Aug 9: Quesadilla; Grilled Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs with Lemon Rice

Lunch

With no advance planning, we decided on our take on a quesadilla for lunch.

  • 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.

Dinner

We decided on a meat free meal, and chose a Chowhound recipe for Grilled Halloumi and Vegetable Kebabs, except we dropped the tomato sauce in favor of one made of hummus and lemon juice.

While the flavors were there, this was pretty much a disaster of a cooking method. We felt that the recipe had been created without being tested, as the unevenness of cooking on the vegetables, combined with halloumi’s inability to stay skewered left us with fried halloumi separate from the grilled vegetables. This fried halloumi was better than the two pieces that remained in the kebab that were only cooked on the edge.

The hummus and lemon sauce worked really well with the vegetables. Next time we try this recipe, we won’t do the skewers: instead we’ll cook the vegetables and cheese directly on the grill plate.

A side rant: supermarket receipts from Smart and Final and Ralph’s are terrible. Smart and Final put the measure ahead of the item identification making it seem like the wrong item; Ralph’s (Kroger) abbreviate the item names so much it’s often impossible to identify what item is being referred to. Thankfully Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have readable receipts.

  • Two bell peppers were $2.63 but we used only one, or 66c per serve
  • Baby bella mushrooms were $2.49 but we used only half or 63c per serve
  • The eggplant was $3.06 but we used only about 1/4 or 38c per serve
  • A lemon for the sauce was 79c or 40c per serve
  • Hummus for the sauce was 33c per serve
  • Halloumi $3.99 or $1 a serve
  • And the rice: 33c a serve.

Dinner tonight tasted great despite the cooking challenges, and cost $3.73 per serve.

 

Aug 8: Smoked Salmon Bagel; Meatloaf with Gorgonzola Gnocchi

Lunch

Although it was a Burbank Monday, various scheduling changes made it necessary to ‘brown bag’ it. Why not a smoked salmon bagel?

  • Smoked salmon $5.99 for the 4oz pack or $3 a serve
  • The pack of six onion bagels is $1.99 or 33c per serve
  • Cream cheese is about 60c a serve
  • 1 lb of Persian cucumbers was $1.99, of which one went into this meal, or 12c per serve
  • Add 5c for capers.

Lunch today cost $4.10 per serve.

Dinner

When your meat delivery from last month still includes ground beef, why not meatloaf? This time paired with Gnocchi in a cream and gorgonzola sauce, with asparagus and peas. We substituted blue cheese for gorgonzola because we had it available.

The meatloaf and gnocchi will do two meals: four serves in total.

  • 2 lbs of dry aged ground beef were $18.08 or $4.52 per serve.
  • Onion and seasonings add 25c per serve
  • The gnocchi was $1.68 from Trader Joes, or 42c per serve
  • Chopped and trimmed asparagus was $3.99 or $1.00 per serve
  • Peas were $1.39 or 35c per serve
  • Blue cheese comes in a $6.99 tub, but we used so little, it comes to 22c a serve.

Dinner tonight cost $6.34 a serve.

Aug 7: The Country Deli; Fried Chicken with home-made Red Beans and Rice

Lunch

An ’emergency’ trip to Lowes to replace our bird bath (a planter saucer) put The Country Deli on the way there, so why not stop and have brunch.

Lunch at The Country Deli runs about $20 per server, with tax and tip.

Dinner

Time to use up the remaining Popeye’s Fried Chicken, along with some home-made Red Beans from the freezer.

  • Eight pieces of chicken were $9.99, but that makes four serves in all, making each serve $2.50
  • 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
  • Instead of andouille sausage, we used a Kroger Simple Truth Lightly Smoked Sausage for $2.99 or 50c a serve
  • Chicken broth $2.29 or 38c a serve
  • And the rice: 33c a serve.

Dinner tonight was quick, tasty and cost $4.36 per serve.

Aug 6: Sushi; Chicken Satay with Thai Salad

Lunch

As we were visiting Whole Foods anyway, we picked up some sushi for lunch while we were there.

Lunch today cost $10.19 each

Dinner

While at Whole Foods we purchased two Soy and Ginger marinated chicken ‘kabob’. We paired this with the leftover Thai salad from August 4th.

We grilled the kabobs on a grill pan using the induction cooktop. Although it took a little time, we got a perfect browning on the outside, with the center of the breast meat right at the point where it was no longer undercooked.

Greg prepared a simple peanut butter, soy and lime dressing.

  • .86lb of kabob cost $9.45 or $4.73 a serve
  • Sugar snap peas are $2.49 and we used half, or 63c per serve
  • Mint is $1.79 or 30c per serve
  • An organic bell pepper was $1.63 and we used half, or 41c per serve
  • Mung beans sprints are $1.49 and we used a tiny fraction, or 10c per serve
  • A Persian cucumber is 30c, or 15c per serve
  • Green onions cost 79c for the bunch and we used about 1/3 or 14c per serve
  • We used about 1/4 of the $6.99 pack of Chili Lime Cashews, or $1.17 per serve
  • The dressing added 65c.

Dinner tonight was better than it should have been for the effort at $8.14 per serve, largely because the chicken was perfect

Aug 5: Cubano; Grazing Meal

Lunch

We recorded another episode of Lunch with Philip and Greg today, so we were eating out at Versaille Cuban. All three of us had a Cubano.

Lunch today cost $14.35 per serve with tax and tip. It was a perfect cubano. In Burbank the cubano options were mixed: one had only pork, the other option had only ham!

Dinner

The cubano serve was generous so we didn’t feel much like dinner. Instead we grazed on sugar snap peas dipped in hummus (really good), cheddar cheese, and smokey cashews.

Hard to calculate an exact price, but less than $1.00 per serve.

Aug 4: Popeye’s Fried Chicken; Top Sirloin with Thai Salad

Lunch

Finishing up in Burbank at lunch time, not far from Popeye’s led to the inevitable: fried chicken take out. It’s only 20 minutes home.

  • Eight pieces of chicken were $9.99, but that makes four serves in all, making each serve $2.50
  • The large Red beans and rice was $3.99 and we shared that for $2 a serve.

Lunch was $4.50 a serve.

Dinner

Top sirloin with a Thai salad. Foodie Greg had been wanting to try this Thai  Sweet Chili Dressing, which we paired with a variation on Jamie Oliver’s Crunch Thai Salad. Mostly we just left stuff out of the salad, and even then it made four very generous serves, two of which are waiting to be eaten.

  • 0.8lb of Top Sirloin is $11.43 or $5.72 per serve. Because it is dry aged, we – once again – cooked to blue.
  • Sugar snap peas are $2.49 and we used half, or 63c per serve
  • Mint is $1.79 or 30c per serve
  • An organic bell pepper was $1.63 and we used half, or 41c per serve
  • Mung beans sprints are $1.49 and we used a tiny fraction, or 10c per serve
  • A Persian cucumber is 30c, or 15c per serve
  • Green onions cost 79c for the bunch and we used about 1/3 or 14c per serve
  • Add 45c for the dressing ingredients
  • We used about 1/4 of the $6.99 pack of Chili Lime Cashews, or $1.17 per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $8.47, and was way too much tasty food for us.

Aug 3: Chicken Wrap; Beef Massaman Curry

Lunch

We still had one breast from this week’s chicken, although again we only used 2/3 of the breast because  this is a ‘colossal’ chicken. Because we were using up the leftover salad from last night, we swapped out the hummus for sour cream, which worked exceptionally well.

  • The $9.99 colossal (large) chicken is broken into quarters, and 2/3 of one breast used for the wraps, or 83c per serve.
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Cultured sour cream is $3.29 for the container, or 33c per serve.
  • We used some of the lentil and barley salad from last night, or $1.17 per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.83.

Dinner

Time to revisit a favorite: Beef Massaman Curry. This time we had a pound of “beef for stew meat” that was precut. This recipe made three good serves.

  • The cross rib steak was $10.70 or $3.56 per serve
  • The can of massaman curry mix is $4.30 or $1.43 per serve
  • Plain peanuts are in limited supply in this part of the world, with a jar costing $2.99, of which we used around 1/5, or 20c per serve
  • Three small potatoes each cost 55c per serve
  • Coconut cream is $1.49 per can, or 50c per serve
  • Rice adds another 50c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $6.74 per serve.

Aug 2: Ham and Cheese Frittata; Chicken Thigh and Leg with Olivey French Lentil and Barley Salad

Lunch

The left-over Ham and Cheese Frittata was calling, so we had that for lunch.

As it did three days ago, the frittata cost $1.92 per serve.

Dinner

The thigh and legs from this week’s chicken formed the protein while an interesting Olivey French Lentil and Barley salad with an olive tapenade for flavor.

We slightly undercooked the barley, but otherwise the salad was flavorsome and a good balance to the chicken.

  • One quarter of the supermarket chicken was $2.50
  • The olive tapenade was $2.99 for the jar, but we used one tablespoon, which is about 1/10 of the jar, or 15c per serve
  • The lentils work out to 75c per serve
  • The pearl barley is $4.89 for a 28 oz bag, or 61c per serve
  • Onion and garlic add around 15c per serve
  • Chicken broth $2.29 or 38c a serve
  • Add 30c for the other ingredients.

Dinner tonight cost $4.84

July Summary and Observations

This month we  ate a lot of lunches prepared out of the home – 14 of the 31 days, or a bit more than most months. Notably we only ate out one night.

The averages for this month:

  • Lunch prepared at home $2.54 ($2.84 in June)
  • Lunch eaten or purchased outside the home: $10.29 ($10.62)
  • Dinner eaten at home: $5.90 ($5.72)
  • Dinner eaten out: $5.00 ($12.50)

Our most expensive meal was at lunch at The Country Deli – four times this month and usually $20.00 per serve with tax and tip.

Had we purchased every lunch and prepared none it would have cost us $318.99 per person in June. We actually spent $44.26 for lunches at home plus $144.11 for lunches purchased or eaten out: $188.37.

Since we only had one evening meal out, and it was a user group meeting where we all contribute to the pizza rather than paying for our own meals, it’s hard to base an average on that. We spent $177.02 for meals prepared at home and $5.00 for meals out, or the $182.02 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.