This recipe has had a long evolution in this house. I finally feel like it is just right! It started out as a healthy and quick weeknight option. My most recent addition was the polenta, which added a little time and few calories. While I definitely think both are well worth it, this recipe could be sped up and its calories lightened by leaving out the polenta or swapping in quinoa or your grain of choice. Read more, including recipe and cost details.
As a child, I loathed sweet potatoes. All I knew of sweet potatoes was either the frozen glazed variety that my mom, out of obligation, threw in the oven each Thanksgiving for my dad or the marshmallow-coated, nut-studded, syrupy sweet casserole I’d seen from time to time as a holiday guest. To both, I have to ask, WHY? Sweet potatoes are very sweet (hence accurate portion of the brilliantly descriptive name) so why, unless one is making them into a dessert, do we feel compelled to make them so much sweeter? WHY? This group compulsion made me avoid this nutrient dense, low calorie, cheap, and most importantly of all, tasty tuber until well into my adult life. Shame on all of us. The key to a good mashed sweet potato is to go easy on it, let it be what it is, and save yourself some time, effort, and empty calories in the process. Read more, including recipe and cost details.
This is a great kid-friendly dish that can be made ahead and frozen for those times when you need to feed a kid quickly and separately and don’t want to serve overly processed junk. It might seem less frugal than buying a box of frozen breaded fish, but you are getting way more bang for your buck in the amount of quality fish in each serving. Plus it tastes way better, so you can feed it to your whole family! Read more, including recipe and cost details.
I wish I could say I haven’t posted in a while because I came into a windfall of some sort and am so busy spending all of my money that I can’t be bothered to think about being frugal. Unfortunately, there is a much less exciting reason…back pain. It is just brutal! I am not even sure what caused it, but I suspect it may have to do do with my old desk being too low and my posture being bad as a result. At first I tried to power through, sticking with my yoga practice, hoping it would just get better. But then the pain started interfering with my practice and I began having decreased freedom of movement. So off to the doctor I went…then the chiropractor…then to an orthopedist, and now I am in physical therapy. And I am seeing progress! It will still be a while until I am back to my old self, but I am finally feeling something I can call better. Anyway, my physical therapist recommended that I use a lumbar support pillow when sitting in a chair for any significant amount of time. She showed me one that I could buy for about $15, but also said I could just roll up my sweatshirt, etc. to get the same result. I thought of my yoga bolster and figured I could have the convenience of a real pillow AND the free-ness of rolling up a sweatshirt by repurposing some things I had been intending to donate or throw away. Continue reading
I am finding that the part of my frugality that I am most proud of is the hardest one to put in to words. I used to get so stressed over wasting food, feeling like I wasn’t meal planning efficiently, and buying what seemed like everything I needed whenever I decided to make a nice meal. I didn’t start strategically shopping sales and using coupons to solve that problem, but to save money, of course. When I found myself wasting less and realizing I had all of the ingredients for impromptu dinner ideas, I was more excited than when I discovered how much money I was saving. It occurred to me that the best way to share this might just be to show you what I am buying and why.
Like a good couponer, I love to stock up on things when they are at their lowest price. But this approach doesn’t cover everything we eat, so I also typically pick one store to shop each week for produce, other perishables, and any stock-up worthy deals they happen to have. I look through the sale ads each week and determine which store has the best deals. For me, usually that store is Caputo’s, but any ethnic or other market-type store will have deals similar to theirs. Sometimes I will have a recipe in mind, but often I let the produce sales (typically based on season) decide what I’m making. This week, for example, I have a green pepper and some avocados left over from last week’s shopping, so I am going to make Cuban Picadillo tonight. I have all of the pantry items and meat on hand. With the onions and potatoes on sale this week (that I would have bought regardless of this plan), I’ll have everything I need. Also, as Mashup Mom shared, this week’s sales are perfect for my sausage and rapini pasta, so I picked up the things I need for an upgraded, company-worthy version of that (recipe forthcoming)
Here is what I brought home from Caputo’s today for just over $40:
- bunch rapini, $1.29/lb – For the upgraded pasta dish.
- cantaloupe, $1.50
- 2 limes, $.25 – Because limes are always useful (margarita, anyone?) and I will be out after making picadillo tonight.
- apples, $.69/lb
- green seedless grapes, $.89/lb
- black plums, $.99/lb
- lemon, $.52 – Also for the pasta dish.
- bananas, $.49/lb
- strawberries, $1.99
- 3 lb bag yellow onions, $.89
- 10 lb bag Idaho potatoes, $1.99
- red and yellow peppers, $.99 lb – They looked so pretty, I’ll put them to good use.
- eggplant, $.59/lb – Also gorgeous!
- butternut squash, $.49/lb – For making an amazing and simple soup.
- spaghetti squash, $.49/lb – Last year I made something that turned out so well, must find the recipe….
- 4 lbs bulk Italian sausage, $1.79/lb – Some for the pasta dish, the rest to freeze for future penne alla vodka, pizza, etc.
- Dutch Farms unsalted butter quarters, $1.79 – I try to keep 4 lbs of butter in the fridge at all times so I never run out and have to pay more than this for it, and I was down to two.
- Frigo ricotta, $1.99 – A good price after the $.50/1 coupon from 6/2.
- Frigo Cheese Heads string cheese, 3/$5.00 – A decent price after the $.75/1 from 7/28, and both the kiddo and husband like it as a snack.
- Visconti orecchiete, $2.50 – A good price for this imported specialty pasta, and will transform a weekend dinner to a dinner party. I got two bags.
- Stonefire naan bread, $1.50 – This stuff is SO good and freezes extremely well, so I pick it up whenever it hits this price so I always have some to go with my chicken makhani.
Most of these items were advertised sales, a few not advertised (which often means they will be on sale, possibly cheaper, next week). Coupons don’t play a huge role in my Caputo’s shopping. I used $2.50 worth here, which is about average, so about $130 per year. I maintained my stock of a few things, got the ingredients for a few dishes I am excited to make, and filled our produce drawers and baskets for the week, all for about $40!
This dish is derived from a recipe recommended by my dear friend Katrina (of the roasted tomato basil risotto). The original is made with orechiette. While I love it made that way, since we don’t all have that particular pasta shape lying around, I hoped to find a slightly more accessible alternative that may sometimes even save us a trip to the store. It was exactly as I had hoped and the result was a dish that only a serious pasta snob (which I am not, despite my propensity to make fresh egg pasta) would question. Read more, including recipe and cost details.
A real margarita is too good and too easy to make to be ignored in favor of a mix full of sugar, or worse, high fructose corn syrup. Make it yourself and impress your friends! Read more, including recipe and cost details.