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Friday, April 19, 2019

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers From the Last Two Weeks

I somehow forgot to post last week's Cheap & Cheerful menus. Oops! Life gets busy, right? Getting on with it, here are menus from both this past week and the week before.

Saturday  4/6
bean soup and toast

Sunday  4/7
spinach, canned tomato, onion, and mozzarella frittata
home fries

Monday  4/8
cabbage, carrot, peas, and garlic chive fried rice, topped with eggs

Tuesday  4/9
bean burritos
cole slaw
these brownies, following the oven-baking suggestions, and frosted with cocoa icing

Wednesday 4/10
seafood casserole w/ cod, peas, pasta, frozen cream soup, onions, lemon juice, bay seasoning
sorrel pesto on French bread
steamed carrots

Thursday 4/11
vegetarian chili, using pinto beans, canned tomatoes, TVP, onions, seasonings, topped with cheese
cornmeal pancakes (quicker than baking cornbread)

Friday 4/12
burrito bowls -- leftover brown rice, leftover refried beans, taco meat from the freezer, canned corn, homemade salsa, homemade plain yogurt
Menchie's frozen yogurt freebie

Saturday 4/13
hot dogs in biscuit dough buns
oven-roasted potato wedges
green beans

Sunday  4/14
scrambled eggs and pancakes

Monday 4/15
spinach, onion, tomato, and beef meatloaf
mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy (from a packet)
sauteed cabbage and onions

Tuesday 4/16
bean burritos
cole slaw
apple wedges
German chocolate cake

Wednesday 4/17
almost-vegan chili (used beef fat to saute the onions)
garlic bread
German chocolate cake

Thursday 4/18
chicken pot pie casserole
(This was a meal at our church where I provided the casserole, and salad, fruit and cookies were provided by others.)

Friday 4/19
chicken pot pie
(I cooked big for Thursday's casserole and made an extra for tonight.)

Sunday (4/7) breakfast -- overnight cinnamon rolls, yogurt, granola. Saturday afternoon I was working on the egg soap project. By evening, I was still in a project-sort-of-mindset, so I stayed up late cooking and baking. I made a batch of granola as well as the cinnamon rolls for a bit of a selection the next morning, as well as snacks to keep on hand for early in the week.

On Tuesday (4/9), I made a batch of salsa to go in the bean burritos. For the salsa, I used canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, chili powder, chipotle powder, salt, vinegar, and lemon juice, all simmered in a stainless pot for about 20 minutes. It didn't seem to matter that I didn't have jalepenos.

Wednesday (4/10) -- the sorrel pesto was inspired by a suggestion from Allie in the comments from March.  Allie had mentioned that an upscale restaurant in LA serves a sorrel pesto rice dish, so I thought, "why not?" I made my sorrel pesto with sorrel leaves, garlic, pine nuts, mozzarella cheese, salt, and oil. It was delicious spread on French bread. You may already know this, but you can use many different greens to make a pesto. Pesto based on other greens won't have the same basil flavor (obviously), but it can be delicious in its own right. Radish green pesto is a popular one and is a terrific use of the abundant leaves when buying or harvesting a bunch of radishes.

Friday (4/12) -- Menchie's is a self-serve frozen yogurt place. They have several deals going on at any time. Currently, if you sign up for their app, you can get a $5 off coupon. $5 will buy a modest-sized yogurt sundae. They're sold by the ounce, so you do need to be careful not to take too much if you want to stay beneath the $5 threshold. You can use the scale at the register to gauge your sundae as you're building it. Anyway, my daughters and husband downloaded the app for the $5 coupons while I used a birthday coupon. Menchie's offers a $5 coupon to use any time during your birthday month.

Monday (4/15) is when I began to earnestly cut back on butter and vegetable oil use in cooking. I now have both beef and chicken fat set aside to use in cooking this next week. For the chicken pot pies that I made for Thursday (4/18), I used some skin-on chicken leg quarters and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The leg quarters have lots of fat. After simmering the chicken parts in water, I removed the meat and put the bones, skin, and most of the simmering liquid into the crockpot to draw out even more fat. Chilling the broth left a nice layer of fat to skim off of the top of the liquid and a very delicious soup stock to use in cooking. To save additional butter or oil in baking, in the comments earlier this week, Kris made a really great suggestion for treats that I need to bring to coffee hour at the end of the month. Kris suggested meringues. Meringues are very inexpensive cookies to make at home, using no fat at all. They're also easy to make, and since they don't spread, a whole batch can be baked at the same time.

Tuesday (4/16) was my birthday. My daughter bought some apples to share, so she added them to that night's dinner. I'll be honest, after not having any apples for a couple of months, those apples tasted so good. My daughters made a small cake for my birthday, as well, topping it with the traditional coconut frosting, substituting chopped almonds for the recipe's pecans.

Despite my momentary panic-stricken bouts, we're doing okay with groceries and meals. I think that we're eating pretty well. My current mantra is as follows: "I only have to manage one day and one crisis at a time. No need to worry about tomorrow's crisis, today." Everything will work out. We will have plenty of food. I just need to have faith that the answers will be provided to me. And I am so thankful that some of those answers have come from you all, here.

Have a wonderful weekend and happy Easter!


  1. Happy Birthday Lili! I hope it was wonderful. Your hot dogs wrapped in biscuit dough look great. We like those here too. I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend.

    1. Thank you, Belinda. I hope you had a lovely Easter!

  2. I think I could eat chicken pot pie every day of the week. Mmmm. And I look forward to hearing about the variations of meringues that you will make. There are a bazillion options!

    1. Hi Kris,
      I know. I love pie of any sort, so chicken pot pie is a favorite of mine, too.

  3. I'm with Kris. I could eat chicken pot pie every day of the week. But of course, your meals, Lili, have a lot more variety in the them. Once again, you are providing great meals for your family and with a small budget.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Thanks. I'm working at it.

  4. YAYYY I'm so glad the sorrel pesto worked out for you!!! Yours sounds even better than the restaurant's. Pine nuts, mmmmm.

    Your almost-vegan chili sounds like the perfect use for the meatloaf beef fat you saved. This is my favorite way to cook--by imparting some meat flavor into a dish by using animal fat or a very small piece of meat (like some chopped bacon or ground beef) to start the dish.

    And your daughters' cake for your birthday sounds lovely! German chocolate is my husband's favorite, too.

    1. Hi Allie,
      We loved the sorrel pesto. I used the last of the pine nuts, but we still have almonds, so I may make more sorrel pesto before the leaves get too tough. Thanks, again, for the suggestion!

  5. Happy Birthday, Lili! My husband's birthday was yesterday. It was a work day for him & we had church services last night, so the celebration was a quick meal of grilled brats at home before dashing out the door.

    Your meals sound so good. We are huge chicken pot pie fans here. Your Easter dinner sounds like it's going to be lovely. You've done so well on a very tight budget.

    Happy Resurrection Day to you & your family, Lili. He is risen! Love, Melissa

    1. Thank you, Melissa. Oh, happy, happy to your husband! Grilled brats sounds like a winner of a birthday dinner, even if the evening was a busy one.
      I hope you and your family had a lovely Easter!

  6. Happy Easter!

    I had Friday off from work and due to my busy day at home I did not have time to see your post!

    I'm wondering how would you handle finding a really good deal on your new low budget? For instance, I was out and about Friday and came across football sized turkey breast (the kind used for slicing thinly for luncheon meat). The were not sliced but whole and cooked. They were $4 something but under $5 for the entire turkey. I bought three of them and sliced them rather thickly so we could use them as a meal. I then froze them for future meals. Would you be able to find enough in the budget knowing they would be used for a couple of months down the road? That was a deal to not pass by and we've been munching on that the entire weekend. Sandwiches, snack, and tonight I'll be making a pasta turkey salad as a side dish. Even my mom wanted a few slices since she can eat it but dad can't. Sometimes deals are too hard to pass up.


    1. Thank you, Alice. Happy belated Easter to you, too!

      As for what I do when I find a great deal after I've spent or allocated the budget -- this is the best that I've come up with for now. First, I don't buy nearly as much as I might have before this period. So I reduce what I buy. And second, I borrow from the next month's budget, if and only if, the item is in a category that I would have bought anyway. So, I won't stock up on soda pop, no matter how cheap. But, if the item is a regular item, and I find a much lower price, then I borrow from the next month AND I put the item away until the next month. Here's an example -- I had a $10 coupon to use at Target. Target had peanut butter cheaper than I can find at Fred Meyer (even with the Senior discount), and I had already spent my money allocated for peanut butter for the month. But I went ahead and bought 4 large jars of peanut butter, using the coupon for most of the purchase, but spending an additional $1-something. Even though I had the $10 coupon to use, I am still figuring the $10 into the next month's budget, as I had already taken the $10 savings into account when I made the purchase which netted that coupon. So, next month, I'll have $11.17 less to send once May begins, but I will have stocked up on peanut butter. Since I am actively trying to buy stock-up amounts of a few foods each month, the peanut butter will now have to be one of those foods for May.

      When I spent the $11.17 for peanut butter, I made up my May grocery list/budget and listed the peanut butter, so there's no way I can ignore that I spent that amount. In addition, we will run out of peanut butter this month. However, my family understands that the Target peanut butter is reserved for May and June, and possibly July. We will eat other foods when the peanut butter is gone, likely bean spreads and eggs. In future months, I hope to set aside a little bit of money for those great deals. But that will take another few months of stocking up on the basic foods.

      One other example of how I'm currently handling finding great deals comes from my March grocery shopping. Early in the month, when I still had almost the whole month's budget to spend, I was shopping at Fred Meyer and found the ground beef on sale for 89 cents/lb. That's an unheard of price, so I made an on-the-spot decision to alter my list to accommodate the beef. I deleted a few items so that I could buy 21 lbs of beef, as I knew that I would regret not buying it when I had a chance. I didn't buy all of the beef that I found marked down, but an amount that I could spare once I had deleted some other items from my list.

      You deal on turkey breasts sounds really great. I can see how you wouldn't want to pass that one up.


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