Category Archives: Recipes

Summer Sandwiches

With all of us working different days and times, we don’t eat together at meals as we used to. I still want to provide fresh, inexpensive meals for my family and Summer Sandwiches has been one solution.

Baguette 1.49 9 oz spinach 1.79 sliced cheese 2.19 sliced turkey 2.49

Baguette 1.49
9 oz spinach 1.79
sliced cheese 2.19
sliced turkey 2.49

Here’s the ingredients for 5 sandwiches.

baguette sliced in 5 sections, cheese slices, meat and spinach added

baguette sliced in 5 sections, cheese slices, meat and spinach added

And all of them wrapped in some wax paper. I’ll store them in the fridge and kids (and me) grab them for lunches, snacks and late dinners.
Each sandwich costs $1.08 USD. I’ve not had any of them go to waste, we eat them too quickly.

and still 7 oz of spinach and 6 slices of cheese for a future meal

and still 7 oz of spinach and 6 slices of cheese for a future meal

Homemade Granola Bars

Basic Ingredients:

4 cups oats, take one 1 cup and put through blender or food processor until it has a coarse flour consistency. If you omit this step, they will not hold together.

12 oz. pitted dates, chopped finely

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup plant-oil, such as canola or coconut (I have tried making the recipe using 1/2 cup applesauce replacing the oil, but the bars were hard as bricks.)

Variable Ingredients:

I use a total of 2 cup of variable ingredients, in whatever combination strikes my fancy (or what I have in the house.) Use your imagination and your own family’s preferences here. Examples: shredded coconut, chocolate chips, M & M’s, raisins, nuts, dried cranberries. I would not use more than 1 cup of melty things like butterscotch chips or M & M’s per batch.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter and chopped dates together, add the oats, then the 2 cups of variable ingredients. Place the mixture in the 9 x 13 pan (it should be too thick to pour) and then using a greased hand or waxed paper covered hand, press the mixture into the pan, removing any air pockets. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool. Cut into bars.

OK. Here is where I get really silly. My kids will eat about 1/3 of the pan when they are fresh…….but then just sort of forget about them (like the invisible fruit decorations in bowls around the house) so……I individually wrap the remaining bars in waxed paper and place them on the “snack shelf” of the pantry. Voila! Snacks no longer invisible. I do not understand why this works, but it does.

Never Throw Food Away

Yeah, I know you have heard that one before. And we all agree to it in theory, right? Throwing food away is like setting a match to the dollar bills you spent on the food, just burning them in an ashtray.

But who among us is going to eat the leftover lasagna, pushed to the back of the fridge that is now growing mold? Or even the potato salad that got left out for an hour? Or the eggs past their expiration date? (OK, I would eat those eggs….more on them later.) After all, $1.00 worth of food isn’t worth being sick for 2 days.

What I am going to do is give you strategies so that the lasagna doesn’t grow mold and the eggs do not expire. You are on your own to remember to put the potato salad back right away.

1) Do not go shopping for more food until you have used up everything in the fridge. I know that this leaves you with some odds and ends that you do not know how to get rid of. So…

2) Learn dishes that use up those bits. Soup is an excellent dish for a leftover carrot and half an onion. A frittata or Quiche or omelette will use up extra eggs and a scrap of cheese and a single serving of ham. Got one lone flour tortilla left? Shredded meat plus lettuce plus tomato or green pepper makes a nice portable lunch. Only one Hogie roll? It will make French Toast or the beginnings of French Onion Soup. When I make pizza, there is a small amount of dough that I cut off the pizza tray. I pop it in the refrigerator. The next day, I roll it out and saute it in a small amount of oil. Instant naan. Drizzle with honey or fruit preserves or spread with Nutella. Yum.

3) Dinner for breakfast. Many restaurants in the United States serve breakfast meals all day long, so we are used to eating eggs and pancakes for supper. It is just custom or marketing that we do not eat dinner foods for breakfast. But all over the world, in places without electricity and refrigeration, people eat their dinner leftovers for breakfast. If tradition and practice say it is OK to eat spicy chickpea curry for breakfast people will. Millions do it. We can too. Or you can just eat them for lunch. This is one of the main ways I use up leftovers.

4) Have a leftover dinner. Do you only have one or two servings of everything you made in the past week, and just can’t bring yourself to eat them for breakfast? Warm them all up, serve them to the family and sit back and watch which ones get selected first. It helps to have a few ground rules for this so fights do not break out. At my house, everybody is allowed a portion of a desired leftover, even if it is divided 4 ways and ends up being just a taste. Usually, though, one person selects the chicken burrito, two people take a serving of the Vegetarian Shepard’s Pie and somebody else eats the pizza.

5) Ingredients are flexible. Buy ingredients, not pre-mixed foods. Pasta can be made with marinara sauce, cheese sauce, oil and garlic. Lettuce can be a salad, added to a burger, shredded for a taco or the outside of a carb-free wrap. Apples can be eaten as is, served with peanut butter or cooked in a crisp. Plus ingredients are healthier than pre-packaged food.

What do you all do to make sure you do not waste food?

Oatmeal: the Essence of Frugal

Funding my Part-Time obsession one item at a time. As my regular readers know, I am determined to go part-time at work this year, which will require additional frugalities as I am committed to continuing with the music lessons for the kids and I still have 1.5 years of car payments.

Soooo– let me extol the benefits of Oatmeal: 1) it will lower your cholesterol  2) its high in fiber, and will keep you regular  3) folks with celiac disease can eat freely  4) is there a less expensive breakfast? even if you are not considering the health benefits… 5) there are as many ways to dress it up as there are people on the planet.

Let us consider the costs. My daughter’s oatmeal is pre-made packets from Aldi, $1.39 for a box of 10 packets, or 0.14 each.

oatmeal plus preservatives

My oatmeal ($1.99 for 30 servings of 1/2 cup each) and brown sugar ($1.49 for 76 servings of 1 Tablespoon each)

Aldi oats and brown sugar

And using these two very high-tech tools….

1/2 Cup and Tablespoon Measure Devices, Plastic Baggies

Let’s do the math. 1/2 cup oatmeal 0.07 + 1 Tablespoon brown sugar 0.02 + plastic baggie (reused average 5-10 times before failure) 0.05 = 0.105 per daily breakfast.

195 healthy-start-your-day-calories for 11 cents.

$1.10 worth of breakfast ( i.e. 10 days worth)

Carrot Soup

This recipe is modified from one in the newspaper.


Carrot Soup ingredients

3 Tablespoons cannola oil       cost-0.21

1 yellow onion                                    0.25

4 cups broth                                       1.29

2 cups water                             negligible

2 # carrots, peeled and sliced      1.29

1 teaspoon salt                                0.10

1/4 teaspoon pepper                     0.05

1 cup half & half                            1.35

1 teaspoon basil                            0.05

In a dutch oven or stock pot, heat oil on medium for 30 seconds. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes.

onion and oil

Add the broth, water and carrots.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3o minutes or until carrots are soft. Add salt and pepper. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool. Puree soup in batches in food processor or blender.

Pour back into your dutch oven or stockpot. Stir in half and half and basil. Simmer until very hot.

Mug of carrot soup

You can add croutons and shredded cheese if you like. I plan on drinking mine from my coffee to-go cup for my lunch during work days.

A 1.5 cup serving cost 0.84 and has 165 calories.


Bruschetta Chicken Bake

This recipe comes from my daughter in law, Brittany. Hi! [waving wildly] It is more expensive than many of my meals, but the kids love it, so I have added it to the rotation about once a month.

Ingredients and cost:

1.5 # chicken cubed    $3.00   (I just bought breasts and cubed them myself)

1 tsp salt                             .10  (it’s sea salt, your salt is probably cheaper)

15 oz can diced tomatoes with juice   .59

.5 cup water      nominal cost

3 cloves garlic          .33

Boxed chicken flavored stuffing mix  .89

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese   $1.75

1 Tbs Italian seasoning       .30  (I don’t keep this in the house, so used 1 tsp of each: basil, oregano, rosemary)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 9 x 13″ glass baking dish with oil. Toss the chicken with the salt. Place the chicken in a layer in the bottom of the baking dish.

Stir together the tomatoes, water, chopped garlic and stuffing mix and let soften.

Tomato/stuffing mix

Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken, then sprinkle the Italian seasoning on top of that.

Spread the stuffing mixture on top.

Ready for the oven

Bake for 30 minutes.


I served this with some steamed broccoli.

This was enough for dinner for the four of us and enough leftovers for two lunches.

Spit Pea Soup (Seven meals for 38 cents each)

This recipe comes from earthsister at the old Simple Living Forums. You can find the new forums at

This soup is rich in protein and vitamins for just pennies a serving, and one of my comfort foods.


From a recent grocery reciept: the onion was .25, garlic .33, oil .07, dried split peas $1.00, 3 carrots 0.33, 3 stalks celery .15, 3 potatoes .30. Total $2.43 and it made 10.5 cups, each satisfying serving is 1.5 cups.

1 Tbs oil, 1 onion, 3 cloves garlic, chopped

Simmer the onion and garlic until translucent and then add 8 cups water and 2.25 cups dried spilt peas.

simmer water and peas until tender

This step took longer than usual as I had to run some kids errands in the middle–no sweat. I just turned the burner off before I left the house, no harm done.

Add diced carrots, celery and potatoes and simmer till tender

Voila! Soup!

Lunches for the week and then some


Start with:



1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened  $1.00

1 and 1/2 cups and 2 tablespoons sugar $o.55

2 organic eggs $0.50

2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour $0.36

1 teaspoon baking soda $0.05

1/4 teaspoon salt $0.05

2 teaspoons cinnamon  $0.20     Total cost: $2.76 (energy costs not included)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs separately, mixing well after each. Separately mix flour, baking soda and salt. Stir into butter/sugar/egg mixture. Shape into 1″ balls. Roll in mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes.


The great thing about Snickerdoodles is I almost always have the ingredients on hand. $2.78 for this batch, or 4 cents per cookie.

Vegan Shepard’s Pie

Shepard's Pie ingredients

1 cup lentils (pink/red are preferred)

2 vegetable bullion cubes

2 cups water

1 large (or two small) carrots, diced

1 celery rib diced ( in this case I added a chopped, frozen celery rib that I had put in the freezer before it went bad, like-wise the onion added in.)

In a large skillet, mix the above ingredients and cook on medium heat, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl mix into a paste 1/2 cup water and 3 tablespoons flour. Then add 1 teaspoon each of the following: basil, oregano, rosemary. Add 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

spice/flour/water mixture

Add above mixture to cooled lentil/vegetable mixture. Simmer until it thickens, stirring constantly.  Spread evenly in a 2 quart baking dish. Top w/ mashed potatoes.

added 4 T butter, 1/2 cup milk, salt and pepper

Bake uncovered at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.

(Obviously the mashed potatoes are not vegan, but you could make them that way by substituting soy or rice milk and vegetable oil.)

Orange Sunshine

This recipe is modified from one of John and Mary McDougall’s cookbooks. Whenever I make it, a portion goes to a dear friend who is a fan.

6 tablespoons instant tapioca

2 cups pineapple juice

2 cups orange juice

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2   11 oz cans of mandarin oranges, drained

1   20 oz can crushed pineapple, drained

Combine instant tapioca, pineapple juice and orange juice in saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. It will begin to thicken. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice, cool stirring occasionally. Add fruit and chill until firm.

Here’s what a serving looks like:

Bowl of sunshine