Day 10: Planning for a party

I have a couple of new recipes to tell you about today! I love it when experimentation and cupboard-rummaging work out so well!

Breakfast was ordinary– pancakes and OJ. We ran out of syrup– used almost a pint of jam instead!- yikes! Tomorrow I’m planning to make this easy homemade syrup. You can skip the corn syrup in this recipe if you like. My pickiest kid told me today that she likes my homemade syrup better than store bought. Yay!

Lunch: Creamed Salmon and Potatoes (I’ll try to get the recipe written out later, but it is basically canned salmon in a white sauce served over o’brien-style potatoes, and seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and thyme. The salmon was $2, and 2 lbs of o’brien potatoes were $1. Even counting milk, flour, and butter, this was super affordable for 8 people, and got many happy comments from my peeps. I served it with fresh sliced tomatoes.

Snack: Pears and leftover pancakes from breakfast

Dinner:I’ve had Smitten Kitchen’s Tomato and Corn Pie bookmarked for awhile as a yummy-looking solution to my over-abundance of both corn and tomatoes. I doubled the recipe and made it ‘slab style’ in a 9×12 pan, serving it alongside cantaloupe and cucumbers.

Tomato Corn Pie

The pie was SERIOUSLY YUMMY! A gardener’s delight, super affordable, and an amazingly hearty vegetarian meal. My family gobbled every bite. Some people went back for thirds, and even my picky lil 4 year old ate most of hers. My husband suggested I make it in my 12×16 pan next time. I changed Deb’s recipe a bit. I used plain (homemade) yogurt instead of mayo and thyme instead of basil. I forgot the baking powder– oops– the crust was still wonderful. I added a couple eggs and a bit of cornstarch to the yogurt sauce to help thicken up the juice coming from the tomatoes. I also used mozzeralla instead of cheddar. OK, maybe I changed it more than a bit. But anyway– a definite winner. I could happily eat the same thing tomorrow, but unfortunately it is all gone.

My daughter is turning 14 tomorrow so I needed to run to the store for a few things. I spent $22, which brings my total for the month to $184. I bought:
–2 gallons milk ($1.49/gal- Costco)
–4 lbs butter ($1.50/lb- Costco)
–1 gal ice cream ($5.98- Pauls)
–9 lbs apples and pears (50 cents/lb- Paul’s)
–powdered sugar for cake frosting($1.89- Paul’s)
–3 packets koolaid for the party (0.48- Paul’s)

We have paper cups and plates left from last weekend’s camping trip, so I didn’t buy those. We also already have balloons and a birthday banner. My daughter chose this wonderful coffee cake from Pioneer Woman, so that’s what I’ll be baking in the AM. We made it the other day and it was purely wonderful.

I am definitely in the mood to use what we have, which is one of the best things about this month, I think. I found already-made pumpkin pie filling in the freezer yesterday– leftover from last year! This evening I made two pumpkin pies, using the same crust recipe as the tomato pie. Ummm…I’ve never seen such sturdy pumpkin pie. I literally picked the whole pie up out of the pan and set it on its edge. I am hoping it will taste ok. The crust recipe was fantabulous for the tomato pie, but perhaps I will use my standard piecrust recipe next time.

I also cleaned out the pantry yesterday. I found 3 partial bags of marshmallows, which I am saving along with some rice crispies to make rice crispy treats for movie night on Saturday night. I love the feeling that I’m not wasting anything, and (barring the occasional overly sturdy pie-crust) we are eating really, really well.


  1. Mary,
    I’m very interested in your syrup recipe. Have you done any kind of cost analysis with it? Aldi has syrup for $1.69, do you think this would be cheaper??

  2. I make our syrup and the kids love it. Just boil 2 parts sugar to 1 part water for a few minutes. Then add maple flavoring and about 1 TB of mollasses. It’s fabulous and VERY inexpensive to make. You can use white granulated sugar or the yummy turbinado sugar.

  3. Good job staying within your budget and holding a party. I always find staying within budget and entertaining very hard. Some celebrations eat away a huge portion of my overall budget.

  4. Mary, that tomato and corn pie looks interesting, but the link goes to your syrup recipe. I can’t find the pie recipe, can you post that as well? Thanks!

  5. For the Tomato and Corn Pie recipe, go to and the recipe was from 8/27/09. You can search for it on the site as well. Enjoy.

  6. Thanks for the heads up. I fixed the link.

  7. Very nice. I gotta say, though, I’m jealous of you Idahoans! My husband is from Cd’A and whenever we go grocery shopping with his parents, my jaw drops at how cheap the food is. I saw your price for COSTCO milk–more than 50 cents less a gallon than at our COSTCO–and we have the original COSTCO in our town! Of course, where I grew up in New York State, food was more expensive than here. It’s just crazy how different things are across this big, ol’ country of ours.

  8. You have completly inspired me to cut down on our grocery budget! I have been spending $450 to $500 a month, for a family of 5, on groceries and after reconciling our budget for the summer…usually we do it monthly but time got away from us…We realized that we need to STOP spending money!! So far I have only spent a little over $100 this month! Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Hi Mary – Just wanted to say that syrup was awesome in a pinch when we ran out on a Sunday morning and wanted to stay in our jammies instead of running to the store. Was nice to see we had everything we needed in the pantry including 20 yr old maple extract from my granny that was still good! It may not be less expensive than Aldi but it was great not to have to run to the store for ONE item.