Doing the math

I made a roast chicken for dinner last night using a Jamie Oliver recipe.  It was really, really, really good – maybe the best roast chicken I’ve ever made.  The secret? Parboiling potatoes and a lemon, then pricking the lemon and stuffing it in the cavity while the chicken roasted, and tossing the potatoes in about halfway through.  Everything was caramely and delicious.

That is, however, not the point of this post.  The point is the math.

I bought the chicken Saturday morning at Whole Foods for about $8.50.  It was a four pound bird, so that works out to roughly $2.12 per pound.  Not the cheapest thing in the world.  Other chickens could have been had elsewhere for cheaper, but we’re trying our best to buy sustainable, minimally processed and packaged things produced ethically, and Whole Foods does a pretty good job with these things as far as we can tell.  (While we’d prefer to buy all of our meat at the farmers’ market, the same chicken would cost us roughly twice as much, which, given the numbers that will follow, turns out to be an OK deal in the long run, but not in the short run, and that’s the part that really bothers me on shopping day.  Anyway.)

So dinner: the chicken ($8.50), a lemon (already in the fridge in a bag that was 7-8 lemons for $3), a few potatoes (I’m making this up – $3? from the farmers market), and assorted herbs and spices that we had lying around.  Total: $11.92 for a fantastic dinner for the two of us, with a LOT of leftovers.

Using the carcass, the lemon, a carrot (bag for $3), an onion (usually around $2/pound at the market), half a parsnip (who knows), and a lot of water from the tap, I made 2 quarts of stock.  Net additional costs: roughly $2.

We both had leftover chicken for lunch today, and then the remainder reheated with some roasted vegetables for dinner.

Peapod tells me that a quart of Swanson’s chicken broth goes for $2.99, so here’s the math as far as I can figure:

Initial meal: $11.92
Broth extras: $2.00
Total expenditure for one entire meal for two, leftovers that provided the centerpiece for two additional meals for two, and two quarts of chicken stock: $13.92
Savings on future broth purchases: $5.98
Remaining meal expenditure: $7.94
Cost per portion after broth savings: $1.32

$1.32! Not bad!

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