Despite food inflation dominating the news cycle, my heart still skips a beat every time a random ingredient blows the roof off my grocery budget. Last week it was onions. This week, I was catfished into purchasing two insanely expensive blocks of feta that had been loitering above the wrong store label. No more. Today, I’m digging up a decidedly cheap recipe from the BA archive, making it even cheaper, and sharing my supermarket receipt. Join me, won’t you?
Nothing makes shopping the frozen aisle more appealing than this recipe for bouncy ravioli with creamy peas. In under 30 minutes, rock-hard pasta is transformed into plump, ricotta-stuffed pillows. Peas are whizzed into a creamy sauce with Parmesan, fresh basil, and a splash of EVOO or a hunk of butter. Pepitas (or pistachios, if you’re a billionaire) are frizzled in more oil and tossed with red pepper flakes and lemon zest for a bit of heat and crunch. In a world of endlessly upticking financial graphs, job insecurity, and pandemic malaise, this recipe is a small miracle: bright and herby, deeply comforting, and only $2.41 per serving.
Read on for the tweaks I made to save some money and to learn how we arrived at the total cost.
I swapped out luxe pistachios for pepitas—the people’s seed—which mimicked the essential crunch my springy ravioli was looking for without the hefty price tag. I also opted for olive oil instead of butter, because I know I’ll use more of it in other recipes and dairy prices are sky high right now. Red pepper flakes were a great substitute for more-expensive Aleppo pepper, which my local grocery store didn’t have; just adjust the quantity to taste. This recipe calls for 16–20 oz. ravioli, but I found the store brand 25-oz. packet for cheaper than the name brand smaller ones. A little more (or less) pasta doesn’t harm this recipe, so by increasing my ravioli count I turned four servings into five and saved some cash.
Calculating the exact cost of a recipe is a fickle endeavor, and how much you pay may be slightly different. The price of groceries fluctuate wildly based on where you live and shop, the various sales a store might be running, and any brand preferences you might have. The figure above—which only excludes salt, a pretty standard pantry essential—is based on a grocery run to my local Stop & Shop. It might not match your receipt exactly, but you can still look forward to the thrill of a cheap dinner.
In this dish, you’ll use up pretty much all the peas and ravioli you buy. There are some upfront investments (like oil and cheese) that you’ll need to make, but once you’ve got the staples down, you’re going to want to make rav ‘n’ peas, as it’s called in my house, every single week. Here’s the breakdown:
$1.41 worth of frozen peas (10 oz. from a 12-oz. packet costing $1.69)$1.50 worth of basil leaves (½ a $2.99 bunch)$2.25 worth of finely grated Parmesan ($8.99 per 8-oz. tub)71 cents worth of olive oil (4 Tbsp. from a 32-oz. bottle costing $11.29)$5.19 worth of frozen ravioli (1 25-oz. bag)57 cents worth of coarsely chopped pepitas (1 oz. from a 10.5-oz. package costing $5.99)5 cents worth of red pepper flakes (1 tsp. from a 1-oz. jar costing $2.69)38 cents worth of lemon (½ lemon costing 75 cents)
Total for five servings: $12.06Cost per serving: $2.41