Thursday, April 19, 2012

Only 5 days???

The following article was on Yahoo Finance recently and I just had to comment about it.  LOL!  Firstly you should see some of the comments that others wrote.  Most saying they could do way better than just 5 meals for that amount of money…and I have to agree.  Luckily my family as picky as they are won’t eat most of the high priced items that are on the shopping list.  So, here goes, me slaughtering their list.  Bwahaha!

Make 5 Dinner Recipes from One Bag of Groceries

By Farnoosh Torabi, Yahoo! Finance | Financially Fit – Wed, Apr 11, 2012 11:58 PM EDT
Think you can make five whole meals from just one, $50 bag of groceries?
I recently accepted Eating Well's "5 Dinners, 1 Bag" challenge. Their test kitchen team provided me with a grocery list and I hit the local D'Agostino's supermarket in New York to collect my ingredients, which included:
one bunch each of asparagus, chives, scallions and cilantro
one lemon
8 ounces snap peas
1 pound of sea scallops
1 pound of lean ground beef
12 ounces of pork chops or tenderloin
1 15-oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz can reduced-sodium beef broth
1 16-oz package whole-wheat spaghetti
1 14-oz box instant or quick-cooking brown rice
1 15-oz can kidney beans
1 16-oz box of whole wheat spaghetti (oops!  They listed this twice.  They only used one box.)
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach
1 8-oz block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1 4-oz block fontina cheese
1 dozen eggs
1 lb ball whole-wheat pizza dough or 1 ready-made pizza crust
After ringing up my items, I quickly headed over to meet Jessie Price of Eating Well to see how to put my ingredients to work. Jessie gave me the following five easy and delicious recipes, one for every day of the work week. What do you think? My favorite is from Wednesday!

(Note: We assumed we'd have some basic ingredients already at home like cooking oil, spices like curry, salt and pepper, garlic, onions, sugar, vinegar, butter, and milk.)

Monday: Spring Pizza

Eating Well likes to advocate Meatless Mondays, so Jessie and I started by cooking up a Spring Pizza, using our minced garlic, cooking oil, about half of our fresh chives, as well as one cup of shredded fontina cheese to top the dough. Asparagus was the star vegetable. We arranged the spears in a circular fashion, just like the sun's rays over the dough. If asparagus isn't your favorite, you can simply sub in another seasonal veggie to top your pie.

Makes: 5 servings
Active time: 25 minutes
Cost per serving: under $2
Okay, you aren’t going to get my family to eat an asparagus pizza!!!  And why bother with asparagus averaging at $3.50 a pound???  Who knows how much that cheese she asked for is???  Instead I would buy a jar of regular pizza sauce for about a buck nineteen, pack of pepperoni (that Darly will eat the rest of for her CYT dinners) and some mozzarella cheese.  Usually when we make this, I serve it with a salad and the pizza will last us two nights!  So while I don’t have numbers, I’m sure it’s less than $2 each.  

Tuesday: Curry Scallops with Cilantro Rice

Our next recipe stemmed from what the magazine likes to call "Sustainable Seafood Tuesday." For this, we took our scallops and coated them with curry from our spice rack, and sauteed them in a pan. We then added the scallops to three cups of cooked brown rice. We added cilantro, scallions, lemon juice and salt for added flavoring.
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 25 minutes
Cost per serving: under $4.50
Scallops??? What are they smoking?  The substitute for this meal was shrimp…also a NO GO here.  How about a chicken breast or 2?  Season and broil it, serve with the rice and some veggies (note for their $4.50 there were no veggies!)  I can do less than $4.50 and have veggies. Oh and this will last us two nights, because I’ve cut up the chicken and added it to the rice.  :P

Wednesday: Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati has a unique spin on chili, where locals like to serve it over spaghetti. Typically it's made with just meat, but you can also add beans for fiber. This recipe uses ground beef, onion, spices from home, a can of tomatoes, a can of beef broth, kidney beans, and some of your leftover cilantro from Tuesday's curry dish. Cook your entire one-pound box of pasta, and reserve half of the cooked noodles for tomorrow night's meal.
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 20 minutes
Cost per serving: under $3
Okay, now we’re talking a recipe that will get eaten here.  However, I bought a bulk pack of ground beef and froze it into 1lb ziptop baggies.  Add in seasonings from my pantry (we mix our own chili & taco seasonings here) tomato sauce & beans.  No added carbs as it isn’t needed and the pot will last two nights and 1 lunch.

Thursday: Stir Fry
For Thursday, we prepared a pork and snap pea stir-fry, which we also served over our leftover Pasta. For this, mix up a simple sauce of soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and rice vinegar. Then sautee your snap peas, adding pork, garlic, and your sauce mixture. Serve over your pasta.
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 30 minutes
Cost per serving: under $2
This is another “doable” recipe but let’s switch out those tough snap peas for just regular peas and serve it over rice.  Again we’re looking at a meal that will last two nights.

Friday: Rice, Spinach and Cheddar Pie
For the last day of the work week, this recipe proved to be cinch, especially with leftover rice from earlier in the week. Sautee some onions along with the thawed, rinsed spinach. In a bowl add your leftover rice, seasonings and crumbled cheddar cheese. Then transfer it all to a baking dish, pour an egg mixture over it and bake.
Makes: 6 servings
Active time: 15 minutes
Cost per serving: under $2

Ummm no!  There isn’t anyway I can salvage this recipe for my family.  However, using the other “4” nights I’ve made 8 nights of food and I did it for less than $50!  Yeah, I know I didn’t show you my actual numbers to prove that it is less than $50.  Mostly because I bought my meats in bulk and froze them in amounts we need.  I bought my rice & pasta in bulk too.  My veggies are bought in large frozen bags as well…except for salad.  I splurge on salad as it isn’t that much.

I feel the best way to save money on food is to plan out your menu.  Each week I take a count of what we already have and come up with as many meals as I can from it.  Then I look at my store’s sale flyer and see where the good deals are.  I write out a list (cuz if I didn’t I would come home with a bunch of stuff that makes nothing!) and I put my list in order of how my store is laid out.  When shopping I only allow myself 5 items that aren’t on my list…I usually don’t use all 5.


  1. So the writer of this article had to go have someone teach them how to cook? Oh excuse me, how to put their ingredients to work. But hey, if you don't know how to cook I reckon you don't know how to budget for food either and from the looks of that list, they could have done way better on their $50 for 5 meals.

    1. there was a video that went with the article. They didn't cook anything though...and I'm not sure where you get the recipes.

      I bet YOUR pizza doesn't cost that much and tastes much better! :D