Approx. $3.00 for a delicious meal: Pork Chops and Red Cabbage

[ Preface: I don’t buy the argument that it is a lot more expensive to eat primally. I just moved out on my own, so I have been watching my finances pretty closely, especially paying attention to how much I am spending on food. I’ve been able to keep my food costs down by watching sale ads and stocking up when I can. You have to put some effort in to freeze things when you can and be creative with what you have on hand. Here is a cheap but delicious meal that I threw together tonight.  ]

I am on a budget. I am in my first job, fresh out of college, living alone, shopping and cooking for myself, while trying to pay off student loans. I don’t always get what I want, but I try very hard to make enjoyable meals (primal, of course!) with what I have on hand (i.e. what I can afford to buy at the store, usually what is on sale.) I try to stock my fridge the best I can, so when it comes time to make dinner, I look through what I have and try to make the most delicious creation I can with what is there. In order to do so, I am willing to spend some time, because I value delicious food, but time is still somewhat of a limiting factor (constrained optimization, for those of you who speak that lingo!)

Anyway, here is my most recent creation: Pork chops baked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices, and sauteed red cabbage with bacon. This will provide me with three meals, which is pretty good considering I paid around $8-$9 for all of the ingredients, meaning $2.67-$3.00 a meal. Since I am living about 20 miles north of NYC, this is more than I would have paid for the same ingredients back home, just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. It was a delicious, filling meal and I feel like I didn’t sacrifice at all, even though I only paid around $3 for this.


Main dish:

  • 3 pork chops
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • crushed red pepper
  • black pepper
  • basil, oregano, and other spices that you like
  • 1 large, oven-proof skillet

Side dish:

  • 1 head of red cabbage
  • 1/4 lb of bacon
  • 1 small onion
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 large pot


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Chop your garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Mix half of the onion with the garlic, tomatoes, and your spices in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Chop your bacon into small chunks and start frying it in a pot with the rest of the onion.  While this is happening, grab an oven-proof skillet and sear both sides of the pork chops in a hot pan on top of the stove, then pour the tomato mix on top of these pork chops and then put this skillet in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until the pork is done.

While the bacon is still frying, coarsely chop your head of red cabbage. Add it to the pot once your bacon is crispy, and pour two cups of water into the pot, cover it, and let the cabbage cook, covered, on medium heat for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. After 15 minutes, turn the heat up a little bit, take the lid off, and let the water cook off. Once the water cooks off, you are finished!

This was a cheap and relatively quick meal to make, yet delicious. (Though, as one of my not-so-fond-of-cooking friends reminded me, it took more effort than throwing a pizza in the oven. Oh well. I enjoyed it a lot more than I would a frozen pizza.)

What do you think? I am delusional because I just started cooking for myself? Is $3 a meal too expensive? I need your input on this, because I really am just starting out. What you do normally spend per meal? Please let me know in the comments.


About Chuck Grimmett

Web consultant, photographer, and problem solver. I also cook a lot and am learning to make data visualizations.
This entry was posted in Cooking, Food, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Approx. $3.00 for a delicious meal: Pork Chops and Red Cabbage

  1. Pingback: [Contest!] Weekend Challenge: Make a $3.00 or Under Dinner | The Primal Challenge

  2. Pingback: Try Something New: Brussels Sprouts | The Primal Challenge

  3. randomrover says:

    3 bucks great! You can’t eat a decent meal anywhere but home for that. The big plus is that it is good for you. Keep it up. Oh you can do better. Get your girl friend to invite you over. Well in the long run that won’t be cheaper. Besides, she may not be as good a cook. 🙂

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