Saturday, May 31, 2008

Grocery Round-Up and CSA 5/23-5/30

Total: $46.86

Albertson's (5/24): $9.77
1 gal 2% milk: 3.99
1 bag pretzels: 2.69
8 oz cool whip: 1.00
1 large pack strawberry gelatin: 0.69
3 red onions: 1.40

Farmer's Market: (5/25): $7.95
2 avocados: 1.00
2 lb potatoes: 1.95
3 pints strawberries: 5.00

Trader Joe's (5/25): $3.98
4-pk veggie burgers: 2.49
1 bag cheese puffs: 1.49

Smart & Final (5/25) $2.99
8 whole wheat hamburger rolls: $2.99

Costco (5/30): $22.17
6 lb frozen mixed fruit: 7.89
6 cans (16oz each) frozen OJ concentrate: 8.69
1.5 lb crumbled blue cheese: 5.59

CSA: $20
1 head lettuce
1 bunch beets
1 large bunch turnips
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch radishes
1 pt strawberries
4 kohlrabi
1 lb summer squash
2 small onion
1 bunch kale

Friday, May 30, 2008

Random Frugal Things

I really like reading good frugal blogs (you can see them in my blogroll). This blog is mostly about food, because I really love food.

But frugality isn't all just about food, there are other things that are involved. Food is certainly easy sometimes... for me, it's all too easy for me to spend money on food. Growing up in the 70s and 80s in a rural area, we just didn't eat out. We went for a soft serve ice cream cone 1 or 2 times per summer, and we did get McDonald's once or twice per year.

Fast forward to my 20's...I am sometimes saddened when I think about how much I spent eating out back then, yikes! So for me, concentrating on food is a no-brainer. I have friends who like to eat out. And boy, we went out twice this weekend...$60 later...(which is more than my weekly food budget). $60/week is $3000/year. For me, in particular, I have to plan for leftovers on Thurs and Fri because I don't feel like cooking.

There are, however, things that I do besides (1) limit eating out and (2) control my grocery bill.

Movies: We do have cable TV and netflix. We do not have premium cable channels. We rarely go to movies (even matinees, when you add babysitting, become cost-prohibitive). What we have done for movies is this - if my husband wants to see an action movie that I don't care to see, he will go with a friend. And vice versa. If we want to see a movie together, we will swap babysitting with other friends OR go on an afternoon while our son is in daycare.

Books: We are voracious readers. I have gradually changed my reading habits from "I read these 10 authors and MUST read their latest book in hardback!" to "let's see what the library has". It does mean that I occasionally find a dud. I also have books on my Amazon wish list (for birthday/Xmas). And we occasionally go to used bookstores or garage sales.

Magazines: I get three. Two were $4 per year, the third was a gift.

Gym: We just switched to a bare bones gym that is 1/3 the price of our previous one. I also run, and I don't skimp on running shoes...but I do look for good sales. I've gotten my last three pair for $50-65 each.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Tonight we had the burgers intended for yesterday (had a big lunch, weren't hungry). Burgers, bean and corn salad, green salad, leftover potato salad.

1 lb ground sirloin (1.99)
2 T diced onion (0.05)
1 egg (0.12)
dry mustard, garlic powder, salt, pepper (0.09)
bread crumbs

Total: $2.25 for 4 burgers, or $0.56 each.

The bean and corn salad was 2 cups kidney beans (cooked over the weekend), 1 cup corn from the freezer (froze it last year when it was plentiful), 1/4 cup diced red onion, a little jalapeno, and a vinaigrette with oregano and cumin, canola oil and white vinegar.

Kidney beans (0.40), corn (0.17), onion (0.10), jalapeno (0.03), vinaigrette (0.10), total approx 0.80, maybe a little extra for the spices, for 4 servings, or 0.20 each.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

I'm not going to post this recipe can google it and get many options. I grew up eating this at family's NOT a salad, it's a dessert. But it is yummy, and I had it at a neighbor's house recently. It made me miss it so...

Chili Beans

I cooked up some dried kidney beans (a pound) in the pressure cooker yesterday. Today I mixed them with some onion, carrots, diced tomatoes, jalapeno, tomato paste, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, cinnamon, a little molasses, and a tiny bit of cider vinegar...kind of a sweet and sour chili bean. They were good, my toddler saw them on the table, climbed up and started eating (before dinner). This is actually one of my tricks to get him to eat his veggies...I put them on the table first.

I set aside some of the kidney beans for tomorrow's salad. Here's an approximation.

2/3 lb kidney beans: 0.80
1 can diced tomato: 0.50
1 carrot: 0.10
1/4 cup diced onion: 0.13
2 T. tomato paste: 0.04
spices: 0.15
vinegar and oil: 0.20
molasses: 0.20

$2.12 for about 5-6 cups.

Potato Salad

Today I made my homemade potato salad. I forgot that last time I'd decided there was too much mayo and reduced it. So this time...too much mayo. Still, it's pretty tasty. Recipe reflects LOWER mayo content.

Potato Salad
2 lbs red potatoes: $2.00
1/4 c. red onion, diced: 0.12
6-8 green olives, sliced: 0.22
2 eggs, hard boiled and diced: 0.25
two pickle spears (dill or bread and butter), diced: 0.35
1/4 c. light mayo: 0.12
1/4 c. light sour cream: 0.21
2 T olive oil: 0.21
2 T red wine vinegar: 0.15
1/4 tsp each oregano, garlic powder, pepper, basil, thyme: 0.10
2 tsp dijon mustard: 0.20
Total: $3.93 for 8 servings.
  1. Dice potatoes into 1 inch chunks. Place in steamer basket over an inch or so of boiling water.
  2. Steam 14-16 min or until potatoes are fully cooked. Let cool partially.
  3. When still a little warm, add in diced onion. Mix olive oil, vinegar, and spices (your own italian dressing), and toss with potatoes and onion. Let marinate at least an hour, several is okay.
  4. Toss pickle, olive, and eggs with potatoes.
  5. Mix mayo, sour cream and dijon mustard. Stir into salad.

This is also good with sliced radishes, steamed sugar snap peas or green beans.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tuna Casserole

I have been craving tuna casserole lately...

Tuna Noodle Casserole

2 cups dry macaroni (0.38)
2 cans tuna, drained (1.00)
4 oz shredded cheddar (0.67)
1/2 red onion (0.25)
1.5 cup water
1/2 cup dry milk powder (0.21)
2 T. butter (0.10)
2 T. flour (0.03)
1 can peas, drained (0.50)
bread crumbs (from heels of old bread)
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Total: $3.14 for 8 servings, or $0.40/serving

Cook the macaroni to al dente, drain.

Saute onion in butter until soft. Add flour to make a roux. Cook for a few minutes.

Mix the dry milk powder with water (you could just use milk). Add to roux, stirring slowly. When it thickens, add drained peas and tuna, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Add macaroni and stir.

Pour into greased casserole dish. Cover with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350F for 30 min.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

CSA roundup

1 avocado
1 small pathetic bunch basil
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch kale
1 lb peaches
1 lb summer squash
1 head lettuce
1 bunch small onions
1 pt strawberries
1 bunch turnips
1 bunch mache

Weekly grocery roundup

Fri 5/16/08 to 5/23/08: $43.32

Trader Joe's 5/18: $9.66
2 lb tortilla chips: 3.19
organic yogurt, 32 oz: 2.99
raisins, 1 lb: 1.99
eggs, 1 doz: 1.49

Ralph's 5/18: $22.91
pasta sauce, 24 oz: 1.00
salsa, 24 oz: 1.50 (coupon)
dried garbanzos, 1lb: 0.99
whole wheat pasta, 13 oz: free (with double coupon)
cream cheese, 8 oz: 1.00
string cheese, 24 oz: 5.99 (coupon)
ICBNB spread, 2 lb: 3.38 (coupon)
red wine vinegar, 13 oz: 1.99
"chikn patty" morningstar farms: 2.49 (coupon)
whole wheat bread: 1.29 (discount rack)
6 large rolls: 1.29 (discount rack)
chocolate: 1.99

Trader Joe's 5/20: $4.98
1 gal skim milk: 3.29
8 oz sour cream: 1.69

Albertson's: $5.77
28 oz refried beans: 1.50
2 heads garlic: 0.78
1 red onion: 0.50
4 ears corn: 1.00
1 oz cinnamon: 1.99

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Tonight's recipe comes courtesy of Elle Krieger:,1977,FOOD_9936_37571,00.html

I made the chicken only:

Chicken (1.3 lbs): $2.20
1/2 bunch scallions: 0.60
1 clove garlic: 0.05
1 tsp fresh grated ginger: 0.10
2 T soy sauce: 0.40
1/2 c water (instead of chicken stock)
allspice: 0.05
thyme: 0.05

total: $3.45 for 4 servings, or $0.86 each

I served this with corn on the cob (0.25 per ear) and sauteed onion, squash, and carrot (probably about 1.00 for two servings). Total per person is about $1.61.

I was so darned hungry by the time dinner was ready (hubby was late, it's IMPOSSIBLE to cook with a 2-year old!!) that I didn't take any pictures.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Roasted root vegetables

Tonight was leftover pizza and roasted root vegetables...turnips, beets, onions, garlic, canola oil, salt pepper...simple, takes about 35 min in the oven at 400F, and yum!

Monday, May 19, 2008


The plan for tonight was veggie burritos/tacos. I decided that in order to get everything to "stick" together (necessary with a toddler) that I would stop at a grocery store at lunch to buy some refried beans, as I hadn't put beans on to soak.

I surfed for sales...Store A had 14 oz of beans for $1.00. Store B had them for $1.25. However, store A would have taken me out of my way by about 5 miles, and with gas prices being $4/gallon, that means $0.60. So store B won. And, it turns out, had the 28-oz can in the store brand for $1.50.

Veggie and Bean burritos:
whole wheat tortillas (4) - 0.60
assorted vegetables (today it was onion, carrot, zucchini, and corn) ?? (CSA) - let's call it 0.70
canola oil - 0.20
refried beans - (1/3 large can) - 0.50
salsa - 0.30
sour cream - 0.25
shredded cheddar (2 oz) - 0.38

Total: $3.70 for 4 small burritos

Dice carrots, onion, zucchini. Heat oil on medium-high in a nonstick pan. Add veggies, stir-fry until desired doneness (I prefer carmely brown).

Microwave refried beans to warm.

Microwave tortillas in between moist paper towels (1 min for 4 tortillas works pretty well) to warm.

Assemble as desired. For my two-year old, he'll eat anything wrapped like a burritos. I prefer mine "taco-like", because I can put in more filling.

We ate this with roasted kale.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Yesterday, boy did I crave hamburgers. I wanted nothing more than a burger and fries. And I fought the urge all day long. It has been ungodly hot all weekend, upper 80's to 94. I did not want to cook.

Luckily, yesterday we were able to have a good salad for dinner, with leftover couscous and some homemade hummus (I'd cooked the chickpeas for the couscous salad).

Today's big plan was pizza. But boy, I did not feel like turning on the oven, or standing over the hot stove making a sauce, or even tossing in the dough ingredients into the bread machine (did I mention I have a cold?) I dug through the Axxess book (discount card we have) to see what pizza options there were.

Then I did the grocery shopping...went to Ralph's, noticed that they had pasta sauce for $1 a jar AND their discount bread rack had large soft dinner rolls.

Voila! Mini-pizzas, small enough to fit in the toaster oven. I added a salad with red butter lettuce, strawberries, avocado (the last free one :( ), radish, and olives in a balsamic vinaigrette. Good dinner with not so much fuss. And I also had a "chikn patty" from morningstar farms...on sale today and I had a coupon.

Mini pizzas:
2 rolls (0.43)
1/4 jar sauce (0.25)
2 oz mozzarella cheese (0.38)
olives (0.38)
sun-dried tomato (0.30)

Total: 1.74 for four mini-pizzas. One serving is 2 halves, so about $0.87 each. Way cheaper than even ordering "buy one get one free" from the pizza place.

As usual, I can't estimate the cost of the salad, since it comes from our CSA ($20/wk).

Friday, May 16, 2008

CSA Roundup

Lest people think that either:

1. I am amazingly good at feeding three people in So. Cal for $50/week without a garden or
2. We don't eat any veggies

I thought I'd post our weekly CSA harvest share bounty. It's $20/week.

1 bunch carrots
1 bunch kale
1 large head lettuce
1 bunch radish
4 pt strawberries
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch beets
1 lb mandarins
1 lb summer squash
1 bunch turnips

Oooh, I do have plans to roast that kale...

The House of Not Spending

In the quest of frugality, I think one thing that is most often forgotten...the best way to be frugal is to simply NOT SPEND MONEY.

Seems simple, but hard to do. A little bit here and there...candy bar, soda machine, book to read, gum, pair of shoes...

I have been doing really well at not spending. The problem for me is - if I am in a habit of spending, it's hard to stop. And if I am in a habit of not spending, sometimes I just get the urge. It's all too easy to pick up a book (or two!) at Borders. We've been pretty good at going to the library instead, but sometimes we get tempted by the bakery next door ($15 later for a butter ring...)

Today I am home sick. I made a quick trip up to the store to buy Comet. My husband cleans the toilet with it and reminded me that we are out. (I have a good husband.) I was so tempted up Starbucks, the sandwich shop, the bagel place, the ice cream stand...but I left with just my $1.07 container of cleanser. Starbucks would have been $4. A sandwich or a bagel, $3 or $4 easy. How many pounds of beans or rice could I buy with that? Besides I had a can of soda waiting for me at home.

...then I came home and started baking cookies. I have to have some kind of outlet. And it turns out, I made 46 cookies for only $3.05...less than the price of a frappucino. Which, if we were good, would last us two weeks (one cookie per person per day). But that's not likely, unless I freeze some.

I often try to have some nice "treat" foods in the house. So that I can remind myself I don't need an outside treat. Today was going to be a hotdog day at Costco (hubby and I have a monthly date to buy diapers). It's a pretty cheap "treat" at $1.50. Alas, home sick. Instead I treated myself to some good leftovers, and had some crackers and cream cheese (and of course, the cookies!)

But boy, it's a hot day today (90F!), so maybe that wasn't the best idea.

...on the other hand, I just had one, and they are tasty! And only 7 cents per cookie.

Weekly Round Up on Groceries

Groceries, Fri 5/9 to Fri 5/16: $55.37

Farmer's Market (5/10)
3 pt organic strawberries: $6.00

Vons (5/10)
4 lb pasta (two 2-lb bags): $3.00

Albertson's (5/10)
5 lb all purpose flour: $2.39
1.9 lb chicken breast: $3.40

Trader Joe's (5/12)
2% milk, gallon ($3.49)
skim milk, gallon ($3.29)
green onions ($1.19)

Smart & Final (5/14)
5 lb kidney beans ($5.99)
24 whole wheat tortillas ($2.99)

Mesa Produce (5/14)
1 cucumber (0.59)
1 bunch dill (1.50)
1 red onion (0.61)

Costco (5/16)
Strawberry jam (4.99)
2 lb Havarti (7.95)
4 lb bacon (7.99)


So I took a single-day cooking class a few years ago. The teacher was quite opinionated, but her salads were good and healthy. She's single-handedly trying to eliminate fatty macaroni and potato salads from summer picnics.
Here is one of her recipes, adjusted of course.

Couscous Salad:
1 cup whole wheat couscous (6 oz): $0.63
1.5 cup boiling water
1/3 c. frozen peas, defrosted (0.08)
1/3 c. diced carrots, blanched 1 min in boiling water (0.04)
1/3 c. diced red onion (0.11)
1/4 c. fresh dill (0.75)
1/4 c. fresh parsley (I omitted this, 'cuz I didn't have it)
1/2 c. cooked chickpeas, from dried (0.08)
1 tsp salt
2 T. olive oil (0.21)
2 T. red wine vinegar (0.08)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Total: $1.98 for 8 servings, 0.25 per serving

Pour boiling water over couscous, cover & let sit 10 min. Fluff with fork.

Mix remaining ingredients. Tastes even better the next day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bean and Spinach Patties and Ginger Sauteed Carrots

You can find the bean and spinach patties here:

And the ginger sauteed carrots here:

We had this with some sliced avocado from my friend Yejin's tree.

My toddler really liked both the patties (ate 1/2 one, with a little ketchup) and the carrots. As always, he's an avocado lover, and he had a bunch of strawberries as an appetizer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Roasted Kale

Tonight was a very veggie-intensive dinner. We got a LOT of veggies from the farm last week, and still had some leftover from the week before.

My original plan was to have the leftover salmon, roasted turnips (with onions and garlic, same way I do beets), and salad. But then I saw the bunch of kale. I usually just steam, freeze, and use like frozen spinach. But I was going to roast turnips anyway.

I googled to find recipes for roasted kale. They are mostly the same. So I used this one:

Except for I had the oven at 400F for the turnips.

Dinner therefore was:
Roasted turnips with onions and garlic
Roasted kale chips
Salad with radishes, olives, blue cheese, and avocado

Nicholas (my 2-year old) happily ate the salmon, kale chips, olives, avocado, and blue cheese. He spit out the turnip. He'd already snacked on strawberries, so we let him finish up dinner with a few tortilla chips.

Every once in awhile I have a meal where I think my family members would just go "eww, gross" and would be surprised at what Nick will eat. This was one of those days. Most of my family members don't particularly care for kale, turnips, or avocado.

No pictures. I thought about it after taking a few bites, decided just to eat instead.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Vegan Pad Thai

This recipe for Vegan Pad Thai comes courtesy of Vegan With a Vengence by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

I did, of course, make some changes. I adjust ingredients based on what I have on hand. It might look a little odd, but it was very very tasty.

Vegan Pad Thai

Pad thai
1 lb tofu (1.20)
1 lb rice noodles (1.25)
8 scallions, sliced (0.60)
1 small red onion, cut in half and sliced (0.30)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped (0.25)
2 cloves garlic, minced (0.10)
8 oz zucchini, thinly cut into matchsticks (v-slicer) (0.60) - recipe calls for sprouts instead
6 Tbsp canola oil (0.25)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (0.50)

6 T low sodium soy sauce (0.50) - recipe calls for tamari, I used low sodium soy sauce and dark soy mixture
4 T sugar (0.12)
1/4 c. rice vinegar (0.30)
2 T tomato paste (0.15)
2 T Asian chili sauce (0.15)
juice of 2 limes (0.50)

Total: $6.77 for 8 servings. This is probably the equivalent of 4 restaurant servings, for 1/2 the price of one. ($1.69 for a restaurant-sized portion, 0.85 for a serving).

Press the tofu between paper towels and 2 plates, with a weight on the top plate. Slice tofu into 1/3 inch slices, and cut into triangles if desired.

Mix up the sauce and set aside.

Cook rice noodles according to package directions.

Heat 2 T oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Stir-fry tofu until golden and crispy on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Heat 2 more T oil. Add 1/2 of the red onion, saute 1-2 min. Add garlic and stir-fry 30 more seconds. Add 1/2 of the sauce and stir until it begins to bubble. Add noodles and stir for 2 min.

Add 1/2 of each of the peanuts, scallions, zucchini, and stir-fry for about 3 more min until zucchini is softened. Stir in 1/2 of cilantro. Remove to a bowl.

Repeat with other half of ingredients.

I served this with a salad (we have tons of lettuce), and a piece of surprise free salmon from the was very yummy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fish, Beets, and Salad

Tonight's Mother's Day meal was a simple one of pan-sauteed crispy fish, roasted beets, and salad.


White fish fillets (free from our neighbor, he has a fish guy...)
salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder

Put 1/4 cup cornmeal on a plate. Season with spices. Dip the fish in the cornmeal, both sides.

Saute on medium to medium high in canola oil in a nonstick skillet until the fish is crispy and cooked through.

This was a simple one of lettuce, strawberries, canned mandarin oranges, blue cheese, radishes, and homemade red wine vinaigrette.


10 -12 small beets, peeled and cut into uniform pieces (about 1-inch cubes, some beets were whole, some were cut in half).
1 small onion, thickly sliced and quartered.
4 whole garlic cloves
salt, pepper, canola oil (about 2T)

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss beets, onions and garlic with salt, pepper, and canola oil. Pour in a well-greased pan (I actually use parchment paper liner).
Bake for 30-35 min, stirring after 20 min. You may want to stir more often, as my onions got a little crispy on the edges. Test doneness of beets with a fork.


Mostly, our lunches consist of leftovers...carefully crafted. Meaning - I plan our dinners to have leftovers for lunch and sometimes dinner too. So I have a calendar on the fridge listing what we are having for dinner. Usually the lunches are in my head. Last week, we had some sandwiches a few days, because of that really great deal on turkey and ham.

After I awoke from my mother's day nap, I realized that since we went to a party last night, and are having fish and salad tonight - no leftovers for lunch tomorrow. So I scoured the pantry and this is what I came up with:

Tortellini salad:

8 oz pesto tortellini, cooked
5 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped, plus about a Tbsp of the oil
6 kalamata olives, sliced
1 can cut green beans, drained, for (really, canned beans aren't that green)
a couple TBSP red wine vinegar
1/4 c. grated parmesan
handful of chopped fresh basil
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Tastes pretty good, hope it's still good tomorrow. I haven't broken down the cost of this whole meal, but I'd estimate that it's about $2 to $2.50, and it's probably three servings.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Weekly round-up on groceries

I spent $47.25 this week, Friday 5/2 to Friday 5/9.

Asian Market
1 lb rice stick noodles: $1.25
chili garlic sauce: $1.95
Total: $3.20

24 oz salsa: $2.50
2 boxes wheat saltines: $3.98
1 avocado: $0.89
1 loaf whole grain bread from discount rack: $1.19
Bag refund: -$0.05
Total: $8.51

Trader Joe's trip #1
1 qt organic yogurt: $2.99
8 oz sliced mushrooms: $1.99
gallon skim milk: 3.29
gallon 2% milk: 3.49
3 green bell peppers: 1.99
4 bananas: 0.77
Total: $14.51

Trader Joe's trip#2
1 lb limes: $1.99
jar green olives: $2.29
tofu: 1.19
pickles: 2.99
4 bananas: 0.76
Total: $9.22

2 lb cheddar: 5.49

Rite Aid:
16 oz unsalted peanuts: 1.99

Tri-County Produce
4 onions: 0.76
2 zucchini: 1.42
1 head cauliflower (discount bin): 0.49
2 stalks broccoli (discount bin): 0.19
1.65 lbs rolled oats: 1.47
Total: 4.33


Ah, I love granola. I go through spurts where I make it a lot and don't make it. There are so many different variations, and I make mine different every time. Here is today's creation:

3 c. oatmeal, about 10 oz (0.56)
3 T wheat germ (0.35)
3 T sesame seeds (0.15)
1/3 c. sweetened, shredded coconut (0.17)
1/4 c. sunflower seeds (0.10)
1/4 c. almonds, chopped, about 1.25 oz (0.35)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 T brown sugar (0.06)
1 banana (0.19)
1 T honey (0.06)
2 T canola oil (0.04)

Total: $2.03 for 4 cups (8 1/2-cup servings), or 0.25 per serving

Optional: Add 1/2 c. raisins (after cooling) for an additional 0.22, or 0.28 per serving.

Heat oil, honey, mashed ripe banana, and brown sugar in sauce pan until sugar dissolves.

Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour wet over dry. Stir.

Spread in flat rimmed baking dish. Bake at 300F for 30-35 min, stirring once or twice, until desired golden brown-ness.

Keeps for a couple of weeks at room temperature.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Beans and Rice

Ah, the frugal Beans-and-rice dinner. A favorite that we used to eat weekly. It's been awhile. I have a really good spanish rice recipe from a cooking class. It's quick and easy, but it uses white rice. I don't actually have any white rice. It works for brown rice too, but that, of course, takes longer (about an hour).

I have made some "working mom" adjustments...making the same flavors but turning it into a "fried" rice style Spanish rice. It's a pretty flexible recipe. Generally I don't use bell pepper or carrot, but today I had them.

"Fried" Spanish rice
1/2 small onion, diced (0.05)
1 green bell pepper, diced (0.66)
1 small carrot, diced (0.10)
2 cloves garlic, crushed (0.10)
1 cup brown rice (0.31)
1 3/4 cup water
1 T canola oil (0.02)
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp parsley flakes
3/4 tsp salt
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained (save the juice!) (0.60)
Total: $1.84, about 0.46 per cup.

For the busy woman: cook brown rice ahead of time. I throw it in the rice cooker the night before. Leave in fridge.

Saute onion, carrots, green bells in oil until soft. Add rice, spices, garlic, drained tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir fry a few minutes until warm.

I served this with:
Cooked black beans (in crockpot): 0.10 per half cup, 0.20 per cup
Sauteed bok choy (from the farm)
Shredded cheddar cheese (about 0.09 per half ounce)
Salsa (0.25 per 1/4 cup)
Sour cream (0.11 per 2 T)

My meal was then:
0.46 (rice) + 0.15 (beans) + 0.25 (salsa) + 0.11 (sour cream) + 0.09 (cheese) plus bok choy.
Or $1.06 plus bok choy.

Plus the cost of the 1.5 glasses of wine :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Scrambled eggs

Tonight was a 15-min meal. I had plans to include an extra veggie (bok choy), but got home late due to some huge work ordeals. I also didn't bother cooking the broccoli stems, though I do love them.

I have been trying to work more veggies into my toddler's diet. He likes eggs, so this was a method.

Scrambled Eggs:

4 eggs (0.50)
1.5 cups broccoli florets (0.19, from discount rack)
1/4 cup chopped onion (0.10)
1/2 Tbsp olive oil (0.05)
1 slice American cheese (0.15)
salt and pepper

Total: 0.99

Chop and steam broccoli in microwave for 3 min. Meanwhile, chop and saute onion in olive oil until beginning to brown. Add broccoli and mash up with a fork (you don't want the kiddo to be able to pick it out!) Stir fry a few minutes until broccoli begins to carmelize a bit.

Beat eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper. Add a little milk (optional). Add eggs to broccoli and onion, cook until eggs are set. Break up American cheese and stir in to melt.

We served this meal with some homemade bread (2 slices, 0.06 each), 1 T light margarine (0.03), and an avocado, sliced (free from a friend's tree).

Dinner total: $1.14 for three people.

Monday, May 5, 2008


So Sunday was "The day of the lasagna". I'd offered to make dinner for friends who recently had a baby (boy, there are a lot of them). Lasagna is usually a 2-person job in my house, but my husband woke up sick. So, it was left to me. Luckily, my 2-year old took a 3.5 hour nap.

Lasagna (makes two 9x13 pans)
12 cooked lasagna noodles (0.70)
4 cups cottage cheese (3.49, on sale)
2.5 oz grated parmesan (0.60)
2 eggs (0.25)
1 bunch kale (1.00)
1 bunch chard (1.00)
1 lb ground sirloin (2.00 on sale)
2 small zucchini, diced (1.00)
2 carrots, diced (0.15)
2 green bell peppers, diced (1.33)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (2.00)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes (0.70)
About 1-2 cups tomato paste, I eyeballed it (1.00)
italian seasoning, basil, salt, pepper, oregano (0.25)
2 T dried parsley (0.05)
1 large onion, diced (0.25)
3 cloves garlic, pressed (0.10)
3/4 lb mozzarella, shredded (2.25 on sale)

Total: 18.13 for two pans, $9.07 per pan, $0.60 per piece (15 pieces per pan).

Cheese layer:
1. Steam kale and chard. Cool. Squeeze dry. Puree in food processor. Move to bowl.
2. Puree cottage cheese in food processor. Add to kale and chard.
3. Beat eggs. Add to bowl. Add 1/2 cup grated parmesan and 2 T parsley. Stir together.

1. Brown ground sirloin. When beef is almost no longer pink, add onions.
2. When beef is fully cooked, add diced mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, and garlic. Add spices to taste.
3. Cook well until vegetables are cooked and the water has mostly evaporated. Add diced tomatoes and paste. Mix well.
4. Add water to the mixture until the right sauce consistency evolves. Should look like spaghetti sauce with a lot of stuff in it. Taste & adjust seasoning as necessary.

Heat oven to 375.
Put a small amount of sauce in the bottom of each pan. Layer 3 noodles on top of sauce in each pan.

Layer 1/4 of the cheese mixture on each of the two noodle layers.

Top with 1/4 of the sauce mixture on each of the two noodle layers.

Top with 1/4 of the mozzarella on each sauce layer. Add a little bit of parmesan.

Repeat layers (cheese, sauce, cheese).

Bake at 375 for 30 min covered with foil and 20 min uncovered. You can refrigerate the lasagna before cooking. If so, bake 35 min covered and 20 min uncovered.

We had this with cauliflower found at the produce store in the discounted section. $0.49 for a large head!

Cauliflower: 0.49
2 T olive oil: 0.21
Total: 0.70 for about 8 servings (1/2 cup each)

I also made a loaf of part whole wheat no-knead bread, about 6 cents per slice, with 3 cents for butter.

Grand total per serving: $0.87 per adult
0.18 for cauliflower
0.60 for lasagna
0.09 for bread

If I had any energy at all after cooking, dishes, toddler, I would post pictures of my food. Maybe someday.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Good deals of the week

Well, my master plan (new) is to spend $50 a week. I have spent all but $2 for this week. I need to buy a few more items. So I guess my new plan will be to get cash on Friday at lunch, and have the next week start officially then. It's simply easier for me to do some shopping on Friday afternoons than to wait until Saturday morning "just because".

This weekend we are making a couple of pans of for friends with a new baby. I found a good deal on cheese, and it saved me a trip to Costco: Yesterday's trip:

$5.00: 3 pkgs of 6-pk applesauce cups (18 4-oz cups)
$2.00: two 24-oz applesauce (2 for $3, with a $1 off coupon)
(applesauce is important when you have a toddler!)
$3.08: 1/2 lb deli ham and 1/2 lb turkey($3/lb, this was part of an amazing 8 hr sale, we rarely buy this)
$3.49: 32 oz cottage cheese (for the lasagna)
$2.49: lemon cookies (not on sale, just a treat for dh)
$3.00: two 8-oz packages of mozzarella
$19.06 total