Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops for $2.99 per person

Aug 24, 2020 | meat, Recipes

Hello everyone, and happy Monday. Today, as we jump into our new cooking and eating on a budget series, we will be taking a look at how to make Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans for $2.99 per person. The goal of this series is to show you that you can eat on the cheap and not sacrifice flavour. Yes, it is possible. Let’s take a closer look at the recipe and the financial breakdown.


Before we get going

Before we jump into this, I want to take a second to talk about something a reader pointed out on Facebook last week. You can read their full comment below. But, at the heart of what this reader is saying is that I am only really speaking to one specific financial situation in this budgeting series, my own. That is an entirely fair and accurate point. I am not an expert in budgeting or anything to do with finances; just ask my wife. I am a chef and blogger, trying to cut down my expenses while still eating things that I enjoy. I want to share my experience with you in hopes that it will help some of you out there. But, if you are in a more restricted financial situation, you may want to look elsewhere for advice. I did want to share some resources here, but I honestly couldn’t find any that didn’t seem condescending. If anyone knows of any practical budgeting and eating resources for people living on a low income, please share them in the comments section at the end of this post.

Reader Comment

Lots of good thinking and smart math here Ben but as a person who lives on a limited fixed income, there are a few points that I feel need making.

This approach is excellent for people who have enough leeway in their budget to calculate based upon percentages and set an arbitrary amount. Many people with low income don’t have that luxury. They pay their fixed expenses and after that’s been covered the amount left over is what buys the food. Often, it’s very little indeed but it’s what they have to work with so they make some hard choices.

While buying in quantity does save money, those on a low income may not have room in their budget to make that big purchase. The $6 bag of rice may be as much or more than they can afford. It’s one reason that it’s often said that being poor is expensive.

People with low incomes are likely to have little or no space to store extra food and, in some cases, have no kitchen at all.

Meal planning can save money or it can lead to waste. Many small households find that meal planning causes them to over-buy because it’s tempting to overlook repeated use of the same ingredients when in search of variety. It’s often more practical to “shop your kitchen” each day and plan your meals based upon what you actually have on hand, incorporating leftovers and scraps into your recipes so that nothing gets thrown away.

The process of “shopping your kitchen” can make doing a big shop intermittently impractical. It makes more sense under this practice to buy produce often, in small amounts, and other ingredients only as needed. This practice, paired with checking flyer prices on the things you actually do need can be a very effective way of limiting costs.

Your advice will indeed be helpful for middle-income families and I applaud your generosity in sharing your experience. I just wanted to say that such blanket advice rarely applies in every situation. Adaptability is key.

A reader’s comment on Facebook

Shopping the sales and the season

It is mid-August right now. Fresh, local produce is at its peak. Along with being able to buy fresh vegetables at a reasonably low price, there have been a lot of great sales. For example, I got a three-pack of pork chops for $2.96 and butter for $2.49. Without these sales and the current price of local vegetables, I could not have made this meal for the price I did. So, keep that in mind. This series is not so much about making a recipe that you can recreate for the same price. You’d have to find the exact same sales I did, and if you find this post in January, the cost of fresh vegetables is going to be considerably more. The point of this series is to show you that it is possible to eat well at a low cost. And, to show you how to break down the price of a recipe, to know what it actually costs you. Of course, you are welcome to recreate the recipe, and I think you will be happy that you did.

You can find the full cost breakdown below the recipe.

Potatoes

The potatoes I used for this recipe are baby potatoes that I bought in a 5-pound bag for $8.99. I used half a pound of the potatoes in the recipe for a total price of $0.89. Along with the potatoes, I used 1 tbsp of olive oil ($0.29), 1 tsp dried thyme ($0.04), and salt and pepper ($0.10 approx.).

To make the potatoes, cut them into quarters, put them in a pot of cold water, bring them to a boil and let them cook for five minutes. Drain the water off the potatoes then heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan, along with the potatoes, season them with salt and pepper, and cook until they are browned on all sides. Season the potatoes with dried thyme, then put in the oven on 400°F for 15 minutes or until cooked. Flip the potatoes at the halfway mark to make sure they cook evenly.


Green Beans

The total cost of the green beans for a 2-pound bag was $2.89. I used about one-quarter of the bag bringing the price to $0.72. To cook the green beans, trim off the ends, put them in cold water, bring them to a boil and cook them for about three to four minutes or until they are tender but still bright green. When the green beans are cooked, drain them and serve.


Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops

As I said, I bought the pork chops on sale for $2.96. Along with the pork chops, I used 1 tbsp olive oil ($0.29) and salt and pepper ($0.10 approx. total for the whole recipe.).

To make the pork chops, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil. Pat the pork chops dry, season them with salt and pepper and sear them for about two minutes per side or until they are golden brown. Take the pork chops out of the pan (they are not fully cooked yet) and set them aside to move on to the glaze.


Making the Balsamic Glaze

The ingredinets in the glaze are 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar ($0.47), 2 tbsp brown sugar ($0.06), 1 tbsp butter ($0.07), and 1/4 cup water.

To make the sauce, drain any oil out of the pan and add in the butter and brown sugar. Cook for about one minute then add in the balsamic and the water. Cook the mixture for about two minutes, or until it just starts to thicken up, then add in the pork chops. turn the heat down to low and cook for another two to three minutes or until the pork chops are cooked. Put the pork chops on a plate, and pour the glaze over them to serve.


Financial Breakdown

Below you can see my full financial breakdown of the meal. Some prices like the salt and pepper, are approximate. To get the cost per tablespoon of the brown sugar, I had to know how much a tablespoon of brown sugar weighed (I could have just weighed the tablespoon, but that would have been too easy.). To figure out the weight of a tablespoon of brown sugar, I googled how much 1 cup of brown sugar weighed (200 g) then divided that by 16 (# of tbsp in a cup), which gave me 12.5 g. Then, if I divided the total price of the brown sugar ($2.49) by the total weight (1 kg or 1000 g), I get a price per gram of $0.00249. If I multiple that price per gram by the 12.5 g that makes up my 2 tbsp, I get a total cost of $0.06. Does that make sense? This is probably more work then you need to do, but it does help to know exactly what you are spending.

In the member’s section there is a new downloadable today that is a template for doing this at home. You can become a member right here.

The Breakdown

  • 3 Pork Chops = $2.96
  • 1/2 lb Baby Potatoes = $0.89 (5lb = $8.99 | 8.99/5 = $1.79 per lb/.5 lb = $0.89)
  • 1/4 pkg Green Beans = $0.72 (Total price per pkg = $2.89/4 = $0.72)
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil = $0.59 (500ml = $9.99/500 = $0.019 per ml x 29.4[ml in 2 tbsp] = $0.58
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar = $0.47 (500 ml = $3.79/500 = $.00758 [per ml] x 62.5 ml [1/4 c] = $0.47
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar = $0.06 (1 kg = $2.49 [1 c brown sugar = 200g there are 16 tbsp in a cup. 200/16 = 12.5g per tbsp ] $2.49/1000g= $.00249 x 12.5= $0.03 x 2 [tbsb] = $0.06
  • 2 tbsp Butter = $0.15 (2 c [1 lb] butter = $2.49 / 32 [tbsp in 2 c] = $0.07 x 2 [tbsp] = $0.14
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme = $0.04 (45 g thyme = $1.99/45=$0.04 per g x 0.91 g [ 1 tsp] = $0.036
  • 1 tsp Salt = $0.05 approx
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper = $0.05 approxTotal = $5.98 / 2 = $2.99 per peson

Total = $5.98 / 2 = $2.99 per peson

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans

Balsamic and brown sugar glazed pork chops are great anytime, combine them with roasted potatoes and green beans and you have a real winner.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: balsamic glaze, budget cooking, Eating on a budget, green beans, pork chops, roasted potatoes
Servings: 2
Author: Chef’s Notes
Cost: 5.98

Ingredients

Pork Chops

  • 3 Bone-in pork chops
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 cup Water

Potatoes

  • 1/2 lb Baby potatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme leaves
  • Salt and Pepper

Green Beans

  • 1/2 lb Green Beans ends trimmed and cleaned

Instructions

Pork Chops

  • Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil.
  • Pat the pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the pan and cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Take the pork out of the pan and set it aside. Drain any oil out of the pan and add in the butter and brown sugar. Cook for about 1 minute, gently stirring.
  • Add the balsamic and water into the pan, bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes or until it just starts to thicken. Add the pork chops back into the pan along with any juices, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 3 minutes per side or until the pork is cooked.
  • Take the pork out of pan, put it on a plate and pour the glaze over it to serve.

Roasted Potatoes

  • Preheat your oven to 400°f
  • Put the potatoes in a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes well.
  • Heat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil and the drained potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the potatoes just until they are browned on all sides. Add the dried thyme and put the potatoes in the oven for 15 minutes, tossing halfway throuhg.

Green Beans

  • Put the green beans in a pot of water, bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How was the meal?

From my point of view, this is all utterly pointless if the food is no good. So, was the meal good? Yes, it was. The glaze was delicious and would be fantastic on pork tenderloin, chicken legs, or salmon. I will be making this again. The roasted potatoes were spot on. The only thing that was missing was a bit of butter on the green beans, but the eater can put that on themselves.

What I spent on groceries in total for the week.

How did my first week of grocery budgeting go? The short answer, not well. Now, the long answer. Things started off pretty well. I started the week with some meat in my freezer, so my main grocery store trip was only around $114, which I was pretty happy with. Had we left it there, we would have been well within our budget of $148.72. Of course, we didn’t stop there. There was one day this week where neither my wife nor myself could bring ourselves to cook anything, so we ended up buying junk at the store, which brought us right up to our budget. Then, we made a spontaneous overnight trip to Halifax, where we purchased take-out and food for the drive. In all honesty, I don’t yet know the full extent of what we spent, but I can tell you it was way over our budget. But it’s a new week, and there will be no more last-minute trips.


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