Where do I get the costs for the recipes on my site?
The food prices listed for the recipe ingredients on Patty Cake’s Pantry reflect the actual cost of the ingredients that were used in the recipe at the time of publication or at the time that information was added to the post. (This information is added at the bottom of the post when it is updated.) These prices are provided as a reference point for you to consider. Your cost to prepare this recipe may be more, or less. Grocery prices can vary in different regions. In addition, the prices can vary from store to store within the same community. There are some stores in my area that routinely charge more for the same items than other stores. Prices can also fluctuate from day to day. Something may be on sale today, but the price will go up tomorrow. I, personally, like to shop at stores that have overall lower prices, and I love to shop sales.
The purpose of posting the cost of my ingredients and my cost for preparing the recipe is to provide you with a point of reference. You may be able to purchase these same ingredients for less or they may cost more in your location. I frequently buy certain store brands, if they cost less than the name brand. Your purchasing preferences, the stores that you frequent, current sales, and willingness to search for deals will affect your final cost for the recipe. If you only eat organic vegetables and grass fed beef, your costs will most likely be more. If you’re an avid couponer and only shop sales, your costs will definitely be less. I tend to visit no more than two stores on my grocery shopping day. One is a discount store, and the other is an “employee owned” grocery store chain. I allocate about $82.00 per week for groceries for my family of 5. Sometimes, I spend more, and sometimes, I spend less.
How do I calculate the cost of ingredients?
Skip this section of you don’t like math.
As I write this, the cost of olive oil in my recipes is $0.14 per tablespoon. You can’t buy just one, or two, tablespoons of olive oil, but I have a large bottle of olive oil that contains 67.6 ounce of olive oil. I paid $18.90 for this large bottle of extra virgin olive oil. There are two tablespoons per fluid ounce. In order to find out the cost per tablespoon, I multiply the number of fluid ounces (67.6) times two. This gives me a total of 135.2 tablespoons in the bottle. The next step is to divide the cost of the bottle ($18.90) by the number of tablespoons (135.2). This gives me 0.139 which I round to 0.14. This brings my cost per tablespoon to $0.14. When I use the last of this bottle of olive oil, I will purchase a new one. At that point, I will have to re-calculate the cost of each tablespoon of oil for each subsequent recipe based upon the price of the new bottle.
I use this same procedure to calculate the cost of all of my ingredients which is why the cost of garlic cloves varies so much from recipe to recipe. Sometimes I pay $0.58 for a single head of garlic and other times, I pay only $0.20.
Does menu, or meal, planning help to save money?
My answer to this question is yes, and no. I try to menu plan for the week, but I don’t plan my meals first and then shop for the ingredients. I’ve tried meal planning using that strategy, and I ended up spending more money and throwing away groceries that because they weren’t used in a timely manner, and they spoiled. I meal plan, but I do it differently than most people.
When I plan my weekly menu, my first step is to check what I have in the house that needs to be used up and decide how that item can be integrated into future meals. For fresh items hanging out in the fridge, I try to plan them into our meals in the next couple of days to prevent spoilage. Food that you purchase, and then throw away, is money wasted. Next, I check to see what’s on sale. Once I’ve made those determinations, I plan my menu for the week, then I make a list before heading to the store. This strategy served us well early in our marriage when we didn’t have enough money to buy our usual groceries for the week.
Having a plan helps with the five o’clock “What’s for dinner?” dilemma, and it helps to avoid a trip to a drive-thru. Burgers and fries for my family of 5 can end up costing us more than $40.00. Preparing a meal at home is much more cost effective. Even a lasagna from the freezer section of your grocery store and a salad kit will cost less than $20.00, so I always keep some convenience foods on hand, too.
If you’re interested in learning how to save more money on groceries, here’s a list of twelve ways to save money on groceries.
How much do portion sizes affect your food budget?
This may be very obvious, but the more you eat, the more it costs. Don’t worry. I’m not going to advocate a starvation diet to save money.
Recently, I was grocery shopping with a friend, and she purchased several large steaks. I asked what she was going to do with them, and she informed me that she was making a steak dinner for her family. Each family member was going to be served an entire steak. Each of these steaks weighed more than one pound, and there were no bones in them. When I serve steaks to my family, I consider one-fourth of a pound to be a serving size, though I will allow hard working men and teenage boys to have a double portion. (Teenage boys are always hungry, and they’re growing.)
Eating less, or eating more appropriate portion sizes, can help prevent obesity and the health risks that are associated with it. If you control your portion sizes, you may find that you lose weight, and can potentially avoid health problems that are associated with being overweight like diabetes and hypertension. If you’re eating less, you’re spending less, too. That’s good for your bank account and your waistline.
Why do I list the cost for the recipe since it will be different for each person?
I share the prices of each ingredient, the total cost of the recipe, and the cost per serving as a guide. I hear people say that it’s too expensive to cook at home, so they grab fast food deals. I’ve also heard my friends say that they can’t afford to buy groceries with their limited budget. I share my costs, so people can see what’s possible. It’s not magic, and we don’t only eat beans and rice. We just try very hard to make good use of what we have available to us and to cook with zero waste though we don’t always succeed.
Our goal with our grocery budget is to spend three dollars per day per person on food that provides delicious, and well balanced, meals for our family. Most of the time, I manage to feed each member of my family for one full day on less than it costs to buy them one combo meal at our local fast food restaurant.
That’s something to think about.
I will admit that I have a different perspective when it comes to saving money on groceries. I think of saving money on groceries as a game, so I often participate in challenges designed to help us save money. I have even managed to serve nine meals to two people for under five dollars.
If you’re struggling to cut your grocery budget, leave a comment and ask a question. We’ll try to help. We want you to be successful and save money. You don’t have to have an empty bank account in order to eat well and have a full stomach. Keep that in mind.
If you or someone you know is struggling with food insecurity, or having enough to eat, reach out to your local food pantry. If you don’t know how to find a food pantry, check out the following links.
There is no shame in asking for help.
Thanks for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.