Saturday, January 27, 2018

Adjusting the Recipe to Cut Cost, Not Flavor

The Original Many Faceted Seafood Casserole:  (from Amy of the Tightward Gazette)

4 to 5 ounces pasta
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 white wine or milk
1 can condensed cream of whatever soup
1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 tsp dry mustard or dill weed
6-8 ounces drained canned seafood (shrimp, crab, tuna, salmon)
Crunchy topping

Cook pasta.  Drain and set aside.
Combine mayonnaise with wine or milk.
Stir in soup, cheese and seasoning.
Gently stir in the pasta and drained seafood.
Put into a greased casserole dish.
Cover and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Uncover and top with the crunchy topping.
Bake five minutes more.

Crunchy Topping can be:
Breadcrumbs tossed with butter, crushed potato chips, delivered almonds, or French fried onions.

To Adjust and Save$$:

If mayonnaise is too expensive, try salad dressing.  Always look at the cost of store brands.  They are often made by the same company as the name brand.

Wine or milk:  both will work but the wine does elevate the flavor for special occasions.  Milk is cheaper.

For cheese, use what you have.  Hopefully you bought it at its rock bottom price.

Pasta can be any shape you managed to buy on sale.  You can up the pasta to  6 or 7 ounces since the recipe makes a lot of sauce.. The result is an extra serving.  Lunch anyone?

Buying premade condensed soup can be expensive if you can't get it on sale.  Any cream soup, celery, mushroom or chicken works.  Don't be tied to a specific kind.  Or, make your own based on a white sauce.

The seafood, tuna is the cheapest.  But sometimes you can find a sale on shrimp, crab or salmon for special occasions.

Using less expensive ingredients can cut the cost of the recipe by 75%.  Nothing to sneeze at.

For special occasions pull out all the stops.  It will still be cheaper than going to a restaurant and may even taste better because it was made with love and care.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Create a Casserole

Soups are a great way to recreate and use up leftovers.
So are casseroles.
Below is a basic plan for creating casseroles with what you have.

Create a Casserole:

1 cup of a main ingredient such as leftover chicken, ham, turkey, tuna, roast beef
1 cup of a second ingredient such as onion, celery, mushrooms, vegetables
1-2 cups of a starchy ingredient such as potatoes, pasta, rice, make sure they are cooked or the potatoes are thinly sliced to cook quickly
A binder such as white sauce, sour cream, canned cream soup
A goodie such as nuts, water chestnuts, roasted red peppers (optional)
A topping such as crushed potato chips, cheese, buttered bread crumbs

Mix your desired combination of ingredients.  If too dry, mix in some milk, broth, or wine.  Put in a buttered casserole dish.  Add your topping of choice.  Bake at 350 until hot and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Eating Across the Grains

The following recipe is low in fat, good for your cholesterol level, high in fiber, vitamins and complex carbohydrates.  Depending on your choices, it is also very to moderately frugal.  And, it can be dressed up for company.  Wonderful!

The Many Possibilities of Pilaf:

2 cups of uncooked rice, quinoa, couscous
1/4 cup of oil, butter
4 cloves of diced garlic
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups broth
1 cup of vegetables such as mushrooms, peas, broccoli, spinach
1-2 cups of cooked meat or beans for protein if this is the main dish
Seasoning as appropriate

Saute garlic and onion in oil or butter.
Add grain of choice and coat with fat by briefly sauteeing.
Add the liquid and protein and vegetables.
Bring to a boil, then turn down and let simmer until grain is done.  The amount of time will depend on the grain used.
Check frequently.  All the liquid will be absorbed.
Serve and enjoy.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cake Mix Biscotti

A great treat with a delicious cup of coffee.  Feel free to dunk.  You're supposed to dunk.

Cake Mix Biscotti:

 1cake mix, anything but angel food
1 cup flour
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat to 350
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with Pam
Combine all the ingredients.
 Divide the dough in half.
Form into two logs
Place both logs onto the prepared pan
Bake at 350 for 35 minutes
Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes
Cut each log into 1/2 inch slices
Arrange the slices on the pan and bake an additional 10 minutes until crisp

Monday, January 15, 2018

January 1-15 2018: Buying and Eating

Allocation for the month:  $381.30 plus a carryover cushion of $326.60.

Once again, just like last year, we are eating a high protein, low carb diet this month to help counter the effects of too many holiday goodies.  Translation:  expensive.

 I also decided to try and accomplish a low shop month as far as groceries are concerned.  ( I know, doesn't make great sense.)  This is to help kick start a needed clean out of stuff in the freezer and pantry.  I hope to do this a couple more times this year.

What we ate:
Roast pork, sauerkraut, black eyed peas, corn; roasted chicken, Caesar salad, mashed cauliflower; liver and onions for me since Mike is at a sailing event; soybean and beef chili with cheese quesadilla using low carb tortillas and tofu chocolate mousse;  meatzza (pizza with a meat base);  savory spinach cheesecake, cucumber dill salad, bleu cheese slaw; leftover chili with deli cold cuts and cheese rolls; leftover savory cheesecake and salads;  Greek egg and lemon chicken soup; ham and cheese Florentine casserole; eggplant Parmesan with meatballs, salad; grilled pork chops with salad and fried cabbage; leftover ham and cheese Florentine casserole; leftover eggplant Parmesan

What we bought:

Aldi:  Splendid type sweetener to replace the Stevia sweetener I had purchased but neither of us liked. $3.89

Wal-Mart:  low carb tortillas, almond flour. $16.60

Wegmans:  low carb bread. $3.79

Aldi:  a low carb stock up
Eggs (3), mixed hard cheeses (7), ricotta, cottage cheese, cream, (2), Brussels sprouts, cucumber, cantaloupe, braunschweiger , peanuts, almond, mixed nuts, blackberries (2)   $54.42

Eating Out:

Barstool Sailing:  $10.86

We spent $78.70 on groceries the first half of the month and $10.86 eating out for a total of $89.56.  Not bad!

We have $291.74 for the next half of the month.  My goal is to spend about a third of that and roll the rest over into the cushion. 

I inventoried the freezer today and if I can just control my "bargain" impulses we can make it.  I live in hope.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Where's the Beans

Beans are super easy on the budget, super nutritious and supper yummy.
Save some money, eat healthy and enjoy.

Lentil Rice Casserole:

3 cups broth
3/4 cup uncooked lentils
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Mix everything together in a greased casserole dish.  Baked, uncovered, in a 300 degree oven for 2-2 1/2 hours.
If you like, during the last half hour top with grated cheese.

Because of the long cooking time, throw in a dessert, garlic bread and some vegetables to roast.  Make good use of that heat.

Vegetarian Chili:

1 cup chopped onion
40 oz can of kidney beans
40 oz can of black beans
56 oz can of crushed tomatoes
16 oz can of corn
1 1/2 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs cumin

Mix everything together and simmer for about an hour.

Note:  using cooked dry beans would be even cheaper than using canned beans

Split Pea Soup:

1 lb. Dry split peas.     1 chopped onion.         2 chopped carrots.   
1 cup chopped ham.  8-10 cups of ham broth/water.          Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and simmer until split peas are soft.

White Beans and Ham Soup:

 See the above recipe.  Just substitute 3 cans of white beans for the split peas

University of Delaware Lentil Soup:

1/4 pound of bacon, cooked and chopped fine.         1/2 tablespoon thyme
2 cups chopped onion.           1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 carrots, diced.            2 bay leaves.           1 pound lentils
3 cloves garlic.              12 cups broth

Cook all the above until the lentils are soft.  Partially puree to thicken.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Stale Bread Can Make a Good Meal

If you have some stale bread, try using it up by making one or both of these.

Tuna Souffle Sandwiches:

4 slices of bread, spread with mayonnaise
Combine a can of tuna, chopped celery, chopped onion and a dash of salt
Spread the tuna mixture on the bread
Top with a slice of your favorite cheese
Place another slice of bread on top
Combine 3 eggs and 1 1/2 cups milk
Pour over sandwiches and refrigerator at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes

Applesauce Bread Pudding:

Preheat oven to 350
Grease a 9 inch square pan and place 4 slices of bread across the bottom
Combine 2 cups applesauce, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 c brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Spread over the bread
Top with four additional slices of bread
Beat together 2 eggs, 2 cups milk, 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp salt, dash nutmeg
Pour mixture over bread
Top with 1/2 cup applesauce
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar
Bake 55-60 minutes

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Savings for the Cats: $25.56

Using coupons matched to sale prices we spent $3.59 at PetSmart to buy a harness for Peanut (she will need one when we go RVing), 15 cans of soft cat food, and
a large container of dental cat treats.

The harness is regularly $11.99 and we only spent $1.99 plus $0.12 in tax.
The cat food is normally $5.98 and we spent $0.41 plus $0.02 in tax.
The cat dental treats usually cost $10.99 and we spent $0.99 plus $0.06 in tax.

The coupons and sales saved us $25.56.
A good way to start the year.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018 Buying and Eating Plan

In 2017 I allotted $12. 31 a day to cover our food costs.    That comes out to $6.16 a day per person.   This covered our groceries and the cost of eating out.  We managed to end the year with $$326.60 of the money unspent.  That averaged out to $0.90 per day less than the $12.31 allocated.

Technically, I should lower our daily allocation to $11.41 a day.  However, I spent too much time in the hospital this past year.  And, health willing, I want to spend more time eating out with friends this year.

So, I am leaving our allocation at $12.30 per day and I am carrying over our $326.60 surplus.  Hopefully, that will work for 2018.

Our pantry and freezer are full, so it should be doable.  Time will tell.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Patience: My Word for 2018

Patience is something I have always wanted.  And I have wanted it NOW, as the saying goes.

This will be the year I work towards finding it.

Patience with myself.
Patience with others.
Patience with inanimate objects.

I may be constantly challenged, but I will live in hope.