Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Creative Cookery

I'm feeling quite smug with my grocery shopping success the last few months, and trying to decide how low I want my November challenge to be.  Knowing I will be buying baking supplies and extra Thanksgiving food, even though I'm a bringer and not the host, I am toying with a $250 target. November includes DD1 being home perhaps for an extra day or two and four school release days. That doesn't change the grocery bill that much, but it means better planning. I took a casual inventory on the weekend, and other than the items I need for my orchestra meal donation, all I added to our groceries was eggs, a red pepper, ground turkey, and sour cream when I popped into the grocery store on Saturday. I forgot bread, and didn't bother  making another stop. My October final grocery bill is  $298, give or take a buck.

I mixed up what I was planning to make, but for the most part cooked from my list of meals I drew up last weekend. Here was my executed meal game plan.

Breakfast-DH and DD had instant oatmeal and were both out of the house shortly after.  I did some cleaning and made myself an egg, cheese, and ham burrito. 
Lunch-I ate cheese and saltines and an apple. 
Supper-Chicken fajitas with red pepper and, onion, fajita rice, and black beans, everything a Chipotle burrito would have for an estimated $5.76 for five burritos, granted about 1/3 smaller but we were stuffed.

Brunch-Homemade apple and cinnamon muffins, rice crust ham and cheese quiche.
Supper-.Homemade Italian chicken nuggets, butter and herb mashed potatoes, and corn.

Here are a few recipes, or throw together as it were. 

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
2 C Flour
1 C Oatmeal (quick cooking)
 3/4 cup sugar
1tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
1 tbls cinnamon
Combine all dry ingredients, mix in the wet.
two eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
I large apple sliced and diced
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. 
I can never cut neat slices.

Rice Crust Quiche
Crust-leftover rice, about 1 1/2 to 2 C
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 oz grated cheese-optional
Mix then pre-bake for 12 minutes in a 350 over
Filling-4 -5 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cups cheese, more or less to taste
1 cup diced ham, more or less to taste
1/3 cup sour cream
salt and peepr to taste
Pour in pre-baked crust, bake for 30 minutes until eggs are set.

This fed the three of us, plus two slices for my lunch. Rice was leftovers, ham was leftovers from DD's party last month, cheese was the rock bottom prices. I can't even break out this meal, truly frugal. If I had some broccoli or spinach that would have gone in as well. 

 While my mom wasn't a great cook, I sure appreciate that she taught me the basics. Anything can be tuned into something new and delicious with a little creativity. Who else dabbles in the kitchen and turns leftovers and bargain foods into creative indulgences?


  1. Both of those recipes sound fantastic!
    Any money I have saved on groceries the past few month is going to be a fleeting memory this month. I think I will probably top the 500 mark. Yikes!

    1. Though you were do inventive in the $50 challenge. I'll be at $300 overall once I add back in baking and Thanksgiving provisions but hoping $250 van cover everything else.

  2. I've never seen rice crust quiche before, what a great idea. I much prefer having to stretch and made do in the kitchen, I am far more creative than when I have endless choice.

    1. Tightwad Gazette recipe from early 1990's that I use regularly. I agree with you on the creativity front. Abundance is too easy.

  3. Well done on your leftover saves!
    I so wish I only had 3 to feed again and could see a $300 shop.....lol

    1. But you have built in company. My daughter is never home, and hubs works such different hours, that I often am eating alone.

  4. I am going to make those apple muffins today - have some free apples that need using up and I have all of the other ingredients. I guess that quiche would count as gluten free too. Never thought of using rice as a base, have seen corn tortillas used as an alternate too. Because we work from home hubby usually grazes on the leftovers. I hate food waste, have tried to reduce it as much as possible but turning things into other tasty things is definitely a win on keeping your grocery bills low!

    1. This was from the old Tightwad Gazette recipes-both the quiche and universal muffin recipe, and works like a charm. The oatmeal adds more fiber and are more dense and hearty. I love leftovers for my lunch and am really tackling food waste.

  5. Your muffins look amazing!
    I'm trying to hold our expenses down this month but Thanksgiving always costs a ton. I'm going to start buying the canned goods and anything else that can be easily stored to spread the cost out. Sigh and the holiday madness begins.

    1. As I don't host, I just end up with extras for a few side dishes, wine, and hostess gifts but even those add up. I'm hoping for a good sale on pumpkin and truffle ingredients. Both breads and candy are my go to make at home gifts for family, friend, coworkers, and neighbors.

  6. I'm usually pretty good with using up leftovers but just chucked out left over rice the other day now I'm never doing that again. Thanks for the recipe rice crust quiche here I come.

    1. When I first saw the recipe i the book Tightwad Gazette, I though why not? I'm a horrible pie crust maker anyway, and this really does make a nice, and now I know, gluten free, crust. Quiche is like pizza, anything can be included or go as a topping, and so few eggs really go quite far.

  7. You are really setting yourself some good challenges! Personally I love a good challenge like roasting a chicken and then seeing how many meals I can make out of leftovers. Does that make us food nerds?

    1. I think it's not about being cheap, but recognizing there is a finite amount of resources, money, food, time, and making the most of a resource is just plain smart. what's saved can go to other expenses, savings, a trip, and to increase my giving. Whole chickens are great-now I can easily get four solid meals, plus leftover, though when I had my son home, couldn't stretch beyond one, and the pickings for soup broth. He could eat over half the chicken himself, but still, on sale, I could get for $5.00 or less, and still feed a family of five for well under $10, one of them a teenage boy who burned huge numbers of calories as a runner and ate as much as my current household of three together.


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