May 8: Chicken and avocado wrap; Pork Sausage and White Beans

Lunch

A simple lunch of chicken wraps, with avocado and arugula.

  • Split four ways, the $9.99 chicken is $2.50 a quarter or $1.25 per serve
  • The flatbread is 50c
  • Arugula adds 25c per serve
  • An avocado is 99c or 50c per serve.

Lunch today cost $2.50.

Dinner

An optional add-on to this month’s Prather Ranch meat delivery was pork sausages. We opted for the ‘rustic’ version without any added flavorings (or sweetener) and they were great.

Cooked in a bean casserole, somewhat similar to a cassoulet it gives the sausage a chance to shine, while still being surrounded by a delicious sauce. We made a half batch for the two of us.

  • Bacon ends cost $4.99 for the container, but this recipe used about 1/8 of that, or 32c per serve
  • Butter is $1.99 per pack, or 13c per serve
  • Onion, thyme, parsley and garlic add 17c per serve
  • White wine adds 40c per serve
  • Diced tomatoes are $1.49 a can or 75c per serve
  • Beans add 80c per serve
  • Bread croutons (1/2″ pieces are not crumbs) 70c per serve
  • The sausages $12.46 for two packs, or $3.11 per serve for the best pork sausages we’ve ever had.

Dinner tonight cost $6.38 per serve.

May 7: Lunch out; Frogmore Stew

Lunch

We decided to go out for lunch, for no particularly good reason. A local favorite is The Country Deli. With a ‘Jewish’ deli in suburban Chatsworth expectations are for good food and lots of it, not necessarily great food.

Not every dish is great, but Foodie Philip broke the cardinal rule of “never order steak in a deli” if you care about steak! They serve a 10 oz marinated skirt steak that is always good. Served with three eggs and side of choice, and a bread/bagel, it’s a huge meal.

Foodie Greg’s pastrami sandwich was likewise excellent, although he was thankful he ordered a half!

  • Lunch at the Country Deli runs out around $20 a serve with tax and tip.

Dinner

Returning to an old favorite, it was time for Frogmore Stew. Think southern boil with potatoes, shrimp, corn, etc, but where the stewing liquid is turned into a sauce.

The recipe serves six.

  • Leaks cost $2.00 or 33c per serve
  • A pack of arugula is $3.50 or 58c per serve
  • Two cans of tomato juice instead of tomatoes and juice, $3.79 or 63c per serve
  • The fish stock was $3.99 or 67c per serve
  • A cup of white wine is about 80c or 15c per serve
  • We used about half of the $3.99 pack of potatoes, or 33c per serve
  • The corn cost $2.99 or 50c per serve
  • Andouille sausage cost $4.99 or 83c per serve
  • Shrimp cost $3.00 per very, very generous serve
  • We served with a par-baked garlic bread – $3.99 for the loaf (expensive for bread but delicious) or 67c per serve
  • Other ingredients add another 25c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost us $7.94 per serve, but it was a lot of shrimp!

May 6: Tarte D’alsance; Double cut Pork Chop with Apple, onion and Brussel Sprouts

Lunch

Another cool day; another hot lunch. Today, Trader Joe’s Tarte D’alsance. You might have noticed we’ve been testing lunch options and generally been disappointed. Not this time. The Tarte D’alsance is delicious.

  • Trader Joe’s Tarte D’Alsace is $4.49 or $2.25 per serve.

Dinner

Our Prather Ranch meat delivery has included double-cut, organic pork chops every month. It has become one of our favorite meals, simply sous vidé and fried off to finish, served with an interesting side: tonight an Apple, onion and brussel sprout combination.

Frankly brussel sprouts are just boring, and they were the weakest part of this dish. The pork was perfect.

  • Pork Loin Chop Thick Cut $9.65 per serve
  • Brussel sprouts came in a $2.99 tray, or $1.00 per serve
  • Pink Lady apples add 35c per serve
  • In the absence of a shallot, an onion adds 10c per serve
  • Add 5c per serve for seasoning.

Tonight’s meal cost $11.15 per serve compared with over double that in a restaurant.

May 5: Steak and Ale Pie; Roast Chicken, Rice and Madras Lentils

Lunch

An overcast and cold day – for Los Angeles anyway – was perfect pie weather, and a Trader Joe’s Steak and Ale Pie hit the spot perfectly.

  • The two pack is $6.49 or $3.25 per serve.

Dinner

With the probability of friends dropping by, but with little control over time, we ended up putting together a tasty meal in 15 minutes after they left. No cooking from scratch, other than the basmati rice, but still tasty and warming.

  • Split four ways, the $9.99 chicken is $2.50 a serve for the leg and thigh
  • The Madras Lentils were $3.99 for the pack or $2.00 per serve
  • The basmati rice cooks in three minutes in the pressure cooker and is 50c per serve.

Dinner tonight was perfectly serviceable and $5.00 per serve.

May 4: Quesadilla; Chuck steak in BBQ sauce, with baked beans on an English Muffin.

Lunch

A cloudy, overcast day led to a hot lunch, and Quesadilla – well our flatbread variation.

  • 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

A chuck steak remained from our March Prather Ranch meet delivery, as did the BBQ sauce left over from April 30th. The recipe says to discard the sauce, but we put it in the refrigerator overnight to harden the fat and make it easy to discard, leaving clean sauce for another meal.

I’ve been meaning to mention. While our Prather Ranch meat is a little more expensive than most, it is dry aged and grass fed, which is a higher quality product.

  • 3/4 of a pound of Chuck steak is $7.12, or $3.06 per serve
  • The baked beans are $1.49 per can or 75c per serve
  • An English muffin is 50c per serve
  • We finished off the jar of pickled cauliflower – the jar is $3.99 and there was about 1/4 left, or 50c per serve.

Dinner tonight cost $4.81 per serve and was delicious. The little bit of BBQ sauce left was discarded.

May 3: Chicken wrap; Muffaletta Pasta Salad

Lunch

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.

Dinner

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

Lunch

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.

Dinner

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

Lunch

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.

Dinner

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

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.