Food & Drink

What's a reasonable food budget for two career oriented people?

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  • Feb 24th, 2021 12:23 am
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Apr 16, 2015
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Hubby and I were like you for the first 20 years married. Almost always eating take-out or restaurants. Never cooking, other than occasional reheating or microwaving. But for the last couple of years, we've been getting meal kit boxes (Goodfood mostly, but we've used some others from time to time). Honestly, it's the best thing we've ever done. For about $85/week, we get 4 meals (2 servings each) and there is almost always enough for leftover lunches. I'm sure that seems expensive to some people, but compared to restaurants, it's much cheaper and no tax or tip required. Plus it's much healthier. I love that there is no shopping and no planning. Just pick your meals from the website (like ordering off a menu). When it arrives, you open the bag - follow a few instructions and have a healthy and delicious meal in about 30-40 minutes - even with no cooking skills. For about $15 more, use HelloFresh which actually chops up most of the veggies for you (if that's hard on your hands).

As for washing dishes, I hate it too. I agree with an earlier tip to always use foil or parchment on your baking sheets, so nothing sticks and you can just toss them in the dishwasher. Also, get some good non-stick pans (good t-fal frying pans are on sale all the time at Canadian tire for about $20-$25).
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Dec 27, 2009
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I can't even imagine wanting to eat takeout all the time. Yuck. I also can't believe how small of a portion satisfies the both of you. Literally cannot relate at all. I am a big eater. I'm not overweight at all, I'm not overly tall at 5'7" (I'm female), and I'd be frigging starving on your portions. For my own budget, there are 2 adults in our household plus a 17 pound Jack Russell (and even he eats more than you do). I cook almost everything. We get takeout very infrequently (mostly because it is unhealthy and usually kind of crappy IMO). I budget around $500 per month for food (this includes dog food). I guess if you are eating out all the time, I could easily see it being $1,000 per person.

We eat a huge amount of veggies, and other than that it is usually chicken breasts or ground beef sometimes. I always get them on sale.

As soon as I get home from the grocery store (shop weekly), I've been chopping up all the veggies so they are ready to go. I will take out a couple chicken breasts from the freezer the night before (or ground beef, or whatever), then after I get home from work it is ready to prepare. My hubby usually will marinate the chicken in something, and I fry everything up with the veggies when I get home.

I also try to make things like a big batch of homemade spaghetti sauce once in a while, so I can freeze it in portions for quick meals later. I also use lots of veggies in that sauce (as well as meat). Same thing for chili. Really anything that can be made in a big batch will save time later on. I just froze a big lasagna this weekend. Who knows when we'll eat it? It is nice to have the option if needed.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Sep 13, 2007
533 posts
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Toronto
I've been reading some of the posts, and quite impress with the amount of dedication a lot of you taken to cooking healthy.
For us, that's simply not our lifestyle.
Fortunately, we close enough to a lot of food places for picking up takeout food

If you wondering why I hate cooking out, here's a sample of one take-out and one cook-in.
The cook-in is a one-time special, and the dine-in, is one of our better deal scores, but from a time versus food perspective, you can see i lean more towards dine-in.
But as you can see, when I go to more upend Asian restaurants in Markham, it's a lot harder to keep it at $30-40 a day for 2 ppl.
We still do trendy places, but we tend not to go out all out (i.e. lobster only from fisherman lobster to keep it manageable)



1) Valentines:
Cost breakdown: $35 - $18 for 3 lb of steak (sale at Loblaws), $2 dollar romaine lettuce, $1.00 cream of mushroom, $3 ravoli, $2.00 mushroom, $7 alcohol
Time: Total: 5.5 hours - 7.5 hours: 3.5 hours cooking a lot of that was sous vide time, 1-2 hours shopping, cleaning up - another 1-2 hours
Leftovers: ya we had leftovers, for at least one more meal for us, plus an additional lunch for me (ya, we don't eat a lot)
Damage to Ecezma: I wore gloves to minimize direct exposure to my hands but with cleaning, throwing things in garbage, washing hands, was taking a toll on my hands
Healthiness: used a lot of salt, butter so prolly not the healthest
Thoughts: I originally planned to only sous vide the meat, and grab a shrimp pasta but unfortunately, the restaurants i were looking at were busy so i ended up cooking the whole thing.
It's a lot of time and effort, plus toll on my hands.
You save money though, but then you give away in a lot of time.
On plus side, because i rarely cook, my wife's super happy and thought it was romantic (there were other preparations too).
But if this was a normal day,
Verdict: 2-4 hours of cooking/cleaning is way too much time/toll (hands) on me, even for a bulk cook

2) Greek Meal
Cost: 25 including tax in Ajax
Description: 4 skewers, rice, potatoes, salad, and bread
Time: 20 min detour to pick it up, plus 5-10 mins to reheat, etc, plus 5 mins to put dishes in dishwasher
Healthiness: better than processed fast food but definitely not home cooked
Leftovers: We ate it for lunch once, plus another lunch left over, and then another lunch for myself.
In other words, it was stretched out to 5 meals for us. Approx $5 bucks a person
Thoughts: When I shop for food, i tend to be value oriented. The greek place is a hidden gem, located in an older plaza, so there overhead cost is a lot lower.
Sometimes, we noticed we get a lot more value for our buck or decent stores, at locations with lower overhead.
It was on the way (that's another story, nice present was being upsell for $120 bucks at some boutique store, was sold for $20 bucks in Ajax)

3) Bubble tea
If there's one thing that kill us in our budget, it's definitely drinks.
A overpriced, trendy bubble tea (taiwane bubble tea for $7-9 after taxes) or 2 quality old school milk tea from Marathon ($7 incl. tax)
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Jun 12, 2008
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You're not even comparing the same thing. Make the Greek meal at home.

That 3 lbs of steak was enough for 6 of the size of meals you eat.

Why not 1lb of meat, 1 bagged salad, 1 fresh ravioli, 1 ready-made sauce. Way less work and way less need to wash your hands. Food for days. 10 minutes to shop. 2 extra minutes to find new dish soap. 15 to prepare beginning to end if you didn't bother making the cooking of the steak so complicated. You're not going to get your steak meal as take out for $35.
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Nov 1, 2016
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noobienoob wrote:
1) Valentines:
Cost breakdown: $35 - $18 for 3 lb of steak (sale at Loblaws), $2 dollar romaine lettuce, $1.00 cream of mushroom, $3 ravoli, $2.00 mushroom, $7 alcohol
Time: Total: 5.5 hours - 7.5 hours: 3.5 hours cooking a lot of that was sous vide time, 1-2 hours shopping, cleaning up - another 1-2 hours
Leftovers: ya we had leftovers, for at least one more meal for us, plus an additional lunch for me (ya, we don't eat a lot)
Damage to Ecezma: I wore gloves to minimize direct exposure to my hands but with cleaning, throwing things in garbage, washing hands, was taking a toll on my hands
Healthiness: used a lot of salt, butter so prolly not the healthest
Thoughts: I originally planned to only sous vide the meat, and grab a shrimp pasta but unfortunately, the restaurants i were looking at were busy so i ended up cooking the whole thing.
It's a lot of time and effort, plus toll on my hands.
You save money though, but then you give away in a lot of time.
On plus side, because i rarely cook, my wife's super happy and thought it was romantic
(there were other preparations too).
But if this was a normal day,
Verdict: 2-4 hours of cooking/cleaning is way too much time/toll (hands) on me, even for a bulk cook

Do you sit in front of your sous vide for 3.5 hours and not do other tasks such as preparing the sides? The sous vide is already doing the work, cooking your steak.

1-2 hours of shopping - do you only drive to the grocery and pick up those Valentine's day ingredients and nothing else? How far are you from the grocery store?

1-2 hours clean up - I'm more surprised with this. Don't you clean up in-between? Like maybe when you're preparing food while the steak is in the sous-vide, you are throwing away scraps and wiping counters etc...

After all that I think it's really 2.5 hours tops in terms of actual work for that shrimp pasta and steak (literally 5 mins on the pan). The rest is spent on clean up.


I think you prefer to spend money rather than saving because time is more valuable to you.

Most of us RFDers love to cook from scratch because of the savings and without jeopardizing the quality of our food because it's worth our time.

Perfect case in example ....you cooked your wife a lovely meal and she saw all the efforts you made and put into it, which made her very happy.
Was it worth it for you?
[OP]
Sr. Member
Sep 13, 2007
533 posts
136 upvotes
Toronto
For valentine's yes because i don't cook often, i am actually able to enjoy it, and my wife appreciates it when I cook.

You right, i don't mind spending more on food, because I like to minimize the time and effort spend cooking for various reasons.
The question is more so, what would make sense.

Last year, I spend 11k, this year i'm budgeting 12k although food promos such as cash takeouts, avoiding the sweets have so far help me stay under.
Other people's feedback has been awesome.
Now that I know other people can spend 400-600/month (5k-7k a year) and still eat healthy,

Originally, i thought of increasing my budget by 2k a year.
Now, instead maybe even decrease it by 2k
There maybe other factors too though like food fatigue, ordering from the same restaurants though.
Or cook more often, but when i do dine out, go to more high-end restaurants.

Seriously though, i'm curious, for those who go to high-end like ones in downtown, fishman lobster, shinta
how much they spend each year


crayola1 wrote: Do you sit in front of your sous vide for 3.5 hours and not do other tasks such as preparing the sides? The sous vide is already doing the work, cooking your steak.

1-2 hours of shopping - do you only drive to the grocery and pick up those Valentine's day ingredients and nothing else? How far are you from the grocery store?

1-2 hours clean up - I'm more surprised with this. Don't you clean up in-between? Like maybe when you're preparing food while the steak is in the sous-vide, you are throwing away scraps and wiping counters etc...

After all that I think it's really 2.5 hours tops in terms of actual work for that shrimp pasta and steak (literally 5 mins on the pan). The rest is spent on clean up.


I think you prefer to spend money rather than saving because time is more valuable to you.

Most of us RFDers love to cook from scratch because of the savings and without jeopardizing the quality of our food because it's worth our time.

Perfect case in example ....you cooked your wife a lovely meal and she saw all the efforts you made and put into it, which made her very happy.
Was it worth it for you?
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Oct 24, 2005
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Another suggestion is to check out Facebook marketplace. A lot of home caterers post there especially for ethnic foods and relatively cheap. If you find one you like maybe you can work out some sort of deal if you order regularly.

I think there’s a similar thing on wechat if you’re looking for Chinese food.
2006 - Pepsi/Frito Lay Win Every Hour Contest - 1279 Entries - Loser!
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noobienoob wrote: I've been reading some of the posts, and quite impress with the amount of dedication a lot of you taken to cooking healthy.
For us, that's simply not our lifestyle.
Fortunately, we close enough to a lot of food places for picking up takeout food

If you wondering why I hate cooking out, here's a sample of one take-out and one cook-in.
The cook-in is a one-time special, and the dine-in, is one of our better deal scores, but from a time versus food perspective, you can see i lean more towards dine-in.
But as you can see, when I go to more upend Asian restaurants in Markham, it's a lot harder to keep it at $30-40 a day for 2 ppl.
We still do trendy places, but we tend not to go out all out (i.e. lobster only from fisherman lobster to keep it manageable)



1) Valentines:
Cost breakdown: $35 - $18 for 3 lb of steak (sale at Loblaws), $2 dollar romaine lettuce, $1.00 cream of mushroom, $3 ravoli, $2.00 mushroom, $7 alcohol
Time: Total: 5.5 hours - 7.5 hours: 3.5 hours cooking a lot of that was sous vide time, 1-2 hours shopping, cleaning up - another 1-2 hours
Leftovers: ya we had leftovers, for at least one more meal for us, plus an additional lunch for me (ya, we don't eat a lot)
Damage to Ecezma: I wore gloves to minimize direct exposure to my hands but with cleaning, throwing things in garbage, washing hands, was taking a toll on my hands
Healthiness: used a lot of salt, butter so prolly not the healthest
Thoughts: I originally planned to only sous vide the meat, and grab a shrimp pasta but unfortunately, the restaurants i were looking at were busy so i ended up cooking the whole thing.
It's a lot of time and effort, plus toll on my hands.
You save money though, but then you give away in a lot of time.
On plus side, because i rarely cook, my wife's super happy and thought it was romantic (there were other preparations too).
But if this was a normal day,
Verdict: 2-4 hours of cooking/cleaning is way too much time/toll (hands) on me, even for a bulk cook

2) Greek Meal
Cost: 25 including tax in Ajax
Description: 4 skewers, rice, potatoes, salad, and bread
Time: 20 min detour to pick it up, plus 5-10 mins to reheat, etc, plus 5 mins to put dishes in dishwasher
Healthiness: better than processed fast food but definitely not home cooked
Leftovers: We ate it for lunch once, plus another lunch left over, and then another lunch for myself.
In other words, it was stretched out to 5 meals for us. Approx $5 bucks a person
Thoughts: When I shop for food, i tend to be value oriented. The greek place is a hidden gem, located in an older plaza, so there overhead cost is a lot lower.
Sometimes, we noticed we get a lot more value for our buck or decent stores, at locations with lower overhead.
It was on the way (that's another story, nice present was being upsell for $120 bucks at some boutique store, was sold for $20 bucks in Ajax)

3) Bubble tea
If there's one thing that kill us in our budget, it's definitely drinks.
A overpriced, trendy bubble tea (taiwane bubble tea for $7-9 after taxes) or 2 quality old school milk tea from Marathon ($7 incl. tax)
You don’t need approval to justify your over spending on food.

If you wanna burn that money... go ahead. I mean different story if you were broke and in debt. Then its your fault youre behind.
But if you got the extra income... go for it.

Shoot if its just laziness... shop @ costco. They have a lot of convenience meals.

They got
-taco kit
-lasagna
-pasta
-salads
-stuffed peppers
-fish & meat dishes
-rice dishes

Etc etc. Get a few of those and pop it into the oven. Its cheaper then tAke out, but more expensive then making it yourself.

If it aint hurting you financially or health wise... go be lazy and waste money.

Plus you are doing it wrong.
Last night i roasted a chicken with vegetables and potatoes. Season and toss it in the oven. Set it and forget it... i went to play video games and surf rfd for 45 minutes fun time...

I came back to a healthy, delicious, nutritious meal that cost $15... that still had left overs for work lunch!

$10 chicken
$3 broccoli
$2 potatoes

Food prep time was probably 20 minutes or less. The night before you season the bird. Veggies and potatoes just need a sprinkle of seasoning before roasting.
Loading the dish washer is 10 minute.
Wiping is 5-10 min.

Spices... you buy a set once and it last you a year. So i guess $20 / 365 = $0.05 in spices per meal.

Thats $3.75 per meal.

Swap and replace the meat/vegetAble/carb for variety. Roast pork, roast beef, roast lamb. Etc.

If you stay discipline and eat like that everyday... thats a cost of $228/month.
Thats a savings of $700.


That savings of $700/month @ a compounding annual interest rate of 7% (easy to do in a long term diversified portfolio) will turn into $548,000 in 25 years.

You can have 2 lamborghini’s in retirement with that money. One for you and your wife...
Or a huge ass boat.
But youre eating it with chinese food and greek food instead
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If you are that inefficient at cooking and Vday dinner took all day to do, and are "career oriented" (does that mean working 80 hour weeks?) then your choice is to UP your budget so you never have to cook or visit a grocery store OR learn how to be efficient at cooking (invest the time)
Remember to be an RFD-er and NOT a degenerate.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Sep 13, 2007
533 posts
136 upvotes
Toronto
Thanks, i'll consider this. This may work ocassionally
blarg wrote: Another suggestion is to check out Facebook marketplace. A lot of home caterers post there especially for ethnic foods and relatively cheap. If you find one you like maybe you can work out some sort of deal if you order regularly.

I think there’s a similar thing on wechat if you’re looking for Chinese food.
@UrbanPoet i can't read between the lines if you sarcastic, humble bragging, or being helpful or all of the above,
but thanks for the advise. i'll consider doing baked cook food for a while.
I doubt we'll ever get a Lambo or even a BMW, but a car that doesn't breakdown, and is safe to drive, would do.

@No Frills ya, i think we learning that. First year, i always hand-wash dishes but it's now dishwasher, so we getting there.
P.S. No Frills, we go there quite often.
Also finally got my batch of lysol wipes from there yay.
But hate their Anime style commercials, find them to be cringing
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One thing you're not factoring is the Lipitor you might have to take later from high cholesterol as Restaurant food is much higher in salt and fats.

Check out Jamie Oliver's 5 ingredients, 15 minute cooks...if you really can't stand clean up use those plastic plates, cutlery just like in Take out.
Pretty sure in the book there is a "pantry" staples list in there. Make one trip to the grocery store and buy everything you don't have for your pantry from the list. Find some sales on proteins you like (chicken breast, legs, whole chicken, salmon, pork chops etc) and portion and freeze em off so you don't need to go to the grocery store. Once a week (Sun night), plan your meals and pull frozen proteins out to thaw in the fridge.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... bzUJ-DSdvT

Once you get into a "groove", cooking is not hard and it is very de-stressing doing something other than work once you are comfortable. Put on a good music soundtrack and "as always...enjoy!"

Wear those chefy gloves if you have eczema.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
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noobienoob wrote: Thanks, i'll consider this. This may work ocassionally



@UrbanPoet i can't read between the lines if you sarcastic, humble bragging, or being helpful or all of the above,
but thanks for the advise. i'll consider doing baked cook food for a while.
I doubt we'll ever get a Lambo or even a BMW, but a car that doesn't breakdown, and is safe to drive, would do.

@No Frills ya, i think we learning that. First year, i always hand-wash dishes but it's now dishwasher, so we getting there.
P.S. No Frills, we go there quite often.
Also finally got my batch of lysol wipes from there yay.
But hate their Anime style commercials, find them to be cringing
I was actually dead serious.
Its realistic. As in... some people are willing to pay for convenience. And thats okay as long as you arent hurting yourself financially or physically.

The budget and possibilities with your cash savings is also realistic.

The answer is also custom tailored to someone who is possibly contemplating saving money on eating... but isnt good at managing the cooking or cleaning.

The recipes are easy and quick. The costco suggestion also quick, easy and cheaper (not cheapest, but cheaper).
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gr8dlr wrote: One thing you're not factoring is the Lipitor you might have to take later from high cholesterol as Restaurant food is much higher in salt and fats.

Check out Jamie Oliver's 5 ingredients, 15 minute cooks...if you really can't stand clean up use those plastic plates, cutlery just like in Take out.
Pretty sure in the book there is a "pantry" staples list in there. Make one trip to the grocery store and buy everything you don't have for your pantry from the list. Find some sales on proteins you like (chicken breast, legs, whole chicken, salmon, pork chops etc) and portion and freeze em off so you don't need to go to the grocery store. Once a week (Sun night), plan your meals and pull frozen proteins out to thaw in the fridge.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... bzUJ-DSdvT

Once you get into a "groove", cooking is not hard and it is very de-stressing doing something other than work once you are comfortable. Put on a good music soundtrack and "as always...enjoy!"

Wear those chefy gloves if you have eczema.
Optional... but nice to Use disposable wooden sporks and paper plates that can compost. :)
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noobienoob wrote:
1) Valentines:
Cost breakdown: $35 - $18 for 3 lb of steak (sale at Loblaws), $2 dollar romaine lettuce, $1.00 cream of mushroom, $3 ravoli, $2.00 mushroom, $7 alcohol
Time: Total: 5.5 hours - 7.5 hours: 3.5 hours cooking a lot of that was sous vide time, 1-2 hours shopping, cleaning up - another 1-2 hours
You need better time management skills. Seriously, none of this should have taken so long, and cleaning is done concurrently to cooking (or it should be). Most of that time wasn't active cooking time (like, if I put a turkey in the oven for 4 hours I don't say it took me 4 hours to make the turkey - I do other stuff while it is cooking).
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Chickinvic wrote: You need better time management skills. Seriously, none of this should have taken so long, and cleaning is done concurrently to cooking (or it should be). Most of that time wasn't active cooking time (like, if I put a turkey in the oven for 4 hours I don't say it took me 4 hours to make the turkey - I do other stuff while it is cooking).
this. your estimates are either wild exaggerations, or you are just really, really, really bad at planning. we bbq steaks in less than half an hour. cleanup can happen while you are preparing/cooking. shopping is something you incorporate into general shopping trips. it really shouldn't be this hard!
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Nov 1, 2016
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Chickinvic wrote: You need better time management skills. Seriously, none of this should have taken so long, and cleaning is done concurrently to cooking (or it should be). Most of that time wasn't active cooking time (like, if I put a turkey in the oven for 4 hours I don't say it took me 4 hours to make the turkey - I do other stuff while it is cooking).

I agree. OP doesn't differentiate between cooking time and active cooking time. To add all those hours of non-activity cooking time is an over-exaggeration of how much time in total spent to make a meal.

Not trying to be mean to OP, but it's coming off as an excuse why cooking is such a waste of time. To each their own. I can see a majority of the RFDers on this post who enjoy cooking and making healthy good quality meals.

As for OP's question about others who go out to fancy dinners - it's likely not frequent but there are special occasions that prompt us to go out for a grand celebration. Several times a year....but at no point do I consider this part of our monthly "food budget".
It's more of a "treat yourself".


OP does not need to ask us about a reasonable food budget because he's not trying to save money; he just wants to know how we spend on our food budget so he can compare and adjust if needed.
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Damn, how did I miss this thread.

1k for 2 ppl per month is a LOT of food for my household, and we also do takeout at least once a week. It's insanely high imo. I dong even think I could hit 1k unless I eat Kobe beef once a week.

This is when air fryers and InstantPots come into play. Honestly prep time isnt much if you arent trying to make Spanish Paella every night. Theres tons of stuff where you can just marinade lightly and toss it in either appliance and voila.

Im just thinking of putting some Pork Belly on the air fryer tonight and that just requires salt and pepper. Thats less than 5mins prep time.
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Biscayne05 wrote: Damn, how did I miss this thread.

1k for 2 ppl per month is a LOT of food for my household, and we also do takeout at least once a week. It's insanely high imo. I dong even think I could hit 1k unless I eat Kobe beef once a week.

This is when air fryers and InstantPots come into play. Honestly prep time isnt much if you arent trying to make Spanish Paella every night. Theres tons of stuff where you can just marinade lightly and toss it in either appliance and voila.

Im just thinking of putting some Pork Belly on the air fryer tonight and that just requires salt and pepper. Thats less than 5mins prep time.
And OP and their partner have TINY appetites and are still spending that much. OP talks about a single Greek meal with 4 skewers and some rice providing 5 meals for them. I could kill that in one meal lol. If they were normal eaters living strictly on takeout/restaurant meals, it would cost far more than $1000.
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Jan 2, 2015
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noobienoob wrote: I've been reading some of the posts, and quite impress with the amount of dedication a lot of you taken to cooking healthy.
For us, that's simply not our lifestyle.
Fortunately, we close enough to a lot of food places for picking up takeout food
It's good that you recognize this is a lifestyle choice. I assume you don't plan to have kids, because things will severely change when you add the additional expenses of another mouth to feed and just the costs for the other human. That's being said, my spouse and I didn't cook much in the early days before kids. We have actually talked about about how much we used spend eating out. We travelled a lot for work to, so that didn't help, but at least that was on an expense account. We look back on how much we spent monthly, which is more than your currently budget in but in dollars 20 years ago, and it we could have bought our house outright. We recognize it was a lifestyle choice, but the $12k a year you are spending, could pay off your mortgage that much quicker.

I have to comment on your numbers time though.
1) Valentines:
Cost breakdown: $35 - $18 for 3 lb of steak (sale at Loblaws), $2 dollar romaine lettuce, $1.00 cream of mushroom, $3 ravoli, $2.00 mushroom, $7 alcohol
Time: Total: 5.5 hours - 7.5 hours: 3.5 hours cooking a lot of that was sous vide time, 1-2 hours shopping, cleaning up - another 1-2 hours
Leftovers: ya we had leftovers, for at least one more meal for us, plus an additional lunch for me (ya, we don't eat a lot)
Damage to Ecezma: I wore gloves to minimize direct exposure to my hands but with cleaning, throwing things in garbage, washing hands, was taking a toll on my hands
Healthiness: used a lot of salt, butter so prolly not the healthest
Thoughts: I originally planned to only sous vide the meat, and grab a shrimp pasta but unfortunately, the restaurants i were looking at were busy so i ended up cooking the whole thing.
It's a lot of time and effort, plus toll on my hands.
You save money though, but then you give away in a lot of time.
On plus side, because i rarely cook, my wife's super happy and thought it was romantic (there were other preparations too).
But if this was a normal day,
Verdict: 2-4 hours of cooking/cleaning is way too much time/toll (hands) on me, even for a bulk cook
3lbs of steak will yield about 30 ounces of cooked meat.
Romaine lettuce - buy the prewashed for an extra $2, or salad in a bag.
Mushrooms buy pre cut for the same price, or pay $2 for a premade sauce, it would have been about the same if you are using cream of mushroom soup. If you wanted it to be fancy, buy the fancy sauce that is closer to $6, and you just pour and heat. It would have been the same time.

On a side note, my 12 year old, who is slow in the kitchen just grilled steak for our family of 4, salad, and pasta dish with home sauce, and she had it on the table within 50 minutes. Clean up took the older child (and she is really slow in cleaning cause she hates it) another 20 minutes. That was everything in the dishwasher, pots and pans scrubbed, counters wiped, and floor swept (sort of). I did the grocery shopping. We have a a lot of stuff at home normally, but I can be there and back, and unloaded in 40 minutes (probably faster but I like to walk around in case there is something good). I did the whole meal, I could have it ready in less than 30 minutes. You don't count the time it's cooking unless you are standing there because it needs to monitored. Even in the 6 minutes we are waiting between flipping the meat, we are doing other things. Once its in a sous vide, that doesn't count for cooking time.

Your meal in an average restaurant with the amount you had would have been easily over $100, then add the booze, closer to $125 after tax and tip. Should have taken less than 2 hours shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning, and that's using my kids as an average person.
2) Greek Meal
Cost: 25 including tax in Ajax
Description: 4 skewers, rice, potatoes, salad, and bread
Time: 20 min detour to pick it up, plus 5-10 mins to reheat, etc, plus 5 mins to put dishes in dishwasher
Healthiness: better than processed fast food but definitely not home cooked
Leftovers: We ate it for lunch once, plus another lunch left over, and then another lunch for myself.
In other words, it was stretched out to 5 meals for us. Approx $5 bucks a person
I would have gotten the pre- marinaded skewers, we buy them all the time, they work out to a $1 a skewer (I can do it cheaper, but find it is a lot of work to save) $4. Cook on grill for no clean up, or bake with your potatoes for less clean up
Rice - We have large bags at home, I calculated its 5 cents a cup cooked, so $.25 (I am being generous) - 5 mins to wash and stick in rice cooker, or steamer
Potatoes - they just had them on sale for $1 for 5 lbs, let's say you get fancy baby potatoes, which are less effort $2 /lb, plus oil and seasoning $.50. Put them on a baking sheet that has been completely covered in foil, toss in oil, salt pepper, lemon juice if you want it more greek and greek seasoning. Preheat oven, wash rinse potatoes, and toss in oil on the sheet, put in oven. 10 mins (I don't count baking time of 1 hour). If I don't want to bake that long cause I am running behind, I put them in my insta pot for 6 minutes and then roast. In fact, I roast the whole bag of potatoes, and eat them for break fast hashbrowns.
Salad - pre made $4 Though we make it ourselves because greek salad is my kids favorite. It takes my kids 15 minutes for a large salad.
Bread - packaged $2
Takziki - Pre made $2

Costs ~$15 for the same portions you have plus you will have extra salad and bread and dip, and cooked potatoes
Time - Under 60 minutes from start to finish, I could do it in less time with an Instant pot.
3) Bubble tea
If there's one thing that kill us in our budget, it's definitely drinks.
A overpriced, trendy bubble tea (taiwane bubble tea for $7-9 after taxes) or 2 quality old school milk tea from Marathon ($7 incl. tax)
This is my kids' favorite thing in the world for their birthdays they wanted to drink all the bubble tea they could for the month As a family that month (both kids have bithdays in the same month) our bill was insane like over $400 for the month. My newest thing has been making my own bubble tea at home. I just spent $100 in supplies, and we have made dozens of different kinds so far and I still have almost 1/2 my supplies left. There are no dishes. I do make my bubbles in the instant pot, and cheated with pre made jellies and boba. I even found some premade tea mixes. When you use those, it take minutes and is faster than driving for the tea. These are our weakness too.
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it bothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 15, 2008
9720 posts
4011 upvotes
noobienoob wrote: 1) Valentines:
Cost breakdown: $35 - $18 for 3 lb of steak (sale at Loblaws), $2 dollar romaine lettuce, $1.00 cream of mushroom, $3 ravoli, $2.00 mushroom, $7 alcohol
It is more complex to cook a nice natural steak than it is to cook the kind that is used by the foodservice industry steakhouses. People go for sous vide to solve the problem of tenderness while foodservice uses natural tenderizers like bromelain (from pineapples) and papain (from papayas). There is a faint difference in taste, but taste-testing them on people, they seem to strongly prefer the tenderized ones. Better texture & familiar flavour from chain steakhouses. The most popularly available brand is Leadbetters from Alberta who make cross rib "cowboy steaks." The advantages over natural steaks are that they are portioned & fairly uniform so you do not have leftovers & can time & cook them the same way every time.

Steak is not something you want to microwave as a leftover because it will overcook. All you need is to get the searing temperature right to get a good crust in the time it takes the meat to cook to an appropriate doneness inside. First you need to defrost them in a large bowl of water, take them out of the package, & wrap them in paper towel so they are dry, then season them. All you need is salt & coarse ground pepper, but garlic or onion powders will give a fancy result. Steak seasoning will give you too much salt for the spice level.

The Leadbetters cowboy steaks at 3/4"+ thick take about 3 minutes per side at 6/10 on the stove for medium-rare. I bought some skinnier ones from another brand that are 1/2" and they are 1 minute per side at 7.5/10. I need a higher heat to sear it nicely & shorter cooking time because of the thickness, but I still want a stripe of pink-red in there. These steaks will absolutely fulfil you, but more importantly, they let you put steak in the regular rotation because they run $2.50 a serving for 6 oz portions, which suit most, & are FAST to cook.

http://cowboysteaks.ca/home-page/leadbe ... oy-steaks/

Cream of mushroom soup is not a nice substance. What you want in this instance is duxelles. That is minced mushrooms fried down until they are dark & low moisture in butter, seasoned with salt & pepper, garlic if you want it, thyme as a classic addition. Some recipes include shallots which are just very dry onions. Duxelles will keep in the fridge for months without spoiling or molding, but you can portion & freeze it if that spooks you.

It works with every kind of mushroom but I like to use brown/cremini mushrooms because they are drier. I used to make it with the morels I would forage in spring. White mushrooms, brown, cremini & portabella mushrooms are all the same species but white ones are an albino genetic mutation that is wetter (and takes longer to cook down). Walmart sells white mushrooms at $0.87/227g regularly & you can stock up 1X, then have a stable basic in the house ready at all times.

To go from duxelles to cream of mushroom soup, you fry onions in butter until soft, add duxelles & flour, then add milk, or heavy cream & stock at a 1:4 ratio. Done. You can also stir-fry it in the pan juices left over from your steak & dump it on top of the meat to serve.
noobienoob wrote: 2) Greek Meal
Cost: 25 including tax in Ajax
Description: 4 skewers, rice, potatoes, salad, and bread
Pork chops come in a pack of assorted rib, center & sirloin cuts, some of which (center cut) make nicer pan-fried chops. I tend to save the rib end ones for skewers. Cut them into pieces, marinate them for 1/2 an hour in creamy refrigerated dressing like Renee’s Greek dressing. The dressing will seemingly disappear as it soaks in & tenderizes the meat (acids). Thread them on soaked 12” bamboo sticks from Dollarama. You can now grill them on a grill pan or bbq.

Greek salad is somewhat labour-intensive because it is chopped. A mandoline helps you save a lot of time. You need English cucumber, firm tomatoes like romas or whole grape tomatoes, onion, & green or red pepper depending on whether your tastes run savoury or sweet. Add in crumbled bagged feta cheese which you can store in the freezer, Unico sliced kalamata olives (authentic but value brand) & balsamic vinegar & olive oil. I recommend chopping most vegetables & storing the rest in the fridge, excluding the tomatoes from the mix. Only add the tomatoes, olives, dressing & feta to the portion you are going to eat that meal. Tomatoes should always be kept at room temperature for best flavour.

After that, we only need rice because there is too much food to do potatoes as well. Greek rice is often seasoned with lemon & herbs. Plain steamed basmati rice will work fine as a foil against the strong-tasting salad.
noobienoob wrote: 3) Bubble tea
If there's one thing that kill us in our budget, it's definitely drinks.
A overpriced, trendy bubble tea (taiwane bubble tea for $7-9 after taxes) or 2 quality old school milk tea from Marathon ($7 incl. tax)
This is the kind of thing you should buy as treats. You can buy both the tapioca balls & the flavoured powders in Asian stores but they are pricey & the tapioca takes too much time to prepare. You may enjoy ordinary milk tea with a bit of powder in it though.

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