Sure enough, dry dog food provides a significantly better value than any meant-for-human-consumtion alternative. Canned dog food doesn’t fare nearly as well due to the fact that 82% of what you are buying is water. I found it surprising that oatmeal fared so well, but note that the average price according to the BLS is much less than a carton of Quaker. Their price is 79 cents per pound, which is actually a bit more than I pay for bulk oats from the store.
Also important to note is that many of the foods listed require additional gas or electric costs for preparation. I may do a more in-depth study that takes this into account, but I suspect that the difference isn’t severe. Intuitively, I would expect a PB&J to be a slightly better deal than black beans, but it probably wouldn’t catch up to spaghetti.
Of course, calories per dollar is the crudest calculation possible to determine the cost effectiveness of food. A proper ratio of macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) as well as dozens of other nutrients are required to stay healthy over even a short period of time. But for that analysis, you’ll just have to wait for part three.