I continue to be bemused by the idea that cooking at home with fresh food is "too expensive." I made barbecue pork sandwiches for dinner last night, which seemed like something good to go along with the All-Star Game (congratulations to Chone Figgins for getting the very last-minute call to go to St. Louis, and actually making it there before the game started. I just wish he'd seen playing time, but I'm pleased he was there, although I felt badly for Evan Longoria).
Out of curiosity, I worked out the cost of the sandwiches, and they came to $2.33 each. I served them with green grapes (it was 96F outside and grapes just sounded so cool and refreshing. A nice foil to the slightly spicy sauce), so you can add an extra $0.50 for that for a grand total of $2.83 per meal. Where on earth are you going to get the same amount of food for that price?
For the record:
Pork loin roast: on sale for $3.99 per lb. for a total of $5.00
4 whole wheat hamburger buns: $2.00 (purchased, not homemade)
Barbecue sauce: $1.00 for the amount I used from the larger bottle
4 slices of provolone cheese: $1.33
1 lb. green table grapes: $1.99
I did make a dry rub for the roast, and the cost of that isn't included because it isn't strictly necessary. The daughter doesn't care for barbecue sauce, so the rub is intended to add a bit more flavor for her sake. Because I buy meat that hasn't been injected with saline, there is very little shrinkage during cooking, and each sandwich had approximately 5 oz. of meat. Pork loin roast is generally far more expensive than other cuts of pork, but there is virtually no waste on it, so you're paying strictly for meat, not bone or fat.
Tonight's dinner was a bit more expensive: Roasted wild-caught sockeye salmon with Calrose rice and steamed baby carrots. That ran to a little more than $4.00 per plate.
Salmon: on sale for $12.99 per lb., for a total of $15.00
Calrose rice: approximately $2.00 for six servings, though I'm estimating a little high there
Baby carrots: $3.00 for 1 lb.
The salmon yielded 5 servings, which is fine because that's my lunch tomorrow with the remainder of the carrots.
Neither meal is particularly difficult to prepare, nor especially time consuming, and each contains the requisite protein/starch/produce combination. Consider that both were sufficient to satisfy an ever-ravenous 15-year-old male.
Again I ask: what at McDonald's is going to provide the same nutrition at a better price?
Simple barbecue pork sandwiches
3 tsp. smoked paprika
3 tsp. salt-free jerk seasoning
3 tsp. salt-free mesquite seasoning
1.25 lb boneless center cut pork loin roast
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
4 slices provolone cheese
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
Mix together smoked paprika, jerk seasoning and mesquite seasoning in a small bowl to create a dry rub. Place pork loin roast in a glass baking dish, sprinkle dry rub over all sides of roast, cover dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for six hours.
Prepare grill and cook roast over medium to medium-high heat, turning roast every 10 minutes, until thermometer reads 160F, approximately 25-35 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the meat; there is little fat on it, so it bears watching.
Warm barbecue sauce in a small pan. Cut roast crosswise in 2-inch lengths and shred meat with two forks. In a bowl, mix shredded meat with barbecue sauce, then divide meat mixture over four hamburger bun bottoms. Cover meat with a slice of provolone cheese and top with the other half of the bun.
*The dry rub is adapted from a recipe I saw in Bon Appetit for Saloon Baby Back Ribs, August 2009, p. 17.
Go listen to some amusing music: "Too Much Barbeque" from the album Live From Chicago - Bigger Than Life by Big Twist & the Mellow Fellows.