Author Topic: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?  (Read 3300 times)

EconDiva

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Many members here are doing an excellent job keeping a low grocery budget and cooking inexpensive meals.

I was wondering for those of you who know how much some of the meals you cook frequently cost, how much are some of those meals costing you?  $1 for your home-made breakfasts of oatmeal?  $2 per lasagna dinners once all is said and done?

Just curious if those would share some of the meals you make frequently and the cost for it.  Hoping to be inspired to eat out even less and spend less on grocery items for when I 'do' cook.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2017, 08:11:43 PM »
I *love* budget bytes for this reason. She breaks down meal cost. Although I'll be honest, I double or triple her numbers. She must be a small lady, because I eat way more than her. (And my husband eats way more than me).

I do a mental 'rough calculation' on anything we've been eating much lately, but I don't get too particular with the cost of spices and the like. I just guesstimate.

For example, I know with breakfasts, we make bacon bits about every 2 weeks. This takes half of one pack. I buy 2 packs from costco for ~$10. I get my eggs for $0.80-1.20/doz, and eat two of them. So for like $0.35 per day, I have my breakfast.

So for meals that get in frequent rotation, yes, I calculate. But for periodic dishes? Nope. I cook ethnic foods a lot that have way way too many components to do that easily, so I just try to get good deals and cook based on what veggies are on sale, stuff like that.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2017, 08:27:51 PM »
I do a rough calculation sometimes for funzies, but I don't know every single meal cost otherwise. I do know I've never had a meal that went above $2 per person per meal tho. And that one was a fussy pumpkin stuffed ravioli with roasted walnuts and browned butter... so delish but sooooo annoying to make and then I went low carb so darn I'll never have be able to make it again. :D

I also agree Budget Bytes is great for this.

Recent meal:

Pork tenderloin with side of roasted brussel sprouts (dressed in olive oil, kosher salt, apple cider vinegar).

- $2 per pork tenderloin = 4 meals worth. Picked up like 20 tenderloins when they were marked clearance (I know when the local store discounts and scoop up the cheap but awesome meats)

- $2 for 2 packages of baby brussel sprouts (frozen). Two packages last 4 meals as well. I get these for a buck each at Aldi.

- 40 for olive oil (guess)

- 20 for apple cider vinegar (guess)

- 4 for kosher salt (I'm on the same package I've had for the last 8 years?)

So for lunch and dinner for two people, cost is 66 a person, per meal. Lean meat, good veggie and healthy fat (I eat mostly low carb/paleo)





FL_MM

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2017, 08:54:21 PM »
I do a lot of cooking and have a rough idea of the cost per meal. I buy boneless chicken thighs at Costco for 1.89 a lb and make a lot of meals with them. These meals run about $1.25 to $1.75 a plate depending on what veggies you add. Examples: Chicken Picatta, Stir Fries, Chicken tacos, chicken cacciatore, etc. You can also get near this price range with ground beef and ground turkey recipes.

snacky

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2017, 09:23:03 PM »
My grocery costs are reliably $10 per day, in the long run. Seasonal variations and bulk purchases make the day to day go up and down, but on an annual basis it's almost exactly that cost. Sometimes I'm cooking and think to myself that the current meal is far more than $10, sometimes the thing I am making costs almost nothing. I play little mental games around this benchmark. Mustachian fun.

Zikoris

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2017, 09:33:04 PM »
We spend around $1/meal, plus about 60 cents per day for snacks, drinks, etc. We don't do anything outside of the usual frugal eating advice - basically just don't be lazy or wasteful. Our dinners for the last few days have been: Hummus and roasted vegetable wraps, pesto casserole, kung pao, thai pineapple rice, calzones, and deep dish pizza. I baked pumpkin raisin muffins for snacks, and pumpkin tarts for my boyfriend's birthday. For breakfast, I normally have corn flakes with soy milk, and he has toast. Leftovers for lunch. That's pretty typical food for us.

Pigeon

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2017, 06:09:28 AM »
I don't really worry much about the cost/meal as I control how much I spend to produce those meals through grocery shopping.  That just seems like a lot of calculation with no impact on the bottom line.

We occasionally have pretty expensive meals if I buy lamb chops, good steak or certain fish.  I generally only buy those things on good sales, but still they are more expensive than normal.  I make a lot of cheap meals, too.  I always look for ways to cut costs without sacrificing taste or nutrition, but that's usually through shopping smarter.

kevj1085

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2017, 08:14:47 AM »
Food is one reason I almost wish I wasn't into strength and conditioning fitness. We eat almost all our meals in, but it still isn't cheap. I wish sometimes my meals were as simple as a bow of oats, a PB sandwich for lunch, and some spaghetti w a bit of meat for dinner. Would be so cheap. Currently a typical day for me would be....

Breakfast-
 coffee w almond milk and Splenda
Smoothie-almond milk, 1.5 scoop protein powder, spinach, blueberries and strawberries, almonds
Fish oil, multi, greens supp, apple cider vinegar

Lunch-
Diy Chipotle bowl- ample grilled chicken, corn, black beans, cilantro, cheese, Greek yogurt and guacamole, apple on the side

Pre workout- zip fizz or caffeine tab, Kirkland knock off quest bar

Dinner- some kind of meat- ground beef or turkey, shredded pork, shrimp, etc. Veggies or eggs and bacon

Before bed- frozen blueberries, almonds or pistachios, and some cheese.

Not cheap but I guess not having gone to the doctor for being sick in over 3 years while working with children as my job is pretty good for savings.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2017, 08:24:08 AM »
Food is one reason I almost wish I wasn't into strength and conditioning fitness. We eat almost all our meals in, but it still isn't cheap. I wish sometimes my meals were as simple as a bow of oats, a PB sandwich for lunch, and some spaghetti w a bit of meat for dinner. Would be so cheap. Currently a typical day for me would be....

You'll notice I didn't post our totals ;) We too "suffer" with being active. I've calculated it out- an average day for me I eat 2000-2500 calories, and my husband eats ~3000+ calories. Since we pretty much eat a ton of meat and veggies (and veggies and veggies and SO MANY VEGGIES). Anytime we try to edge the carbs up too much, my blood sugar regulation goes to shit. So I just try to focus on reducing the cost within the bound of what we do eat in general.

ketchup

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2017, 08:36:22 AM »
I don't keep track 100% of this, but I have a vague idea.  I do, however, know pretty close to exactly what my work lunches cost, since that's very specific, contained, and consistent.  I know that a $7 pack of chicken thighs and $8 worth of frozen microwave vegetables is five lunches, so $3 per lunch if I have that for a week, not including the spices I stash at work.

EconDiva

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2017, 08:39:03 AM »
Food is one reason I almost wish I wasn't into strength and conditioning fitness. We eat almost all our meals in, but it still isn't cheap. I wish sometimes my meals were as simple as a bow of oats, a PB sandwich for lunch, and some spaghetti w a bit of meat for dinner. Would be so cheap. Currently a typical day for me would be....

Breakfast-
 coffee w almond milk and Splenda
Smoothie-almond milk, 1.5 scoop protein powder, spinach, blueberries and strawberries, almonds
Fish oil, multi, greens supp, apple cider vinegar

Lunch-
Diy Chipotle bowl- ample grilled chicken, corn, black beans, cilantro, cheese, Greek yogurt and guacamole, apple on the side

Pre workout- zip fizz or caffeine tab, Kirkland knock off quest bar

Dinner- some kind of meat- ground beef or turkey, shredded pork, shrimp, etc. Veggies or eggs and bacon

Before bed- frozen blueberries, almonds or pistachios, and some cheese.

Not cheap but I guess not having gone to the doctor for being sick in over 3 years while working with children as my job is pretty good for savings.

I was definitely curious about people who work out and their spending...

I am always watching my weight and find myself needing to lose 5-10 lbs sometimes.  It seems for me carbs don't work very well for losing weight (my body type just doesn't like them).  So I am trying new recipes without pasta like a spaghetti squash casserole.  But carbs can be HARD to let go of...I recently had some curry veggie dish but it was over rice.  So next time I plan to recreate this dish at home using cauliflower rice instead.  Lately when I 'have' eaten out, I pay very close attention to the ingredients and taste so I can then go home and attempt to recreate.  There is this sprouted organic multigrain bread from Trader Joe's that is my favorite bread...I use it to make avocado toast or a breakfast blt with turkey bacon in the morning.  It's my guilty pleasure since I really shouldn't be eating carbs (but sandwiches are so quick and easy!).

I did the South Beach diet years ago (I don't do 'diets' anymore) and I lost weight easily I believe because it was so restrictive with the carbs.  But I spent quite a bit on meat!  Can someone help me understand why I see so many thin vegetarians?  Some of them I know eat a good deal of breads/grains and pastas.  I feel like I would be bloated all of the time if I did this.

Ok, I totally digress......

EconDiva

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2017, 08:41:52 AM »
Food is one reason I almost wish I wasn't into strength and conditioning fitness. We eat almost all our meals in, but it still isn't cheap. I wish sometimes my meals were as simple as a bow of oats, a PB sandwich for lunch, and some spaghetti w a bit of meat for dinner. Would be so cheap. Currently a typical day for me would be....

You'll notice I didn't post our totals ;) We too "suffer" with being active. I've calculated it out- an average day for me I eat 2000-2500 calories, and my husband eats ~3000+ calories. Since we pretty much eat a ton of meat and veggies (and veggies and veggies and SO MANY VEGGIES). Anytime we try to edge the carbs up too much, my blood sugar regulation goes to shit. So I just try to focus on reducing the cost within the bound of what we do eat in general.

That's a good amount of calories...are you doing competitions and 'bulking'?

Also, I'm just curious to know...what do you consider "edging the carbs up too much"?  Having a sandwhich on wheat toast a couple of times a week?  Having potatoes with 3 of your meals in a week?  What have you found to be 'too many' carbs for yourself?

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2017, 08:45:49 AM »
Food is one reason I almost wish I wasn't into strength and conditioning fitness. We eat almost all our meals in, but it still isn't cheap. I wish sometimes my meals were as simple as a bow of oats, a PB sandwich for lunch, and some spaghetti w a bit of meat for dinner. Would be so cheap. Currently a typical day for me would be....

Breakfast-
 coffee w almond milk and Splenda
Smoothie-almond milk, 1.5 scoop protein powder, spinach, blueberries and strawberries, almonds
Fish oil, multi, greens supp, apple cider vinegar

Lunch-
Diy Chipotle bowl- ample grilled chicken, corn, black beans, cilantro, cheese, Greek yogurt and guacamole, apple on the side

Pre workout- zip fizz or caffeine tab, Kirkland knock off quest bar

Dinner- some kind of meat- ground beef or turkey, shredded pork, shrimp, etc. Veggies or eggs and bacon

Before bed- frozen blueberries, almonds or pistachios, and some cheese.

Not cheap but I guess not having gone to the doctor for being sick in over 3 years while working with children as my job is pretty good for savings.

I was definitely curious about people who work out and their spending...

I am always watching my weight and find myself needing to lose 5-10 lbs sometimes.  It seems for me carbs don't work very well for losing weight (my body type just doesn't like them).  So I am trying new recipes without pasta like a spaghetti squash casserole.  But carbs can be HARD to let go of...I recently had some curry veggie dish but it was over rice.  So next time I plan to recreate this dish at home using cauliflower rice instead.  Lately when I 'have' eaten out, I pay very close attention to the ingredients and taste so I can then go home and attempt to recreate.  There is this sprouted organic multigrain bread from Trader Joe's that is my favorite bread...I use it to make avocado toast or a breakfast blt with turkey bacon in the morning.  It's my guilty pleasure since I really shouldn't be eating carbs (but sandwiches are so quick and easy!).

I did the South Beach diet years ago (I don't do 'diets' anymore) and I lost weight easily I believe because it was so restrictive with the carbs.  But I spent quite a bit on meat!  Can someone help me understand why I see so many thin vegetarians? Some of them I know eat a good deal of breads/grains and pastas.  I feel like I would be bloated all of the time if I did this.

Ok, I totally digress......

A few factors.
1- not every body thrives on every diet. Some people do, in fact, do much better on a higher carb, lower fat diet. I am not one of those people, and you aren't either, but that doesn't mean they're not out there =)
2- some people who are thin are not healthy, regardless of diet. This is the "skinny fat" phenomena. Metabolic markers and the person looks like a morbidly obese person, but they just don't put on the weight. Frankly more dangerous, since most of these people (I keep trying to say patients, haha, #nurselife) don't realize or minimize even having a problem. "There's no way I'm prediabetic, I'm not fat!" Very, very dangerous.
3- diet is but one piece in a holsitic puzzle. What is their genetic background like? Did they have a good diet as children? (Also, did their parents and grandparents have a good diet? We *know* this impacts things like beta cell exhaustion). Good sleep, stress management, and movement/exercise practices can balance out a sub-optimal diet.
4- a carb is not a carb. Glycemic index and glycemic load, etc, have a huge impact here. Isocalorically, the type of carb and how quickly it metabolizes matters.

Hope that helps, and wasn't way over the top for what you were asking. If it wasn't over the top enough, I will happily provide citations for all my claims =)

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2017, 08:54:30 AM »
Food is one reason I almost wish I wasn't into strength and conditioning fitness. We eat almost all our meals in, but it still isn't cheap. I wish sometimes my meals were as simple as a bow of oats, a PB sandwich for lunch, and some spaghetti w a bit of meat for dinner. Would be so cheap. Currently a typical day for me would be....

You'll notice I didn't post our totals ;) We too "suffer" with being active. I've calculated it out- an average day for me I eat 2000-2500 calories, and my husband eats ~3000+ calories. Since we pretty much eat a ton of meat and veggies (and veggies and veggies and SO MANY VEGGIES). Anytime we try to edge the carbs up too much, my blood sugar regulation goes to shit. So I just try to focus on reducing the cost within the bound of what we do eat in general.

That's a good amount of calories...are you doing competitions and 'bulking'?

Also, I'm just curious to know...what do you consider "edging the carbs up too much"?  Having a sandwhich on wheat toast a couple of times a week?  Having potatoes with 3 of your meals in a week?  What have you found to be 'too many' carbs for yourself?

Neither of us compete, although my husband easily could. For my factor- I'm tall and fairly heavily muscled for a woman, so I think my basal metabolic rate is just high. Also, my job as a bedside nurse has me moving a lot, plus it gives me a lot of days off, and I tend to move a lot on those days. I really love just going out for walks, I'll head out and walk for an hour+. We also bike most places under 5 miles, and husband bikes to jiu jitsu which is 7mi each way. Then we do some weight lifting on top of this (him a LOT more than me right now, I just haven't been feeling it the past month!).

Definitely neither of us are bulking. Husband will sometimes play with meal timing and macro timing, but I can't do that- I get hypoglycemic very easily, so I don't mess with things too much now that I've hit on what works for me.

Carbs- generally I will do rice OR potatoes OR sweet potatoes with one meal per day. Breakfast is eggs and ghee with some bacon bits every day. Lunch is usually a big ass salad (literally, we make them in a mixing bowl), or something like a tuna cake (can of tuna + 1 egg + spices, fry in ghee). Dinner is usually where our carbs come in. By virtue of how much we eat, it tends to be large servings of carbs with dinner. Net carbs (if you factor in fiber) then are pretty low for us in a given day (probably like 75g? maybe as low as 50g?), because of how much comes from veggies. I get in trouble with blood sugar regulation throughout the day if I add carbs at breakfast (this includes fruit, sadly), or do multiple meals based on carbs in a day, like a curry over rice for lunch then oven fries with dinner, for example. Or, sadly, one of the tastiest snacks on earth, hummus and popcorn, will start to cause worsened BS regulation if I have it too often.

Our groceries for the two of us are generally ~$550-650/month, but we do some ethical spending choices (like local pastured beef) and then some health based spending which limits what pre-prepared products we can buy.

kevj1085

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2017, 09:04:57 AM »
Most vegetarians I've met are unhealthy by definition. They don't take the time to research how to make up missing amino acids and how to eat properly so they just assume bread and candy are now staples in their diet. That's not a bash on being vegetarian either, I actually think it would be ideal if I had the knowledge and discipline to do so. Currently it's just way easier to have meat take care of 90% of my protein needs.

Dezrah

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2017, 09:33:21 AM »
I highly recommend going through the exercise (at least once) of calculating the cost of ingredients for a meal.  It is shocking how cheap you can make a meal from scratch.

Here are a few I've calculated for us.  This is per meal.  Garnishes included, but not sides.  Number of servings per batch shown in the parentheses.

Macaroni and Cheese: $1.09 (4)
Broccoli Cheddar Quiche: $1.80 (4)
Chicken Masala: $2.61 (4)
BLT Sandwiches: $1.42 (1)
White Chicken Chili: $1.46 (4)
BBQ Chicken Pizza: $2.10 (3)
Sweet Italian Salad Dressing: $0.23 (4)

Keep in mind this only really works if you keep waste to a minimum.  If I throw out half a loaf of bread that's gotten moldy, those BLTs actually cost quite a bit more.

Edited to add:
I am TERRIBLE about purchasing on sale or in season options.  I also don't buy in bulk since our apartment just doesn't have the space for it.  My point is that my estimates might be closer for a person who has not yet optimized their purchasing.  Props to Frankies Girl et al.  You show me how much further I can still go.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2017, 01:37:13 PM by Dezrah »

kudy

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2017, 09:45:19 AM »
I occasionally break it down - especially when I suspect a meal was rather expensive; I like to talk through it with my SO, so we're both aware of our occasionally luxurious tastes. A few years back I tried to keep my cost per meal (factoring in 3 meals per day, every day) under $2.50 per serving, and I got pretty close - that was a fun exercise. I try not to stress about it too much, as long as we're staying under our $300/month grocery budget (for 2 people).

Frankies Girl

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2017, 11:46:06 AM »
Latest meal (fixed last night):

Charcoal grilled boneless/skinless chicken tenderloins, with side of summer squash/zucchini/onions.

2 family packs of boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins (on clearance): $1.35/pound, cooked up 5 pounds: $6.75
Marinade: used a clearance duck sauce - bottle cost $1, used half (primarily citrus based, added extra lemon juice - 5): 55
(I marinade around 24+ hours)
Zucchini and yellow squash: on sale for 69/pound, so bought ~3 pounds each: $4.05
White onions: 3 pound bag for $1.70 (used about 3/4 of bag): $1.28
Olive oil for chicken and veggies (on grill): 50
Cost of charcoal (guesstimate): $1
Salt/pepper: 5 if that
Total cost: $13.68

Number of meals for two adults (guesstimate): 6 each (12 total)
Cost per individual meal: $1.14
But this is for high quality, low carb, lean, low fat meat and fresh veggies.

And we also threw on two center cut pork loins I bought (on clearance - seeing a pattern here with my meat purchases - buy it super cheap, in bulk and freeze til wanted) after we got finished with the chicken/veg (love charcoal roasted flavor). So that's another meat that is waiting to be made into meals (will likely be shredded or thin sliced for a deconstructed/breadless cuban sandwich meal. Also, just learned this, but pork tenderloin is actually the same if not better in terms of fat/carbs/protein general nutrition compared to skinless chicken breast, but has much more flavor. So happy to have an alternative to chicken for when I get bored with it. :)
« Last Edit: July 28, 2017, 11:47:58 AM by Frankies Girl »

marielle

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Re: Do you know the cost of the meals you're preparing at home?
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2017, 02:07:25 PM »
I was curious if my waffle maker was worth it, so I calculated the cost to make two giant Belgian waffles. Enough for two adults for breakfast, especially if you have fruit or something else along with it.

$0.35 without vanilla, $0.50 with vanilla. All ingredients from scratch.

Definitely worth it if you can find one used or free from a friend! I think ours already paid back its cost even though it was brand new. Waffles are crazy expensive at restaurants. You can also make sandwiches out of the waffles for something more nutritious.