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Friday, March 6, 2015

Another budget-friendly dinner for the family

This was dinner the other night. It was not just budget-friendly, but downright cheap with a capital CH.

  • bean burger patties, using 2 cups of mashed, cooked pintos, a cup of cooked barley (for chew), some chopped onions, chili powder, salt, 1 egg and a handful of bread crumbs from the freezer. (The bread crumbs were the pan scrapings from several batches of cornbread. I can scrape about 1 tablespoon to 1/8-cup of crumbs from each pan of scratch cornbread. Then save in a container in the freezer.) I fried the bean burgers in ham fat (stored in the freezer) combined with veg oil. Very good! I offered mustard and BBQ sauce to everyone for topping the patties.
  • oven-roasted potato wedges, using potatoes bought in November for 10 cents/lb. I had exactly 5 packets of ketchup (1 per person) from the horrible lunch at a fast food place, the day of my biopsy. (Anything would have tasted horrible on that day, so I won't knock the ff joint too much.) It's been a while since I made a batch of ketchup. I'll do that again the next time I open a large can of tomato paste.
  • dried fruit, part of the tray of dried fruit given to us at Christmas
  • dill cucumber pickles, homemade last summer with garden cucumbers
  • sautéed garden greens (kale and mustard greens) with onions, sautéed in ham fat/veg oil. The garden greens are from late summer plantings, and will continue to give me fresh greens until the end of the month.
This was one of those dinners that probably cost just under $1 to feed the 5 of us. Add in cookies and milk, and we're talking a dinner for 5, for well under $2. Not bad!


  1. Hi Lili,
    Your dinner sounds yummy. You've inspired me to try my hand at bean burgers.
    I'm in the same boat of a reduced grocery budget due to high winter energy bills, among other things. Thanks for this series of posts on reigning in the grocery budget.
    Jo Ann

    1. Hi Jo Ann,
      Oh, I can imagine how this cold weather is really impacting household budgets for many, many folks! A very good idea of yours to cut something that you can, like grocery spending, to offset the higher winter heating costs. Wishing you well with this.

      Bean burgers are pretty easy to make. I sauté mine in fat on the stove, until browned on both sides, then finish the setting-up on a tray in the oven, about 350 F, for 20-30 minutes. Hope you enjoy them.

  2. I like you use of ham fat to add extra flavor to things.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      the ham fat adds so much flavor! And the kitchen smells really wonderful when cooking with it, too!

  3. I spy oven fries ... mmmm.

    I had to re-read to make sure that I had it correct--you are getting greens in your garden! To me, that's amazing.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I know, your part of the country has taken a beating this past month. Spring will come for you, too, very soon. I saw a warming trend was expected beginning next week. Something to look forward to.

  4. I made these a couple of times sans barley and they did not go over well at all. The family did not mind the taste but hated the texture. I am going to try them your way and test the bean burger waters again. I think if the mouth feel is bulkier they might be more inclined to enjoy it. Thanks for the great tip!

    1. Hi Anne,
      one of the first times I served bean burgers, I put them on buns. Not at all enjoyed. Too much pasty-ness on too much bread. The barley helps. These are also good when topped with something like Marinara sauce and cheese, or grilled onions -- some other textures to distract from the pasty-ness of beans.


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