Sunday, May 4, 2014

Pasta casserole and homemade bread

Note: This was last weekend - I never finished the post.  This weekend we did the fundraiser for the school, so I did pretty much zero cooking.  But I did pick blueberries and make freezer jam!

Boy, busy day.  Started at 4:30 when I just woke up for no good reason.  I was about to fall asleep again at 5:50 when the boys woke up.  And, we've been going ever since!

I have big plans this weekend for cooking.  Tonight: pasta/ veggie/ meat casserole with marinara made with a #10 can of diced tomatoes (a #10 can of diced tomatoes is 102 ounces for about $3).  I also made a (somewhat failed) loaf of bread in the bread machine.  I did not put the paddle in right and it baked into the bread.  And the bread is small.  The last two weeks I also made bread from scratch and they didn't rise very well.  Sometimes, it's because my ratio of water to flour is off.  This time, I'm suspecting my 3 year old yeast.  I've been keeping it in the fridge, but at some point, it becomes ineffective.  I think I paid $3 for 2 lb at Costco 3 years ago.  Time to recycle the yeast.

This whole pasta bake thing is a lot of work though. I like to "use up" my CSA veggies. So I had to wash and chop  a huge bag of chard and kale, chop and onion, chop some frozen peppers from last year, puree the diced tomatoes.  Cook the pasta, stir it all together with meatballs from the freezer, then kinda chop the meat with the spoon.  At least I didn't have to shred the cheese - we had some in the freezer already.

There's a big thread on grocery costs this week on our local FB "swap" board.  We seem to have a range of folks who spend $150/week (for 4) to $500/week.  Big difference!  I think the difference comes down to three things, mostly:
1.  If you pay any attention to prices at all, or not
2.  If you buy mostly local/organic/free range.  It's a thing here - easy to do in our climate, but expensive
3.  If you count wine/ toilet paper/ diapers in your budget.

I used to track my grocery spending closely (you can look back in the history to see the year that I alternated months of $320 and $160 through September).  But we were tracking our expenses in Quicken.  We don't have the time to do that anymore (I would break out the grocery from the "personal" items like TP, for example).  We just started using now, and as far as they are concerned, Costco is groceries - so our $40/month diaper bill and our toilet paper, drugs, etc. get counted as groceries.  I'm going to run with it and just add those into our budget I guess.

Here's the breakdown on last night's meal:

Herb bread:
2 cups bread flour (0.60/ lb): 0.41
1.5 cups whole wheat flour (0.60/lb): 0.31
1.25 tsp yeast: 0.05
2 T oil: 0.09
1 tsp salt: 0.01
3T parsley: 0.30
2T caraway seeds: 0.30
2T sunflower seeds: 0.30

Total: $1.77 for one loaf, which tasted good even though the paddle ended up stuck in the bread.  We ate 1/3 the loaf.

Pasta Bake
1 box whole wheat rotini: 1.00
70 ounces of diced tomatoes from a #10 can: 2.02
1/2 can tomato paste: 0.25
3 cloves garlic: 0.15
1 onion: 0.20
1 bell pepper: 0.50
12 ounces frozen meatballs: 1.50
1 bag of chopped kale and chard: 1.00
oregano and basil: 0.40
10 ounces sliced mushrooms: 2.29
4 ounces shredded mozzarella: 1.00
2 ounces parmesan: 0.75.

Total: $11.06 for a VERY heavy 9x13 pan.  This will probably feed us 5 meals.

We also had leftover carrot soup from the freezer, probably $1.00 worth.

Total for last night's dinner:
0.59 (bread) + 0.30 (butter) + 2.21 (pasta) + 1.00 (soup) + 0.50 (crackers) = $4.60

And for tonight:

Roasted potatoes:
2 lb organic potatoes: 1.60
2T oil: 0.09

1 lb black beans: 1.00
1 onion: 0.20
1 cup diced tomatoes: 0.23
hot peppers: 0.25
Total: $1.68 for enough fejoida for three meals.  We ate them as nachos the next two nights.

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