Jan 23: Prepared wrap; Sirloin Tip with Crash Hot Potatoes and Creamed Spinach


Working on our house – constructing a pathway – totally distracted from food today and it was late before we grabbed some wraps from Ralphs nearby.  Each wrap was $3.99 and it turns out half is enough. $2.00 a serve.


Clearly another ‘steakhouse’ night with steak, potatoes and creamed spinach/arugula. The sirloin tip came from our monthly meat package. In Australia that cut is known as ‘rump’ (which is different from rump here in the USA) and was my father’s favorite steak.

Grilled in the outdoor kitchen here at Avalon Burbank. We should make the most of it before we move out. You may notice that we like our beef generally on the rare/blué side.

Sirloin tip is not a tender as filet, but it has great flavor, particularly this steak from our supplier.

We did the crash hot potatoes on January 7, and they’re a regular side for us because they mix a creamy interior with a crisp exterior. Creamed spinach – or a spinach/arugula combination – is incredibly easy and very, very tasty.

  • Tonight’s steak was nearly 11 oz for $6.11 or $3.06 per serve. That serving size is just slightly below a standard restaurant protein serve of 6 oz. We prefer to go ‘meat light’.
  • All the $2.99 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.
  • We’ll allow 55c for the potatoes and seasoning.

Tonight’s steakhouse meal cost $6.28. Now go to a steakhouse and have a 6 oz steak, and two sides and see what it costs.

Jan 22: Marinated skirt steak and eggs; Chicken and roast vegetables


Busy day, all over the place today, so we stopped in again at the Country Deli in Chatsworth (near our ‘new’ home) before heading up to that home to clean the yard and supervise a plumber.

With an Arnold Palmer, tax and tip my $14.50 marinated skirt steak was just over $20. But it was very good. 10 oz of really good skirt steak cooked perfectly, three good eggs and crisp home fries. And a bagel.


Because we weren’t sure what time we’d be back from the house, we planned on an easy ‘reheat’ dinner: the double potato halloumi bake from Jan 17, and the thighs and drumsticks from this week’s roast chicken.

  • The chicken was $1.73 a serve
  • Halloumi $3.99 or $1 a serve
  • A whole head of garlic was used: 12c or 3c a serve (I feel the labor involved in peeling was worth more!)
  • The whole red onion was roasted: 86c or 22c a serve
  • Orange bell pepper four ways is 50c a serve
  • Yam/Sweet potato was $1.03 or 26c a serve.

Tonight’s reheat dinner cost $3.74 and very little time.

Jan 21: Sushi; Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup


Because we needed to shop, it was easy to pick up some fresh sushi from Ralph’s at the same time. $6.39 a serve today.


The Lemon Chicken Orzo soup is a great mid-week dish as it take little time to prepare because it uses pre-cooked chicken. The meyer lemon is again perfect for this dish because it lacks the extreme sourness of most lemon. The recipe made three very generous serves, even with less chicken than the recipe called for.

Not only is it easy to cook, but it is amazingly delicious for the tiny amount of work it takes.

We served with a par-baked Roast Garlic Bread.

Orzo is a small pasta shaped like rice, but a little bigger.

  • Carrots cost 25c or 8c per serve
  • 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 three serves makes 58c 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
  • Add in 15 c for the other seasonings, etc.
  • Served with Simple Truth Ready to bake garlic bread – $3.99 for the loaf (expensive for bread but delicious) or $1.33 per serve

Dinner tonight cost $1.65 per serve!

Jan 20: Quesadilla; Southern sausage beans and rice (repeat)


We did this quesadilla for dinner on January 11th. Today’s version has no eggs, and we just used cheddar, so it’s a bit cheaper.

  • 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. We recommend frying in a little bacon fat. (You do save left over bacon fat for these times, don’t you?)


Tonight we’re having the third and fourth serves of last night’s Southwest sausage, beans and rice.

Tonight’s dinner (again) cost $3.08 a serve. Being a repeat there is very little effort involved.

There are no healthy foods!

There are nutritionally valuable foods but health is a state of being.

A recent Washington Post article No food is healthy. Not even Kale. has a slightly clickbait headline (as does this post). The point of the article is that no food is – in and of itself – healthy. Eat only one food and you will not remain healthy. We need a balance of nutrition from a variety of food.

What is important is the nutritional value of the food. Our philosophy is to eat a variety of real food, minimally processed.

Jan 19: Chicken wrap; Southern sausage, beans and rice


Back to our routine weekday lunch: chicken wraps. This week an Edamame & Bean salad.

  • Roast chicken:$6.99 split four ways and into two serves today: 87c
  • One quarter of the $2.74 salad is 69c
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Add some hummus at 30c

Lunch today: $2.36 per serve


A long term favorite of ours, back when we had a certain pattern to our weekly meals, us Southern sausage, beens and rice. Tuesday was generally a bean dish of some kind. It’s surprising how many cultures have some kind of bean and rice dish: not coincidentally that combined rice and beans have all the amino acids needed for the body to create protein and grow muscle.

The recipe makes four serves and it basically just involves cutting up stuff, opening a couple of cans, and cooking some rice!

  • The Andouille Sausage is the most expensive component at $1.10 per serve. Greg purchased carefully and got a double pack (8 sausages) for the price of a single pack elsewhere. Tonight’s dish only used half the purchase.
  • Bell pepper: 20c per serve
  • Onion: 20c per serve
  • Fire roasted diced tomato (canned): 37c per serve
  • We used kidney beans instead of pinto because they taste better: 40c a serve
  • For the herbs, 15c a serve
  • And the rice: 66c a serve

Dinner tonight cost $3.08 a serve. It’s a very tasty, warming stew with a little heat from the andouille.

Jan 18: Toasted baguette; Dinner out


A rather simple lunch using the leftover baguette from yesterday, toasted. Add some cream cheese, tomato and salami for a tasty lunch.

  • 1/4 of the $2.69 baguette went to each serve or 68c
  • One tomato was divided in half for 29c a serve
  • 1/6 of the pack of salami went into a serve: 92c
  • The tub of cream cheese is $3.99, or about 67c a serve

Lunch today was okay, and cost $2.56 a serve.


The first time eating out this month: Gordon Birsch for our regular get together with a friend over beers. Tonight we were in the mood for a burger – the first burger of the year:

Gastro Pub

Bacon jam, housemade bleu cheese sauce, mixed greens, tomato, gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onions atop our fresh steakburger

It was a little messy, but really very good. $12.25 on the menu, but with tip and tax closer to $16. We’re still enjoying the festbier – one of our favorite seasonal beers there.

Our all time favorite burger has no steak, substituting a portobello mushroom for the protein. We should make it for you some time.

Jan 17: “Grazing” lunch; Lamb chop with double potato and halloumi bake


We had, what we call a ‘grazing lunch’. Various things you can top a slice of baguette with: tomato, cheddar or liverwurst. Serve yourself as you want, what you want.

  • 1/4 of the $2.69 baguette went to each serve or 68c
  • One tomato was divided in half for 40c a serve
  • We used about half the $4 block of cheese, or $1 a serve
  • We used about 1/3 of the $3.20 liverwurst, or 55c a serve

Lunch today cost $2.63 a serve. We rediscovered our love of liverwurst when in Munich last September.


The protein tonight is two small Lamb shoulder chops which were grilled outdoors. After last night’s large meat serve, tonight we have about 4.5 oz each. Almost ‘meat light!’ A fairly fast grill over high heat for lamb.

With that is an old favorite from Nigella Lawson: chopped vegetables roasted and finished with halloumi cheese. This makes four good serves. Halloumi is used because it’s not a ‘melty’ cheese. It takes heat and retains structure. It’s normally a mix of goat and sheep’s milk cheese, but the one we got for this dish had some cow milk as well.

  • The lamb chops cost $5.09 or $2.55 each.
  • Halloumi $3.99 or $1 a serve
  • A whole head of garlic was used: 12c or 3c a serve (I feel the labor involved in peeling was worth more!)
  • The whole red onion was roasted: 86c or 22c a serve
  • Orange bell pepper four ways is 50c a serve
  • Yam/Sweet potato was $1.03 or 26c a serve.

Dinner tonight cost us $4.56 per serve. Unfortunately I forgot to put the SD card back in the camera so there is no photo.

Jan 16: Baked beans; Sous vide pork chops with Waldorf salad


The leftover baked beans from January 9th were calling to be eaten. So we did. Served on an English muffin with two organic eggs. That’s just $2.38 a serve.


We had extra thick cut pork loin chops in this month’s meat order, and sous vide, followed by a quick sear, is the best way to cook pork to perfection.

  • 12 oz pork chop $9.50 each/per serve. Bone in so the meat is about 10 oz – a generous serve.

For the salad:

  • Celery 99c or 50c a serve
  • Apple $1.10 or 55c a serve
  • Walnut pieces $2.00 or $1.00 a serve
  • Mayo – let’s say 1/5 th of the container, 50c or 25c each
  • Labne – to mix with the mayo – again 1/5 of the container, 50c or 25c each

Dinner tonight cost $9.50 for a very generous serve of farm raised heritage pork and $2.55 for the salad each.

Without a doubt this was the best pork chop I’ve ever had. Way better cooked than at Gallagher’s New York New York in Las Vegas, where it would be $36 for the chop, plus sides. This is the benefit of cooking: the best quality food without breaking the bank.

About sous vide: The times we cook this way we use a very large cast iron pot filled with water. This provides enough thermal inertia to keep the temperature relatively stable. This time round, Greg tried the (to us new) induction cooktop. Temperature mode on the cooktop proved to be quite stable and excellent for the sous vide.

Jan 15: Smoked salmon and eggs; Lemon soup with lamb


Another indulgent Friday: wild caught smoked salmon on an English muffin with a poached egg on top. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to fake a ‘hollandaise’ taste with the egg and it was delicious.

  • Smoked salmon – normally $6.99 but Greg bought it for $5.99 on special or $3.00 a serve
  • The English muffin is 50c a serve
  • Our organic eggs are 50c each, and we had two for $1 per serve.
Wild caught smoked salmon with organic eggs on an english muffin.
Wild caught smoked salmon with organic eggs on an english muffin.

Lunch cost $4.50 a serve for smoked salmon.


We went back to a recipe we haven’t had for about two years: Lemon soup with Lamb. Initially we tried this soup because of the unusual way it is thickened: with eggs.

Greg used meyer lemons – give to us by a friend – instead of regular lemons and they are perfect for this recipe. The slight sweetness and reduced tartness of the meyer lemon really works in the recipe. We also used spinach off the balcony garden which was sliced and placed in the bottom of the bowl. We also used orzo instead of larger pasta and dropped the cream. It’s not needed.

  • Lamb shoulder $8.57 or $4.29 a serve
  • Onion, carrot and celery about 30c a serve
  • Organic chicken stock $2.30 or $1.15 a serve
  • Lemons and spinach – zero
  • Orzo pasta is $2 a 16 oz box, and 1/4 was used or 25c a serve
  • Three large organic eggs are $1.50 or 75c a serve
  • Add 10c a serve for herbs.

Tonight’s dinner cost $5.75 a serve.

The dish comes from a cookbook we brought with us from Australia: Reader’s Digest One-Dish Meals, the easy way. ©1995