Meal Prep

The Cost of Home-Cooked Meals

In the past week, I came to question my decisions, as I was shocked to see how much I spent at the grocery store. But first, I need to explain a few facts about our life:

  • For years now, I have been the one paying for groceries and my husband pays for restaurants. This is a general unwritten rule although it varies from time to time.
  • My husband travels for work four days each week so I mostly buy groceries for one person.
  • I recently switched most of my grocery shopping from Kroger to Sprouts. I have nothing against Kroger but Sprouts is closer and, in my mind, more fun to go to.
  • Although I try to make wise choices, I am not the most frugal grocery shopper as I tend to see things and want to buy them. Some days, anything under $5 is fair game in my mind.

With that said, here is a look at this week’s grocery receipt as an example:

When I first got the total, I though “How did I end up paying over $100?” Normally, groceries cost me $50, more or less. But then I started breaking it down…

Saturday Night Dinner:

  • Fresh pineapple $1.98
  • Organic cilantro $1.29
  • Whole cumin seeds, bulk $0.63
  • Whole fennel seeds, bulk $0.38
  • Whole fenugreek seeds, bulk $0.56
  • Yellow mustard seeds, bulk $0.77
  • 1 lb of Raw Jumbo Shrimp $7.99
  • Bamboo Skewers $2.49
  • 2 Bottles of wine $24.98

If you think about it, no nice dinner at the restaurant, including two bottles of wine and tip, will only cost $40. Maybe we just haven’t found the right restaurant. This price for a tasty Saturday night dinner is a steal. Especially since we have a full serving leftover and many ingredients (including the wine) leftover too.

Saturday Dinner: Shrimp & Pineapple Tikka with Mana’ish Zaatar Bread

Meal Prep for the Week:

Although I have been cooking at home lately, a lot of what I made has been either pretty fatty or full of carbs. This week, I am planning a reboot.

  • Breakfasts: Egg and vegetables burrito
  • Lunch: Baked chicken with sweet potato mash and stir-fried vegetables
  • Dinner: Spinach salad with garden vegetables

Since I already had some of the ingredients, here are the things I had to buy on this grocery run…

  • Broccoli Crowns $0.97
  • Brussel Sprouts $5.98
  • Cluster Tomatoes $0.70
  • Cucumbers $0.96
  • Bell peppers $3.41
  • Avocados $1.56
  • Baby Spinach $4.99
  • Oranges $1.88
  • White Mushrooms $1.99
  • Sweet Potatoes $2.76
  • Baby Bella Mushrooms $2.49
  • Fat Free Milk $4.99
  • Chicken Breast Tenders $8.24
  • Flatbread $3.99
    • WEEK MEALS TOTAL: $44.91

All in all, $45 for 15 meals is pretty good! Spending only $3 per meal, when I put effort into planning healthier dishes makes me happy.

So now we have accounted for $86 out of the $114 bill. The rest were mostly things we don’t have to buy every week but that can be pricey when placed all together: coffee beans, olive oil and spices.

It might seems silly to go through this little calculation but, to me, it is the best way to convince myself that this is better than eating out. As much as I love to cook, it is difficult for me to resist a meal at a restaurant. I need all the convincing I can get to make sure I stay home. But to be frank, since spring break, I have been a lot more eager to cook at home.

Thursdays and Fridays are particularly hard for me as this is when my husband gets back from his work travel and I am usually pooped from a week at the preschool. Last week, I was very proud of us as I went to Sprouts as my husband was getting back home and bought what we would need for both of our dinner cravings: tacos and pizza. It cost $26 to get all the ingredients we needed for both dinners. Although these are not the healthiest dishes, I am still convinced that by making them at home, we have a lot more control over what goes into each dish.

What are your best ways to save money at the grocery store? What has been your best market vs. restaurant victory?


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