Price per Meal Calculators

Hmmm. Another dilemma, another solution.

My husband’s chemistry lab is wrapping up for the semester and he wanted to bring a meal they could all share. Since like many of you, we’re on a budget, we finally came up with a nutritious solution that fit the dietary requirements of all of the students as well as the ease-of-preparation stipulation that this meal will be cooked on-site in a crockpot.

After we found a recipe that would work, I thought “Hmm, wouldn’t it be nice to find a website that calculated cost per meal or cost per serving of recipes for you.”

This is what I found: A USDA recipe finder database originally designed for nutrition educators serving families who receive food assistance. Although it has its limitations, it’s searchability appeals to me. For instance, you can search by ingredients, recipe name, nutrition education goal, menu category, intended audience, available cooking equipment and price per meal or per serving. Not too shabby!

On the recipe pages themselves, I noted a few more perks: You can read the recipe in Spanish, print it in multiple sizes, view the nutrition facts, and even add the ingredients to a shopping list. Yes, I know; these functions are also available on mainstream menu sites, such as my favorite, allrecipes, which admittedly has thousands more recipes available. But they don’t have price per serving options or easily searchable health options.

Just to try it out, I selected two criteria: Main Dish recipes, and chose $1.00 for the Cost Less Than $X per Serving category. The database returned 137 recipes. A quick glance told me that their idea of ‘main dish’ was a little broad, but it’s a good starting point to brainstorm ideas for inexpensive meals.

Now, I can’t vouch for how tasty the recipes are, but since I always tweak recipes anyway, I don’t see that as a major hindrance. Check it out and let me know what recipes worked for you.

By the way, I did find a cost calculator for servings of meat, but no other general calculators. Of course, you could just do it the old fashioned way—math.

If you know of any meal cost calculators, I would love to hear about them.



netcastles said...

August 30, 2010 at 9:42 PM

Post a Comment

About LivingLaVidaMama

My photo
Formerly, I've worked in publishing and been a medical student. Currently, I'm a freelance writer and copy editor, and full-time mom with two exceptional daughters. LivingLaVidaMama focuses on intentional frugality and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that has dramatically improved my younger daughter's autistic-like symptoms. Contact me at MadForWriting at