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Friday, July 19, 2019

Cheap & Cheerful Suppers for July

barbecued chicken leg quarters with a homemade marinade of soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, garlic, ginger powder, and red pepper flakes
canned corn (dented can from the markdown rack at Fred Meyer)
salad of garden greens in scratch homemade dressing
fruit salad of garden blueberries, raspberries, and a banana in a yogurt and honey dressing

basic lentils and rice
cooked carrots
garden greens salad with homemade dressing

lentil and vegetable soup using chicken stock made from the bones of Friday's BBQ chicken
homemade French bread

Swiss chard quiche, using a scratch crust, frozen eggs, milk, garden greens, onions, and cheese
garden greens salad
homemade bread and butter

refried beans and cheese
corny cornbread (using leftover corn in a scratch cornbread batter)
leftover soup from Sunday
fruit salad using last of the watermelon, banana, and some garden berries

falafel (I had leftover cooked lentils from making the curry, so turned them into falafel)
coconut curried lentils with homemade chutney
multi-grain and vegetable pilaf, using leftover rice, leftover bulgur wheat, and some millet, plus carrots, peas, and seasonings, all cooked in chicken stock
cucumber salad in yogurt, garlic, cumin, salt, and mint dressing
homemade ginger snaps (I had to bake a big batch of cookies to take to our church's coffee hour this Sunday-- these were from the reject pile)

leftovers of falafel, curry, pilaf, and refried beans
red grapes (bargain-priced at 49 cents/lb at a local ethnic market)
ginger snaps

This was a typical week of summer menus for our household. As you can see, I cook less meat in summer. It just doesn't sound as good to me as bean or lentil-based meals. But, one of my family members mentioned missing meat, so tonight I'll make spaghetti in a meat sauce.

A second thing that's pretty evident is how much I cook using basic ingredients and rarely use mixes or convenience foods. It saves us a ton of money, and also means we can tailor the ingredients to what works for our own bodies. This past week, not only did I cook completely from scratch, but so did my two daughters and husband on their nights. I've tried to teach my kids how to scratch-cook as much as possible. I've shown them how to make salad dressings, pasta and pizza sauces, flour tortillas, pie pastry and so much more. When you are young and starting out in a career, paychecks can be small. As a result, food costs can seem to take up a large chunk of meager pay, especially if you're eating out or buying prepared, convenience foods. By learning how to cook from scratch, my daughters will at least have the choice to spend less on food. It will be up to them to make that choice, but I feel I have given them the tools.

I have another batch of cookies to bake for Sunday's coffee hour. Since I still have pretzel sticks and now have peanuts, I think I'll make the caramel nutty bars using peanuts and pretzels. I think they'll be a hit.

I hope you all have a great weekend!


  1. I was thinking, when I read your post, that your meals reflected a wide variety of ethnic foods! This past week has been VBS at our church, which takes place in the evenings. Dinners get a little crazy during this week. Plus, my daughter had orthodontic work done so I've been trying to make meals which accommodate her needs.

    I'm right in the middle of a summer of teaching my kids some basic scratch cooking skills. My daughter seems more interested than my son but both kids are getting better at it.

    Happy weekend to everyone!

  2. I agree on the scratch cooking. When I went to Walmart this morning, I realized there are whold aisles of the store I don't even go down because they're filled with convenience foods. Melissa

  3. Lili, it so important to get the kids involved with cooking especially at a young age when they view it as fun! My two are adults now and truly love to cook. My son lives in Seattle and really enjoys the wide verities of fresh foods available to him. If tech flops, he could work as a chef. My daughter is a working mom, and she cooks simple, healthy foods very well. It is a pleasure to eat their preparations. My grandkids started as toddlers and really know their way around the kitchen. In fact my 12 year old granddaughter will take orders for pretty much anything you want if the ingredients are around. She fearlessly will attack any recipe without help. Looking up recipes online make the world of cookery so accessiable.
    You have done a great job teaching your kids to cook simple, frugal foods. I think your week of "simple" sounds excellent!

  4. I have tried so hard to teach my kids to cook but they learned very little unfortunately. They can get by but they don't love to cook. I think back to my early married years in my early 20's and the thing I can remember was that our budget was so tight that we no longer could just go out to eat. So I had to make all of our meals. We had no internet or youtube back then so it was only cookbooks and index cards with recipes. I learned a lot and saved a lot of money. I can only hope that my kids will do the same but they have the internet and youtube as well as cookbooks and index cards.

    My oldest daughter has to meal plan and prep because in the country she lives in she has to be careful of the food. Plus, she is so busy teaching that weekends she gets all her meals ready for the week.

    My son lives with us and he does make his own breakfasts and lunches.

    My youngest daughter just got married and they bought a house so I know money will be tight. Maybe they will figure out that they can't go out to eat as often as they do now. I'm sure meal planning and preparation will be something they will need to do to save money.

    WE are working so nicely on eating from the freezer and pantry. I really see the levels going down. Today, in the 90+ temps we made chocolate chip pecan cookies in the air conditioned comfort of home.


  5. You have set an excellent example as well as teaching your daughters (and I assume your son) the basics of frugal cooking and eating. It will be interesting to see what they embrace and what they change. There's always something that we want to do different than our parents. :)

    I taught both of my kids basic (and sometimes more advanced) cooking and they often had responsibility for meals from early on. However, one is not interested in cooking and only does a bare minimum and the other enjoys cooking and has taking his skill beyond what I taught him with the help of the internet and YouTube and with a old fashioned cookbook thrown in every once in while.

  6. I hope you will share your falafel recipe. Your meals inspire me. I have learned so much from you. Thank you for the help and confidence to simplify our meals and eat just as well.


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