How To Get Three Meals For $30 In Jasper County

Photos by Sean Dengler

By Sean Dengler

June 13, 2022

Three meals for $30 may sound like an impossible task, but it can be done!

To prove it, I ventured to Jasper County where I was able to get breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a little less than $30. However, I should point out that there were three caveats: I only ate at local restaurants, I drank free tap water, and I didn’t include tips as part of the cost.

Here’s where I went and what I ate:

Breakfast – Kelsey’s Kitchen 

The new Kelsey’s Kitchen.

My first stop was in Baxter at Kelsey’s Kitchen for breakfast. According to my server, a new owner took over in the last couple of years. The restaurant was rebranded, given a fresh paint job, and a more modern look. As country music played in the background, I ordered my breakfast.

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What I Got: Pig in a Blanket – $7.99

This take on the breakfast burrito is worth a visit to Baxter.

The Pig in a Blanket was an upgraded breakfast burrito. I am accustomed to small breakfast burritos from fast-food restaurants, but Kelsey’s Kitchen makes a big-boy burrito. Fortunately, it was not large enough to where I felt a food baby lodged in my stomach for hours. Filled with scrambled eggs, salsa, sausage, and hashbrowns, it was perfectly blended. No ingredient overpowered the other, and the tortilla shell was cooked crispy and never became mushy thanks to a lack of excess grease.

The sausage was flawlessly cooked with no dryness. The salsa had a bit of kick to it to wake me up. These weren’t the eggs served to you as part of the complimentary breakfast at some budget hotel. These scrambled eggs tasted fresh. The hash browns, unfortunately, became a little soggier due to the salsa as time went on. But they maintained their standard hash brown vibe. Overall, the fluffiness of the eggs blended well with the firm sausage, mushy hash browns, and the spice from the salsa.

Address: 106 W. Buchanan St., Baxter

Lunch – R & J’s Bar and Grill

If you live in Iowa, you’ve likely been to a bar that looks like this one.

This Kellogg-based restaurant felt like home as it looked like every Iowa small-town dive bar. Wood paneling was prevalent. I could not tell where the floor ended, and the wall began. Retro Budweiser and Dale Earnhardt posters lined the wall. With a $7 daily special every day and cheap prices on other food, anyone can find something to eat at R & J’s Bar and Grill. 

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What I Got: Cheeseburger and fries – $8.50

Take notice of the free water.

Will the burger and fries blow your socks off? No. But it will not leave you disappointed. This meal is exactly what it is worth. The burger was cooked and was not overdone or tough to chew. Like the restaurant, the cheese was not fancy. It was most likely a Kraft single but it fits well with the standard ketchup, mustard, and pickles. 

I enjoyed the fries. They were the right amount of crispy, not burnt, and not soggy. They also weren’t doused in an enormous amount of salt like you would find at McDonald’s, which made them more enjoyable. I could have eaten another basket of these fries and been satisfied. 

Address: 228 High St., Kellogg

Bonus: The Kellogg Historical Museum. This museum owns what seems like half of the downtown. They have artifacts from all over the Kellogg area including the original manifest and chest of one of the first families to settle in Kellogg. 

Dinner – Georgioz

Not the look of your everyday small-town pizza joint.

Georgioz opened close to 20 years ago and this pizza place on Colfax’s main drag is tucked away in a discreet building. The modern, upscale interior is filled with gray tones and provides a better look compared to other small-town pizza places. According to the staff, Georgioz pizza is best because they make the dough and sauce in-house. Additionally, they roll their own dough and use the best ingredients. I was also told to try their sandwiches; apparently, most people who order them are shocked by their size. 

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What I Got: 8” Personal Pan Pizza with Canadian Bacon – $11

Again, note the complimentary water.

Coming hot out of the oven, this pizza smelled appetizing and looked cheesy. My two senses were not wrong. I loved the taste, and the cheese was plentiful. Fortunately, it was not overpowering. The crust was crunchy and none of it felt overcooked. This pizza was also not over-the-top greasy like you find at certain pizza places.

A relic of my youth, I decided to pull out an old favorite topping in Canadian bacon. It brought back fond memories. The bacon pieces were large and spread out well on the pizza. I was also happy that Georgioz doesn’t do what some other pizza places do and serve you the small, crispy bacon bits. The pizza sauce was good but did not stand out. Overall, it is worth the stop off Interstate 80 from the Des Moines metro to try this pizza and the high-quality cheese they use. 

Address: 12 E. Front St., Colfax

Final Total: $27.49


by Sean Dengler

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