Saturday, February 9, 2008

Making Up Something New

Friends often call me to ask for some new recipe ideas because they are bored with the same old, same old. Well, that happens to me, too. Especially times when the budget is really tight. With gas at $2.90 a gallon and milk and egg prices doubling in the past few years, our budget is always tight. It just seems like we eat spaghetti at least twice a week sometimes. I watch the grocery ads carefully and always check the reduced meat prices. Lately we've gotten lucky and I've found hamburger for $.99 a pound and also pork roast, pork chops, sausage, and pork loins. When this happens I buy as much as possible and freeze most of it. The boys have suddenly turned into little Hoovers and we hardly ever have leftovers so I'm trying to stretch things as much as possible so Ron has something for lunches.

Sometimes being budget conscious creates the need to alter some recipes. I usually look at what I have and then go through my favorite cookbooks to see what I can alter to make work. This method works best with my older cookbooks, especially the ones that came from my grandmothers because their generation wrote the book on feeding a family with next to nothing. This is what we had tonight, with approximate prices in parentheses.

Cheesy Mac Skillet

1 lb. ground meat ($1.00)
2 cups dry macaroni ($.50, a half of a box)
1 can tomato soup ($.40, I got Campbell's soup on sale, but I often use store brand)
1 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. dried minced onion
1/3 brick Velveeta cheese ($1.50, it's what I had left over from making broccoli cheese soup)
1 cup shredded cheddar ($1.00)

Cook macaroni according to package directions. While it's boiling brown and drain hamburger. Mix tomato soup into the hamburger with about half a can of water. Add all the spices. Drain macaroni and add to hamburger mixture. Cut up the Velveeta and stir in until melted. Top with cheddar cheese and remove from heat. Cover with a lid for about 5 minutes, or until cheddar is melted.

If desired you can add some frozen corn, peas, or broccoli to add a veggie. I added some corn because it was in the freezer.

We had this with apple sauce and so the whole meal cost less than $5.00 for all five of us. Pretty good, huh? The recipe I altered called for 2 pounds of hamburger, more spices, and canned macaroni and cheese (ewww!). We had a little bit of leftovers but Emily has already claimed them. I'll try to post some more budget friendly recipes. If you have any shoestring cooking ideas, send them on and we will share with everyone!


Allison W. said...

I got a new cookbook for Christmas called Cheap, Fast, Good. After I stopped laughing at the title, I realized that it was about budget cooking and meal planning. It's worth taking a look at. Right now, I'm more focused on low budget meals for 2 people. It's lame eating the same meal for 2 or 3 days, because it's more economical to make the standard 4 person serving. Any ideas? I know that it's not exactly your ballgame anymore with the kids and all, but I had to ask the expert. :) love ya!

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