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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Left over beef stew. Stews are always better the next day. A little less bread, so a little under the $6.10 last night’s serve was.
It’s LACPUG night and there’s a ritual of pizza after the meeting. To get us through to Palermo’s at 10pm we had a beef hot dog from Advantage Catering who set up at the meeting to provide a lot of food choices.
Hot dog $3. At pizza everyone puts in $5, so ‘dinner’ cost us $8.
This week’s chicken was $6.99 or $1.75 per portion. Part of the gamble of a supermarket roast chicken is that it can become overcooked sitting out, and sadly this one is.
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
Tonight we cooked Serious Eats’ Beef Stew because there was one pound of stewing beef in the monthly meat delivery. You can certainly buy cheaper stewing meat than $9.79 a pound but everything we’ve had in the meat delivery has been worth the extra in flavor.
We did it with one pound of beef, not the three in the recipe, and added more mushroom to balance it. Greg swapped out chicken bone broth for the chicken broth/gelatin combination because bone broth has gelatin and more flavor! He also dropped the pearl onions. Accordingly there are five serves in our version.
It’s a very unusual recipe with a sauce made in a blender; meat, mushrooms and some of the vegetables fried off in the pan; and some vegetables going into a stock. It was obvious that there was stock-in-progress when vegetables went in unpeeled and/or whole.
Sure enough, they get fished out later. Then the meat, mushrooms, cooked diced carrots and pearl onions go back in to simmer while cooking the potatoes and meat.
The stew beef was $9.79 or $1.96 a serve
Garlic about 2c a serve
Carrots – $1.99 or 40c a serve
Fingerling potatoes – $2.50 or 50c a serve
Mushrooms $3.98 or $1 a serve
Tomato paste – 20c a serve
Chicken bone broth – $5.49 or $1.10 a serve
Sourdough bread – 60c a serve
Sundry seasonings, anchovies etc 50c a serve
Tonight’s beef stew cost us $6.10 a serve. With a long slow cook it develops great flavor. Although meat light this has amazingly deep umami thanks to the mushrooms.
Wild caught smoked salmon on an English muffin with cream cheese. Because it’s a 4 oz pack, it’s a generous serve of smoked salmon each.
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
Cream cheese is about 60c a serve.
Lunch today was $4.10 a serve.
Something else was planned, but we ended up spending more time than expected finding a flooring contractor, and went for leftovers instead. Two serves of the red beans and rice, with a fried egg on top.
Onion, oil and garlic and seasonings about 15c per serve
Each can of organic beans was 99c and we used three, or 50c per serve
We used then other pack of andouille sausage from Greg’s double purchase: $4.40 or 73c a serve
Chicken broth $2.29 or 38c a serve
The rice: 33c a serve
One organic egg, 50c a serve.
Tonight’s quick dinner – the slowest part was cooking the rice – cost us $2.59 each serve. I’d have liked an extra egg, but we only had two to share between us!