"A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned"

Friday, October 23, 2009

Family Meals Under $5 - Macaroni & Cheese

This weeks dinner is one of those classic, comfort foods. I have found that there are lots of different ways to prepare it. Many people have recipes that have been in their family for generations.

I grew up on boxed macaroni and cheese with hot dogs in it. When I had a family of my own I wanted to try the "homemade" kind. When I did it didn't get rave reviews. I was determined not to give up though.

Tonight's dinner was part desperation because it was getting late and I wanted something fast, and part inspiration because I realized I had all the ingredients to try this version of mac & cheese. It sounded creamy, which was what my family missed in my other attempts. There is still a little room for some add ins. You could try any type of meat, steamed broccoil, diced tomatoes and olives. I could go on and on. Just be creative, have fun and don't give up.

Macaroni & Cheese - $3.46
Mixed Veggies - $.68

Total - $4.14

1 1/2 lb elbow macaroni - got on sale for 68c /lb at Super 1 Foods = $1.02
1c sour cream - $.98 16oz Darigold on sale at Trading Co. = .49
4T marg or butter - I used margarine but butters always better = .08
4c grated cheese - $4.98 2lb loaf (the $3.99 2lb loaf at Fred Meyer would have been even better) = $1.81
1/2c milk = .06
salt & pepper to taste

Cook the noodles to package directions till almost done. Add remaining ingredients and stir till combined. Season to desired taste.

Mixed Veggies - 16oz bag on sale for $.68 @ Super 1 Foods = .68 (stock up)

My family actually liked this. They did say it could have been a little creamier so next time I'll add a little more milk. I'm glad I kept trying. Homemade is so much better than the boxed kind. I still like adding hot dogs though.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Family Meals Under $5 - Barley, Bacon, Lentils & Tomatoes

Since the hubby is out hunting this week I thought it would be a great time to eat some of the foods he doesn't like. It's not that he doesn't like beans, it's more that beans don't like him. OK, I know TMI.

I was a little worried about the rest of my family liking this as well but thought "oh well, I'll give it a try." Much to my surprise and delight my middle son had 5 helpings!

This recipe came from Pillsbury's One Dish Meal Cookbook. The recipe below is double the original to make enough to feed my family. It also includes a little more bacon.
Serve it with some french bread.

Barley, Bacon, Lentils & Tomatoes - $3.60
French Bread - .77

Total - $4.37

1/2 lb bacon - $1.18 lb @ Super 1 Foods 12 Hour Sale = .59
1 med onion, chopped - still have some in the garden = free
2 c dried lentils, rinsed - .98 1lb bag
2c uncooked pearl barley - .99lb
4 bullion cubes (beef is what's called for but I used chicken. Either would work) = .32
2 t cumin
7 c water
1 28 oz can stewed tomatoes, undrained = .56 (see below)
4 T chopped fresh parsley - .67 bunch = .16

In a large skillet cook bacon till crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Add onion and lentils to bacon drippings in skillet. Cook on med for 3-5 min or till onions are tender and lentils browned. Add barley, bullion, cumin and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 min or till lentils are soft. Add tomatoes. Cook uncovered for 15 - 20 min more or till lentils and barley are tender and liquid is absorbed. Before serving stir in parsley and bacon.

I have green tomatoes that are ripening in boxes on my kitchen floor. A few had ripened so I chopped up what I needed and just used those. I included the price because I figured not everyone has tomatoes ripening in their kitchen. About the price, I buy a #10 can of diced tomatoes at Costco and freeze what I don't use immediately in 2c portions. The price comes out to be about .02c an oz. I also just use these whenever any type of tomato is called for.

Hope you enjoy it!

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Family Meals Under $5 - Potato Soup

Fall has finally arrived and the temperatures are dropping. There's nothing like a bowl of warm soup on a crisp fall evening.
Soups make a great budget friendly meal. When I saw potatoes on sale I knew this would be a good one to make. Thanks to my friend Kristin for this recipe.

Creamy Potato Soup - $2.26
Frozen Mixed Veggies - $1.36
French Bread - $.88

Total - $4.50

Creamy Potato Soup
3/4 c butter, melted - $.88lb @ Super 1 Foods last week (Stock Up)= .33c
3/4 c flour = .09c
6c Milk - $1.58 gal @ Fred Meyer last week (Stock Up)= .60c
1 1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c grated sharp cheddar cheese - $4.49 2 lb loaf @ Fred Meyer last week = .61c

7 1/2c diced potatoes - $1.25 10lb bag at Trading Co. 2 weeks ago (I stocked Up)= .45
1 1/4 t salt
1 1/2 c diced onions = free from the garden
2 3/4 c Water
2 stalks celery, diced = .18
1 t pepper

In a large pot put potatoes, onion, celery, seasonings and water. Cook over med/high heat till potatoes are done but not mushy.
While potatoes are cooking, in another pot melt butter for sauce. Remove from heat and stir in flour. Return to heat and stir till it makes a smooth paste. Gradually stir in milk and salt. Add cheese. Cook over low/med heat stirring constantly till thick.
Once potatoes are done add sauce and stir well. Simmer 10-15 min or till desired thickness.

Frozen veggies were on sale this week at Super 1 Foods for $.68 for a 16 oz bag, another stock up price. I thought 2 bags would be plenty.

A loaf of french bread split and toasted is great for dipping.

There have been some great stock up sales these past 2 weeks. Another thing I've noticed is that a lot of stores are lowering their prices on selected items. While I'm sure it's just an ad ploy to get us in the store, why not take advantage of the savings and stock up on the things you use the most while you can.

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