I do the majority of my shopping at Whole Foods Market. Despite popular assumptions that it is more expensive, I have found that we are spending about the same each week as when we shopped at a giant chain such as Genuardi’s or Acme. The difference is that we are spending a bit more on some items, and a bit less on others. And overall we are buying more produce and less junk. One time, in a pinch, we bought some Perdue chicken at Acme after having only bought meats from Whole Foods for quite some time. The difference in taste was so extreme to the chicken we order in the meat department at Whole Foods (but the cost was the same?) that we have not gone back. Larger chain grocery stores seem to want to sell organic and less produced items as a premium and make eating healthy seem expensive. In reality, the brands that can be purchased at both stores are actually less expensive at Whole Foods. Ok, rant over.
I base my cost on what I spent to make the meal from my Whole Foods receipts. I do not include pantry items that I am using a small part of. Therefore, spices, oils, individual cloves of garlic, butter, small amounts of milk, individual eggs, etc, are not counted. I do, round up on all dollar amounts though, so the cost of these items should be covered in my estimates. If I use an entire stick of butter, or 8 eggs, or a head of garlic, then I will include the cost. If it is an item that I would not normally buy and I do not need the full amount purchased, I will sometimes include the entire cost of that item. For example – if we need a couple tablespoons of sour cream (something I never purchase), I will include the 8oz container’s cost.
Since I primarily cook for two, I wanted to estimate the cost based on serving, not on the entire meal. If it serves 4, that means dinner and two days of lunch. Three meals are covered, not one. What’s a serving? Rather than base my servings on what the recipe suggests, I base it on how many meals we get out of it. A soup could have 4 servings by recipe, but provides us with the perfect amount for a dinner for 2. I would consider this 2 servings. Keep this in mind if the recipe doesn’t indicate it is meant to be a side, but you want to serve it that way, you will have plenty more servings.
What does this mean? It is totally up to your interpretation. You can certainly make things cheaper than the cost I have estimated. Since our ingredients are for the most part natural, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, organic, etc… There are definitely cheaper ways to do it. Since we ate out A LOT before I started cooking – cheap is all relative. And if you compare it to the cost of a meal from a cheap restaurant…why not just eat healthy?
If you have any questions about any of this – please leave a comment!