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Friday, October 18, 2019

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for Mid-October

blackberry syrup made with love

Cheap & Cheerful posts show, week by week, how a budget of $135/month for groceries works out for our family of 4.

Friday

Friday

leftover baked beans (even better then second time around)
hotdogs
sauteed onions, garlic, and garden Swiss chard
sauteed tomatoes
hashbrowns


Saturday

Saturday

scrambled eggs with cheese, garlic, and onion
pan-fried garden potato slices
fresh tomato wedges
salad of Swiss chard and lettuce in a homemade vinaigrette


Sunday

Sunday leftover night
leftover refried beans (last week) topped with cheese and leftover marinara (also last week)
leftover brown rice (again, last week)
simple steamed carrot slices, swirled in the saucepan with butter


Monday

Monday

Tex-Mex rice and lentils, with canned tomatoes, onions, chard, garlic and seasonings, topped with cheese, avocado, homemade plain yogurt, homemade salsa
blackberry crisp


Tuesday

Tuesday
garbanzo bean and veggie soup
zucchini bread
cole slaw


Wednesday

Wednesday
pasta and cheese with pepperoni and topped with homemade marinara sauce (daughter bought the pepperoni)
steamed carrots
leftover blackberry crisp


Thursday

Thursday
waffle omelets filled with ham, onions, Swiss chard, and cheese
simply baked acorn squash, dotted with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon
pancakes with homemade blackberry syrup


The menus, themselves, only partially explain how my family of 4 adults gets by on just $135 per month for food groceries. It's true, I do plan meals that are scratch-cooked and use very simple foods, such as dried beans, brown rice, eggs, and basic produce. In addition, procuring those foods inexpensively, or even for free, constitutes the other half or more of the equation. My October grocery planning post provides an idea of what we spent on specific food items this past month. 

Produce is often cited as a significant expense in grocery shopping. This month, we continued to use the least expensive commercially-farmed fruits and vegetables. Our purchased produce used in dinners this week included: onions, carrots, canned tomatoes and tomato paste, avocado, and cabbage. 

In addition to grocery purchases, we are also still using garden and foraged produce. This past week, we've been able to harvest the following produce items from the garden to use in our meals: garlic, Swiss chard, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, and acorn squash. We were also used frozen or canned blackberries and zucchini from summer foraging and gardening. 

The final element of our frugal dining involves minimizing food waste. The pancakes on Thursday were made with salvaged milk skimmings leftover from making yogurt. When you heat milk, skin forms on the surface. To produce a smooth and creamy yogurt, you then strain off this skin. I save that stuff to puree and use in baking. We used leftovers on several nights, sometimes using those foods in new ways and other times, using them just as is.

By the way, I didn't do any grocery shopping this week, so my grocery spending is still at $133.13 for the month of October.



So that's how we eat well on so little. On to something you may find more interesting in a quasi-voyeur sort of way -- my frugal fridge. I thought there were a few interesting things about the current state of my refrigerator to which you may relate.

  • top left, leftovers: Silk container has leftover homemade marinara sauce; a stack of leftover ham topped with leftover ham stock; quart of homemade yogurt in the back; homemade mustard on top of homemade ketchup.
  • left center shelf, daughter 1's shelf, foods either she's bought with her own money (canned frosting, a juice pouch) or foods from meals she hasn't finished (yes, we save foods we haven't finished then eat them later.)
  • lower left shelf, daughter 2's shelf, her purchased or unfinished foods from meals. We waste as little as possible -- notice the third of a glass of milk in the front.
  • top right, beverages: Kroger orange juice (on sale 1st week of Oct), Great Value (Walmart brand) milk (recently lowered their price on gallons of milk, now cheapest milk in my town), homemade kool-aid, an old bottle of cola in the back. The 2 right containers have leftover refried beans and leftover soup (made of other leftovers). Those 2 foods are in that spot to remind peeps to use these foods ASAP for lunches or snacks. Just behind those 2 containers is my 1/2-gallon of almond milk (my 1-month supply of non-dairy milk just for me -- lactose intolerant.)
  • right center shelf -- the dairy shelf: to the left, a container of homemade soft butter (butter blended with oil to stretch the butter); behind that half a block of tofu in water; a dish of boiled eggs; behind that a container of leftover skimmings from making yogurt; to the right, eggs that I repackaged from a big case into an old, pre-used carton. Eggs are often cheaper in 5 dozen or more packs, but those packages take up too much space in the kitchen fridge. I store the rest of those eggs in the garage fridge.
  • lower right shelf, 2 5-lb bags of shredded cheese.
  • the produce drawers -- to the left, a bag of yeast (yeast keeps well in the fridge) and various take-out packets of condiments. To the right, lots of onions purchased in a 50-lb bag, the last of the 4 heads of cabbage bought at 18 cents/lb, the last of the carrots bought in a 10-lb bag, some beets from the garden that I need to cook.
That's my very frugal fridge. 

I buy very few commercial or  convenience foods. Whenever my daughters feel they want that sort of food, they buy it for themselves. They're adults and are free to use their money that way. They are also very busy people, working, volunteering, and pursuing less traditional career paths. So, I can understand not wanting to take the time to mix up a batch of frosting. Plus, when you grow up not eating commercially-prepared foods, there's this aura of mystique that surrounds those foods in a person's mind. It's "the other." We've all wanted to see what was on the other side of the fence in some area of life, haven't we? Anyway, my daughters are also very generous in sharing "their" foods when they cook family dinners, each daughter cooking one night per week.

Enough rambling from me. I hope you had a wonderful week and have lots of fun or relaxation planned for the weekend. 

12 comments:

Live and Learn said...

As you said, I think we all figure out what is the most important to us from time to time that fits within our means. As far as food goes, sometimes it's cost, sometimes it is convenience, and sometimes it's how much we like the process. And now that I think about it, throw in nutrition and it is no wonder some people are overwhelmed by the whole process of eating and cooking sometimes.

Conni said...

I just sat down for a quick break as we’ve got a son coming for a couple hours’ visit this evening, as well as two grandchildren (20 and 12 y.o.) arriving during that time from out of the area. What better way to take said break than read Lili‼️ You really inspire me.....I still love cooking, (even though most of my peers have said “I cooked for ‘x’ number of years and am not doing that anymore”, and they eat out A LOT). I pray to keep on keepin’ on for all the reasons you do: optimum nutrition, frugality, sense of accomplishment, food safety, etc. Thinking of you today, I’ve made another turkey pot pie, five qts. of turkey vegetable soup, and an apple crisp (home grown apples‼️). I told the grands to expect milk and cookies when they arrive so that is next. Finally, on my list for the day was ‘clean out the fridge’, but I was thinking to JUST MAYBE procrastinate on that....UNTIL you posted a pix of the same model fridge as mine and some handy organization
tips. So, encouraged, break is over, and back to the kitchen to continue mixing up some LOVE‼️ Thank you‼️

Anonymous said...

Chicken at Fred Meyer is .79 cents a pound this week

Anonymous said...

I spy a WooHoo clearance sticker on one of those containers in your refrigerator. Love seeing that. Your ridge looks a lot like mine with a lot of leftovers in reused food containers.
Your meals look very delish.
--Stephanie

LindaJimLevitt said...

Hello Lili! The photos of your suppers do look "cheerful". And the waffle omelets. Genius. Do you mix the meat and cheese into a batter and pour in a waffle maker? Thank you for sharing what you do.
Linda

ruthie said...

Last week was spent tending grandkids in Gallup, but the week before we left I felt was a fairly frugal week of eating for us. I made a chicken pot pie for Sunday and since there are only three of us left at home, we had enough for Monday also. On Tuesday, we had chili from the freezer and I mixed it with some rice and cheese on top. My husband who doesn't care for chili thought that was a good meal! I hosted a women's game group and my contribution was the paper goods and I made some chocolate dipped pretzels. Before going out of town, I wanted to get a couple of things done because there was a freeze expected. I have a small quince bush and had always wanted to do something with the small amount I could gather. I made a jar full of quince syrup and am using the fruit from that to add to my oatmeal. I also collected the basil and made a couple of jars of pesto for the freezer. BTW - about a month and a half ago I bought a garlic head and have placed it in a small amount of water. It has grown scapes almost a foot high. You mentioned several posts back that you fried scapes? Do you just saute or fry in hot oil? Do you just add salt? I am anxious to try them, as well as seeing how long the garlic will produce them in my window.
Thanks for all the help Lili!

Lili said...

Live and Learn said...
As you said, I think we all figure out what is the most important to us from time to time that fits within our means. As far as food goes, sometimes it's cost, sometimes it is convenience, and sometimes it's how much we like the process. And now that I think about it, throw in nutrition and it is no wonder some people are overwhelmed by the whole process of eating and cooking sometimes.


Hi Live and Learn,
You're right. Our choices and actions all boil down to priorities. And my immediate priorities may differ from those of my adult kids. The nutrition aspect can also be related to age. When you're younger, you don't think about longterm health effects from what you eat. But, at my ever advancing age, I do spend a lot of my time thinking about what I'm doing that impacts my longterm health. So, I tend to favor using as many healthy foods in our meals and in my shopping as possible.

Lili said...

Conni said...
I just sat down for a quick break as we’ve got a son coming for a couple hours’ visit this evening, as well as two grandchildren (20 and 12 y.o.) arriving during that time from out of the area. What better way to take said break than read Lili‼️ You really inspire me.....I still love cooking, (even though most of my peers have said “I cooked for ‘x’ number of years and am not doing that anymore”, and they eat out A LOT). I pray to keep on keepin’ on for all the reasons you do: optimum nutrition, frugality, sense of accomplishment, food safety, etc. Thinking of you today, I’ve made another turkey pot pie, five qts. of turkey vegetable soup, and an apple crisp (home grown apples‼️). I told the grands to expect milk and cookies when they arrive so that is next. Finally, on my list for the day was ‘clean out the fridge’, but I was thinking to JUST MAYBE procrastinate on that....UNTIL you posted a pix of the same model fridge as mine and some handy organization
tips. So, encouraged, break is over, and back to the kitchen to continue mixing up some LOVE‼️ Thank you‼️


Thank you for your very kind words, Conni.
Yum, turkey pot pie. That sounds very delicious. And I hope that you had a most enjoyable time with your grandkids. What a treat to have them come and visit! We're blessed, aren't we? So many good things in life.

Lili said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Chicken at Fred Meyer is .79 cents a pound this week


Thank you for the heads up on the chicken sale at FM! That's a great price.

Lili said...

Stephanie said...
I spy a WooHoo clearance sticker on one of those containers in your refrigerator. Love seeing that. Your ridge looks a lot like mine with a lot of leftovers in reused food containers.
Your meals look very delish.


Hi Stephanie,
Yep, I frequent the clearance sections AND I reuse all food containers. Just makes sense, right?
Have a great day, Stephanie!

Lili said...

Linda said...
Hello Lili! The photos of your suppers do look "cheerful". And the waffle omelets. Genius. Do you mix the meat and cheese into a batter and pour in a waffle maker? Thank you for sharing what you do.


Hi Linda,
Thank you. I must admit, though, I did not invent a waffle omelet. I've seen this done before a few times.
It's not a batter, like you'd think of a batter (with flour, etc). It's simply beaten eggs with the filling ingredients tossed in. Super easy.

Lili said...

ruthie said...
Last week was spent tending grandkids in Gallup, but the week before we left I felt was a fairly frugal week of eating for us. I made a chicken pot pie for Sunday and since there are only three of us left at home, we had enough for Monday also. On Tuesday, we had chili from the freezer and I mixed it with some rice and cheese on top. My husband who doesn't care for chili thought that was a good meal! I hosted a women's game group and my contribution was the paper goods and I made some chocolate dipped pretzels. Before going out of town, I wanted to get a couple of things done because there was a freeze expected. I have a small quince bush and had always wanted to do something with the small amount I could gather. I made a jar full of quince syrup and am using the fruit from that to add to my oatmeal. I also collected the basil and made a couple of jars of pesto for the freezer. BTW - about a month and a half ago I bought a garlic head and have placed it in a small amount of water. It has grown scapes almost a foot high. You mentioned several posts back that you fried scapes? Do you just saute or fry in hot oil? Do you just add salt? I am anxious to try them, as well as seeing how long the garlic will produce them in my window.
Thanks for all the help Lili!


Hi Ruthie,
That sounds like a fun week with the grandkids. Good work with all of your frugal efforts. I love that you made some quince syrup and can now enjoy the fruit, too.

With the garlic scapes, I saute them in oil then season with a pinch of salt. Oh, they are so yummy! I was planning on potting some garlic indoors, but I had only thought of using the garlic chives. Now I have the scapes to look forward to, too! Thank you! Later today, I'll post about the rest of my indoor gardening for this fall and winter. The weather turned cold, here, so it's time to start some veggies indoors!
Have a great day, Ruthie!

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