day five

(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.35 yesterday, January 6, 2011.


seconds of peanut butter & banana baked oatmeal $0.43
dollop of homemade blackberry jam (from our preserves)


vegan chipotle corn chowder $0.72
organic cameo apple $0.52


3 pinto bean tacos with cabbage, avocado, pico de gallo, cotija & lime $1.21

DESSERT (crazy, right?)

a Cadbury Caramello bar split 3 ways $0.42

8 ounces yogurt $0.72
banana $0.25
coffee with 1/3 cup almond milk $0.08 for the milk (and the coffee was free)

total: $4.35


Dessert, OMG. It is kind of embarrassing how excited everyone was to have dessert just 5 days in. I mean I basically took an artsy still life photo of a Caramello bar, right? Levi was in one of his hysterical moods, and had us cracking up with, “This must have MDMA in it because I’m feeling severe bursts of euphoria.”

Gee, do you think we eat too much sugar? I think one of the missions of the project is well on its way to being accomplished.

And DINNER. We eat tacos pretty regularly around here. I know it to be a cheap dinner. And still, we were all pretty amazed that it was just over a dollar for 3 tacos that tasted that good. Here is the cost breakdown:

9 small corn tortillas $0.45
1 clove garlic $0.01
¼ onion $0.05
beans $0.69
4 oz cabbage $0.15
avocado $0.79
pico de gallo freebie
2 oz cotija cheese $1.25
1/2 lime $0.25

total: $3.64
per serving (3 tacos): $1.21

The pico de gallo was the only thing I couldn’t calculate a price on. You may have noticed I’ve started to try to calculate many of our staples and even the leftover stuff we need to use up. We got that pico from Grocery Outlet, and it was cheap. My best guess is we each used less than a quarter’s worth, so that still makes 3 delicious tacos for under a buck-fifty.

Canned refried beans are nasty. I’m just going to put that out there. I am forever indebted to my friends Jordan and Melanie for teaching me how to doctor up beans for tacos. It makes all the difference in the world. So I am going to pass that wisdom on to you, dear readers, and tell you what we do with a plain old can o’ pinto beans.

Rinse the beans and set aside. Finely dice 1/4 of an onion and a clove of garlic. Heat a small pot over medium high heat and add a couple teaspoons of canola oil. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, then add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Add the beans, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, Goya Adobo or salt to taste, and enough water so that the water is just a bit below the top of the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook at a low boil. Use a masher on the beans as they cook. They are ready when the beans are soft and creamy, but leave some texture.

Yes, this is a lot more work than opening a can, but it is pretty simple and so worth it. One can is enough for 2 or 3 people, so make larger batches accordingly. Often we do a can of black beans and a can of pinto beans and save the leftovers for another meal.

Also, can I just note that it took me five days to realize I can use my kitchen scale to portion out ingredients and calculate their cost a lot more easily? We finally caved and bought a kitchen scale this year for canning, and it is proving to be a really handy tool to have around.

Oh, and extra points to Levi for peeling apart and counting the cloves in the giant head of garlic we bought for 33 cents. He got 28. So a penny a clove.


Filed under food

8 responses to “day five

  1. Margot Tenenchop

    I really want a 10-25 pound bag of pinto beans so I can make my own refried beans for years!

    This project is so awesome – I’m proud of how hardcore and great you’re being with journally, weighing, portioning, pricing, etc.

    Totally inpsiring and radical.

    I’ll have to take a photo of my new grocery budget sheet on my kitchen wall in appreciation to your project.

    • misterkrista

      Thanks, Patrice! We are stoked that people are interested.

      I would be very scared of a 25 pound bag of beans! I’ve had a one pound bag of beans go bad on me. I had no idea until I tried to cook them that dried beans expire.

      I love refried beans when they are good, though. I could eat a lot of them.

  2. caitlin

    this whole time i was wondering, how do they portion it out and determine all the costs? i figured you must have been using a scale.. but you only just started? man that must have been time consuming!!

    also i <3 dried beans. did you know you can freeze them if you make a whole lot at once? apparently other people do this but when i tried to freeze them on a cookie sheet they got all split open and stuff (which i guess is okay if you are going to make refried ones anyway).

    • misterkrista

      Most stuff I was dividing into ounce servings based on how many ounces the piece was. Egads. I will use the scale a lot more now!

      I love using dried beans, too. And we will be doing that for larger recipes since it is way cheaper. I have a pressure cooker to make them more quickly. The only thing I’m bad at is remembering to soak them overnight.

  3. Jeni

    Did you know that I make magical home made refried beans and tortillas from scratch? Yes, it’s true. One day this summer, let’s have a dueling family Mexican feast!

  4. Laura

    Yum! Thanks for the bean tips. I’m amazed that you got 9 corn tortillas for $0.45!

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