Cost Per Serving: Garden Vegetable Stew

Hello and welcome to a new feature here on Ridinkulous. It’s Cost Per Serving!

If you’re like me, and I think I’ll just assume that you are, you’re desperate to know what the true cost of your home-cooked meals are. That is, how much does the hamburger you made cost? How much is the slice of lasagna? How much for each square of chocolate? Only through measurement can we maximize the frugality of the foods we enjoy! And vice-versa!

I’ve tried to come up with spreadsheets that would calculate meal costs based on how many of a given ingredient you used, and the going price for those ingredients, but it quickly gets overwhelming. Some recipes use cup measurements, some use a quantity of items, and some morons use weight.  So it’s hard to compare.

So once in a while here, I’m going to make a recipe, take all the costs involved, divide it into servings, and then rank them as I go.

BUT WHAT’S A SERVING? Is it ever what the recipe says? No, never! Originally I was going to include calorie counts and divide all recipes into 650 calorie meals, but even that ended up being inaccurate, because today’s recipe in particular has, like, no calories in it, but filled four bowls.  I guess the best way is to see how many meals it makes for us, and divide by that.

Today’s meal is garden vegetable stew. I took it out of Food & Wine magazine, and it doesn’t appear to be online, but this one is very similar. Food & Wine sometimes repeat themselves.

Here’s what went into it:

Ingredients for garden vegetable stew

Ingredients for garden vegetable stew

Ingredient Cost Unit size price
2 Carrots $0.25 $3.99 for 5 lb bag
2 Turnips $0.49 49 cents/lb
Half a cabbage $0.50 79 cents/lb
3 Celery stalks $0.30 $1.49 package
1/2 lb mushrooms $1.66 $2.49 for 12 oz box
10 Radishes $0.79 small bag
Onion $0.40 $3.99 for 5 lb bag
8 Garlic cloves $0.30 69 cents a head
Fennel seeds $0.20 Little McCormick jar
1 cup orange juice $1.00 12 oz bottle for $1.49
5 cups broth $0.50 Cubes
2 tbls Butter $0.25 $4 a box!
Servings 4
Cost Per Serving $1.61


Even though the recipe recommended vegetable broth, the broth you see here is chicken since I’ve been having a heck of a time finding cheap vegetable broth (only the Polish market seems to stock it, pun intended). Also, I took out two whole fennels because I’m not a fan, and they’re 2 bucks each. You might notice the lemon juice in the photo. The recipe included, like, 1 tablespoon of lemongrass, which of course I didn’t have. Whenever a recipe calls for a small bit of some obscure ingredient, I invariably substitute something stupid I have around instead of buying a whole new jar just to get a teaspoon of something.

You know what would also be cool here? A deliciousness rating, so we can maximize our eating enjoyment while reducing costs. I think of this now because this recipe didn’t really float my boat. It’s weird, with it’s orange-y fennel broth and insubstantial vegetables. But it sure is healthy, and that should probably count for something, I guess.

Deliciousness Rating: 4
(Where 1 is gross, 5 is good, and 10 is Captain Parker’s clam chowder in Yarmouth, MA)

Here are the rankings so far!

Recipe Cost Per Serving Deliciousness
Garden Vegetable Stew $1.61 4

Do you like fennel? You ever put orange juice in soup?


  1. Love this idea! We calculate cost per serving all the time (made easy because we usually portion a huge batch out into individual glass tupperware containers). $1.61/serving is excellent! Our lowest ever is $0.10 for our breakfast oats and our rice-n-beans clocks in pretty low at circa $0.25, but most of our veggie stews are about the same price as yours. Looking forward to reading more in this series.

    • Norm

      December 21, 2014 at 9:26 pm

      Good! I’m glad I’m not the only crazy one. I can’t wait to find out where frugality and deliciousness peek. Maybe I can even make a dot graph.

  2. Seems weird and unnecessary to add orange juice to soup!? That for me is $1 wasted when water is *free*

    Suggestion: It would also be good to get an estimate of power costs going into this?
    For example a 10 minute on the hob meal would use significantly less energy than a 3 hour slow cooked joint in the oven.
    Just to add an extra layer of geekiness to the proceedings 🙂

    • Norm

      December 24, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Agreed. Orange juice in soup is weird. Any sweet soup is weird, I think.

      I was just looking into kilowatt hour costs of operating appliancs, and your suggestion plays right into that. The stove is gas though, and that will be difficult to measure. Of course I’ll try, but I’m guessing cooking with gas doesn’t add much cost.

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