Frugal Cooking Carnival (updated)

Welcome to the Frugal Cooking Carnival! I hope you’re all set to share three days worth of menus, costs, pictures, and recipes. Guidelines can be found here. But even the recipes from one or two meals will be helpful, so please participate at whatever level you feel able. Before I share my own three days worth of food, I want to get Mr. Linky up so that those of you who are raring to share can get your own link posted first. Once you’ve signed in with the EXACT link to your post, you can scroll on down and see how the three days of cooking went at my house. And just a note– you have to actually CLICK on the Mr. Linky to see the links that people have posted.

(Update: Here are the actual links of the people who participated, since it seems Mr. Linkie is not showing up in some browsers)

1. Keren ($20 Menu, Shopping List, and Recipes)
2. Untraditional home
3. Linds
4. Anne (vegetarian)
5. Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home
6. daycare girl
7. Amy@Experience Imagination
8. Joanne
9. Tina
10. Carrien@She Laughs at the Days
11. Melissa Darling (A Darling Life)
12. Shana
13. Sonya
14. Another Oatmeal Idea
15. Ali BG (vegetarian)

(Lynn, diane, and Suzyq: Please resubmit your links– they didn’t show up on Mr. Linkie)

3 Days of Food
This first picture shows most of what I bought to use over the three days. A few odds and ends are missing, and there are a few things there that I didn’t end up using. But the picture gives you a pretty decent idea of what I used over those days. I will be adding recipes in the next day or two. This post has taken a ridiculous amount of time to write– I want to thank all of you who decided to join me in this effort, because it really has been a lot of work.

Breakfast on day one was migas, toast, orange juice and coffee. I used 18 eggs, but since I found eggs for $1.50 a dozen, it wasn’t too expensive. I only give the kids coffee once a week or so, in tiny Ethiopian cups, and when I do, they really enjoy the treat. The whole meal with juice and toast cost about $6.50, which came out to about $0.65/person. This is a favorite breakfast at our house.

Beef stew with dumplings
Tuesday for lunch we had a nice vegetable beef stew with dumplings. The stew was very hearty– I could have used a bit more liquid, I think. It contained hamburger, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, onions, and canned tomatoes. The thing the kids liked best was the big dumplings on top.Next time I’ll make more stew, since the stew ran out while there were still plenty of dumplings. I served this with orange halves and a slice of banana bread for dessert. This meal came out to about $6.00 or $0.55 per person.

Peanut chicken and rice

Tuesday’s dinner was another favorite. West African Peanut Chicken is a dish that we discovered a year or so ago, and now make a couple times a month. I used the meat from 3 chicken breasts that I’d bought for $0.98/lb, so this also was a fairly affordable dish. I made the sauce with plenty of homegrown pureed tomato and pureed onion (the kids like onions just fine when I puree them) and served it over rice with fresh broccoli and orange slices. Total cost for the meal was $6.25, which came to about $0.57/person.

cold cereal
Wednesday’s breakfast was as easy as you can get– cereal, milk, juice and fruit. I generally don’t pay more than $1.50 a box for cereal, but Albertsons had a great deal a few weeks ago. A sale combined with ‘preferred customer rewards’, store coupons and manufacturers coupons brought the cereal down to $0.60 a box. I bought 10 boxes. With half a gallon of milk, half a gallon of juice, and a couple pounds of bananas, the total cost of the breakfast was about $4.60, which is about $0.42/person.

Fried rice and egg rolls
This lunch was particularly yummy: fried rice, egg rolls, apples, and peanut butter cookies for dessert. I made the fried rice using leftover rice from yesterday’s dinner and leftover migas from yesterday’s breakfast. I also added a bit of chopped-up pepperoni, onion, garlic and carrot. I fried it all in a few tablespoons of sesame/canola oil. Near the end of cooking, I added about 1/4 cup of soy sauce. The egg rolls were filled with cabbage, grated carrot, fresh ginger, minced onion and garlic, then fried in oil– ya know, you can’t beat deep fried food for taste! With that fat content it was a good thing the meal was practically vegetarian! We rounded out the meal with apple slices and homemade peanut butter cookies for dessert. Total estimated cost for this meal was $7.50, or about $0.68/person.

Beef Stroganoff
Wednesday’s dinner was an old standby at our house: beef stroganoff. Usually I make it with egg noodles, but tonight I just had macaroni and that was fine. I served it with mushrooms on the side since many of the kids aren’t thrilled with mushrooms. For side dishes we did some frozen corn from last year’s garden, fresh broccoli with salad dressing, and a cookie for dessert. (Cookies don’t last long at our house!) This meal cost about $7.50, which was about $0.68/person.

Oatmeal and ice cream
Thursday morning’s breakfast idea came from some friends of ours. Oatmeal is the ultimate in affordable breakfasts, but it can be a little dull taste-wise. Unless you top it with ice cream, that is. Even kids who aren’t in love with oatmeal will eat it happily if you top it with a scoop of strawberry ripple ice cream. One other tip: we cook our oatmeal in our rice cooker, which totally avoids the ol’ boil-over problem we always used to have with oatmeal. It requires absolutely no watching, which is a plus on busy mornings. Just pop in your regular amount of oats along with twice that amount of water, turn the cooker on, and walk away. The rice cooker turns off automatically, and keeps it warm til you get to the table. We served this breakfast with a link of sausage, toast, and orange juice, for a cost of about $6.00 altogether, or $0.55/person.

Our third lunch was another easy meal: leftovers from previous days. At least once a week we have a leftovers meal at our house, which consists of pulling everything from the last few days out of the fridge and letting kids go through picking what they want then microwaving it. This time around we have leftover peanut chicken, dumplings from the beef stew, and fried rice. Since I already added the costs of those items into the previous meals, the only ‘new’ costs were for the oranges and carrot sticks we served on the side, which cost about $1.25.

Chicken enchiladasOur final meal for the three days was chicken enchilada casserole. While I was making one casserole, I went ahead and doubled the amounts so I could have another casserole to stick in the freezer for a different day. Along with the enchiladas, we had a green salad made with swiss chard from my husband’s greenhouse, and the last bit of cabbage. The younger kids turned their noses up at the chard– it does have a slightly sharp taste– but I really liked it, and so did most of the bigger kids. The enchiladas turned out great and were met with rave reviews. I’m really glad I made two! For dessert we had more cookies– I’m afraid this batch is almost gone. The total on this meal was a little higher than some: meat AND cheese, you know! It was around $11.50 for everything, which comes out to about $1.05/person, and we even had some leftovers for my husband to pack next time he goes to work.

The grand total, for 9 meals for 11 people? $57.10. That’s 99 meals for about 58 cents a meal.

I am so glad I’m done with this post. I am now going to bed as my hubby is literally tugging me by the hand. I’ll be back with more recipes tomorrow, people! So come back, OK? Welcome to the people visiting after seeing the mention here and then on CNN this morning. If you look in my sidebar under ‘Techie Stuff’ you’ll see several different ways to subscribe to this blog. I hope you’ll all be back and please feel free to leave a comment!

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  1. What in the world is Migas? I assume it’s eggs? I never hear of it. You give coffee to kids!?!

  2. Wow, that was a lot of hard work. Thanks so much for sharing. I enjoyed seeing frugal recipes that are also unique.

  3. Wow neat!! Thanks for sharing! It was great to see it all broken down into portion prices.

  4. Angela,

    I acknowledge my mistake. I’ve been working on updating my CV most recently. “laud” and the “laude” (as in summa cum laude”) might have interchanged a couple of times. My apologies.

    We are the most arrogant, smug, and talented group of students in the bunch. It takes more than a couple of postings on a blog to even take a slice at my self-confidence and ego.

    Getting back to the original topic (and for the record, that would be food and not me [although I am flattered]), my only real concern is that people keep health and nutrition in the back of their minds, no matter how much they are spending on their meals.

    I never thought reading a blog link from a article would be so contentious. Interesting. Always interesting…

  5. Great post! I just found this website and really enjoyed reading all the ideas and recipes.

    I have one problem, and wonder if anyone else has the same issue. In a nutshell: portion control.

    I cook large quantities so that I purposely have leftovers for lunches or times when we don’t have time to cook. With more than enough on the stove, the family feels free to have as much as desired (large portions plus seconds!).

    Now, my family is made up of big people — my husband and 19 year old daughter are both 6’2″ (yep! even my daughter), and my 15 year old son is 5’9″ and still growing, with a growing appetite. If I served portions the size shown in the photos, they would all be raiding the kitchen an hour later claiming dire hunger. Mostly we serve ourselves, and I guarantee that my family would be filling their plates much fuller than might be wise or frugal.

    So the question is, how do you keep portion size (and cost) under control, while still satisfying your family’s hunger? Any tips for rounding out meals with nutritious, filling, and inexpensive extras?

    And as an aside to Cassi, Angela and others: don’t let jerks get to you. 🙂 They love being jerks for the attention it brings them, but they are still just jerks. I’d like to use a stronger word for these types, but this is a family blog 😉
    Have fun and remember that you are better than those kinds of people.


  6. Jenelle Mejia says:

    Wonderful blog. I love all the food ideas. How long do you spend cooking in the kitchen in a day? I can’t imagine such large meals 3 times a day….but applaud you for doing it!

  7. Jenelle Mejia says:

    Oh and please share you egg roll recipe!

  8. America is a wonderfully diverse country . Our diversity is what sets us apart from other nations . The combination of many kinds of food from the many different types of “American” cooking , from many different cultures is what America is about . We welcome the world and all it’s people to our country . We celebrate the uniqueness of each country as part of our whole , but also by incorporating other countries food and culture into our daily lives. While you may be outraged by the use of pepperoni in an asian dish , the use of an american -italian -sausage in an asian american food is as American as , well apple pie .

  9. karen M says:

    I have never read your blog before today, I’m so glad I dropped by! Fascinating post, I have 8 children myself ranging from 4 to 22 so I really appreciate how diverse your meals were and how much work it takes to put a good meal on the table day after day for a large family. I like the way you gave fruit with the meals, it realy adds some nutrition and color. Great job!