“Real Food Costs Too Much” Myth: Lamb Meatballs & Quickie Salad

Saturday, January 21, 2012

This is my 5th post in this series, showing people how much real food actually costs, as opposed to the myths continually spread by folks who make so many blanket statements and false claims about real food being “so much more expensive” than junk and/or processed food. Here is the archive for this series.

This meal was another “gotta hurry, gotta leave” meal – and trust me, I have plenty of those days. So this is hardly one of my more sophisticated meals in this series. I had a pound of pastured lamb that was thawed, so I made up some meatballs. I mixed the meat in with feta cheese crumbles, thyme, and herbs de provence. I was out of fresh mint, so I used a dash of pure mint extract. I then formed some balls and I browned them on the stove in coconut oil. I then put them into a cast iron dutch oven and stuck them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes at about 375 degrees.

The salad was a mix of mixed greens and some escarole lettuce I had lying around. I added one hard-boiled egg (I always keep a supply of those in the fridge), and then I made a light dressing from extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and herbs. I opened a jar of my homemade, canned spicy ketchup and covered one meatball with the sauce. Then I quickly sautéed some fennel and put that on the meatballs, and a small amount in the salad. Costs are as follows:

- 1 lb. of pastured lamb (bought directly from my farmer) was used. The entire lamb came to me at $6.73/pound, and I used about 1/5 of that here. The pastured lamb is so satiating that I could eat no more than two meatballs. Cost = $1.35.

- The eggs = $3/dozen for free-range eggs (also from a local farmer), so .25 for one egg.

- The salad was a small amount from two big bags that had cost me $4 in total. That’s about .25 of greens.

- The feta cheese I buy is $2 for 6 ounces, and I used a few pinches for this meal. That is .13.

- Assorted herbs, mint, and sauce is about another .25.

Total cost is $2.23 for the meal, and $8.92 for a family of four. And that is including the use of pastured, fresh lamb from a local farmer. I buy whole lambs. One Arby’s roast beef ‘n cheddar that fits in the palm of a child’s hand = $3.50. Family of four = $14 for an anemic sandwich with no side dish, no vegetable, and little to no nutrition. Four Lean Cuisine microwave meals would be approximately $12, and a Lean Cuisine would provide a shriveled, 3 oz. processed patty of whatever kind of meat is being imitated, plus a microscopic serving of a pseudo-vegetable, and then a smattering of fake mashed potatoes. No nutrition, plenty of chemicals.

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5 Responses to “Real Food Costs Too Much” Myth: Lamb Meatballs & Quickie Salad

  1. Sean says:

    January 21st, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    I don’t know, Karen.  I could get a lot of Roast Beef for $2.99…


  2. Scott Bieser says:

    August 11th, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Comparing a home-made meal to a fast-food restaurant is kind of pointless. Everyone knows it costs more to eat out. A more apt comparison (at least for me) would be with a Hamburger Helper meal with 1 lb of supermarket hamburger and some frozen broccoli or peas on the side. Or Shake-N-Bake supermarket chicken plus boil-n-serve seasoned noodles.

  3. Todd says:

    August 12th, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Looks good, Karen.

    I think your math is off on the feta. 2 oz, 1/3 of a 6oz package should be $.66, sorry I’m a geek.

  4. Karen De Coster says:

    August 12th, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Todd – as a CPA, I’m probably a bigger pain-in-the-butt geek than you. The “1/5″ didn’t belong there; total typo…me bad. So I changed it accordingly.

  5. Karen De Coster says:

    August 12th, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Scott – your argument on home-cooked fast food is a good one. Folks know those prices and can do their own comparison. But, as to the fast food argument, if you are correct, then why does everything in the media keep repeating the mantra that people eat junk food because it’s “cheaper?” So no, everyone doesn’t know that. They justify fast-food America based on its cheaper cost, as well as its convenience factor.

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