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Friday, January 15, 2016

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for mid-January

Monday's supper -- I used snippets of the rosemary,
 from the plants I brought indoors for winter

hamburgers on homemade buns
w/mushrooms and mozzarella cheese
seasoned, oven-fried potato wedges
green beans

homemade mushroom, olive and onion pizza
frozen peas
baked apples

tortilla chips, salsa (chips from Dollar Tree, salsa a Christmas gift)
refried beans (made extras) and cheese
brown rice
carrots sticks

rosemary potatoes
kale and onion frittata, with mozzarella and topped with leftover pizza sauce
baked tiny squashes

crockpot ham, potato casserole
frozen green beans
pumpkin pie (from freezer)

Shepherd's pie (beef/turkey blend, onions, garlic, celery, corn, tomato-based sauce, covered in mashed potatoes), made 2, froze 1  (My family thought it was good, but I just didn't care for it. Maybe it was the smell of the meat cooking, but I was feeling quite ill by the time it was ready.)
frozen peas
leftover pumpkin pie

refried beans from freezer, rice and cheese burritos in homemade tortillas
corn medley, with green peppers, onion, garlic and chunky tomato salsa
carrots sticks
apple cobbler, made with frozen apple chunks

I was so looking forward to Wednesday's dinner. Comfort food -- who wouldn't want some?! But then the cooking. Browning of the meat was making me quite queasy. Sometimes the smell of meat just puts me off from eating it. This happened once when I was a young adult, living on my own. It was so bad that I became a vegetarian for a couple of years after that. When I was pregnant, all meat smelled rancid to me. I remember not being able to cook dinner one night, so I sent my husband out to get McDonald's for himself, just an orange soda and fries for me. When he walked in the door, he offered me a bite of his Big Mac. I nearly declined, as the thought of meat would send me gagging all the way to the bathroom. But I did take him up on his offer, a bite, I thought. I could handle one bite, for the sake of the baby (iron and all, from the beef). I ate his entire Big Mac and had to send him back to McDonald's for his own dinner. But that's how powerful a bad meat smell can be for me. So, Wednesday, really looking forward to this supper, and wowsers, was it ever awful in my mind. The second one in the freezer will be set aside for a night when I have alternate plans for my own supper.

But it does reinforce a point that I am common to make -- learn to enjoy your own cooking and you'll have enough money for the things that really matter in your opinion. I think my sister would be shocked that our family eats at home, almost every single night of the year. We grew up in a family where dining out was a regular event. And she, now, stills eats out, a lot, IMO. I'll be chatting with her while she's in the drive-thru at a favorite So Cal burger joint. Sometimes she'll ask what I'm having for lunch. It's usually something humble, like a banana and oatmeal, or peanut butter on toast. I do occasionally salivate over the burger and fries lunches she gets. (I did get my burger and fries meal for Friday supper.) But there are things that my not spending money on take-out has afforded me.

In looking back at my many Cheap & Cheerful Supper posts, I really didn't see many restaurant dinners. And I'm okay with that. The foods we eat on a daily basis are just humble foods. I try to make sure it's tasty. I don't keep up with many food trends. And, as far as spending time on gourmet recipes, I'd rather spend my time in other endeavors.


  1. Hi Lili,

    I also sometimes make meals for the family and for some reason can't eat what I've made. I have no explanation for that either.

    Last night I dug through the freezer and found 3 bananas (there's a ton more but I only needed 3) and made banana crumb muffins, homemade spaghetti sauce for spaghetti and a salad.

    Tonight will be a pork roast from the freezer with leftovers for tomorrow and some kind of potato--maybe baked or maybe homemade french fries. Hamburgers sound really good so maybe this weekend sometime.

    I also can't imagine going out to eat several times a week. We have never done that and certainly couldn't afford that. We're lucky if we go out once every 6 months!


    1. Hi Alice,
      Oh yum! Homemade banana crumb muffins sound very delicious right now! And I bet they were tasty last night with the spaghetti and salad.
      Have a great weekend!

  2. Hi Lili.

    As usual, your meals sound yummy!

    I can sympathize with your experience with the Shepherd's pie. I've had similar experiences. Sometimes with meat, sometimes even with the smell of eggs after they are cooked...

    My latest food issue is with a baked pasta/chicken Alfredo. I found a recipe, tweaked it, tried it and it became one of my husband's favorite meals. At first, it was okay for me. Not my favorite, but I could eat it. After a few months, it started to become gross to me and I stopped eating it. I plan something else for myself when I make that for supper.

    I've had several more experiences like that. I don't understand why it happens. I try to keep a few veggies on hand for salads. Some nights if supper doesn't appeal to me, I'll make myself a simple baked potato and have salad.


    1. Hi Angie,
      You know, I'm glad to know that this thing with cooking happens to other people. Maybe it's the overexposure to a food, as it cooks, or is cooked many times. Or maybe it's smelling it in its not quite cooked form (egg-y things can get to me, too, when not quite cooked). And also, I think there are nights when I've had too many high cal dinners, and my body just wants something lean. A simple salad and baked potato does sound like it would work for me on those nights.

      Have a great weekend, Angie!

  3. I've heard that zinc deficiencies can have this effect on you--might want to check it out with a doctor.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Is that right? Oh, I'll look into that. Thank you!

    2. Kris,

      The idea of a zinc deficiency is interesting. I'm going to look into that as well!


  4. I have the same problem with fish. I can eat fish at a restaurant, but the smell of it cooking makes it so I can't eat it at home (which makes me sad, I used to LOVE fish and I live in NC, so I can get really fresh fish).

    I also really appreciate what you said about choosing your priorities. We rescued a Saint Bernard from a rural shelter (they put him up for adoption on a Tuesday and he was scheduled to be put down if he wasn't adopted by that Saturday). Turns out he had a LOT of health problems. If we had spent all of our money on eating out we wouldn't have been able to cover his vet bills and he is the sweetest, most loving, goofball of a dog it has ever been my pleasure to know. He really deserves a chance for a good life and he has brought me more happiness than a million dinners out EVER could.

    1. Hi Cristie,
      Good call on not eating out so much so you'd have the money to give your St Bernard the loving care he needed! He sounds like a delight!

  5. I think you are the envy of others because you have the skills, knowledge, talent, and determination to save money. Many people are clueless what they need to do and the work it takes to save. I know it was not a given and you worked very hard for many years to achieve what you are able to do today, so I think you should be smiling about your laurels and not downplaying your efforts. I'm sure your family also feels fortunate to eat your delicious, nutritious, well prepared meals for less than restaurant prices. Those who are dependent on readymade are at such a disadvantage all the way around. I read your blog because you set a bar that I didn't know existed. That's motivating for me.

    As always, good job providing a variety of entrees for the week. Noticed how frozen vegetables are making do during the winter months.


    1. Hi YHF,
      Thanks for your kind words!

      I am dreaming of having fresh lettuce again. So much so that I'm planning on starting lettuce seeds under grow lights later next week. I'm grateful for the frozen veggies, but will also love some more variety in the fresh ones.

  6. Another thing...why your blog is special. You are sharing your experience in real time, chronicling your creative saving efforts. Contrast this style of teaching to a book or newsletter of how-to tips sold by an expert....not the same. We learn by example much better. And you show us you are real, so that helps us feel less anxious.


  7. I agree w/ YHF. Although I'm not nearly as frugal as you, I hope to get there someday! Re: restaurant meals. My kids think that McDonald's is an absolute treat. We have a friend who gives each of them a MC gift card for Christmas. Even McDonald's is expensive for our family and we wouldn't go there w/o those gift cards. And frankly, I like my cooking much better :)

    1. P.S.--No offense intended in regards to McDonald's. Your story of the Big Mac reminds me of the many cans of Pringles I ate while pregnant with my first. All bets are off when a woman's pregnant!

    2. This made me remember when I was pregnant with my youngest child, I would crave seafood pasta salad from Meijer deli. I loved it. The day we brought our baby home from the hospital my husband surprised me with a container of my favorite seafood salad. I looked at it, sniffed it and was repulsed by it and have never eaten seafood salad again and this baby is almost 20 years old! I have no desire for it whatsoever!


    3. Hi Melissa,
      When my kids were little, I used to ask one aunt to send gift certificates/cards instead of toys for birthdays and Christmas. I'd ask for things that I knew my kids would really enjoy doing once, like Chuckie Cheese, Build-A-Bear, American Girl (they had to save gift cards for a few occasions to "afford" their own doll). The kids all got to do those things that their peers were doing, as a result.

      With a large family, McDonald's is expensive! That is so very kind of your friend to give your kids those gift cards.

    4. Alice, how sweet. Your husband thought he was bringing you this one thing that you'd love! But I totally get not being able to stand it!

  8. Your meals sound wonderful. Sometimes the food I cook just doesn't appeal to me. I also will just make something for myself. We do eat at home most of the time. Sometimes I will make a salad or rice or a potato. Just depends on my mood even a smoothie sounds good some times. Have a wonderful weekend.

    1. Hi Patti,
      You, too?! I may be making myself a smoothie the night I serve the other dish of Shepherd's pie!

  9. Your meals always sound tasty, Lili. Have a great weekend!

    1. Hi Mary,
      thank you! Have a great weekend, yourself!

  10. As much as I say I don't like to cook, we eat most of our meals at home. However, fortunately, our budget will afford a meal out from time to time. If someone were cooking meals for me like you serve, I don't think I would ever want to eat out. Once again your suppers sound delicious.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      thank you! Aside from saving money, it's also just nice, sometimes, to eat in the comfort of your own home, where you can take your shoes off, relax, and not have a lot of commotion around. And then again, it's also nice to sometimes have someone else wait on you! ;-)

  11. I am "funny" about certain cooking smells too, Lili. I do not like the smell of chicken cooking, for example. When our local grocery store has the chickens in the rotisserie in the mornings, It makes me sick to smell them. I understand why you wouldn't want to eat the Shepherds Pie after cooking it. I have one friend who feels the same way about cooking ground beef dishes.

    We eat a pretty humble diet here too. A lot of beans for example. It's so humble I barely write about it on my blog. LOL

    1. Hi Belinda,
      So you, too? With cooking chicken. The smell seems to be worse in the early stage of cooking, before any juices caramelize. The morning might be even more difficult to bear, with the smell, too.

  12. Hi Lili,
    Sorry about you not being able to enjoy the shepherds pie. I know a few people who can't eat certain foods after smelling them cook.

    1. Hi Rhonda,
      And now I don't feel so strange, that cooking smells can put me off so badly!


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