Not co-incidentally Orange Chicken is quite common in American Chinese restaurants.

No doubt the original dish, in China, is cooked with sour plum or some other sour fruit. Sour Plum Chicken seems to be common in Taiwan.

  • Celery, thyme, oil and garlic adds 20c per serve
  • Chicken broth cost 40c per serve The store-bought rotisserie chicken breast is $1.74 for a breast, divided into four serves makes 44c per serve.
  • The orzo is $1.42 for a 1 lb box, but only half was used for our three serves, or 24c per serve
  • Carrots cost 25c or 8c per serve
  • Add in 15 c for the other seasonings, etc.

Dinner tonight – on the table 30 minutes after we got home – cost $1.15 per serve. Even better, there’s enough left over for another two meals, so lunch Monday is taken care of.

Jan 29: New York Strip, crash hot potatoes and creamed spinach


Lunch today is really last night’s dinner, as Philip will be out tonight eating for free at Editor’s Lounge.

New York Strip $18.99 for just over 12 oz is on the high side but comes as part of our meat delivery. It was the most tender strip steak that we’ve ever had with great flavor. Expertly grilled by Philip.

This is the third time we’ve done crash hot potatoes this month. on January 7, and they’re a regular side for us because they mix a creamy interior with a crisp exterior. Creamed spinach made to Pioneer Woman’s recipe is – we think – better than we’ve had in a steak house.

  • The $18.99 steak gave us both a good 6 oz serve for $9.00 per serve
  • Potato is 55c a serve with seasonings taken into account
  • All the $2.29 spinach and arugula mix was used, and half the $4.69 whipping cream. (We tend to go premium for dairy so we can be happier about the lives the cows live.) $2.67 a serve.

Today’s main meal (I’ll count it as dinner) was $12.22. I think quality and flavor it was as good as, or better than a steakhouse. When you cook food this good at home, you quickly realize that “going out to dinner” is about the experience, not the food in most cases.


For Philip, dinner was fee, thanks to Alpha Dogs and Editor’s Lounge sponsors. Greg put together a commercial noodle soup ($3.79) with some canned baby corn ($2.29) for a per serve cost of $6.08.

Buying pre-prepared is expensive, and you have no control of what’s in the food.