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Friday, April 5, 2019

Cheap and Cheerful Suppers This Past Week (or What We Eat for $125 a Month)

seafood casserole (made with frozen cod fillets that had been camped out in my freezer for far too long, frozen peas, pasta, cream of mushroom soup, some lemon juice and herbs, all topped with cheddar cheese and garden chives)
spring green salad (made with garden watercress, baby sorrel, and baby chard, dressed with a citrus vinaigrette and topped with chopped, roasted almonds)
scratch blueberry coffee cake, using frozen blueberries bought at Dollar Tree a while ago

refried beans and oven-baked corn tortilla chips
leftover blueberry cake

chicken (from 2 leg quarters) in gravy over baked potatoes, topped with plain yogurt
steamed carrots
Oatmeal Scotchie Bars

bean burger patties, topped with mozzarella cheese
brown rice topped with marinara sauce
sauteed cabbage, onions, garlic, tomato sauce
French bread with soybean spread
Oatmeal Scotchie Bars

pizza sandwiches
cole slaw
(plus a plain hotdog for my husband, to boost calories in his dinner)

baked beans with hot dogs (no buns)
fresh-baked bread and butter
kale and onions
carrot snack cake (using this recipe and substituting 1 cup of grated carrot and a handful of raisins for the pureed pumpkin in the pumpkin-spice version, and using a combination of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in place of the allspice)

tomato soup (made with canned tomato paste following the directions found in the comments in this post)
toasted cheese sandwiches
parfaits made with canned cherry pie filling (Dollar Tree) and homemade vanilla yogurt

hamburgers in buns
oven-roasted potato wedges
oven-roasted onions
steamed carrots
rice pudding, using the leftover brown rice from Monday's dinner

As you can see, we're still using items that we've had for a while while incorporating some of the cheaply-purchased "new" ingredients. I'm trying to serve two to three bean-based dinners, as beans are such an inexpensive source of protein and are good for cholesterol numbers. And you may have noticed, we served carrots and cabbage 3 times each this week. You gotta love those cheap veggies!

Breakfast every day has been overnight, crock-pot steel cut oats. I make a batch once every 3 days and we eat the leftovers, reheated on the other days. There is also bread for toast, plus yogurt, eggs, and some untraditional breakfast foods that household members find (my daughter had ramen this morning for breakfast). Lunches are leftovers, sandwiches using bean spread, peanut butter, and occasionally egg salad, yogurt, bananas, raisins, juice, cole slaw, carrot sticks, microwaved potatoes with cheese, and quickly made concoctions such as soup. Snacks are primarily any of the breakfast or lunch foods, plus popcorn made on the stove, cocoa (with a homemade mix), cinnamon toast, or sometimes nuts.

I am back to baking bread. I have calculated that when I bake 5 loaves at a time, each loaf costs about 50 cents (including electricity). The least expensive commercial bread I can buy is 80 cents (with my Senior discount one day per month). Last month, we went through 8 loaves of bread. At a savings of 30 cents per loaf, we're saving $2.40 each month by baking our own. My homemade loaves are denser but weigh about what the cheap loaves of bread do. The bonus -- on bread-baking day, the kitchen is a bit warmer than usual, very welcome right now as we've turned our thermostat way down for spring.

That's our humble week of meals. What's been on your menu lately?


  1. You menu is tasty and varied! Good work! I'm curious about your recipe for the oatmeal scotchie bars.

    It is spring break here this week and we went to my in-laws for a long weekend visit. When we got back Tuesday evening, I made spaghetti, as I had all the ingredients in the house (not in the mood to run to the store after 8 hours in the car!) and it's quick (yes, I buy the jarred sauce). Last night my hubby had to work late so I made lasagna soup, which I could keep hot on the stove for when he made it home, along with no-knead bread I had mixed up the night before and baked in the morning. Tonight I was lazy and put baked potatoes in the crockpot and we had a baked potato bar with ham heated up from the freezer, cheese, butter, Greek yogurt, salsa, and green beans on the side.

    Have a good weekend!

    1. Hi Kris,
      Oh, what a fun weekend for your family!
      I've never heard of lasagna soup. Is it pasta in a tomato broth, with ricotta or cottage cheese stirred in? It sounds interesting. Your meals sound tasty, healthy, economical, and time-saving. I'd say that's a win!

      A co-worker of my husband gave us a homemade Oatmeal Scotchie Bar cookie mix at Christmas. After baking those up, I've been trying to replicate it myself. Basically, it's the Oatmeal Scotchie Cookie recipe from a package of butterscotch chips, but I think with more brown sugar to make the bars chewier than an oatmeal drop cookie. My family seems to really love these, so I've baked 2 half batches in the past month. I had bought a couple of bags of butterscotch chips a year ago and never used them. no time like the present, right? I'll be baking these again soon.


      You can tweak the recipe a bit. I love the taste of sausage in it, but ground beef or turkey would work fine. Also, the fire roasted tomatoes are good, but not absolutely necessary. And I prefer to use whatever smaller pasta I have on hand. I think it's the herbs and melting the cheese on top that makes it super yummy!

      I love oatmeal scotchies and I prefer bar cookies over making standard cookies--I find it's faster to pull together.

    3. Hi Kris,
      I should have known - another averiecooks recipe. I'll go check that out. It sounds delicious!
      I love how easy bar cookies are. My one complaint, though, is the crumbs left in the pan. I eat them anyway, but it feels like there's something that could go to waste.

  2. It all sounds so good! I'm going to borrow some of these ideas. Shirley

    1. Thank you, Shirley!
      Have a lovely Sunday.

  3. As always, a delicious, nutritious week of food at your house. One of my sisters has been visiting, so we've had more "special" meals lately including crab cakes that she always gets when she comes to town.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Thank you.
      Your week must've flown by in a flash. How fun to spend a week with your sister!
      I always think of crab cakes as an Eastern Seaboard food. I've only had them once, but really enjoyed them. Do you make them yourself?

  4. Your daughter's ramen breakfast speaks to my soul. :D

    Are you using yogurt on your baked potatoes like sour cream?

    1. Hi Allie,
      Ramen does sound like a tasty breakfast, doesn't it?
      Yes, we've been using homemade plain yogurt in place of sour cream and as a mayo substitute. It's been working really well for us. And it was very tasty on the potatoes.

  5. Hi Lili,

    Your menus looks wonderful and I can see you are not starving!

    We are still utilizing pantry/freezer for our meals. I had half packages corn tortillas and flour tortillas in the freezer so I chose the flour one and I made chicken and beef stir from with some meat in our freezer. I also sauteed an onion and some peppers and we just ate that in the tortillas as fajitas. So good. I also found two chicken thighs in the freezer and made chicken noodle soup because hubby now has a bad cold. We make stir fry with some frozen skirt steak we purchased on discount a few weeks ago. Also found the last egg rolls I made last summer (they got lost in the freezer) and we had Chinese dinner. I had some rolled oats that have been sitting around for a while so they turned into monster cookies (and most went into the freezer). We also had some romaine lettuce start to go bad so I worked around the bad spots and made a nice bowl of salad with some taco meat and Doritos for a quick salad on Saturday.

    I eat steel cut oats almost every morning but since I'm the only one who eats that, I still make a full batch in my instant pot and then I freeze portions in muffin tins. When they are frozen I pop them out and put in a ziploc bag. When I need one I just put it in a wide mouth mason jar and cover with either coconut milk or almond milk in the fridge overnight. I take that to work and eat that during the morning. I use a can of almond milk and top it off with water as the liquid in my cooking of the steel cut oats. Then I sprinkle with a little vanilla and brown sugar after it is done cooking. It is so good.

    Right now I'm out of potatoes and most of my pasta. I have a little bit of rice left and I see a container of Israeli couscous and I'm not sure what to do with it.


    1. Hi Alice,
      Oh yummy! Your meals sound delicious. I love your Chinese dinner as well as the Tex-Mex salad bowls. That's a great idea to freeze the steel cut oats in individual portions. I've been thinking of making our oatmeal more user-friendly by packaging in individual containers for the fridge. I think family members would be more likely to grab a container of oatmeal if it's been put into a container for them. My favorite these days is a spoonful of peanut butter and half a banana or some raisins stirred into my oatmeal. I get a little extra protein and some fruit with the oats.
      Good luck with the starchy components of your meals. The couscous could be made into a pilaf I would think. Whatever you make will be tasty, I'm sure.


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