Apr 6: Lunch out; Watermelon Salad redux


An attempt at recording a new Lunch with Philip and Greg was defeated by my cameras overheating, but we had an enjoyable lunch at Gordon Biersch anyway.

  • With tax and tip, the average was $19.02.


Late home after a community meeting we were thankful for the leftover Watermelon Salad from last night.

Dinner tonight, as last night, cost $3.21 per serve.

Apr 5: Chicken wraps; Watermelon Salad


Finally we’ve found a local source for wraps for our lunch! Back to our routine of supermarket chicken and salad in a wrap.

  • We chose a more expensive chicken, largely because all the $6.99 chickens were overcooked. Split four ways, the $9.99 chicken is $2.50 per serve, or $1.25 today.
  • One quarter of the $2.74 salad is 69c
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Hummus is $3.99 per container and we used about 1/6 or 33c per serve

Lunch today: $2.77 per serve


Nigel Lawson’s watermelon, feta and black olive salad is absolutely amazing. It’s a summer regular and very, very good.

  • At $4.99 the mini watermelon is more than enough for four serves, or $1.25 per serve
  • Feta comes in a $6.99 tub and we used the balance, or about $1.00 per serve
  • Pitted olives come in $2.99 jars and one quarter was used, or 38c per serve
  • The red onion is 52c or 13c per serve
  • About $1 of the $1.29 pack of mint was used, or 25c per serve
  • Olive oil and seasonings add another 20c per serve.

Dinner tonight (and tomorrow night) cost $3.21 per serve. It’s an excellent dish and every time we serve it for someone, they want the recipe.

Apr 4: In and Out Double Double; Roasted Cauliflower with Creamy Brie Mushroom Sauce


Being Burbank Monday, foodie Philip had an In and Out Burger Double Double.

  • Double Double $4.03 including tax.


Roast Cauliflower with Creamy Brie Mushroom Sauce seems like it should be a winner, but it was strangely disappointing. Pairing the sauce with the roast cauliflower was probably a bad choice: it would pair better with a fairly plain pasta.

We amped up the amount and type of mushroom, and dropped the cream because it was forgotten. There are four serves of the sauce, but only two of the cauliflower.

  • The cauliflower was $1.61 or 80c per serve
  • The brie was $5.84 but only half was used, or  73c per serve
  • Sliced crimini mushrooms $2.29 or 58c per serve
  • Shitake mushrooms (don’t use the stems) $2.99 or 75c per serve
  • Add 20c for onion, garlic and herbs
  • We only used a small amount of parmesan; about 15c per serve
Roast cauliflower.
Roast cauliflower.

Dinner tonight cost $3.21 per serve, but wasn’t our best dish to date. The cauliflower, which is delicious baked, conflicted with the cheesy mushroom sauce rather than complement it.

Apr 3: Fast red beans and fried chicken; Vinegar-braised pork shoulder chops with long cooked broccoli


Greg put together a quick red beans dish to go with the left over Popeye’s chicken. The quick beans are much more vegetable focused and, because they’re a quick dish, there isn’t time for the beans to break down, so it’s not as thick.

  • The chicken is $4.00 per serve
  • The quick beans are around 98c per serve.


We took a pork shoulder chop from our Prather Ranch shipment and braised it in a cider vinegar based sauce, which reduces for a serving sauce (and loses the hard vinegar edge) during the 45 minute braise. After the braise the meat was very tender.

Long cooked broccoli takes the basic vegetable to a whole other level. We generally do a light cook on broccoli – either steam or microwave – so to think of a long slow cook is odd. Add some thinly sliced onion, and a sprinkling of feta cheese and an hour in the oven, and broccoli is transformed into something different.

  • The pork shoulder chop was 1.2 lbs for $11.06, which makes two very generous 9oz serves for $5.03 per serve
  • We used a cup – 8oz – of a 32 oz unfiltered cider vinegar which costs $4.47, or 56c per serve, although not all the sauce was served.
  • We used about the same amount of feta as last night, or 22c per serve
  • The broccoli was 63c or 32c per serve
  • Add 20c for the onion, garlic and seasoning per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $6.33 per serve. There were no leftovers.

Apr 2: Popeye’s chicken; Rissoles and Potato Salad


It’s been a while but it was time to try out our nearest Popeye’s chicken. Unfortunately the order was wrong and we got a mix of dark and white meat, not all dark as ordered! With that in mind and an inconvenient location, we probably won’t go back.

  • Red Beans and Rice is $3.99 or $2 a serve
  • The chicken is $4.00 per serve due to a combination of the wrong order, and higher prices at this location.

Lunch today was $6.00 per serve. We’ve heard of a more local “southern” food place, so we’ll most likely check that out as an alternative.


And interesting mix of a Greek-focused potato salad with feta and olives, and a quintessential Australian dish: rissoles. For the uninitiated these are small, individual portioned meatloaves.

Rissoles are a simple recipe and very Australian. The recipe makes eight rissoles, or in our house, two serves! Rissoles are fried, not baked and the dusting of flour helps form a crust, which we all know is the best part of a meatloaf!

The Red Potato, olive, feta and mint salad is a great accompaniment.

The ground beef came direct from the farm in our Prather Ranch meat delivery. The potatoes came direct from farm via our friend’s CSA box. We sometime inherit vegetables when she has to leave town on various business trips.

  • Dry aged 85/15 ground beef $8.57 or $4.29 per serve
  • 8 oz Panko breadcrumbs are $2.99 and we used half, or 75c per serve
  • A pastured egg is 50c or 25c per serve
  • The onion is 6c per serve.
  • The potatoes came free, but would normally add 30c per serve
  • Feta comes in a $6.99 tub, but we used so little, it comes to 22c a serve
  • Pitted olives come in $2.99 jars and one quarter was used, or 38c per serve.

The perfect sauce is my brother’s home-made tomato relish, another Australian tradition.

Although the photo shows a serving of three, foodie Philip managed to finish the others before the end of the night! Dinner tonight was $6.25 and very nostalgic.



March Summary and Observations

March was our consolidation month into our new home.

The averages for this month:

  • Lunch prepared at home $2.95 ($1.98 in February)
  • Lunch eaten or purchased outside the home: $6.02 ($8.16)
  • Dinner eaten at home: $5.29 ($4.83)
  • Dinner eaten out: $17.34 ($18.70)

Our most expensive meal was a working dinner with another software developer at Gordon Biersch at $24.02 a head (with tax and tip).

Had we purchased every lunch and prepared none it would have cost us $186,62 per person in March. We actually spent $50.12 for lunches at home plus $72.20 for lunches purchased or eaten out: $122.32.

Had we purchased every dinner out at the same average it would be $537.64 each, compared with $111.07 for meals prepared at home and $104.06 for meals out, or the $215.13 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.

Apr 1: Pulled Pork Sandwich; Pea and ham soup


Foodie Philip was playing tour guide to some Danish guests, so BBQ was on the agenda after a healthy climb up behind the Hollywood Sign earlier in the day. Dr Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ was the venue.

It turns out they were no stranger to pulled pork and wanted to compare with their previous experience. Pulled pork all round.

What I like about this sandwich is that coleslaw is on the sandwich by default. It gives a nice textural crunch, and an offset to the sticky sweet bbq sauce.

As the guest paid I’m putting this one in as a free lunch.


Thanks to the shopping habits of young ladies at outlet malls and Los Angeles traffic, we got home well into the evening. Thank goodness for leftovers.

Out came the pea and ham soup from two nights ago, with cubed ham in the bottom. On the table in about 15 minutes.

  • The soup was 60c per serve
  • 8 oz of ham each was 50c.

We didn’t serve any bread so dinner tonight cost only $1.10 per serve.

Mar 31: Ham and Avocado on English Muffin; Burrito


For lunch we paired up some of the left-over ham with avocado on an English Muffin.

  • Each muffin is 50c
  • Half an avocado is 50c
  • About 4 oz of ham is 25c

Lunch today cost $1.25 per serve.


We were out toward Westlake Village for an appearance on the Digital Production BuZZ with Larry Jordan. A group from the show went out to dinner at a well Sagebrush Cantina on the way home.

One of the others picked up the check, so technically dinner out cost us nothing, but our burrito would be around $22 with tax and tip. It was a huge serve and hit the spot.

Mar 30: Massaman Curry; Pizza


For lunch we finished the Eggplant Massaman Curry from Monday night, with a little added peanut butter, which improved the flavor.

  • The curry as it was on Monday is $3.36 a serve
  • Peanut butter is $3.99 a jar, and adds 50c per serve

Lunch today was $3.86 per serve.


Tonight was the postponed LACPUG meeting, followed by pizza. Each person contributes $5 so that’s the cost per serve tonight.

Mar 29: Sushi; Pea and ham soup


Supermarket sushi day.

  • Two dishes split between us $6.74 per serve.


One of the great joys of baking a ham is to make ham stock, and then pea and ham soup.

The ham bone is pressure cooked with water and three bay leaves. The cost of the bone is probably $2.00 because its weight was included in the total cost of the ham, but not in the calculations of meat usage. We split the stock into two batches. One was frozen, the other used immediately.

The soup is simply prepared by adding split peas to the stock and pressure cooking again. Our innovation is to blend in one pound of fresh (frozen) peas at the end. It lifts the texture and provides a bright note to the flavor.

The soup recipe makes six serves. We cubed some left over ham and put it in the bowl, poured soup on top and served with fresh baked bread.

  • The $1.00 of stock is split six ways, or 17c per serve
  • The pack of split peas was $1.59 or 27c per serve
  • The frozen peas is 99c a pack, or 16c per serve
  • 8 oz of ham per serve is 50c
  • 1/4 of a loaf of par baked bread is 63c.

For dinner tonight the soup cost 60c per serve. With ham and bread $1.73. The bread was more expensive than the soup!