I started with two 2 lb packages of ground beef. This is meat I receive free from my parent's farm but for the sake of those interested in budgeting, I just checked my local Superstore flyer and lean ground beef is $3.77/lb. So for the purpose of this post I am starting out with 4 lbs of ground beef worth approximately $15.08.
|2 lbs each of ground beef|
For curiosity's sake, I took note of the time so I could show how long it took for me to cook several meals for my family. I began at 9:40 this morning, intending to bake and freeze 2 lb meatballs and make a lasagna and extra meat sauce to freeze.
|On the left, scramble frying hamburger. In the bowl on the right, |
preparing to mix up meatballs. It is 9:56.
|Fried beef is seasoned with fresh and powdered garlic and dried oregano.|
Meat mixture is ready to be rolled into balls, portioned into burgers or
pressed into a loaf pan for meatloaf. Today I choose meatballs.
Note that the oven is preheating.
|Meat balls ready for the oven.|
|Meatballs are in the oven. |
To the right of the stove I have reserved a small amount of fried beef to season for taco salads.
Lasagna noodles are cooking and my cottage cheese filling awaits being layered into a lasagna.
|At the last minute, I decide I will reserve some meat sauce to make chili.|
|In one hour and 48 minutes, all of this food was prepared, cooked and cooling.|
I then sat to have a bowl of chili and play crazy 8's with the kids.
$1.50 can of 6 bean medley beans
$1 pork and beans
$1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 large plus 1 small bag homegrown baked tomatoes (priceless!)
$2 cottage cheese (guessing)
.50 cents -2 eggs (free from mom but probably .25 cents each?)
$2 mozzarella cheese (a high estimate)
$1 breadcrumbs and spices
I think I remembered everything I used, for a grand total of $24.08 for what I'm estimating will be 8 meals. This works out to $3.01 per meal for a family of 3 or 4 depending if Husband is home.
Admittedly, you would add a salad or garlic bread, fries or baked potatoes etc to your meals. Some fast options to go with meatballs are rice with roasted vegetables or a pasta with salad. So this would be a couple dollars more for that entire meal. Still...it seems likely that you could serve up a good home cooked meal in 20 minutes for around $6 or less. Compare that to being tired on your way home from work and spending $40-50 on a meal for four that does not even provide leftovers. I prepared 8 meals for under $25 in less than 2 hours this morning.
Now when I do up next week's menu-plan I have some ready-made meals to use on Monday and Wednesday, my busiest evenings. Also, if I run into trouble and need a quick meal at any time I won't give in to the urge to grab something quick for us to eat. Having these meals on hand saves us an incredible amount of money while ensuring we eat healthy even on busy nights.
I hope this example encourages you to give batch-cooking and menu-planning a try!