$15/15 meals: You be the Judge

Cabbage Pappardelle and MeatballsCabbage “Pappardelle” and Meatballs

The deeper I get the more I’m enjoying this process. Early on I became increasingly nervous about what the outcome would end up being. I was terrified my findings would only add to the mentality that cooking for yourself is expensive and there is no way to get the nutrition you need to be healthy at the low cost of cheap food available for purchase. Well you be the judge…

The dinner I made for myself last night was truly unbelievable. I’m not just saying this to prove a point or because I’m so hungry I’ll enjoy anything. In fact since I made the switch to the chicken soup for lunch, ensuring a decent amount of protein, my hunger level has gone down, and my energy level has increased. On my way home from work, with $3.59 burning a hole in my pocket, I realized I was going to be running out of important protein source as the week went on. Also, as I promised you the readers, I refused to be boring. So I left Whole Foods (yes the same Whole Foods that everyone thinks is so expensive) with a small amount (although enough for two meals) of organic ground beef and a can of organic diced tomatoes. Down to $.10 I’ll be sure to hang on to as a memento.

Remembering I had saved some of the bread from the sandwich roll I purchased I had an amazing idea. I had ground beef, eggs, and bread….sounds like meatballs to me. By toasting a small portion of the bread and then chopping it finely, I had homemade bread crumbs which I mixed with the beef and a half of an egg. A crucial ingredient to delicious meatballs is cheese and since I had none, I figured I would just move on with out it. But I’m more creative than that. I grated a half of carrot into the mixture ensuring my meatballs wouldn’t end up dry and boring! But what are meatballs without some pasta…

Well if you’ve been following along you’ll know that I haven’t purchased any pasta and with $.10 remaining I certainly couldn’t make another buy. So I decided to make my pasta out of cabbage. Cutting the cabbage into pappardelle sized “noodles” and cooking them in a simple sauce of the diced tomatoes I created a dish that I will never forget. I was blown away by how the simplicity of the flavors and ingredients meshed together to form a nutritional powerhouse of bold flavors. And the greatest part of this meal was how I felt in the morning. Rather than waking up starving for some breakfast I remained full through the morning. Just in time for some of my soup and some leftover cabbage pasta!

But what about some more experimental data for this argument. Sure I felt great! Sure I felt full! But was this dish giving me what I needed. Only one way to figure that out. So I hit the internet this morning determined to figure out the approximate nutritional facts for my dish. But what should this be compared to?

I don’t mean to perpetually go after McDonald’s but they are certainly an easy target. And as long as they keep targeting the world’s diners with their cheap and potentially harmful meals, these questions will continue to be valid. So what would I have eaten last night instead of my meal? Well for comparison sake, going into this competition we discussed the dollar menu items as the reason for our $15 cap. So I decided to choose, the double cheeseburger as a comparison. Both meals were grounded in the use of beef (pun intended) although I promise you, McDonald’s isn’t using organic…and if you don’t believe me go see Food Inc.

McDonald's Double CHeeseburger Nutritoin

Cabbage Pappardelle and Meatbalsl Nutrition

I constructed both of these figures from information I found online. The burger information can be found on the McDonald’s website and I used the Livestrong website to calculate my nutritional information. Some of the most glaring differences start from the very top. At over 100 calories less than the double cheeseburger, my meal was quite larger in size. And tell me, could you really fill up on one double cheeseburger and call it a night? I doubt it. And would you still be full and energetic the next day? I doubt that even more. I cut down half of the fat, and increased crucial vitamin content. Take a look at the Vitamin C difference! I’ll gladly take the additional cholesterol in my meal in return for these other health benefits. Not to mention the quality of product were talking about. And look at the sodium decrease! Now I didn’t include added salt as seasoning into my meal although I swear I barely added a 1/2 tsp. I let the salt in the canned tomatoes along with the natural flavor of the cabbage stand out on their own.

Now you may say, my meal cost more than $1.00 so is this really fair? My answer to that is a resounding yes. Sure, my meal cost more than the double cheeseburger but over the course of the week, aren’t I still spending the same amount. Averaged out this meal is one of 15, and at $14.90 spent, that comes to a shade over 99 cents. So you tell me if cooking healthy meals for yourself is so expensive.

Just a reminder, check out Sarah’s progress at her blog and keep the comments coming. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll make sure we discuss them in future posts. After my late breakfast I’m down to seven meals remaining and I feel great!


4 Responses to $15/15 meals: You be the Judge

  1. sarah says:

    This looks like sauerbraten and it’s making me hungry! Did it taste like it? I’m going to try your stuffed potato idea, it sounds great. For some reason, I have an overwhelming craving for tomatoes!

  2. Nancy says:

    10 cents within budget???? Hold on to it, I may need to borrow it for “Friday the 15th”!!!!!

  3. […] However, in our case we had no choice.  So as we focused more on providing our bodies with nutritionally packed food, we ate less and in return desired less. Rather than feeling hungry, we felt energetic. Rather than pining for our next meal, there was a patient excitement. I didn’t weigh myself before and after because weight is certainly not a direct correspondence to health (and I forgot) but there is no question I lost a pound or two. But with a shift towards those simple carbohydrates and lean proteins, this weight loss was achieved the right way. As Nancy suggested, maybe the best way to lose weight isn’t by counting calories, but rather by counting dollars and cents. Of course this assumes your making good decisions… […]

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