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Friday, April 26, 2019

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for the Last Week of April

Thursday's dinner
ham and beans, baby green salad, steamed kale with cheddar, toast

bean and vegetable soup
buttered toast
apple wedges

Sunday -- Easter dinner
baked ham
sweet potato casserole
green bean casserole
curried pea and peanut slaw
French bread with herbed "cream cheese" and butter spread
watermelon pickles
rhubarb custard pie

bean and grilled onion chimichangas
carrot sticks
leftover green bean casserole
leftover sweet potato casserole
chocolate cake with dark chocolate frosting

ham sandwiches on homemade French bread, with a spread of leftover herbed "cream cheese"
cole slaw
leftover chocolate cake

Wednesday's dinner
baked beans and ham, spinach and onions, rice and ham gravy

baked beans and ham
small cup of leftover bean soup from Saturday
frozen spinach sauteed with onions in ham fat
brown rice with ham gravy
leftover rhubarb pie

leftover baked beans and ham combined with leftover refried beans from Monday
buttered toast
steamed garden kale with salt, garlic, and cheddar cheese
spring green garden salad of watercress, sorrel, chard, and chives in a homemade orange vinaigrette
rhubarb pie

this week's Swiss chard from the garden

Other Meals This Week

Easter breakfast
Using my crockpot, an overnight breakfast casserole. I stole a couple of slices from the Easter ham on Saturday evening and added an egg, potato, onion, milk, and cheese filling. Many crockpot breakfast casserole recipes call for commercial hash browns. For this recipe, I used whole potatoes that I shredded in the food processor. No complaints. Using home-shredded, fresh potatoes worked just fine.

Most days we have steel cut oats, cooked overnight in the crockpot. About a year ago, I bought a huge bag of steel cut oats -- 25 pounds. This is a lot of oats! I figure we have enough left to last through summer and maybe into fall. To the cooked oats, we each add our own toppings, which include, raisins, peanut butter, butter, jam/jelly, bananas, sugar, and milk.

Some of us have toast, topped with butter, homemade jam/jelly, cinnamon & sugar, peanut butter, or bean spread.

And I also bake muffins from scratch. This week, I made a batch of rhubarb muffins. I used up some pancake mix and corn muffin mix that I had in the pantry, plus garden rhubarb, and topped with the crumb topping from rhubarb pie-making over the weekend.

On the weekends, one or two of us might cook up an egg to go with breakfast. The eggs are simple, just fried, scrambled, or egg-in-the-hole. If anything is added, it is greens or herbs from the garden (such as chives), plus milk.

Meat-based leftovers are usually saved for another dinner. But bean-based ones are often up for grabs when making lunches. Otherwise, we have bean spread, peanut butter, or egg salad on home-baked whole wheat sandwich bread or home-baked French baguettes. Whole eggs are also available for frying or scrambling. With the sandwiches, family members also choose from raw carrots, raisins, bananas, juice, frozen fruit, homemade yogurt, any greens from the garden, cole slaw from the March-purchased heads of cabbage, and any home-baked cookies, muffins, or snack cakes we may have. Sometimes, there is cheese available for lunches, depending on what else is still in stock and plentiful.

I vary the bean spreads each time I make a batch, so that there is always something new to try (and encourages us to eat the less-expensive beans in comparison to other sandwich toppings). This week, I made a pinto bean spread with salsa, fried onions, and some cheese powder which had begun to harden into clumps. The hot dogs which were available for lunches last month are now set aside for weekend cook-outs around the fire ring.

part of my afternoon snack yesterday -- bean spread
on home-baked baguette, topped with chives

The least expensive snack foods are not snack foods at all, but some of the foods that I prepare for suppers, such as fruits and vegetables from the garden or foraged, baked or mashed potatoes, toast, leftover baked or refried beans, homemade tortillas, and leftover rice and gravy. We'll also snack on snack cake, cookies, muffins, peanut butter or bean spread on bread or by the spoon, popcorn, carrot sticks, raisins, and any fresh fruit.

I make yogurt once every 3 weeks and bake bread about once per week, alternating between whole wheat sandwich and French baguettes. I found some rye flour in my pantry and will begin a batch of sourdough caraway-rye bread this afternoon (it's a 2-day process).

About the Meat Fat . . .
Remember the conversation about using meat fat the other week? Well, we've been using the beef fat from the meatloaf, chicken fat from making the chicken pot pie, and ham fat from the Easter ham for our cooking this past week. The level of oil in the vegetable oil bottle has only gone down a little. On Wednesday, I rendered the fat from the fatty bits of the ham. Doing so gave me enough cooking fat for a few suppers. In addition, I simmered the meaty bone in the crockpot, and then skimmed more fat off of the stock. Plus, I still have 2 sticks of butter hidden in the freezer. I bring out one stick at a time and have discouraged the use of butter in baking for the time being.

this week's kale from our garden

About Our Vegetable Supply . . .
I know that when reading my grocery shopping list it appears that we have little in the way of produce. I still have fruit in the freezer from last summer, frozen veggies purchased in fall and winter, plus now our vegetable garden is in production. Just the other day I harvested a large bowl of Swiss chard, a medium-sized bowl of kale, a mix of baby greens and herbs for salad, and a large bundle of chives for the fridge for adding to cooking throughout the week.


  1. As usual, I'm eyeing up your Swiss chard. My daughter and I fight over it. :)

    I hope you get to have a weekend hotdog cookout! How fun! Meanwhile, we are expecting snow. Boo!

    1. I, too, hope your weather is good enough to cookout this weekend, Lili. We are having a picnic tomorrow and it should be warm enough, in the 60's, but there's a wind advisory with winds up to 50 miles/hour. I'm not sure what that's going to do to things, but I'm going to clean up the inside a little better just in case the crowd wants to come in.
      Sorry about the snow, Kris. :(

    2. Hi Kris,
      I saw that your state was to get a lot of snow. Did you get as much as they forecasted? I sure hope that this is the last of winter for you for the season. You're due some spring weather.
      We like Swiss chard, but I wouldn't say that we fight over it. So you must tell me how you prepare yours.
      It was sunny all yesterday, chilly but sunny. So we did have a cook-out last night. Fun times sitting around the fire.

    3. Hi live and learn,
      Were you able to enjoy a picnic this weekend? I hope it all turned out as planned. Good move to be prepared to bring it indoors, should it turn too windy!
      Our cook-out was fun. This was the first one of the season, with hopefully many more to come.

    4. The snow went south of us--hooray! It was chilly here yesterday but sunny, which was great. As for the Swiss chard--my hubby makes that and I don't think he does anything particularly special with it--I just think it's really tasty. I also liked canned cooked spinach as a kid ....

    5. Oh, good! I'm so glad that your area didn't get the snow. (I feel badly for those folks who did get it, though.)

  2. Curious how you make the chimichangas? I'm timid of deep-frying, especially something as big as a burrito!

    1. Hi Allie,
      My daughter made these this time. She didn't deep-fry them, but shallow-fried them in vegetable oil in a small skillet. So they weren't as crispy and flakey as deep-fried chimichangas, but still good.
      I go through phases of deep-frying a lot, depending on our vegetable oil supply. I do donuts often, and really, they're not at all difficult to do. I don't use a thermometer, but use a bread cube test to see if the oil is hot enough/not too hot. It seems to work.
      Here's a recipe for super easy donuts, should you want to give them a try as you work your way into more adventurous deep-frying:

      We make these for Father's Day, and they're always a big hit.

    2. Ooh thank you!! I love the idea of using biscuit dough! Brilliant. Can't to try this.

      I also seem to deep fry in spurts, mostly just because once I use a whole cup of oil to do so, I feel like I have to get multiple uses out of it. The cycle usually starts with something sweet, like funnel cakes (because nothing beats a deep-fried sweet when it's fresh), evolves into savory uses like vegetable fritters or breaded chicken, and ends when I make crab cakes or somely similarly fishy that renders the oil very unappealing for future reuse.

    3. Allie, I try to reuse the oil, too. Just makes sense. Yum, I bet home-made funnel cakes are delicious!


  3. Lili, your meals sound delicious. I'd enjoy everything you mentioned and am especially envious of your rhubarb. You are one amazing woman!

  4. I would like all of these meals as well! And they're so healthy with all the greens. I'm thinking about the fats you have saved from your beef, chicken and ham. Typically, I have thrown these leftovers away, but I'm going to think about ways to give them another use. Thanks as always for the inspiration.

    1. Hi Lynn,
      I think that ham and bacon fat really improve the flavor of sauteed greens. Bacon fat is also delicious in a sweet and sour bacon dressing for spinach salad. Chicken fat is good for starting a vegetable-based soup, for browning the onions and other vegetables. The beef fat seemed to go well with refried beans that we made recently. And if you find yourself with too much stored meat fat, if you smear some on a piece of thick paper or cardboard, it makes a good fire-starter for a fire ring or charcoal BBQ. Good luck with this!

  5. I, too, use rendered cat from a variety of sources to stretch my lil and butter. It really does make a difference.
    Be proud of how well you are getting it done.

    1. You gave me my laugh for the day when I read this--I know you meant to say rendered fat, not cat, but I did a double-take when I first saw this. :)

    2. Hi Frugal in the USA,
      Thank you for the encouragement. I really do appreciate it.

  6. Your meals sound delicious! It goes to show that one can make due with less than normal. I love it.

    Our meals this week were lomo saltado with homemade french fries and rice, cheesy broccoli soup with a bag of California blend veggies since I didn't have any broccoli. We also used bits and pieces of cheese because I was just about out. We had a pick your leftover or make your own one night. Yesterday we had scalloped potatoes with pork chop casserole. I made a jello with fruit and a pudding/whipped cream topping.

    A couple of meals this week will be chicken pieces in the rotisserie. Tater tot casserole using half ground beef and half sausage since I don't have enough beef.

    I also almost did a flip when I read "Frugal in the USA" renders her cat and I really hoped that wasn't so!


    1. Hi Alice,
      Oh, your dinners sound very delicious and warming. And I like your ingenuity when you didn't have the exact ingredient. I also like the pick-your-leftover concept for a dinner. My mom used to have a s'morgasbord night about once a week, where she'd set out all of the leftovers, add a few items like applesauce and olives, and we'd get to choose our own dinner. For a kid, getting to choose was a big deal.


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