This week's groceries includes about $14 spent at the meat outlet on campus, $6.50 at the produce market, and $55.06 at the grocery store, partly buying things for the last few weeks of the term when exams and projects due tend to make shopping and cooking unappealing. We'll be cooking up a lot of what we bought to freeze for quick meals which will help us resist the temptation to call for take out, which pushed the total up to $75.56.
We spent about $11.75 total on produce, $4.31 on canned vegetables and fruits, $5.67 on about 5 pounds of various beans and 5 pounds of flour, 3 boxes of saltine-type crackers for $2.82, $28.87 for meat (including almost 6 pounds of boneless chicken, 2 pounds of ground sausage, a package of brats, 2 pounds of italian sausage, and 3 1/2 pounds of 80% lean ground chuck), and 2 pounds of cheese for $5.88, with a couple of odds and ends like margarine, plus $4.40 for my sausage wraps. No really exceptional buys, though the meats were at a good price, and our brand of granola bars (kept in our book bags for days when we forgot our lunches) were $1.67 a box.
However, to continue yesterday's topic a little, I peeked at actual prices on some things for the non-cook. They had large cans of a generic pasta sauce for $1.06 a can that would just need a bit of oregano to be perfect as pizza sauce (and you could make several french bread pizzas with a jar that big). Precooked 100% beef patties were $7.50 for 3 pounds, which isn't bad at all (about $.63 per 1/4 pound burger, $.83 per 1/3 pound burger). Bags of frozen vegetables were $.88. A two-pound bag of shoestring french fries were $1.09, I think. Raw broccoli (for a fresh food snack) was $.91 for a large head (eat with a "dip" of salad dressing). A good brand of English muffins was $1.99 for 6, and you can use English muffins to make mini pizzas just like the french bread pizza.
In the heat-and-eat category, several types of ravioli were less than $1 for a large can. So were a couple of types of frozen dinner, though I admit I'd have to be desperate to eat most of those. Some of the "family" entrees are worthwhile. There are lasagnes that are less than $5 for a large pan in the frozen section, enough for 3 or 4 meals for one person with some bread and a salad. Generic mac and cheese was $.40 a box, plus $.08 for the margarine and a bit of milk (this is a good place to substitute milk made from powdered) gets a hot meal for around $.60. Thaw and add a cut up precooked hamburger patty, and you have a more substantial meal for about $1.25.
Now, to make a "real" meal out of these convenience foods...
Start by thawing 1/3 to 1/2 pound of precooked burger. Grease a casserole dish, crumble or cut up the burger and put it in the bottom. Cover with a layer of frozen chopped onions (or whatever veggies appeal to you). Add about 1/2 a cup to a cup of liquid (broth or other soup is preferable, but you can also use water) and season with salt and pepper. Cover with frozen shredded hash browns and top those with about 1/2 a cup of shredded cheese. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the hashbrowns are browned (might be anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes). Easy and yummy casserole, probably for less than $2.50 total, enough food with a salad or fresh fruit for at least 3 meals.
Oh, I should add that my portions are ordinary meal portions, not the ginormous amounts teens, particularly male teens, can sometimes put away. However, in that case, you really have to calculate that they're eating twice as much fast food as well, which make these potential savings even bigger...