Saturday, February 17, 2007

Roast Beef Economy

Last night when I was grabbing a few groceries I overheard a young mother lamenting the cost of beef. Her cart was full of frozen prepared foods and her husband was wanting her to buy a small roast, that she didn't feel they could afford. It made me think of a roast I purchased the week before last. Here is how it worked out, cost wise.

8 pound bottom round oven roast at $3 per pound = $24
Meals for a family of 4

1. Delicious warm roast beef for supper - 4 generous helpings
2. Cold roast beef sandwiches for 2 lunches - 8 helpings
3. One large pot of beef with vegetables and barley soup - 21 bowls (some given away, some eaten, and some in freezer)
4. Cold roast beef 'chunks' for a 'hodgy podgy' cold plate lunch - 3 servings
5. Beef slices with juices in freezer (to be re-warmed) - 4 helpings

Total: 40 servings at about $.60 per serving

I happened to be in line behind the mom who didn't think she could afford a roast beef and her 'cart total' was over $230 - from what I could see, it was just frozen food and a few snack foods and soda pop, but I was trying not to be too nosy!
I don't want to come across as judgemental or superior, but I wonder at the 'deception' of thinking that it is more economical to buy frozen prepared foods. I have never found this to be the case. I feel like I am able to feed our family of 4 more nutritiously and economically when I buy sale cuts of meat and veggies in season and make things myself. It may be a time saver to buy prepared foods, but since I find it takes little time to prepare simple wholesome meals, and there is great satisfaction in knowing exactly what our family is eating, I think I'll stick to ' the old fashioned way'.
I am so very glad for a mother and grandmother who taught me these principles of home economy, and a grade 9 'home ec.' teacher who re-enforced these ideas. I wish I could get the message to these young moms who think that there is only one way to feed their family, or who think cooking 'from scratch' is too hard and expensive! They might just be surprised!


  1. I agree with you completely! I bought a smallish bottom round roast on sale (actually bought three when they were on sale and froze two). I cooked it two days ago in the crock pot and had plenty that night and had enough for a second dinner last night.

    My daughter and I are always talking about what we see in people's grocery carts (and we really do try not to snoop but it is SO interesting).

  2. I'm so glad I'm not the only one! I just dispair at times - I try not to judge, but I worry for the future health of our nation's children! The really funny thing was last night as I shopped the ' in store' radio burble was 'We ALL want to eat more healthfully, and Meijer can help ....'. Just how are they helping, putting convenance foods, fat and salt filled frozen foods, drinks loaded with sugar, cereals loaded with sugar etc. on sale and offering coupons for those same products, while wholesome whole foods are just goin up up up in price?
    In my heart I was pleading with this young mom to get the roast for her hubby and the bananas, grapes and apples her kids were begging for - it was all on sale and she might have put back one or two of the dozen frozen pizzas!

  3. Hi! I can't remember if I've left a comment here before, but I just had to on this post. I've been cooking mostly from scratch for most of my 22 years of marriage, and I can't believe the cost of packaged foods! LOL

    What I really see in younger women is sometimes the unwillingness to do the work involved in preparing food from scratch. I knew a young wife once who told me she would only buy skinless, boneless chicken breasts. I was shocked, because at the time, there was a store near us who would run a special every 4-6 weeks on bone-in chicken breast quarters. I would stock up on them, cut the meat off the bones and freeze it, then boil the bones for broth and use the meat that was left on the bones for casseroles and soups. It was still white meat, but she didn't want to do the work!

    I won't say that's the case with everyone, of course. The young wives and mothers now haven't been taught to cook, so all they know to do is buy convenience foods - I was there at one time myself. But a small enlisted military salary forced me to find ways to economize, and cooking from scratch was one of the best ways to do it! So I learned.

  4. Susan - thank you for commenting. I have often thought the same thing - there is 'an unwillingness to do the work' - doesn't that amount to laziness, really? Since I think we all have certain areas where we struggle with laziness, I dislike even writing this because it sounds like criticism.

    Over the years I have been harshly criticized for cooking from scratch - even being accused of 'excessive domestic interest' and I have encountered a certain snobbery with some women who 'don't have to cook' because they buy everything or go out to eat.

    It was hurtful to hear at the time, but after praying about it, I decide to just go on quietly in the way I had been taught, trying to please the Lord and not other women. I don't want to be critical of women who buy prepared foods, but I do try to encourage young mothers to think differently about the hidden price they are paying for convenience.

  5. You've been harshly criticized for cooking from scratch?!? Betcha' only by those who are actually jealous of you doing so! Who in their right mind, would choose store bought over home made????

    Just compare a can of soup, with a home made soup. Then come around and criticize. Yishhhhhhhh... :-)


  6. You were so blessed to have been taught how to cook from your mom and grandmother. Some of us find it a struggle because we don't know how to do otherwise. With your encouragement I have been trying to make changes a little at a time. I hope not only to feed my family better, but teach my kids how to do it themselves.

  7. Michele - I'm so glad I can be an encouragement to you in this area! I know change is never easy, especially when it comes to eating habits - they are rather sacred to us for some reason! I'm glad you are getting more comfortable in your kitchen and I pray your family will reward your efforts with encouragement and support!

  8. 'MN' - I cannot think that anyone would be jealous of my limited kitchen skills - I felt at the time that it was because I was 'the pastor's wife' and the women who expressed criticism felt I should have been doing something else more worthwhile with my time! Of course, they also opposed paying us enough to afford to buy prepared foods, if we had wanted to! Go figure!


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I so enjoy reading your comments when you kindly share your thoughts!