Have You Ever Priced a Home-Cooked Meal?

When you cook dinner you don't pay a check. Or a delivery guy. And you probably didn't go to the grocery store for those exact ingredients and those ingredients only. So it's not the most logical thing to look at your plate and say, "This meal cost $12." Occasionally, though, we'll figure it out, and the number is always surprisingly small...

The lowest we remember included pork chops (bought at Fairway) and was a little less than $3 per person.

The reason we bring this up is because some of our friends who don't cook very often claim it's expensive. They aim high with a complicated dish, shop for rare ingredients, and also have to buy every spice or condiment listed (cardamom...fish sauce...) because they don't cook frequently enough to have some of these things on hand. And, no shock here, the results don't measure up to the cost and effort.

But if you get in the habit of cooking at home more often, you can draw from pantry staples (which we're not including in the overall cost, since the amounts we use are pretty negligible in the grand scheme of things), use bits and pieces of fresh ingredients you might otherwise neglect because they didn't fit into a specific recipe, and make a meal for a few dollars a head.

We don't always share our financial findings at the dinner table. But it is a fun exercise, to see how astonishingly low those numbers can get in comparison to take-out or a restaurant.

Anyone else do this? What's your lowest number?

Related: Good Reminder: Buy Spices from Bulk Bins

(Image: Flickr member B Tal, licensed under Creative Commons)