April Summary and Observations

Yes, definitely late, but here’s the summary of our eating and cooking in April, 2016. Notably we had NAB in Las Vegas in the middle of the month, which led to more eating out than would be typical for us.

The averages for this month:

  • Lunch prepared at home $3.21 ($2.95 in March)
  • Lunch eaten or purchased outside the home: $10.84 ($6.02)
  • Dinner eaten at home: $6.07 ($5.29)
  • Dinner eaten out: $12.23 ($17.34)

Our most expensive meal was a shared Indian feast where we all contributed $15.00 toward the cost.

Had we purchased every lunch and prepared none it would have cost us $352 per person in April. We actually spent $51.34 for lunches at home plus $108.44 for lunches purchased or eaten out: $159.78.

Had we purchased every dinner out at the same average it would be $366.90 each, compared with $133.60 for meals prepared at home and $36.70 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.

Apr 30: Smoked salmon on onion bagel; Slow baked boneless beef ‘ribs’ with cheesy grits and salad

Lunch

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.

Dinner

Looking at our Prather Ranch meat in the freezer, we still had “beef chuck short ribs” left from last month’s delivery. These aren’t actually short ribs, but a cut from the chuck made to look like short ribs. They cook the same, and taste pretty damned good.

Naturally a BBQ sauce is required although we always substitute molasses for brown sugar, since brown sugar is refined sugar with molasses sprayed on it. Using molasses makes the sauce less sweet, which suits our tastes better, and adds more smokey flavor.

Foodie Greg was going to shave Belgian Endive for the salad, but it turns out that a kale and broccoli salad kit was less expensive, and already prepared with dressing and crisp bits packed individually. We’ve had this type of salad kit in the past when we’re traveling and don’t have a fully featured kitchen to work with.

Rounding out the meal with some ‘cheesy grits’ makes it a full on southern meal, although with a kicked up slaw and grits! Although the ‘grits’ were really Red Mill Whole Grain 10 grain hot cereal with goats cheese. It avoids the sweetness of regular grits.

  • Two pound of beef ‘chuck short ribs’ cost $21.98 or $10.99 per very generous serve
  • Kale and broccoli salad kit $2.49 or $1.25 per serve
  • Goats cheese cost $2.99 or $1.50 per serve
  • The 10 grain ‘hot cereal’ is $5.99 for a 25oz pack, but we used about 1/4 or 75c per serve
  • Ingredients for the sauce cost about 25c per serve.

Dinner tonight was $14.74 per serve, for about twice what you’d get for a regular restaurant serve.

Apr 29: Sushi; Grilled chicken, rice and soy-butter broccoli

Lunch

Once again it was supermarket sushi day but today we had a chef sampler pack.

  • The pack was $14.99 or $7.50 per serve.

Dinner

Tonight we finished the chicken legs and thighs from this week’s supermarket roast chicken. We paired it with a wild rice mix and butter-soy broccoli. Butter and soy are an awesome combination for lightly cooked vegetables.

  • A quarter of the chicken is $2.50 per serve
  • Organic roccoli florets are $3.49 or $1.75 per serve
  • The country rice blend was $2.63 for the packet but that will make four serves, so 66c serve.

Dinner tonight was quick and cost $4.91 per serve.

 

Apr 28: Chicken wrap; NY Strip Steak with Crash Hot Potatoes and Pickled Cauliflower medley

Lunch

It’s chicken wrap time again.

  • Split four ways, the $9.99 chicken is $2.50 a quarter or $1.25 per serve
  • 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 cost $2.77 a serve.

Dinner

Continuing my experiment on the perfect way to cook the NY Strip Steak from Prather Ranch, I took it a little further than last week and cooked it medium rare. The texture is most certainly better bleu than medium rare, as is the flavor.

Tonight was also an experiment with Trader Joe’s Pickled Cauliflower medley. It is good: nice crisp cauliflower and great flavor.

  • 12 oz of grass fed New York Strip Steak was $19.45 or $9.72 per serve
  • Three small potatoes each cost 55c per serve
  • The jar of pickled cauliflower is $3.99 and we used half, or $1.00 per serve.

Tonight’s dinner cost $11.27 per serve, which compares very favorably with a similar meal out.

Apr 27: Baguette and toppings; Lamb Shank with Mushroom Barley Risotto

Lunch

Time for a trip to the next County to get a baguette and liverwurst. Although there is a Jons market closer, the freeway makes the one in Simi Valley quicker to get to.

We chose three topping: liverwurst; Wildbrine Fermented Madras Curry & Cauliflower Sauerkraut and cheddar; mayo, egg and cornichon.

Baguette with a variety of toppings
Baguette with a variety of toppings

You can tell from the color of the yolk these are pastured eggs. Chickens that eat an appropriate mix of bugs and foliage have richer yolk color.

  • The bread was $2.99 or 75c per serve.
  • The cheddar is $5.99 for the 8oz block or 75c per 1 oz serve
  • The sauerkraut was $6.99 for 18 oz or 39c per serve
  • Eggs are 50c each, and we each had one
  • The liverwurst is $3.11 for the and we had about 1/6th each or 52c per serve
  • Add another 12c for mayo and cornichon.

Lunch today cost $3.03 per serve.

Dinner

We still have quite a lot of mushroom barley risotto from Sunday’s lunch, so we paired that with two pressure cooked lamb shanks. These came less well trimmed than we have been used to, and did not cook quite as well. As a result they were a little tougher than usual. They were also significantly cheaper than usual.

We used blue cheese crumbles instead of parmesan and it really works much better with the mushroom barley risotto and lamb, than the parmesan.

  • The two lamb shanks were $7.42 or $3.71 each
  • Two packs of fresh, sliced mushrooms cost $3.99 a pack, or $2 a serve
  • The pearl barley is $4.89 for a 28 oz bag, or 61c per serve
  • Two cups of broth is half a $1.99 carton or 17c per serve
  • Blue cheese comes in a $6.99 tub, and we finished off about 1/8 of the tub or 44c per serve
  • Add another 20c for onion, oil and herbs.

Dinner tonight cost $7.13 per serve.

Apr 26: Chicken wrap; Huevos Rancheros

Lunch

It’s chicken wrap time again.

  • Split four ways, the $9.99 chicken is $2.50 per quarter or $1.25 per serve
  • 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 cost $2.77 a serve.

Dinner

Foodie Philip was to be part of a panel discussion down in Santa Monica, so we travelled early to avoid traffic and ate locally to the event. We both chose Huevos Rancheros: Rancher’s Eggs.

  • Huevos Rancheros $8.70 with tax.

Apr 25: In and Out Burger; Organic Bean Pasta with Cheese sauce

Lunch

Another Burbank Monday and foodie Philip was at In and Out for a Double Double Animal Style as usual.

  • Double Double is $4.03 with tax.

Dinner

We decided to try something new: Trader Joe’s Organic Black Bean Rotini with a cheddar cheese sauce.

This was a mistake. The flavor of the bean pasta is fine, as is the texture, but it colored the cheese sauce a very unappealing brown-gray, which is why there is no photo today! Perhaps with a puttanesca sauce it might be okay, or in a salad, although why not just put in black beans?

  • The black bean rotini was $2.99 a pack, or $1.00 per serve
  • The cheddar works out to $1.00 a serve
  • Frozen peas add another 20c to each serve.

Tonight’s dinner was $2.20 per serve. Tasty but visually very unappealing.

Apr 24: Mushroom Barley Risotto; Filet Americain

Lunch

We ended up shooting an unscheduled Lunch with Philip and Greg, since our guest was staying with us, so we had Mushroom Barley ‘Risotto’. Technically not a risotto because it uses barley instead of Arborio rice, but the result is a rich and creamy like risotto. Cooked in the pressure cooker for speed.

It’s more filling than you’d think, and the recipe makes more than six servings.

  • Two packs of fresh, sliced mushrooms cost $3.99 a pack, or $2 a serve
  • The pearl barley is $4.89 for a 28 oz bag, or 61c per serve
  • Two cups of broth is half a $1.99 carton or 17c per serve
  • The packet of parmesan cost $6.99 but we used about 1/8 for three servings, or 29c per serve
  • Add another 20c for onion, oil and herbs.

Lunch today cost $3.27 per serve.

Dinner

Since we were (finally) shooting the last part of our Filet Americain video we started in September in Amsterdam on preparing meat in the USA, we had to prepare it again to shoot that part.

This is the same recipe we prepared last Saturday, although we prepared less this time.

  • The Sirloin was sourced locally for $11.10, or $3.70 per serve
  • The shallot added 98c or 17c per serve
  • Mayonnaise cost $3.49 for the jar, and 1/5 was used, or 12c per serve
  • Worcestershire sauce is $4.13 per jar but only two tablespoons (not four) were used which works out to 5c per serve.
  • Similarly mustard adds 7c per serve.
  • The bread was $2.00 or 50c per serve (for four, with one left over)
  • Our side salad cost an additional 30c to prepare.

Dinner tonight cost $4.91 per serve.

Apr 23: Corned beef, sauerkraut and cheese; Vegetarian South Indian feast

Lunch

For lunch today we had another of the onion bagels, some store bought corned beef, Wildbrine Red Beet and Cabbage ‘salad’ and edem cheese.

  • The sliced corned beef is $4.99 a pack, and we used about 1/3 or 83c per serve
  • The Wildbrine Red Beet and Red Cabbage salad is $6.99 for the container. We used one quarter or 88c per serve
  • The edam cheese is $2.32 per pack of eight slices and we used two slices per serve, or 58c per serve
  • As it was yesterday the bagels are 33c per serve.

Today’s photo is of our lunch, which cost $2.62 per serve.

Dinner

Tonight we had Indian take-out with a large group of friends. We had seen the reviews on Yelp, so we’ve been interested in trying Woodlands since we moved to Chatsworth. With at least one vegetarian in the group, it seemed like a perfect opportunity.

The food was every bit as good as Yelp reviews had led us to believe, but despite the flavor, it’s not particularly photogenic.

We contributed $15 each to cover costs.

Apr 22: Smoked salmon on an onion bagel; Butternut Squash, bacon and cheese ‘Rellenos’

Lunch

Wild caught smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers on an onion bagel.

  • Smoked salmon at Trader Joe’s is a little more expensive at $5.99 for the 4oz pack, or $3.00 per serve
  • The pack of six onion bagels is $1.99 or 33c per serve
  • Cream cheese pack is $1.69 and we used about 1/3 or 28c per serve
  • Add 5c for capers.

Lunch today cost $3.66

Dinner

Tonight we did a variation on Pioneer Woman’s Easy Chilli Rellenos. Once you have the basic concept down, it’s easy to create variations. In this iteration we substituted butternut squash, bacon and smokey cheese for the basics in Pioneer Woman’s recipe.

We purchased butternut squash pre-cut. The biggest hassle with using it as an ingredient is the peeling and chopping. Buying pre-cut eliminates the issue. Steamed ahead of the casserole, it should be just soft when going into the oven.

Bacon and smokey cheese are always a good combination. We decided the bacon could be cooked a little longer, until just crisp, to add more texture.

You can tell the eggs are organic by the variation in color of the eggs, and the deep rich yolk color.

Organic eggs have more variation in shell color and deep yellow/orange yolks.
Organic eggs have more variation in shell color and deep yellow/orange yolks.
  • The pre-cut butternut squash was $1.99 for a 12oz pack or $1 per serve
  • We used half the $2.84 pack of ‘Dutch smoked cheese’ (not Gouda!) or 71c per serve
  • Eggs are 50c each or $1.25 per serve
  • We used bacon ends and pieces where the pack was $3.49 but we used about 1/3 or 58c per serve
  • A pint of half and half is $1.49 and half was used or 37c per serve
  • Add 5c for seasoning.

Tonight’s dinner cost $3.96 per serve. The squash, bacon and cheese is an excellent combination.