Feed Your Family for under $10? Here’s how I worked it out.
If you live in Australia you are probably sick to death by now of the Curtis Stone ads for Coles where he makes delicious meals for under $10. Sound too good to be true? That’s because it is. Let’s look at the chicken and chorizo paella from the May 2013 Coles Magazine.
Well first of all it’s missing half the ingredients of a typical paella – no fish or shellfish or peas or stock, for example. And it’s the wrong rice. But I know, I’m being picky. Let’s assume that it is a perfectly good paella and “the kids will love it”.
Trouble is, it doesn’t really cost under $10. It actually costs $32.67. When you read the fine print, you discover that Coles have been a bit sneaky. The healthy pricing information brochure, imaginatively titled “Feed Your Family for under $10? Here’s how we work it out.”, explains:
We work out the price per ingredient based on the actual portions used in the recipe, not the cost of the whole ingredient. If you buy a packet of pasta and only half is needed for a recipe, you can always use the rest later in the week.
Fair enough as far as it goes. And most of the time, that’s how they worked it out. What they don’t explain, though, is that you are going to have to use the rest of it at some point. I worked out that if you used, say, smoked paprika and saffron in every meal for about two weeks, you would amortise their cost. But even someone who loves those flavours (like me) would be fed up after a fortnight. And ingredients like spring onion just don’t keep that long.
We also assume that you already have some items in your pantry, which we don’t include in the cost of the recipe. Pantry items include salt and pepper and oils, such as olive oil.
Really. And how did THEY get in there? Either the shopping fairies brought them, or at some point somebody had to go out and spend actual money. Why include saffron and exclude olive oil? Doesn’t make sense.
If you take the simplest case and say that you will eat the same meal every day until the longer-lasting ingredients are used up, it still doesn’t work. The average price of a month of paellas is $10.65. And of course the more different meals you add the worse it gets, because things start to go off before you can use them. Add in Prosciutto and Cheeze Pizza, and you are up for another $33.85 in incremental ingredients.
I guess “Feed a Not Very Hungry Family of Four The Same Food Every Day For A Month Using Some Things You Already Bought for an Average Dinner Price of Just Over $10” just isn’t that catchy.
Here’s how I worked it out.
|Ingredient||Portion quantity||Portion price||Purchasable item||Minimum purchasable quantity||Actual price||# meals to use up the purchased amount|
|Water||4 cups||$0.00||N/A||4 cups||$0.00||N/A|
|Salt||3 tsp||$0.00||Coles Smart Buy Salt Iodised||500g||$1.07||33.3|
|Masterfoods Saffron threads||pinch||$0.88||Masterfoods Saffron||0.5g||$7.04||12|
|Olive oil||1 tbsp||$0.00||Cobram Estate Oil Olive Extra Virgin||375ml||$5.96||25|
|Coles RSPCA Approved Chicken Paella Pack||1||$4.32||Coles RSPCA Chicken Paella Pack approx. 800g||800g||$3.84||1|
|Brown onion||1/2 medium||$0.22||Onions Brown loose approx. 180g each||1||$0.36||2|
|Garlic||3 cloves||$0.13||Garlic loose Imported approx. 60g each||1 head||$0.90||4|
|Red capsicum||1 small||$0.91||Capsicum Red loose approx. 320g each||1||$2.23||1|
|Chorizo||1/2 medium||$0.70||Spanish Chorizo approx. 150g||1||$1.54||2|
|Sunrice medium grain rice||2 cups||$1.32||Sunrice Rice Medium Grain White||1kg||$3.29||4|
|Coles Brand Smoked Paprika||1/2 tsp||$0.09||Coles Paprika Smoked||38g||$2.59||15|
|Field Tomato||1 medium||$0.75||Tomatoes Field loose approx. 110g each||1||$0.55||1|
|Spring onion||1||$0.25||Onions Spring 1 bunch||1 bunch||$2.50||10|
|Lemon||1/2||$0.40||Lemons Loose 1 each||1 lemon||$0.80||2|