Frugal Food
Blogging about feeding my family of six without spending a fortune. You won't find fancy foods like beef wellington or chicken carbonara (most of the time), but you will find really good food eaten by an actual real family, with real activities and really picky children.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Creamy Ham Casserole
3 cups cauliflower/broccoli florets, about 1 lb (99c)
4 Tbsp butter/margarine (4c)
1/3 cup flour (5c)
2 cups milk (16c - dry milk reconstituted)
1/2 cup sour cream (25c)
3 cups ham cubes, about 1 lb (99c)
Hot cooked rice, about 1 lb (30c)
Total Cost: $2.78
Cost per serving: 3c

Steam cauliflower(or broccoli) until tender & rinse in cold water. Melt butter in a large saucepan & stir in the flour until smooth. Add milk slowly, stirring constantly. Cook & stir until mixture thickens (it will look quite lumpy and you won't think it will ever smooth and thicken, but it does). Add the cheese & sour cream & continue cooking until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Add ham & cauliflower. Serve over rice. Yields 10 servings.
posted by Heather @ 10:41 AM   6 comments
Spaghetti Pie
12oz box spaghetti (33c)
1 egg (6c)
1/3 C grated parmesan cheese (50c)

1/2 lb lean ground beef (80c)
1/2 C chopped green pepper (15c)
1/4 C chopped onion (10c)
1 (26oz) jar spaghetti sauce (69c)

1 C ricotta cheese ($1.50)
1 C shredded mozzarella ($1.20)
Total Cost: $5.43
Cost per serving (8 servings): 68c

Cook pasta to desired doneness as directed on pkg. Drain.Meanwhile, heat oven to 350*. Spray 9 1/2-inch deep dish glass pie pan w/ nonstick cooking spray. Beat egg in large bowl. Stir in parmesan cheese. Add cooked pasta; toss to coat/ Spoon mixture evenly into sprayed pie pan, pushing mixture up sides of pan to form crust.In large skillet, cook ground beef, bell pepper, onion over medium high heat until beef is thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently. Drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce. Spoon evenly into pasta-lined pie pan.In small bowl, combine topping ingredients; mix well. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoons over filling. Bake 350* for 25-30 min or until pie is thoroughly heated and crust is light golden brown. Let stand 10 mins. Cut into wedges to serve.
8 servings

You could toss in some breadsticks made with the Homemade Yeast Rolls recipe. Just add some Italian seasoning & garlic powder to the dough (before adding in the flour) and instead of shaping into rolls, shape them into breadsticks. Bake a little shorter time at the same temp, maybe sprinkle with a little bit of parmesan cheese. Only bumps the cost per serving by 7 cents per serving :)
posted by Heather @ 10:24 AM   1 comments
The Art of Grocery Shopping
I generally take about a week to make my grocery list. Mind you, I only do a big shop 1-2x/month and it's not like I work on the list every waking hour of those seven days. I work on it a little here, a little there.

Last Wednesday I started by looking through my Meal Book. My Meal Book is a notebook that is full of meals that have passed the "family test" and are deemed keepers. In the back I keep a running list of all meals that are keepers. In the front of the notebook I write down the name of the recipe and then list off the general ingredients I would normally need to buy in order to make this (things I don't keep stocked in my pantry). It looks a little like this:

Creamy Ham Casserole
  • ham (diced)

  • cauliflower

  • cheddar cheese

  • sour cream

  • rice

  • Spaghetti Pie
  • spaghetti noodles

  • spaghetti sauce

  • ricotta cheese

  • mozzarella cheese

  • ground beef/italian sausage (depending on what I feel like or what's on sale

  • eggs

  • parmesan cheese

  • I go through this Meal Book and pick out about 15-20 meals that we know and love :) Then I sift through the recipes I've clipped or bookmarked on the computer in the last month and pick about 5-10 new recipes to try and write down the ingredients for those (not in the Meal Book yet, it hasn't been deemed a keeper by the family lol).

    Once the meals have been selected, I take inventory of my pantry, refrigerators (I have two) and freezers (three including the two that come with the refrigerators). I am striving towards keeping a running inventory of what is in my pantry so I don't have to do this every month. In actuality, I haven't done a complete inventory since Spring Break...oops! After I go through my inventory and figure out what I have plenty of, what I am low on, and what I am completely out of I start my list. I write down all the ingredients for the recipes I had selected, I write down all the things we are low on/out of in the kitchen, then I take down my list from the fridge. This list on the fridge is where I write out when we are low or out of stuff not in the kitchen, like hygiene products, paper products, cleaning products, etc.

    Now that I have all the pieces together, I can sort out my list. Even once I get all these ingredients and things we are low on or out of listed I am still not done. I take it one step further. I organize my list in the order of the aisles of the store I where am shopping. I find this cuts down IMMENSELY on forgetting things on my list and having to either double back through aisles I've already been to or leaving the store without the item altogether. If you shop at different stores, I would make different lists for each store and then sort your list by aisle. It's really not that much more complicated than just writing it out. You just have to know your store ;-) that's the only trick. If you shop at a commissary, they generally have a "map" of the commissary for new people. Just ask the customer service desk for one. I don't know if regular grocery stores have these "maps", but it wouldn't take much effort the next time you go to the store to write down "Aisle 1- produce, deli, bakery. Aisle 2 - toilet paper, paper towels, tissues. Aisle three - personal hygiene" etc.

    After I get the list down in the same order of the aisles of the grocery store, I start with my coupons. I don't use too many coupons, most of them are too gimmicky for me and really, save $1.00 on three boxes of $3 cereal isn't that much of a deal when I can get another brand cheaper without the coupon. But still, there are some I use. I go through my coupons, comparing them to my list to see if there may be a coupon for anything that I have on my list. I write down next to each item that I find a coupon (c) indicating to myself while I'm shopping that I have a coupon for that item. So my list looks like this:

  • apples

  • grapes

  • potatoes

  • ketchup (c)

  • orange juice

  • coffee creamer (c)

  • Still I am not done. While going through my coupons to see what I might be able to use, I am also weeding out the expireds to send to military friends who live overseas (and can use coupons that are up to 6 months past their expiration date at the commissary). After I have sorted the coupons, I then arrange them in the same order as my list...the same order as the aisles in the store. Only then am I done. I have my list which goes in order of the aisles. I have my coupons which are coordinated in the same order as my list. It makes for an easier, quicker, and less expensive trip to the grocery store.

    PS. I'll post those recipes I mentioned above in just a second. ;)
    posted by Heather @ 9:35 AM   2 comments
    Saturday, August 13, 2005
    Homemade Yeast Rolls/Bread
    So many people love this recipe, I decided it warranted it's own post. If for nothing else than to make it easier to find :)

    my 'famous' (infamous?) yeast rolls:
    2 cups lukewarm water (free!)2 Tbsp yeast (or 2 pkgs) (50c)
    1/2 cup sugar (11c)*
    Mix well. Let set for about 15mins or until bubbly. This will test if the yeast is good. Bad yeast won't bubble.
    2 eggs (12c)
    1 Tbsp salt (negligible)
    1/2 cup oil (13c)6-8cups flour (until not sticky) (1.00)
    Mix until dough forms. Let set 45mins or more. Punch down & knead. Divide into loaves & place in greased loaf pans OR pull off dough and form into 2" balls to make hot rolls. Bake at 350F 45mins to 1hr for bread, 20-30mins for rolls. Makes 2 loaves or 30 rolls.
    Total cost: $2.03
    Cost per serving (1 roll): 7c/serving

    I like this as bread too. But I hate cutting homemade loaves of bread, I really stink at it. So the rolls are how I get out of that :) I have a friend who actually made split top rolls with this recipe. She rolled three small balls of dough and stuck them in a muffin tin and baked them. Three balls (golf ball size maybe?) in each muffin tin cup, bake as usual. Then they split like those cheap bake & serve dinner rolls they sell at holiday time. This same friend also adds spices like Italian seasoning or garlic to make flavored dinner rolls. Yummy!

    This recipe is so versatile, you could add a 1/4c more sugar and roll it out for cinnamon rolls. Just let it rise the first time, then roll it into a rectangle shape. Sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon, dot with butter, roll up into a "tube", cut into cinnamon rolls, then bake them in a 400* oven for about 15 mins. Drizzle with homemade frosting:
    1 cup confectioner's sugar
    2 T milk
    1/2 t vanilla

    Mix together and drizzle over the cinnamon rolls while they are hot. If it's not thin enough, at a tiny bit more milk.
    posted by Heather @ 7:46 AM   9 comments
    About Me

    Name: Heather
    Home: New York, United States
    About Me: Mom to four kiddos. Love to cook, knit, crochet, read, and playing on the computer.
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