Friday, July 23, 2010

4 for 4

Everything is really expensive, have you ever noticed that? Going out for dinner is expensive, even when you're intentionally trying to be cheap and don't get drinks or whatever (which is why I'd rather just go out rarely but well, personally). Eating at home is way way less expensive, but if you like to cook, you can easily rack up some pricey ingredients. And convenience products (like my beloved corn dogs!) seem cheap but when you do the math you realize how much that one little frozen package cost compared to a full meal made from whole ingredients. And this is where 4 for 4 comes in. During dinner for the last couple of evenings, I've been amusing myself trying to figure out how much our meal for two cost. And I realized that we could often keep it to around $4 or less. Phil said we should make ourselves a challenge: to get at least 4 dinners a week to come in around $4.

Here's a couple examples. On Wednesday we got a rotisserie chicken from the DeKalb Farmer's Market, because they're free-range and delicious. If it's too hot and I can't roast one myself, I'm completely happy with one of theirs. That was $6.99, so we had half of it on Wednesday making it $3.50 for the chicken. Then we each had an ear of corn ($1 for 4 ears), for another 50 cents, plus green beans which came to about 45 cents (everything was from the DeKalb Market and all regionally grown which may help with the lower prices). So dinner for the two of us was a little less than $4.50. Last night: the rest of the chicken ($3.50); 2 ears of corn plus a green chile and some butter beans to make succotash (0.50 + 0.15 + 0.25 = 0.90); half a baguette (0.50). Total was $4.90. Huh. Could have done better, that's closer to $5!

This all sounds a little bit tedious but it's actually kind of fun. At very least it helps with perspective: you realize that you may want that frozen pizza because it seems cheap and easy (I harbor a secret love for frozen pizza, did you know that?) but it actually costs around $7 or $8...which is double what you would spend on a meal that was entirely homemade, not to mention far more healthy and well-balanced. It's interesting. Or you could buy a container of chicken stock but then you're adding almost $3 to your meal right there, where you could just have made stock more or less for free from leftover chicken bones and a few veggies(which is what I'll do with the rotisserie leftover from this week). But this isn't supposed to be about beating yourself up over a couple extra cents ("I could have saved 0.15 if only I'd left the chile out of my succotash!") or getting out the calculator instead of enjoying your dinner. It's just another way to consider consumption...and maybe save a few bucks every month. Wish us luck!

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