Last week I stopped at the local grocer to buy some foodstuffs, and decided I wanted to pick up some eggs. Imagine my shock when I saw that the cost of a dozen large eggs was $3.75. The last time I’d bought eggs, which was a few months earlier, I purchased a dozen extra large eggs for $1.75. I asked a guy working in the area about the cost and he told me the problem was international, which affected our country, and that raised the price dramatically. I decided not to buy eggs at that time.

S'Links Memphis Dog

Doran via Compfight

Later, upon reflection, I started to think that maybe I’d been a bit too hasty with that decision. When all is said and done, even if I’d eaten 2 eggs by themselves, the cost of my overall meal would have only been 62 cents. Sure, it’s more than the 29 cents those same 2 eggs would have cost me before but really, is that a killer of my finances?

As someone who’s written about ways to save money in many ways, like making big meals on the weekend and storing them for the week, I know the value of spending a little bit of money up front to save big money on the back end. I also know that many of us don’t calculate how much we’re spending per meal that we’re eating at home, thus don’t compare it to the price of meals in restaurants or fast food.

For instance, let’s take a look at hot dogs. The kind I like costs $4.50 for a pack of 10. Up front that looks like a lot of money, but when I break it down, it’s 45 cents a hotdog. If I have 2, it’s 90 cents. If I add bread (my favorite comes with 30 slices of bread and costs $1.99), the cost has “jumped” to $1.03. With the cost of condiments being negligible, at best I get to eat 2 hot dogs for around $1.10. By contrast, the cost of one hot dog was $5.50 when I went to my last sporting event (which was a long time ago, and I didn’t buy it) and I knew what I’d get; a salty piece of meat smaller than what I bought on a stale bun. Heck, movie popcorn is around $15 or so; what’s the better deal overall?

That’s an interesting cost comparison isn’t it?

Let’s look at hamburger next. Right now, a pound of 80% hamburger costs $5.50. If I decided to measure out a quarter pound, each one would cost just over $1.25. If I put that on bread, the total cost of my meal without condiments comes to $1.38; a Whopper costs around $6.50 a shot; at least you can get a full Big Mac meal for around $8; less if you don’t get the drink. Even if I decided to make a half pound burger, the cost is still more than half the cost of a Whopper, and I can get at least 2 meals out of it.

I hear you now saying “but those aren’t healthy foods”. Okay, let’s take a quick look at salad; how about a grilled chicken salad?

First, the lettuce. Since romaine lettuce is a little healthier we’ll start with that. At my store, I can get 3 large stalks of that for $2.50. A pack of shredded carrots costs $1.99. I like shredded cabbage and that costs me $1.99. I love beets on my salad, but since I don’t know anything about raw beets I buy a large jar of beets for $1.29. The last item I’ll pick up is a rotisserie chicken that’s already cooked that costs $7.99 and is a pretty good size (I remember when it was only $4.99). The total cost is around $15.00. By the way, if I went to the farmer’s market I could get all of the vegetables in bigger quantities for less money than at the store, which would save more money.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Prayitno via Compfight

Since I only need one stalk of romaine lettuce for my salad, I’m going to make sure everything else measures out as if I’m making 3 meals out of it. The stalk of lettuce costs about 83 cents. A 1/3rd of the carrots and cabbage is 66 cents each. The beets come in at 33 cents. The chicken comes in at $1.66. This means my salad came in at around $5.50, not including the salad dressing. No matter what kind of salad dressing you put on it, the cost will still be way under $6.00 per salad. The last time I thought about ordering a chicken Caesar salad at a restaurant it cost me $13.99. Based on that, I got 2 1/2 salads at home for the same money and they’re probably bigger than the one at the restaurant.

The main idea I’m trying to get across is that you have to look at how many potential meals you can get out of your investment when it comes to spending money on groceries if you’re on a budget. If you’re paying $8.99 a pound for a rib eye steak (I have no idea what it costs lol), you might save money when compared to going out to a restaurant but that’s still a pretty expensive meal. However, if you bought a slab of beef brisket for $10, brought it home and put it into a crockpot, then mixed a few things with it later on, you would create upwards of at least 7 meals, possibly more.

If you look at it that way, it allows you to calculate whether the cost of buying organic or favorite brands of items instead of generic is really cost prohibitive or, in the scheme of things, more affordable than you might have thought.

Not that I don’t feel your pain. The Wegmans Ultimate Chocolate Cake that used to cost $10 is now around $25; ouch! Luckily that’s not a staple, and if I want some other dessert it’s going to cost me a lot less, and I’ll enjoy it since I don’t buy things I won’t eat. 🙂 But in the long run, even though the costs of certain things have gone up,. it’s still a good deal in the long run. At least that’s what I tell myself. 😉