day sixteen


(Click here for an explanation of the project.)

Here’s what we ate for $4.73 yesterday, January 17, 2011.

BREAKFAST

grapefruit $0.25
whole grain toast with 1/3 an avocado $0.44

LUNCH

2 large organic carrots $0.16
4 butternut stuffed shells with tomato porcini sauce $1.28

DINNER

1 cup dal palak $0.93
1 cup cooked quinoa $0.36
1/2 cup green beans with olive oil, ginger, and garlic $0.17

DESSERT

Theo Marshmallow Big Daddy (free trivia prize)

SNACKS

6 ounces stovetop espresso $0.57
1/3 cup “coconut milk beverage” $0.07
Gala apple $0.50

total $4.73

“Avocado toast: simply the best breakfast ever?” asks the kitchn. The answer is yes. The only way this could be better is some freshly baked bread.

I won’t bore you with the cost analysis of the dal palak recipe. It’s a bunch of affordable ingredients combined to make a large quantity of food. We actually ended up with more than 9 one-cup servings. And it was pretty darned delicious.

COFFEE. So, we bought an assortment of coffee beans at various prices. And then I calculated the weight of our most common method of making coffee lately, the stovetop espresso maker. We usually make a generous serving in the 4-cup capacity Bialetti for one person, which is actually a tiny serving of really strong coffee. I get teased at work about my tiny coffee cup on a regular basis. This can only get worse with Starbucks’ introduction of the trenta. Anyway, I calculated the weight of the beans going into the Bialetti, and it was seven-eighths of an ounce.

The cheapest coffee we buy at the grocery store is $6.99/lb. The organic coffee beans we buy at the co-op are $10.39 and $11.20 a pound. So for what we drink as one serving of stovetop espresso that works out to:

61 cents at $11.20/lb
57 cents at $10.39/lb
39 cents at $6.99/lb

Wow, we were both a little surprised it was that much. Okay, that is super cheap in real life. We are skipping out on $5 soy lattes. But in terms of our $5 a day budget, 61 cents is 12% of our budget. Even at it’s cheapest, it is 8 % of the food budget! I think we were expecting more like 30 cents.

I’m a little torn. On the one hand, we are usually that much under budget and could probably still calculate coffee into the budget without changing much. On the other hand, I want us to try to spend more of our budget on food and some days eat more. Even though I’ve been saying I would calculate coffee into the budget, I’m not sure it’s the best idea.

So for today it is added into the budget, but I’m leaning toward coffee not being part of our $5 per day in food. We have already given up take-out and the coffee shop entirely. We have cut back significantly on sugar. And I’m currently working the 11pm to 9am shift, so I’m not about to go cold turkey on that one homemade coffee I have per day. I do want to continue to calculate the cost of some specific homemade coffee drinks, and especially the per serving cost on toddy, or cold brewed coffee.

Oh, and chocolate. You will know what tremendous will power we’ve been demonstrating when I tell you we have quite the stockpile of Theo chocolates each of us won in trivia contests on the Theo Facebook page. Levi asked sweetly if we could finally have some chocolate, and it was 100% free so I gave in. Even though those amazing little confections are each worth more than half our entire food budget for the day, they were free to us. So if you’re not doing it already, follow your favorite food companies and restaurants on Facebook. Find out about discounts, get coupons, or just win free stuff!

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