More menu math

The children had so much fun doing Menu Math the first time, the very next day they calculated the cost of a new set of meals.  I’m not sure why I waited so long to share the results; I think I was debating whether to add to the original post or make it a new one; and then after procrastinating for long enough, I forgot that I was Procrastinating For A Reason and just moved into Standard Procrastination Mode.

I guess that would give you a small peek into “the methods and madness,” as promised in our blog’s tagline.  So what do you think?  Is it a little scary inside my brain, or disturbingly comfortable?

These figures were based on the same prices as the first post, but our cost for produce has shifted suddenly and favorably so the numbers aren’t quite accurate anymore.  The menus aren’t quite representative of our present eating style either, since we are suddenly eating far more fresh fruits and vegetables.  But nonetheless, here are the numbers:


  • Sloppy joes – $5.57
  • Baked herb chicken – $6.05 (8 lbs of thighs/drumsticks)
  • Taco chicken – $3.95 (8 lbs of thighs/drumsticks)
  • Ham/potato chowder – $6.53
  • Chili over rice – $6.53
  • Taco salad -$10.45
  • Burgers – $11.38
  • Meatloaf and mashed potatoes – $9.47


  •  Bologne sandwiches – $3.68
  • Hot dogs – $3.02 (served on bread instead of buns)


  • Breakfast in a bowl – $3.06 (grits, eggs, cheese and sausage all cooked in one pot)
  • Oatmeal – $2.79 (with brown sugar, milk and butter)
  • Muffins – $2.83
  • French toast – $6.15 (surprisingly high, but the prices of eggs, milk and bread have skyrocketed)


  • Chocolate chip cookie dough – $2.53
  • Yellow cake – $2.40
  • Butter frosting for cake, above – $ .94

And for lunch today…Vegetable Fried Rice, using leftover rice from a dinner earlier this week and lots of our abundant fresh veggies from our trip to the produce terminal.  I’m hungry just thinking about it.  This calls for eggs and we’re fresh out of them, but I suspect it will be perfectly delicious without, though a little lacking in protein.  We’ll just have to see what we can do about that…


  1. I am surprised that on this menu that there is not an emphasis on healthy foods in the produce section of the grocery store. It is important that we receive all the great health benefits of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocados, etc. That is how we once ate, and there were less health problems in our country when we knew how to grow our own food.

    I would suggest growing a garden. It lets you become in touch with the earth, and you save money, too. Plus, all the extras in the garden that you do not eat can always be given to the neighbors. Everyone profits from growing your own food. When your neighbors see you eating healthy, then it also helps them to see how energetic you are and gives them an example to live by.

    I also would like to add that our “industrialized” ways of eating from packaged boxes and fast food save us for a short time, but in the long run we end up spending more money at the hospital trying to alleviate all the symptoms we face due to unhealthy food choices. A lot of packaged food contains many preservatives, oils, and artificial ingredients that have been scientifically proven to cause birth defects, heart attacks, strokes, etc. when consumed over a large period of time.

    When I buy groceries at the supermarket, I buy everything from the produce department. The ways I have saved are buying items in bulk. For instance, if you juice carrots, it would save you more to go to Publix and buy their $14 bag of 25 lbs. carrots that will last me two weeks. I do not save money when I buy individual bags of 5 lbs. carrots. I juice a lot, so this is an essential. Many places like Kroger will give you mark-downs on produce. For instance, they usually do this with bananas. If you make friends with the produce workers, they will definitely help you out with discounts. Also, only buy what you will use for 1 week.

    Check out your local farmer’s markets. They are great at giving you larger quantities of oranges, sweet potatoes, etc. so you can save money. Plus, you will be supporting your local network instead of corporate. It is great when we support our local farmers. Most of the produce at the grocery stores is being importing from states that are across the country. It saves fuel by keeping your money in the community, rather than keeping the large trucks coming miles and miles. It also helps with cutting down on pollutants that are emitted into the air.

    I enjoy buying organic selections, but my budget does not allow me to buy all organic. I like to buy some organic items that are maybe $.50 more than the conventionally grown items and especially those that have a higher pesticide rating. Most items I buy organic are those that do not have an enclosed shell. This would include celery, greens, and sometimes berries. It is not as bad to buy such things as bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, and beets non-organic because they have a skin on the outside.

    Surprisingly, Fresh Market is carrying much more organic produce at affordable prices…now, when I say this, I mean small things like parsley and greens. I am sure that there more selective items like starfruit and pomegranate are way more expensive. Save recipes for those ingredients during the holidays or once a year.

    Another tip is to go to the grocery store one time a week. It saves on fuel and efficiency in your schedule. It also helps to shop with a friend and load up one vehicle with the items you buy to save on fuel costs. I find that with a friend, I am much less stressed than if I shop by myself.

    Hope this helps!


  2. That is great! Just curious what do you do to the herb baked chicken that makes it cost so much more than taco chicken?

  3. ok Kim thanks for the info/ I did find the chicken at Walmart here for the same price 46 cents a pound, I will buy that when I get chicken w/ the bone but gotta say we eat mostly boneless breasts here

    • Hey I shop all the markets in the area I look at the stores weekly sales and only buy what is on sale that week. Having a freezer helps keep food cost really low. Harris teeters which is only in the south east usa has lots of times buy 2 get 3 free as does krogers and bi lo . after a months purchases of the buy 2 get 3 free and the buy one get one free (you have to watch this as most times they mark up the price to cover the cost of the free one) you have ample supply of meats fish etc to make meals with. The drug stores are also a great place or spices etc on sale. I also have found natures own honey wheat bread at the dollar tree for a dollar. Also spend a week going every morning to the grocery stores to see when they mark down meat>>>YOU will be surprised how much you can save on meat with the mark down on the day of the expire date…..Hey have you never heard of aged beef……. go get a steak in vegas thats been aged….lol There is nothing wrong with the red meat if it is at the dates end. You just freeze it and use it later on and its aged too so that makes it so much better. Also Chicken is the same way Just be sure you cook your chicken done Chicken is the worst thing in meat that will spoil . Most restaurants keep fresh chicken two weeks at 42 degrees and it is always a good a couple days beyond that as long as the temperature is held to 42 degrees. Sitting your refrigerator at 42 degrees is also a great food preserver. Milk, eggs, chicken , meats, etc etc last much longer and more tasty. Good luck with saving money on your food budget. I feed a family of 5 on 225 dollars a month and we eat a meat and two vegs every meal. Lunches are mostly left over dinners and hotdogs and sandmiches lol

  4. Suzanne,
    If you want to do this on your blog, I’ll be happy to add a link to the post itself. We could turn the post itself into a carnival!

    I’ve noticed that our occasional runs to WalMart cost $20 instead of $80-100. We still run out of dishsoap, diapers, etc. but the food is going much, much farther.

  5. That is great! Have you noticed a big difference in your budget then?

  6. This seems like so much fun- I really want to try this! Have you considered hosting a Menu Math carnival? I am as interested in discovering what some of our meals cost as I am in reading yours and others.
    Thanks for sharing yor findings- am glad they didn’t get lost forever in your “standard procrastination mode”. Now we can all enjoy.

  7. mj,
    We get 10 lb bags of leg quarters at Walmart for about $4.50 – it’s by far the cheapest deal around!

  8. where do you get 8 pounds of chicken for $3.95 or $6.05 the best I can do is like $1.89 a pound.

  9. Katmaxx says:

    Please, the recipe for breakfast in a bowl. I’m a northerner who loves grits but has no grit cooking skills. Have pity on me!

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