May 3: Chicken wrap; Muffaletta Pasta Salad


Chicken wrap time again. For the salad component we used the last bit of the kale and broccoli salad from August 30th. Since we included the full cost of the salad in that meal, it’s not included here.

  • Split four ways, the $9.99 chicken is $2.50 a quarter or $1.25 per serve
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Hummus is $3.99 per container and we used about 1/6 or 33c per serve

Lunch today cost $2.08 a serve.


This is an entree version of the iconic New Orleans muffuletta sandwich. Easy preparation and great flavor makes it a good entertaining choice. Goes perfectly with red wine. We skipped the shallot because we didn’t have one.

  • Black olives are $3.99 a jar, half a jar used, or 50c per serve
  • Garlic stuffed green olives are $5.99 a jar, 1/3 used or 50c per serve
  • The dry salami was $3.99, but not all was used, or 75c per serve
  • Provolone cheese is $3.99 a pack, but only 1/3 was used 33c per serve
  • Roasted bell peppers are $5.99 a jar and half were used, or 75c per serve
  • The pack of organic parsley was $1.49 and half was used, or 19c per serve
  • Add 55c per serve for the other ingredients.

Dinner tonight cost $3.57 per serve.

May 2: Reuben; Gordon Biersch


Although today is Burbank Monday, a schedule change meant eating at home before heading out. We had rye bread, sliced corned beef, swiss cheese and some beet and cabbage slaw… what to do? Obviously a Reuben!

  • Two slices of bread add 50c 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 swiss cheese is $3.99 per pack of 12 slices and we used one per sandwich, or 33c 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 $3.01 per serve.


A second trip to Burbank in one day, for a regular get together with a friend over beers. We chose to eat at Gordon Biersch as well as drink their beer.

Foodie Philip had the Gastro Pub Burger while Foodie Greg had the Steak Frite.

  • With tax and tip, the average of both meals was $21.90.

Dinner tonight cost $21.90

May 1: “Indian” lunch; Puttanesca with black bean rotini


We’d planned on going out for lunch but changed our mind at the last minute. Instead, one pack of Trader Joe’s Chicken Tikka Marsala and some Madras Lentils substituted

  • The Madras Lentils were $3.99 for the pack or $2.00 per serve
  • The tikka marsala prepared meal is $4.99 or $2.50 per serve.

Lunch today cost $4.50 per serve.


We decided to give the black been rottini another try, but with a sauce where the color would not matter: puttanesca or ‘slut spaghetti’.

It was much more successful with the dark colored sauce.

  • Anchovies are $1.59 a can and half was used, or 40c per serve
  • Garlic and seasonings add about 10c per serve
  • The rotini was $2.99 or $1.00 per serve
  • Canned tomatoes were $2.19 or 73c per serve
  • A jar of pitted olives is $2.99 but only half is used in the recipe or 75c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $2.98 per serve.

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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.