Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tomato Soup with Ray Charles

My whole cooking at home and keeping track of just how much I'm spending per serving is becoming an obsession. Now, not only am I obsessed with calories in and calories out, but I'm obsessed with money in and money out. I truly had no clear idea just how much eating out was costing us until I began keeping track of what I'm buying and how much that breaks down when examined through the perspective of per serving.

Let's take last night's dinner of homemade tomato soup with grilled cheese and this morning's breakfast of french toast topped with bananas foster. The bread used for the sandwiches and the french toast cost $2.99. Five sandwiches were made for dinner and three servings of french toast were made for breakfast, giving me a 37 cents per serving cost. The tomatoes, leek, and onion for the soup cost $11.75, and from that I got four servings, giving me a $2.93 cost. While that's significantly higher than just buying a can of tomato soup, I have the comfort of knowing exactly what's in the soup, which to me is priceless, and I have the memories of spending time in the kitchen, preparing the meal while listening to some Ray Charles and drinking a cola and whiskey on the rocks. But I digress. The other product raising the overall total per serving is the cheese. It cost $8.60, and so far, I've gotten five servings from it. That many servings still remain, so in the end, the cheese will actually be an overall lower per serving expense. Right now, just looking at five servings, the cheese costs $1.72 each. After another five servings, the overall expense for the cheese will be a mere 86 cents.

So, in the end, from products that cost me $30, I was able to get two meals designed to serve four people per meal (though it was just the boys and me for dinner then Hubby, Soft-Hearted Boy, and me for breakfast). The boys each had two grilled cheese sandwiches along with their soup, having found the delight of dipping their sandwiches into the soup, exclaiming how delicious grilled cheese dunked in tomato soup tastes (another priceless moment for me). Not to be outdone, breakfast filled the air with the mouth-watering aroma of bananas simmering in brown sugar, butter, and rum, starting our Saturday morning with contentment. In the end, when it's all said and done, the per meal cost will be right around $4. I know I can't take the family anywhere and have these same meals for $4 each. When we go out, the bill usually averages $35-$50 dollars, not including the tip. And honestly, the tips I get--kisses on the cheek and "thanks, Mom, that was really good"--are way better than handing over a  $5 tip to someone else (wow, I'm really becoming a miser).

I really wish I'd figured this whole eating out v. eating in a whole lot sooner. In the back of my mind, I knew we were spending a huge amount each year just in eating out, but it was so easy to bury the knowledge and simply say "it can't be that much more." Well, guess what, it truly is "that much more."

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