Monday, November 1, 2010

Domestic on a Dime - Necessity Breeds Ingenuity

Our October grocery budget ran out 10 days before the month ended.

Whether this was due to mismanagement or three weeks of exceptionally good eating, I am not sure and will not hazard a guess.

Regardless of why we hit October 21 without any money left for groceries, I feel it was a valuable exercise in efficiency for me.  And maybe, just maybe, J is impressed by my cooking ingenuity.

At $3 a loaf, bread was deemed an unnecessary expense.  I mean, really  - $3 a loaf?!  We aren't even buying the really good stuff.  So last weekend I made bread.  Maybe you read about that.  I can't remember if I mentioned why I was making like an old-time pioneer woman, but truth be told it was for monetary reasons.

Anyway, the bread has been delicious!  So much more flavor and better texture than what we're used to having.

I've also made brownies from scratch.  Recipe to follow, for sure.  They are delicious and so easy!  And it definitely gives a gal some serious kitchen cred if she can say she makes her brownies without a box.

A couple weeks ago I bought a gigantic butternut squash (at 98 cents a pound, perhaps that's where an unusual amount of our food budget went).  I only needed about a fourth of it for my recipe, so I've been finding ways to use it ever since.
1. Bake with sweet potato cubes and spicy seasonings at 425 for 20 minutes.  You can dip them in ketchup or mustard - yum!
2. Cubed and included in Pumpking-Sweet Potato Chowder (another recipe that should - and will - be shared!).
3. Grilled in strips.  We did this along with hamburgers and jalapeno poppers, so I was really too full to do more than take a bite.  Not bad, but not good enough to stuff myself with.

You know the fine meat-locker meat I've written about in posts past.  Well, thanks to my kind parents, we have a freezer FULL of it.  Top-quality Midwest beef.  Now normally, I am more of a chicken girl, rather than a red meat eater.  But in that last week of October, stuck between my pride (don't go over the food budget, prove that you can do this, come on!) and my still-hungry hubby (how inconvenient, huh), I faced the freezer.

With well-stocked pantry, you can really make just about anything.  I pulled out spaghetti and a can of spaghetti sauce and created a new version of spaghetti casserole.  Here's how it goes:
1. Make meatballs
2. Bake meatballs
3. Boil pasta; drain
4. Heat spaghetti sauce with cooked pasta; remove from heat
5. Add shredded cheese and grated Parmesan to spaghetti/sauce mixture
6. Dump pasta into a greased 9x9 pan
7. Place meatballs on bed of pasta
8. Sprinkle liberally with more cheese
9. Bake, covered, at 350 for 25 minutes

I'm very sure I'll be in this place again.  Check back later for more Domestic on a Dime ideas!

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