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Friday, May 17, 2019

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for Mid-May

homemade crystalized ginger

Friday (cost for 4 -- about $1.20)
scrambled eggs with garden chives
steamed carrots
apple wedges
rhubarb muffins
small amount of leftover rice and refried beans, topped with seasonings and cheese

went to a dinner party

Sunday (cost for 4 -- about $1.95)
beef and bean burritos
cole slaw (homemade dressing on shredded cabbage)
chocolate covered strawberries (I used dipping chocolate bought on clearance after Christmas)

Monday (cost for 4 -- about $2.05)
Mexican-inspired soup, made with leftover taco meat, refried beans, canned corn, canned tomatoes, Swiss chard, onions, and seasonings, topped with a small amount of shredded cheese and some fried tortilla strips
toasted homemade rye bread with butter
fruit salad of banana and strawberries

Tuesday (cost for 4 -- about $1.10)
leftover soup from the previous night, just plain tonight
homemade whole wheat toast with butter
(Three members of the family went out to the movies as a gift to their dad. The kids paid for treats at the movies, so that cost is not factored into my budget. However, the additional treats meant I didn't need to cook as much for dinner.)

Wednesday (cost for 4 -- about $1.05)
rice, pinto bean, and vegetable medley (using cabbage, carrots, onions, and chives)

Thursday (cost for 4 -- about $1.45)
Swiss chard, onion, and mozzarella frittata
steamed carrots
homemade whole wheat toast with butter

Once again, this was a week that was low on meat consumption. I used a grand total of 1/2 pound of ground beef for the burrito filling and Mexican soup. However, we did have cheese (which is just as expensive as meat) on 3 nights. We continue to use the inexpensive or even free fruits and vegetables, such as rhubarb (free), Swiss chard (free), chives (free), whole carrots, cabbage, and onions. The one exception was the purchase of strawberries -- 2 lbs of strawberries at Sprouts for $1.98.

We spent $8.80 on family suppers this week. That left $19.42 for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for 4 people for the week. That's achievable if using less-expensive basic foods and what we can gather from our garden, combined with cooking from scratch for 95% of what we consume.

Breakfasts this week consisted of crockpot steel cuts oats, toast from homemade bread, homemade yogurt, rhu-sins (dried, sweetened rhubarb), scratch pancakes, raisins, bananas, granola, and milk.

Lunches included leftover soup, eggs, various sandwiches (using homemade bread, bean spread, and peanut butter), yogurt, various concoctions of fruits and vegetables (which included carrots, rhu-sins, raisins, bananas, juice, Swiss chard, cabbage, chives, onions), and ramen.

A few experiments this week:

  • dehydrated carrot pieces to make single servings of instant soup
  • sprouted lentils (thanks, YHF) to use on sandwiches and in soups and salads
  • made crystalized ginger (using some aging and wrinkled fresh ginger) to use in baking
What was on your menu this week? Do you like experimenting in the kitchen, or do you prefer to use the same set of recipes?


  1. Funny you should ask! I'm trying a chicken curry tonight for the first time. I made naan bread yesterday (worked today, no time in my schedule--I've never made naan before so that was also a new thing for me to try) and we will see how it goes! I wax and wane with experimenting. Sometimes I get bored and try to switch things up, but it isn't a regular occurrence.

    1. Yum, the chicken curry sounds delicious, Kris! And naan is wonderful. I fry mine in a skillet with about a teaspoon of oil and call it fry bread. I love how chewy it is. I bet your dinner is well-received by your family tonight!

    2. I made mine on a griddle with cooking spray. It DID remind me of fry bread that I had years ago in the southwest! Everyone liked the curry but the naan was the rock star of the meal.

    3. Kris, I can just imagine how well the naan went over. Fry bread is very popular in my house. The cooking process seems to bring out the natural sweetness in the grains and they taste almost like donuts.

  2. I think the creative side of you makes you an experimenter by nature and "Necessity is the mother of invention" certainly applies when you are trying to feed a family on a very low budget. I love to experiment to see how things work and how different variables affect them, but that is not always with food.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      maybe that's it. I just need some sort of creative outlet and cooking/the kitchen seems to fit. I love to experiment, too. Some don't turn out terribly well, but I guess that's all part of the process and what makes experimenting interesting.

  3. Glad your lentils are sprouting too!! I would love to try the sprouting lentils and see the difference.

    Our meals are very informal, sometimes every man for himself, especially when one of us isn't hungry. I love having Asia rice paper wraps around, so any meat or fish leftovers can make a meal, with whatever vegetables and grains. The sauce is what makes the wrap special.


    1. Hi YHF,
      Can I ask, what kind of sauce would you use in a rice paper wrap? Or does that all depend on the other filling ingredients? Do you have any super simple suggestions? These sound delicious!

    2. I believe if you Google "fresh spring rolls" there will be a variety of sauces suggested. It is really sometimes a taste experimentation. My husband loves to do the sauces. He often just mixes: 1t ground fresh chili pasre, a splash of fish sauce (anchovy extract), 2t sugar, 1T lemon or lime juice, 2-3 T water. The rice paper wrappers are so cheap and easy to use. A 12 oz package of wraps cost $1.29. It doesn't require any refrigeration since it is dry until you dip it in a shallow pan of water for a few seconds. Then add your ingredients and wrap like a burrito.


    3. I like to do a sweet peanut sauce for mine! About equal parts peanut butter and hoisin sauce (the Lee Kum Kee brand can be easily found at Target or Walmart), a little squirt of lime or lemon, and soy sauce + sugar to taste until you get a nice sweet/salty balance. Should have the sweetness of something like a honey mustard or a Kansas-city style BBQ sauce (think a sweet sauce used for savory purposes).

    4. Allie, I've seen that sauce (peanut butter base) suggested in recipes but we haven't tried it since my husband doesn't like peanut butter too much (but I do). Thanks for your recommendation because maybe now he will.


    5. Allie and YHF,
      thanks for the sauce recommendations. They both sound delicious. YHF, I think we have some rice wraps in the pantry (if they're still good -- they've been there for ages). I may give this idea a try very soon.


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