What’s Really Cheaper?

I remember the first cook book I ever received.

Ok, the term “remember” may be overstating it. I don’t remember the name, but I remember the gist.  It was a basic cook book for recent high school grads being packed up and shipped off for college life.

It had “recipes” for things like oatmeal and tuna salad.  Not exactly haute cuisine, but it made its point clearly and concisely:

Cook food whenever you can instead of ordering late night pizza and depending on crappy dining hall food.  It tastes better and will save you money.

Amidst the mayhem of late nights and new friends, not just during college but the years after, the idea of using cooking to save money drew me in.  I learned to love to cook.  I learned that the grocery store is like Disneyworld for grown-ups.  (So is the liquor store, but that’s a story for a different day)

The only problem is that I felt a little lied to by that cookbook and by everyone telling me that cooking all of my meals would save me tons of money.

Because the truth is, when you’re young and single and have incredibly developed taste buds it’s not always cheaper to buy entire packages of fresh herbs and meats and other perishable items.  When you’re cooking for one sometimes it actually is cheaper to eat out.

So I learned how to cook meals that required very few or very cheap ingredients.  Or both.  I don’t always cook like this, because sometimes I have to get fancy.  It’s in my nature.

But sometimes, like tonight, I stick to this method.   And I really think it was cheaper.   Let’s do some math!

3/5 package jalapeno chicken sausages @ $3.99:  $2.40

1 baking potato:  $0.39

1 1/2 small onions:  $0.40

1/2 package of cilantro @ $1.79:  $0.90

Grand total:  $4.09

I included some of these:

If you had to also buy spices, sure it would add to the price, but I don’t count my everyday spices in my grocery total.  They’re staples that last a long time- a good investment because the cost per use is incredibly low!

I served a simple green salad on the side with some lettuce that I had bought for dinner a few nights ago.

All that food fed two people!  So, seriously, cook for yourself.  $2 a person?  It’s cheaper than fast food and a lot less processed.

What was the most money-saving meal you made recently?

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8 thoughts on “What’s Really Cheaper?

  1. I have yet to try TJ’s chicken sausage. I’ve heard good things… 🙂

    I’d say that most of my lunches stay under $2 easily… it’s not hard to buy a bag or two of lettuce/spinach, frozen veggies or whatever veg is on sale for the week, and get it to last through the week. Way better than the $6.99/lb crappy salad bar at work. Fact.

  2. I’m with Amy. I eat eggs for breakfast everyday too. I throw in some frozen veggies, and it is maybe $1.50 total.

    I’m cheap. And I love eggs, so this is my idea of a perfect meal.

  3. Yep, eggs are the ultimate frugal food! I always have them on hand. I tend to make larger recipes and eat the leftovers for lunch, it’s definitely very economical.

  4. You’re definitely right: sometimes it’s much cheaper just to go out, eat and go about your life! When my boyfriend and I cook dinner for the two of us, we can sometimes marvel at how expensive it is. But as you mentioned, much of that cost is stocking our pantry with kitchen staples: spices, etc. I’m hopeful that as we accumulate more and more of those “staples,” our meals will be much more affordable!

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