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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Unconveniencing vs Cooking from the Pantry

A few days back, I wrote about making chilaquiles in 15 minutes. That was probably sretching it; it probably took less than 10 minutes to put together.

One of my favorite blogpals, Shelley (lucky American who resides in England) mentioned that you can unconvenience the recipe to frugalize it.

Good point, Shelley. Usually convenience foods do cost more. However, that's only true if you buy the ingredients when you get a hankering for chilaquiles.

A while back, Funny About Money featured a guest post written by (it is now revealed) SDXB. The subject was stockpiling food to save money. I do this too and, in spite of the sneering at small frugalities around the web, I must say that my food savings have run into the 1000s of dollars over the years: I have NEVER spent more than $50.00/week on food, even when both my children were home. In fact, my pantry is so bursting at the seams, that I have limited myself to $25.00/week for the past two months. Guess what? It's still bursting.

So my chilaquiles: since I have the annoying capacity to remember what, where, and how much on almost everything in my abode, I can give you the prices.

Chips (Rouses): 14 oz bag=$1.00; used about 1/3=$0.33
Rotel (Big Lots): $0.50; used all=$0.50.
Cheese (killer deal at new Winn-Dixie): 8 oz shredded Mex-cheese =$1.00; used 1/2=$0.50
Beans (??): $1.00/lb dried; used maybe 1/3=$0.33
Sour cream (Rouses): $1.29; used about 1/5=$0.26

GRAND TOTAL=$1.92. Amazing to feed two adults for so little, you say? Actually, we got two meals for two BIG eaters out of it. On the side, we had some garden greens, simply steamed.

Honestly, I had no idea it would come out so cheap. So the message is: first stockpile and then cook.

What have you cooked from your pantry of late?


Duchesse said...

Pasta with sauce. In fact we are very picky about the quality of pasta so this may not be frugal, but the sauce, from a hoard of leftover meats and cheese, is!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--I'm picky about pasta too, so I know what you mean. When my son is around, he makes fresh pasta.

Shelley said...

How nice to be quoted; makes one feel rather important. Silly, I know! Last night we had tinned kidney beans, fried onions and garlic with boiled potatoes all mixed together (plus a bit of Cajun spice) with steamed broccoli on the side. I, too, stockpile foods, but Bill has requested that I stop buying tinned tomatoes and tinned kidney beans until we eat our way through some of the stock. Fair enough, there isn't much more room in the cupboards. We also buy potatoes from the green market - a 25 kg bag for something like £3.99; insanely cheap compared with the supermarket.

Funny about Money said...

Wow! That's amazing. Sounds like a tasty meal, too.

Pantry: ate from it all last week while my arm was incapacitated. M'hijito cooked a huge package of pasta and chopped a bunch of garlic for me, so I could throw things together. Made a slumgullion of previously cooked hamburger (unspiced, unonioned, ungarlicked: prepared for the dog), canned black beans, canned tomatoes, chard from the garden, and some of the pasta with garlic and dried herbs. Added a few frozen shrimp, for variety.

Not great, but at least it kept me alive and kept my son from having to come in and cook for me every day.

Thanks for the mention! :-)

Revanche said...

I've been on a no-eating out binge, and I haven't been able to crank down the grocery bills nearly enough to satisfy my frugal soul yet.

Typical meals are some form of chicken (tho the splurger bought pork tenderloin and salmon last Costco run w/o me), quinoa (a $2.50 package makes at least 16-20 servings for big eaters)/brown rice/pasta, some veggies.

The produce is what really gets me, we're spending something like $20/week on fresh fruits and veggies. It's amazing, even though we try to frequent the cheap produce shop.

My cheapest meal is the pasta with homemade sauce (2 cans of tomatoes for about $1.50, half an onion, small pat of butter), with a side of chicken and veg.

The more imaginative we get, the more expensive it is!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Revanche--Your meals sound yummy, but I think you can spend less on produce. Are you in SF? I visit relatives in northern CA and I'm always jealous of the beautiful produce and lower prices.

Revanche said...

Yes, I'm in the Bay Area, but I think one of the problems is that we just eat too much. Two or three pieces of fruit a day adds up very quickly.