Mar 23: Supermarket Sushi; Stir fry Noodles with Ground Pork and Napa Cabbage


Because of the new location we haven’t had supermarket sushi for lunch for a while. The supermarket a little further away has a sushi counter. It’s a different provider and is somewhat more expensive than in Burbank – Porter Ranch is a bit tony – but probably has slightly better flavor, so it balances.

  • The spicy tuna roll was $8.99 or $4.50 per serve
  • The tuna sashimi was $9.99 or $5.00 per serve

Lunch today cost $9.50 per serve, somewhat more than the $6.39 average from the Burbank store. In fairness this was a double tuna serve, whereas from Burbank we had one vegetarian roll and one with protein.


Thank goodness for leftovers. We had been expecting to go out for the LACPUG meeting but discovered at the last minute it was postponed until next week.

We had two serves of last night’s stir fry left, so that’s what we had.

With a little extra chilly sauce to ramp up the flavor, dinner tonight was $3.65 per serve.

Mar 22: Pan Asian Lunch; Stir fry Noodles with Ground Pork and Napa Cabbage


Today was a recording of Lunch with Philip and Greg so we were in Pasadena at a small-chain pan-asian restaurant, although we had planned on the Vegan restaurant next door, but Tuesday is their day of rest.

With tax and tip our average was $14.25.


For dinner tonight we looked in the freeze and found some ground pork from our Prather Ranch mostly delivery. With that start in mind, we cooked Stir Fried Shanghai Noodles with Ground Pork and Napa Cabbage. The recipe makes four generous serves.

It was a fine meal. Even though we ramped up the ginger, we could have gone even further. We still had half a regular cabbage from our Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner, so we used that instead of a napa cabbage.

  • The pork came from our Prather Ranch meat delivery – 1 lb of ground pork cost $8.31 or $2.08 per serve
  • The pre-cooked organic noodles retail for $3.19 or 80c per serve
  • The various seasonings add around 30c per serve
  • We used one third of the $1.29 spring onion on two serves or 22c per serve
  • The cabbage adds 21c per serve.

Tonight’s dinner, which probably needs the flavor ramping up with a little more ginger, cost $3.61 a serve. It was an interesting experiment in featuring the organic, direct-from-farm ground pork in a recipe that didn’t drown any experience of the pork flavor.

Mar 21: Double double; Mushroom and Barley soup (repeat)


Being Monday it was Burbank day for foodie Philip, which means an In and Out Double Double Animal Style.

Meanwhile foodie Greg had an onion bagel with cream cheese.

  • Double Double with tax is $4.03
  • The onion bagel is 33c and the cream cheese adds 42c or 75c.

Averaging the two lunch cost $2.39 per serve.


For dinner we revisited the Mushroom Barley Soup we had left over from March 11th.

As it did then, with bread it cost $3.01 per serve.

Mar 20: Bagel with smoked salmon; Pork belly, endive and red rice


Toast an onion bagel, smear with cream cheese, top with capers and wild caught smoked salmon.

  • Six bagels are $1.99 or 33c each
  • Wild caught smoked salmon is $5.99 or $3.00 a serve
  • Cream cheese is $1.69 for the pack, or 42c per serve

Lunch today cost $3.75 for about twice as much smoked salmon per serve as you’d get at a bagel place.


Tonight’s dinner is a perfect example of how easy it is to great a great looking, and tasting, meal. This would be perfect for a date night dinner: minimal preparation, maximum flavor.

Once again we used the pre-cooked Trader Joe’s fully cooked pork belly, braised some endives and prepared some sprouted red rice. This was our first experience of red rice alone, instead of in a mix. It was not significantly different from brown rice.

  • The pork belly is $6.49 and we had half each or $3.25 per serve
  • Four Belgian endive cost $2.49 or $1.25 per serve
  • The sprouted red rice is $3.49 for the pack. We used half and served half each, or 88c per serve.

Dinner tonight took about 20 minutes of simple preparation – not even any vegetable prep – and cost just $5.38 per person for a meal that would be more than four times that in a restaurant.

There’s a very good chance it would be exactly the same protein – the pork – as I would get in a restaurant. The dirty little secret of the restaurant trade, is that most proteins come prepared to the restaurant. There has been a recent trend to make those also available to the public by adding retail packaging. This pre-cooked pork is exactly two restaurant serves and ready to finish in each restaurant’s signature style. Or your signature style.

Mar 19: hors d’oeuvre; Italian restaurant


Today was our housewarming/citizenship celebration, so we had no lunch per sé. Along with our guests we noshed on a mix of brie, crackers, hummus, cannellini beans and spinach dip, etc.

  • Salted pita chips – $1.99
  • Spinach and cannellini beans for the dips – $2.88
  • Trader Joes snack – $1.49
  • Hummus – $3.99
  • Salami – $5.99
  • Paté – $4.99

We spend $21.33 – although not everything got served – for our 25 guests. Averaging over 15 guests gives a $1.42 serve.


We were going to cook dinner, but a dozen of us carried the party on to a local Italian restaurant.

Our choices were Gnocchi Rosati and Nunny’s Baked Eggplant. Both were serviceable meals, without being outstanding. Like many meals out with friends, it’s about the experience and company.

With tax and tip the average was $21.00 each.

Hat tip to Brian Denny for thinking ahead and bringing a camera to record memories of the party and restaurant.

Mar 18: Quesadilla; Cioppino


Today we put together another quesadilla with tortilla’s instead of flatbread, but today we added chicken breast.

  • The eight-pack of tortilla cost $3.29 or 41c per 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
  • One chicken breast $2.00 or $1.00 a serve

Lunch today cost 2.40 per serve.


Time to reuse that delicious liquid for the Cioppino and add fresh seafood.

As it did on March 12, dinner tonight cost $9.78 a serve, for a very generous serving.

Cook for yourself!

When more than half of Americans eat “ultra processed food” it’s time to relearn basic cooking skills and cook “from scratch”. It’s much better for your overall health and longevity.

We were distressed to read that:

More than half of Americans’ calories come from “ultra-processed foods,” according to a new studypublished in BMJ Open.

As we prove daily, eating a varied diet from mostly cooked-at-home meals isn’t hard. What is even more important is that cooking from scratch is finally being taught to doctors.

One of the easiest and best ways to improve your health and avoid disease is to eat real food; cooking your meals from scratch using whole ingredients, ideally organic, to avoid chemical additives and contaminants like pesticides.

Mar 17: Grilled chicken leg and mixed grain salad; Reuben Casserole


Because we started with a whole roast chicken for the Cobb Salad, we used the legs and thighs for lunch today, with a deli salad of mixed grains.

  • Each serve of the roast chicken is $2.00
  • The salad was $3.29 and we halved it for $1.65 per serve.

Lunch today cost $3.65 per serve.


It was time to reheat the Reuben Casserole and have another nosh! As it did on Tuesday, the Baked Reuben Casserole cost $4.80 per serve.

Mar 16: Lunch at the Deli; Cobb Salad


Today was a very atypical day for the semiSerious Foodies: up early so Philip could take the Oath of Allegiance and become an American Citizen. So we joined with a friend who took us out to lunch at the Country Deli in Chatsworth.

The serving sizes are very generous: whether you have the marinated skirt steak with eggs and home fries, or the Texas omelette it’s hard to finish the serve.

While technically we didn’t pay for anything, it’s about $18 on average with tax and tip.


In order to celebrate the new Citizenship, we had that most American of salads: Cobb. A Cobb Salad is almost entirely preparation as the only cooking required is to boil the eggs and fry off the bacon.

It also leaves the ingredients themselves as the star. When there’s no fancy sauces, spices or flavoring – other than a mild dressing on the green leaves – each ingredient has to be superb. By choosing carefully, the basic Cobb can be elevated into a gourmet experience.

  • Blue cheese crumbles are $3.49 for the pack and we used about 1/3 or 58c per serve.
  • You can tell by the deep gold yolk that these are pastured eggs: 50c each -one per serve – but worth it for the taste.
  • The avocado is direct from a friend’s tree: a Fuerte instead of the more common Haas. I don’t know if it’s the breed, or the freshness, but this avocado was creamy and full of flavor. Normally about 50c per serve.
  • Organic bacon is $8.99 for the pack, but it’s only two slices per serve, or $1.13 per serve.
  • The cooked roast chicken was $7.99 but one quarter was used, or $1.00 per serve.
  • The organic cherry tomatoes were $2.49 for the pack or $1.25 per serve.
  • Add 10c for the greens.

Dinner tonight was an example of how great a simple dish can be, when the ingredients are excellent. All up it cost $5.06 and was better than any Cobb Salad we’ve had in a restaurant. And never chop a Cobb Salad. That would be a crime against texture and flavor!


Mar 15: Tarte à l’Oignon; Reuben Casserole


We had another attempt at the Trader Joe’s Tarte à l’Oignon -Alsation style onion tart. We had a little more success in the regular oven, but it still didn’t firm up like we expected it to.

  • The tart was $3.99 or $2.00 a serve.


The challenge with the classic corned beef dinner is how to use the remaining corned beef. We’ve experimented with various Reuben sandwich ideas, but today we found the perfect solution: an oven-baked Reuben Casserole.

Without a doubt this is the best use of corned beef and reuben sandwich ingredients. We loved it, despite foodie Greg’s dislike of “bread puddings” (including French Toast). Technically a strata because of the layering, it embodies all that is good about a reuben, but better!

The recipe makes six good size serves.

  • Six slices of rye bread are roughly half the $1.99 loaf, or 17c per serve
  • The other half of the corned beef is $14.30, or $2.40 per serve
  • Trader Joe’s have a Sauerkraut with Persian Cucumbers which combines two ingredients for $3.99 a jar, or 67c per serve.
  • Packaged, shredded Swiss Gryere $4.99 or 83c per serve. Although we used the full packet, it was probably closer to three cups than four.
  • A pint of half and half is $1.49 and half was used or 13c per serve.
  • Organic eggs are 50c each or 25c per serve.
  • Greg made “thousand island” dressing with a mix of mayonnaise and shrimp sauce, for about 20c per serve
  • We skipped the caraway seeds for taste reasons but the mustard adds another 15c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $4.80 per serve and is way better than the traditional boiled meal. It turns out Trader Joe’s have just started stocking sliced corned beef, so we don’t have to prepare the whole 3 lb !