May 14: Pseudo Reuben; Cobb Salad


For lunch we resisted our pseudo-Reuben: a toasted onion bagel with corned beef, beet and cabbage slaw and gouda cheese.

  • The pack of six onion bagels is $1.99 or 33c per serve
  • The Wildbrine Red Beet and Red Cabbage salad is $6.99 for the container but we used only a couple of tablespoons on each sandwich, or 88c per serve.
  • Sliced gouda cheese is $2.99 per pack of 12 slices and we used one per sandwich, or 25c per serve
  • The sliced, nitrate free corned beef is $4.99 a pack and we used about half or $1.25 per serve
  • We added a little mustard, say 5c per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.76 per serve.


Not only is it the most American of salads, but a Cobb Salad is a favorite of ours, particularly when you have leftover chicken!

  • 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.
  • Avocados are so unpredictable: last week we had amazingly good avocados but tonights – from the same source – was definitely not at its peak when purchased. Still 50c per serve.
  • Bacon ends and pieces is $3.49 per pack. We used about 20% of the container or 35c per serve
  • The $6.99 chicken pack contains six serves, or 59c a serve
  • The organic baby plum tomatoes were $2.79 for the pack or $1.40 per serve.
  • Add 10c for the greens.

Tonight’s Cobb Salad cost $4.02 per serve.

May 13: Chicken Wrap; Popeye’s Fried Chicken with Red Beans and Rice


Circumstances dictated a late lunch, and with an early dinner planned, a full wrap seemed like too much, so we had half each. We used theTrader Joe’s Just Chicken’ again.

  • The $6.99 chicken pack contains six serves, or 59c a serve
  • The flatbread is 25c
  • Hummus is $3.99 per container and we used about 1/12 or 17c per serve
  • Today’s salad was a repeat of the Kale and Broccoli pack we had a couple of days ago. The pack is $2.49 and for today’s lunch we used 1/8 or 16c per serve.

Lunch today cost $1.16.


We combined a trip to the Apple Store in Simi Valley with a side trip for Popeye’s Fried Chicken. As well as the Red Beans and Rice we served it with the remainder of the Kale and Broccoli salad from Trader Joes.

  • The 10 piece pack is on special for $13.99 ($15.20 with sales tax because it’s hot takeout), or $1.52 per piece. We served two pieces per serve for $3.04.
  • Popeye’s Red Beans and Rice is $4.35 with tax (also hot) and we split it for $2.18 per serve.
  • Kale and Broccoli pack we had a couple of days ago. The pack is $2.49 just over half was left, or 78c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $6.00 per serve.

May 12: Chicken wrap; NY Strip Steak with Arugula, Beets and Feta Salad


Chicken wrap time again, but instead of buying a whole chicken, we opted for Trader Joe’s ready cooked “Just Chicken.” It’s all breast meat, which is what we use on the lunch wraps, and the container has three meals (six serves) in it.

The price is comparable with the whole chicken being between the per-serve cost of the regular chicken, and the per-serve cost of the organic version.

  • The $6.99 pack contains six serves, or $1.17 a serve
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Hummus is $3.99 per container and we used about 1/6 or 33c per serve
  • Today’s salad was a repeat of the Kale and Broccoli pack we had a couple of days ago. The pack is $2.49 and for today’s lunch we used 1/4 or 31c per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.31.


Continuing our experiment with optimal cooking of a NY Strip Steak, tonight we could have cooked a tiny bit further, but the conclusion is decisive: for the quality of aged beef we’re getting from Prather Ranch, bleu (seared on the outside, warm in the middle) is definitely the best cooking method.

The meat is tender and has great flavor. You can definitely get cheaper beef, but we choose to pay for the quality for two reasons: the meat tastes better, and the animals have had a humane life. Cheap meat comes from concentrated feed lot operations that are simply not healthy.

  • The NY Strip was $19.96 for 12.8 oz or $9.98 per serve
  • Precooked beets cost $2.50 or $1.25 per serve
  • Crumbled feta is $2.79 a pack, and we used 1/4 or 35c per serve
  • Add 20c per serve for the small amount of arugula used.

Dinner tonight cost $11.78.

May 11: Smoked Salmon on Bagel; Green Shakshuka


For lunch a toasted onion bagel, avocado and wild caught smoked salmon.

  • Smoked salmon is $5.99 for the 4oz pack, or $3.00 per serve
  • The pack of six onion bagels is $1.99 or 33c per serve
  • The avocado was a bargain at 39c or 20c per serve
  • Add 5c for capers.

Today’s lunch cost $3.58 per serve.


A new recipe and a meatless one at that. Tonight we prepared Green Shakshuka. This is a well known North African dish usually made with a chunky, spiced tomato sauce, making it rather like Eggs in Purgatory. It’s a versatile dish so we made it with mushrooms and green leafy vegetables and a generous amount of garlic.

  • Trimmed leaks are $2.99 per pack, but we only used one, so 75c per serve
  • Celery, oregano, cumin, oil, red pepper flakes (instead of a pepper) and garlic adds 27c per serve
  • Instead of the individual greens, we purchased a pack of mixed organic leafy greens for $1.99 or $1.00 per serve
  • Two packs of fresh, sliced mushrooms cost $3.99 a pack, or $2 a serve
  • The crumbled feta is $2.79 per pack, but we only used 1/3 or 47c per serve
  • Pastured eggs cost 50c each or $1.00 per serve
  • Two slices of cobblestone bread – 10 slices for $2.49 – adds 50c per serve.

Tonight’s meat free meal cost $5.99 per serve and was really good.

May 10: Quesadilla; Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry


Another gloomy day – it’s early for June gloom – that cleared up late in the day, but at lunch time, something warm was desirable, so it is quesadilla time again. Our variation that is.

  • One flatbread (half of two) costs 50c a serve
  • Half a can of refried beans, shared across two halves: 26c
  • A very generous serve of salsa is 20c per serve
  • 2 oz of cheddar split between two is 50c per serve

Lunch today cost $1.46 per serve.


Once again we had Emeril Lagasse’s Stir Fried Beef and Broccoli.  This is a very simple dish, but very tasty. We upped the garlic and ginger in the sauce and replaced the honey with sweet chili sauce. We don’t mind a bit of spicy heat!

  • The organic broccoli was purchased on special for $1.79 or 80c a serve.
  • The beef came from our farm-direct meat delivery as “fajita steak”  for a fast cook at $10.35 or $5.18 a seve.
  •  The ginger and garlic was 28c or 14c per serve
  • Pressure cooked rice 92c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $7.04 per serve. Of course with more conventional beef the serve would be more like $4.90.

May 8: Chicken and avocado wrap; Pork Sausage and White Beans


A simple lunch of chicken wraps, with avocado and arugula.

  • Split four ways, the $9.99 chicken is $2.50 a quarter or $1.25 per serve
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Arugula adds 25c per serve
  • An avocado is 99c or 50c per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.50.


An optional add-on to this month’s Prather Ranch meat delivery was pork sausages. We opted for the ‘rustic’ version without any added flavorings (or sweetener) and they were great.

Cooked in a bean casserole, somewhat similar to a cassoulet it gives the sausage a chance to shine, while still being surrounded by a delicious sauce. We made a half batch for the two of us.

  • Bacon ends cost $4.99 for the container, but this recipe used about 1/8 of that, or 32c per serve
  • Butter is $1.99 per pack, or 13c per serve
  • Onion, thyme, parsley and garlic add 17c per serve
  • White wine adds 40c per serve
  • Diced tomatoes are $1.49 a can or 75c per serve
  • Beans add 80c per serve
  • Bread croutons (1/2″ pieces are not crumbs) 70c per serve
  • The sausages $12.46 for two packs, or $3.11 per serve for the best pork sausages we’ve ever had.

Dinner tonight cost $6.38 per serve.

May 7: Lunch out; Frogmore Stew


We decided to go out for lunch, for no particularly good reason. A local favorite is The Country Deli. With a ‘Jewish’ deli in suburban Chatsworth expectations are for good food and lots of it, not necessarily great food.

Not every dish is great, but Foodie Philip broke the cardinal rule of “never order steak in a deli” if you care about steak! They serve a 10 oz marinated skirt steak that is always good. Served with three eggs and side of choice, and a bread/bagel, it’s a huge meal.

Foodie Greg’s pastrami sandwich was likewise excellent, although he was thankful he ordered a half!

  • Lunch at the Country Deli runs out around $20 a serve with tax and tip.


Returning to an old favorite, it was time for Frogmore Stew. Think southern boil with potatoes, shrimp, corn, etc, but where the stewing liquid is turned into a sauce.

The recipe serves six.

  • Leaks cost $2.00 or 33c per serve
  • A pack of arugula is $3.50 or 58c per serve
  • Two cans of tomato juice instead of tomatoes and juice, $3.79 or 63c per serve
  • The fish stock was $3.99 or 67c per serve
  • A cup of white wine is about 80c or 15c per serve
  • We used about half of the $3.99 pack of potatoes, or 33c per serve
  • The corn cost $2.99 or 50c per serve
  • Andouille sausage cost $4.99 or 83c per serve
  • Shrimp cost $3.00 per very, very generous serve
  • We served with a par-baked garlic bread – $3.99 for the loaf (expensive for bread but delicious) or 67c per serve
  • Other ingredients add another 25c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost us $7.94 per serve, but it was a lot of shrimp!

May 6: Tarte D’alsance; Double cut Pork Chop with Apple, onion and Brussel Sprouts


Another cool day; another hot lunch. Today, Trader Joe’s Tarte D’alsance. You might have noticed we’ve been testing lunch options and generally been disappointed. Not this time. The Tarte D’alsance is delicious.

  • Trader Joe’s Tarte D’Alsace is $4.49 or $2.25 per serve.


Our Prather Ranch meat delivery has included double-cut, organic pork chops every month. It has become one of our favorite meals, simply sous vidé and fried off to finish, served with an interesting side: tonight an Apple, onion and brussel sprout combination.

Frankly brussel sprouts are just boring, and they were the weakest part of this dish. The pork was perfect.

  • Pork Loin Chop Thick Cut $9.65 per serve
  • Brussel sprouts came in a $2.99 tray, or $1.00 per serve
  • Pink Lady apples add 35c per serve
  • In the absence of a shallot, an onion adds 10c per serve
  • Add 5c per serve for seasoning.

Tonight’s meal cost $11.15 per serve compared with over double that in a restaurant.

May 5: Steak and Ale Pie; Roast Chicken, Rice and Madras Lentils


An overcast and cold day – for Los Angeles anyway – was perfect pie weather, and a Trader Joe’s Steak and Ale Pie hit the spot perfectly.

  • The two pack is $6.49 or $3.25 per serve.


With the probability of friends dropping by, but with little control over time, we ended up putting together a tasty meal in 15 minutes after they left. No cooking from scratch, other than the basmati rice, but still tasty and warming.

  • Split four ways, the $9.99 chicken is $2.50 a serve for the leg and thigh
  • The Madras Lentils were $3.99 for the pack or $2.00 per serve
  • The basmati rice cooks in three minutes in the pressure cooker and is 50c per serve.

Dinner tonight was perfectly serviceable and $5.00 per serve.