I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. Thanks partly to the economy, but mostly just because I’m a dork, I started calculating the cost per serving of some of our meals. Unfortunately, I usually do this in the middle of supper with a beer in hand, so I need to start from scratch and better document the process.
But the results have been surprising, in a good way.
Before I begin, a quick caveat: thanks to access to the local Air Force base commissary, I’m getting some great deals on the key ingredients. Chicken, for instance, is always under $2 per pound. The five dollar sack of King Arthur flour goes for two-and-a-quarter. But the downside is, the commissary never carries house brands, so for other items it’s cheaper to look elsewhere. One example is butter. I can get the house brand at King Soopers for $1.50 – $1.80 a pound, but the cheapest name brand butter at the commissary is Land o’ Lakes at around $2.75. King Soopers also always beat the commissary on milk and eggs. Another example, Sunflower Farmer’s Market always has the best prices on produce, period, and it’s nearly all local. This week, roma tomatoes were $2.49 at the local grocer, $1.49 at the commissary, but 99¢ for organic, grown in our next door neighbor of New Mexico, at Sunflower.
(I know, I know … the whole “buying local” thing can get a bit annoying … but I have started to notice a huge difference in taste between an item that was grown down the road and the same thing, shipped across one or more borders. I can get imported celery for $1.49 a pound at the local grocer, or home grown celery at Whole Foods for $2.49. Sounds like a big price difference, but I know that I’m going to eat about half of the $1.49 celery and pitch the rest, while the Whole Foods celery will both stay fresh longer and taste so much better that I’ll eat every last stalk, sans peanut butter or cream cheese. Same with carrots … cost about twice as much, but we’re guaranteed to eat every last one.)
But back to my point … here’s what we have so far:
World-class Mountain Granola, about 50¢ per serving (one cup). Hard to price-compare to Quaker Natural, because they use a half-cup per serving estimate and the price varies from $3.50 to $4.50 per 14 oz box, but using the cheapest price I could find (a six-pack from Amazon for $19), we beat them by a dime per bowl.
Quick Coq au Vin: around $2.00 per serving.
Bánh Mì: about $1.75 per sandwich
Posole: Less than $1.50 per bowl, including a warm tortilla on the side
No-rise Cinnamon Rolls: 25¢ per serving (two rolls)
Grandma’s Apple Pie: 75¢ per slice (recipe coming tomorrow)
Now, what to do with all of that money that I’m saving …