This is not factoring in the most expensive element - the meat. HB and I both get our pastured chicken from Cove Creek Acres ($3/lb for whole birds - we get a discount for pre-paying). She gets her beef, a quarter at a time for about $4.75/lb, from Falling Sky Farm. Mine comes (FREE!) from my dad's farm in Kentucky.
Today I have about 9 pounds of whole chicken in my crock pot (9lbs x $3/lb = $27). Tomorrow we'll cook about 6 lbs of grass fed stew meat, which will be $28.50 in beef.
$27 (chicken) + $28.50 (beef) + $35 (groceries) = $90.50 cost of food
$90.50 divided by 7.5 meals = $12.07 per meal
EDIT: We were able to get 12 meals per family, making the cost per meal $7.50.
My family of four cannot eat out for $12/meal. Plus, we'll most likely have leftovers from many of these meals. Most of all - the meals we have planned are nourishing.
How to cut costs:
- Omit the booze. I spent $14 in wine (20% of the grocery cost) for the boeuf bourguignon and chicken pot pie. The wine is not crucial but it sure does make a huge taste difference, one that I'm willing to pay more for.
- In the picture of food, you'll see that I didn't buy organic everything. In fact, most things are not organic.
- The mushrooms were on clearance.
- Use recipes with beans and rice. The first day of batch cooking we relied heavily on beans and grains. We didn't do a cost comparison but I promise you the cost per meal was very low - much lower than this batch cooking day.
- Use recipes that call for nutritious homemade bone broths.
- Buy meat in bulk - with the bones. Many farmers give a discount if you buy in large quantities. Indeed pastured meats are pricier than their feed-lot counterparts. However, pastured meats are much healthier for your family. And if you consider that you will make bone broth with the bones (instead of buying the sodium, MSG laden canned versions) this will help you bite the bullet of paying more for grass feed meat.
Shortcuts we're choosing to make:
- I bought shredded cheese. I know that it has icky fillers. The price was a bit cheaper for the shredded cheese AND it was one less thing for me to do in advance.
- Using premade tortillas, instead of making them from scratch.
- The mushrooms are already sliced. Truth be told I went looking for sliced mushrooms but it was a huge bonus to find them marked down!
What I need to do in the next 24 hours to prepare for the Batch Cooking Day:
- soak and cook brown rice
- chop carrots, onions and celery
- cook, debone, and shred meat of 2 chickens
- thaw and cut up my 6 pounds of stew meat
- make 1.5 cups of pesto from basil in my garden
- finalize babysitter (should I factor the babysitter for cost per meal?)
One more thing: our husbands love it when we have a batch cooking day. They love the stress that is reduced from our family when we have a freezer full of nourishing food.
Tomorrow is the big day. I will probably blog about the results on Thursday. EDIT: Here's what I've done 3 hours before cooking.
Linked with Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday.