Thursday, October 16, 2008

Entire Meal Less Than $0.80 Per Serving

A couple times per week our family shares history and creative writing home school classes with two other families. The other two moms teach and I bring supper. Since I love to cook and I love to cook for a large number of people, I think this has been working out great. I hope the other moms are enjoying it as much as I.

As I was preparing this evening's meal, I recalled a segment from a morning television program about "dining on a shoestring". This program hosts guest chefs and each chef is allotted $40.00 to prepare one meal for a family of 4. When I heard this I thought, "$40 for one meal? Why that's almost half my weekly grocery budget and I often feed quite a few more than 4 people."

This evening I prepared enough food to feed 11 people for about $8.00. Our menu included black eyed peas, fried cabbage, potato cakes, and sweet tea. Here's a breakdown of my expenses:

1 # black eyed peas $1.19
1 med. head cabbage .88
2 onions .66
1 # salt pork 2.25 (sale item)
1/2 bell pepper .44 (.88 ea.)
2 # potatoes 1.25 (sale 5# @ 2.50)
1/3 bag frozen corn .70
1 1/2 c. grated cheese 1.25 (buy in bulk & grate myself)

pantry items: 1/2 c. sugar, salt, pepper, 1 tsp. pinto bean seasoning, 1 c. flour, 2 eggs, 1 jalapeno, tea

The entire meal cost less than $0.80 per serving. Where I come from and in today's economy, $40.00 for one meal for a family of 4 ($10.00 per serving) is not a bargain. No wonder we have families all across America drowning in debt ... thanks to television, most don't have a realistic concept of what dining on shoestring really is.

The recipes for my fried cabbage and potato cakes are in the recipe section. Here's my recipe for

Black Eyed Peas

1 lb. black eyed peas (rinsed & sorted)
3/4 lb. salt pork, diced
1 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 whole jalapeno pepper
1 tsp. pinto bean seasoning
1 tsp. sugar
salt & pepper to taste

In a large stock pot cover black eyed peas with water. Bring up to a boil and boil for two minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to stand 1 hour. Add salt pork, onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, pinto bean seasoning, sugar, salt & pepper. Add additional water if necessary. Simmer (do not boil) over med. low heat for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until black eyed peas are tender. Remove jalapeno pepper before serving.


  1. Most of the time we serve meals that are under $1 per person. When the children were all home, it was necessary, there were no other options. Its amazing what kind of meals you can make when the need arises.
    Many times we have had friends stop over unexpectedly and that often meant setting the table for 20. Beans or a pound of hamberger, rice or noodles and then whatever else looks like it would make a meal that was on hand !

  2. What a great meal and even better cost! You are always such a frugal guru! I never stop learning from you.

    I have left something for you on my blog. Please check it out when time allows.


  3. oh my 40$ is a lot for an at home meal. My family and I can go out to eat for less than 40$ and we have 6 in our family. I love your recipes you have some wonderful ideas thank you. Jamie

  4. What is "pinto bean seasoning" and do you make it yourself.

  5. Hello Nana,

    Pinto bean seasoning is a combination of spices that one can generally find in the spice section of grocers located in the deep south (east Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, northern Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, southern Arkansas, southern Tennessee).

    I generally add my own spice mixture to any dried bean recipe. I most commonly use salt, black pepper, paprika, red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, & old bay seasoning. When I prepare our down home southern recipes, I rarely measure the spices because I cook these recipes by smell & taste - the way I was taught by my ancestors.



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