Sunday, August 22, 2010

Today's Frugal Feast

... Sounds like a good blog title, doesn't it? ( Hmmm, looking over my archived posts, realizing how many recipes I've posted, AND admitting that I am a MAJOR foodie, maybe it is time to change my blog title. ) Oh! sorry, just thinking out loud ...

Aside from cooking and eating good food, what do I like to do best? Save money while cooking or eating good food! Eating well doesn't have be expensive. It does, however, take a little time, imagination and creativity.

The daily food budget for our family is $13.15 per day. This amount feeds my family breakfast, dinner, supper, desserts, snacks, special meals with guests and holiday meals. But I am always trying to come in well under the $13.15 plan. Let's take a look and see if I came in under budget today.

Breakfast $0.84 per person
(served 2 people, I wasn't hungry this morning)
peanut butter & jelly on a large slice of toast, orange wedges, 8oz. glass of milk
slice of homemade bread = $0.04 ea.
homemade jelly = $0.10 tsp.
peanut butter = $0.07 tbsp.
oranges = $0.34 ea.
milk = $0.29 per serving

Dinner $1.40 per person
(served 3 people)
BBQ chicken sandwiches, cowboy beans, dump cake, water
homemade bbq sauce = $0.07 tbsp. (I used 2 tablespoons per serving)
leftover roasted chicken = $0.45 per serving
homemade cowboy beans = $0.27 per serving
thinly sliced onion = $0.04 per person
bread & butter pickle slices = $0.16 per serving
dump cake = $0.34 per serving

Supper $0.61 per person
(served 2 people, Sunday is my Sabbath & I do not eat an evening meal on Sundays)
garden salad, leftover cowboy beans, water
garden salad = $0.34 per serving
homemade cowboy beans = $0.27 per serving

Grand Total for today = $7.10 including dessert!
How would a family of four fared today if everyone ate every meal? $11.40, OR $1.75 under budget. What will I do with the leftover funds? Well, apply it to another meal later in the week or month (or maybe I could add it to my shoe fund ...), OH! sorry, I was thinking out loud again.

I am sure many of you are familiar with the old standard cherry pie filling and crushed pineapple dump cake recipe. However, as part of today's Frugal Feast, I decided to use what I had on hand vs. purchasing additional items, ie. canned cherry pie filling and canned crushed pineapple. As you know, I am always frugal minded while in my kitchen.

Frugal Feast Dump Cake
(12 servings)

1 box yellow cake mix
2 c. cake flour, 1 1/2 c. sugar, 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt

1 qt. homemade pear pie filling
2 peaches, pitted and peeled & tossed in 2 tsp. lemon juice to prevent browning
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
zest of one orange

In a greased 9"x13" baking pan spread pear pie filling. Evenly distribute sliced peaches over pie filling.

Evenly sprinkle cake mix over pie filling and fruit mixture. Do Not stir.

Evenly drizzle melted butter over cake mix.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 - 50 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

Please take the liberty of substituting any combination of fruit filling, like I did with my homemade pear pie filling and peaches - you never know, the combination just might be a blue ribbon winner. Note: if you really want to WOW your family serve dump cake warm with a dollop of homemade vanilla ice cream, Mmmmmm!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Little Homemade This & That

For the past 13 years I've fed my family on a budget of $400 per month. Thirteen years ago I was feeding a family of 6. During the past eight years our older boys have grown up and set out on their own so, I am now feeding a family of 4 on the same $400 per month. BUT let me tell you, that $400 per month certainly doesn't go as far as it did 2 years ago, let alone 13 years ago. One must also keep in mind that since Mr. B is currently living very far from home, my $400 grocery budget is divided between two households. Now, Mr. B doesn't have extravagant dining habits, but he certainly isn't quite as frugal as I am when in the kitchen and certainly not in the grocery store. His lack of knowledge when it comes to cooking from scratch has reminded me how very expensive pre-prepared foods are.

Most folks who know me personally, know I generally shop only the dairy and produce departments of our local grocer. Throughout the years I have sought and found less expensive alternative food sources for bulk foods such as flours, cornmeal, oats, grits, sugars, honey, spices, olive and cooking oils, etc. Mr. B enjoys hunting and fishing, and has plenty of friends who enjoy the same, this has kept my freezer well stocked for more than a decade. Until this summer we have also enjoyed many harvests from our vegetable garden. I've maintained my little herb patch and we continue to enjoy a few fresh and home dried herbs.

On a recent trip to the grocer I took a stroll down the spice and ethnic foods isle. Since most of my spices are purchased in bulk from sources other than the local grocer, I was utterly SHOCKED at how expensive some of these little bitty 2 oz. or less bottles of spices were - some were almost $7! Even the typical spice blends were outrageously priced. For example, a brand name 1 oz. foil package of taco seasoning was more than $2 - the generic store brand was closer to $1.30, but that still had me taking a second look just to be sure I didn't need to schedule a vision exam. I thought, "Are these people serious? $1.30 for a 1 oz. package of seasoning?"

With all that said, I, very long windily, come to the point of this post. I have for you today two homemade spice blends AND a recipe for Dragon Sauce, which is similar to sweet-n-sour sauce which, by the way, we love for dipping our egg rolls in when I make my fried rice supper. When compared to the grocery store prices, these recipes can be made for pennies on the dollar. I also suspect they are healthier since they don't contain anti-caking agents, MSG or many other ingredients that most of us have a hard time pronouncing.

Taco Seasoning Mix

2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried onion powder or dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/s tsp. garlic powder

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, add to ground meat just as you would a store bought foil package.

Asian Spice Blend
(I use this in my fried rice and spicy stir fried noodles)

1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. lemon grass
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground tumeric
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt

This recipe makes about 3 tablespoons of spice. I generally add all of it to my fried rice ( ) and spicy stir fried noodles ( ), HOWEVER, we like ours spicy. I suggest that you start with only 1 tablespoon of this spice blend and add more accordingly for your and your family's personal pallets.

Dragon Sauce
(similar to sweet-n-sour sauce found in many Asian restaurants. - Try basting it over baked chicken ... Mmmmm good!)

3 cups fruit nectar (you know, the liquid from canned fruit you generally pour down the drain)
3 tblsp. cornstarch
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. vinegar
1 1/2 tblsp. soy sauce

In a small bowl or mixing cup whisk together 1/2 c. fruit nectar and cornstarch until smooth. In a medium sauce pan combine 2 1/2 cups fruit nectar, sugar, vinegar and soy sauce; when mixture begins to simmer, stir in cornstarch mixture. Stir continuously until sauce is thickened and transparent. Store left overs covered in the refrigerator. Makes 3 cups. Note: Instead of pouring canned fruit nectar down the drain, collect it in a freezer container and thaw when you have collected enough to make dragon sauce.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pinching Pennies

Hey Guys!

This morning I read an article on yahoo news by Amy Bell entitled "5 Generic Products That Are Just As Good".

In these tough economic times, if you aren't purchasing the generic products mentioned in this article, you may want to give them a try. If you find they are just as good as name brand, as Ms. Bell has found, you have nothing to loose and plenty of your hard earned cash to save.

Here's the link to the article:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Psalm 143

Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgement with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.
For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me,
My heart within me is distressed.
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.
Answer me speedily, O Lord;
My spirit fails!
Do not hide Your face from me,
Lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
In You I take shelter.
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.
Revive me, O Lord, for Your name's sake!
For Your righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble.
In Your mercy cut off my enemies,
And destroy all those who afflict my soul;
For I am Your servant.
(Psalm 143 NKJV)