Dinner on the Cheep

Pasta is something we eat a lot more of during the summer at Chez Cheepie.  Given I hate to turn the oven on at all, and Mr. Cheepie owns the grill, I find it’s simplest to cook things that are quick on the stove: stir-frys and pastas get heavy rotation during the warm months.  

I’ve got an old Atlas pasta roller (thank you wedding registry of the 1990s), which makes homemade pasta simple.  There are a lot of recipes that will tell you you don’t have to have one, you can just roll it out by hand.  Those people have more skills than me. And more upper body strength.  Neither of those is hard to accomplish, but if you’re like me keep an eye out at thrift stores and you’ll find a machine for about $25.  Or you could get married, and register for one, but that comes with a lot more compromise than Savers demands of its customers.

homemadepasta.jpg

Breakdown of cost for batch of pasta:

5lbs flour=$1.99

18 eggs=  $ 1.69

2 c flour             20 cents 

 3 eggs              28.2 cents

So for under 50c, I’ve got a tasty batch of pasta that is plenty for 5 sides. It could also be a main dish if you added some random leftover meats & vegetables and gave it a toss with some oil and garlic over some heat.

Yes, it’s work. But these kids have to do something and they’ve started to notice that Pick Up This Crap is not as exciting of a game as I’ve made it out to be.  Especially when you get to the upper levels.  Rolling out pasta on the machine is like edible play-doh happy hour!

Given I use this method, using a food processor, it all comes together pretty quickly.  Whirl up dough and knead for about a minute. Then the dough rests for 30 min, which is helpfully enough time for you to figure out what else your band of heathens deserve for dinner.  Then put a pot of water on to boil, roll out the noodles, and get them cooked.  

Yes, you can buy noodles for twice the cost and they’re still cheap.  Yes, time is money.  If you’ve got some time, though, it’s a fun frugal way to make delicious pasta.

 

 

 

 

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Monday Night Goal Post

I’ve been pondering my Internet Dinner Accountability Plan.  Initially, the goal was for the family to sit down every night at the table for a meal.  I’d read a couple of books that were big, big fans of this and had many pretty photos and suggestions.

After a few weeks, I adjusted the goal to accommodate the fact that we aren’t often all home until 8pm, which is late for dinner.  So, I started shooting for a majority of people eating a meal I’d planned for us to eat.  That was a better goal, and writing the Goal Post and Dinner Score posts got me in the habit of planning the week out. Overall, this is an improvement, if not the one I’d originally hoped for.

We also eat out slightly less.  DH and I have a bad taco habit, but having the groceries for a meal already in the house made my frugal self too guilty to go out even if DH offered. Sometimes. Queso knows me by my name.  

I think I’ve made all the gains on this front that I’m going to, though.  With our schedules, storage and budget, I feel this is an even keel.  It could be better.  It could be more frugal. I could stick to my plan more.  But I know what perfect looks like because I read those books, and Chez Cheepie was never going to get there.  Here is nice and here we’ll stay.

Added Bonus:  The kids are now really good at asking if I want a photo of their meal before they start eating, a skill that will serve them well in life, since it seems like half the internet is photos of food and the other half is cat videos.

Final Dinner Score:  12 points

Perfect Mon-Thurs, and then we went out on Friday.  Instead of having buffalo chicken legs (why legs? because thanks to crazy sports bars, wings are more expensive than legs. though I didn’t really have a solid plan. was I going to deep fry chicken legs? bake them?), we all went out for pasta and a visit to the bookstore.

  Prince Spaghetti Day!

Prince Spaghetti Day!

     Monday

Monday 

   Taco Tuesday!

Taco Tuesday!

Just like a Friday in 1997, but we have small people tailing us that want us to pay for their stuff.

I’m calling the Dinner Accountability plan over, and I appreciate all the feedback that I got.  Stay tuned for the next CheepieAustin project!

Cheep Cheep!

Dinner Score, Week 23

Jumping right in–

  • Mon: navy beans and escarole with sausage
  • Tues:  grilled chicken thighs on sticks, rice, carrots & bell peppers, garden salad, oranges, corn on the cob
  •       many food groups represented!

    many food groups represented!

    Wed:  mac and cheese, cucumbers, blackberries

  • Thurs:  Chinese Take-out!
  • Fri: Date Night and Leftover Buffet!
photo 4

light is odd, it was NOT that orangey!

I’m not even putting the scores up there. It’s nearly six months into the Internet Accountability Project. You know what the score here is–two good days, one half-assed day and two days completely off the rails.  That’s an 8 point week, and we all know it.

Here’s the original plan:

  • Mon: sandwiches, and white beans with escarole & sausage
  • Tues: chicken pot pie, fruit and garden salad
  • Wed: bbq chicken mac and cheese, fruit & veg
  • Thurs: baked deviled eggs, garden salad, grits
  • Fri: Taco Tuesday on Freedom Friday. 

I did start amazingly well.  That’s what happens when your neighbor shows up with a huge sack of escarole.  You have to eat things your neighbors give you. It’s a rule.  DH has a rule that if a toddler offers him food he has to eat it, in order to reinforce the idea that sharing and being thoughtful of others is a good thing (also that food is good. the man is a fan of food).  I have a rule that if a neighbor shows up with something they grew, it’s getting eaten.

Unless it’s that weird death fruit. I’m not eating that. Even Andrew Zimmern spit out durian, and he is the grown-up globetrotting Mikey of the Food Channel.  He’ll eat anything.

Truth be told, I was the only one that ate the beans/escarole/sausage for dinner on Monday. Everyone else opted for a sandwich. But they gave it a try first, and that’s fine with me.

   this was really good

this was really good

I think the end of the week derailed due to a combination of me making a plan that I knew might not be received well (the baked deviled eggs thing is something only I like, for some mysterious reason) and us hitting another stretch of weeks that have a lot of socializing/sports/activities.  Opening my fridge right now would show a lot of takeout containers and leftover Chinese food.  But we all got to see friends and get our activities done, so that’s the upside.

Also a fun point? WordPress doesn’t think ‘escarole’ is a thing, so it keeps trying to suggest other things.  Mostly ‘estragole’ which looks like this:

Screen shot 2015-04-20 at 1.13.17 AM

and not really like the leafy stuff in the bowl over there. Though it is in some leafy thingsLooking at you bay and tarragon!

See you tomorrow for the meal plan! Cheep Cheep!

Monday Night Goal Post (yes, it’s Tuesday morning, but how nitpicky do we really need to be here?)

This week I am really trying to work out of the pantry and freezer because I’ve got a quarter of a cow showing up here soon and need the freezer space and my pantry is a shambles.  Boy was recently pondering our storage possibilities and told me he thought we could toss the entire pantry because ‘it’s full of stuff we never eat, so let’s put other stuff there’.

Sure. Let’s do that.  Lego with marinara will surely work out.

This week’s plan, barring remodeling:

  • Mon: sandwiches,leftovers, and white beans with escarole and Italian sausage
  • Tues: chicken pot pie, fruit and garden salad
  • Wed: bbq chicken mac and cheese, fruit & veg
  • Thurs: baked deviled eggs, garden salad, grits
  • Fri: Taco Tuesday on Freedom Friday. My kids swear this is funny. I don’t get it.

Things I’m using that are on sale are the Italian sausage, chicken thighs for the pot pie, lettuce and tomatoes for the salad, and the eggs are Easter eggs that the kids can finally start to part with.  Yes, we’re weirdos that eat the dyed eggs because we can. 

That’s how Cheepie rolls. Let me know how you’re rolling this week!

Dinner Score, Week 22

 I hear you. I know. Where’s Week 21? How can I just leave it back there, unscored and unloved?  What kind of cruel mayhem is being wrought?

In the interest of looking forward I’m just abandoning it. The Internet Accountability Project has survived larger hits than this, and I know we’ll muddle through somehow.  We’ll just put it down to Spring Fever and get on with our bad selves.  The Complaint Department looks forward to your letters.

Here’s the goal, as a reminder:

  • Mon:  baked chicken leg quarters, grapes, broccoli, spinach salad with strawberries, potato salad
  • Tues: fried rice, egg drop soup, apples, frozen veg.photo 1
  • Wed: fresh pasta with sausage, onions and peppers, Caesar salad, fruit, 
  • Thurs: BBQ chicken wings, rice, peas, fruit
  • Fri:  pizza, fruit, salad

The actual:

  • Mon: see above (benefits of writing after eating. 3 points.

    photo 2

    Look how pretty!

  • Tues: pork fried rice, carrots, apples, cooked spinach. 3 points.
  • Wed: ziti with peppers and sausage, Caesar salad, grapes. 3 points.
  • Thurs:  P Terry’s. 0 points.
  • Fri: Leftover Buffet! 1 point.

The end of the week was a bit of a mistake, but I rocked the beginning of the week.  

Everyone ate the pasta dish on Wednesday, even though there were vegetables touching meat touching noodles!  Tiny wasn’t thrilled about it, and separated everything, but I was a happy camper.  One pot dishes are my favorites. Along with crockpot dishes. And things grilled in foil packets. And casseroles.  I may have a problem in this area, so we’ll just agree I like a lot of things and move on to the scoring.

10 points is a good week. A solid B- or so. I was happy with the meals, and even Friday was a plus to me because we’d stacked up a lot of leftovers and it’s nice to not cook for a night.  It was also a frugal week because nearly everything was either in my house already or was a sale item. Cheepie is a fan of weeks where that happens!

I’ve slipped a good bit on the goal of having Boy and Tiny each take a night to cook dinner.  The effort required to walk them through it at the end of the day was a drain at the end of the day that had me losing my patience, which wasn’t helping them learn how to put a meal together but more learning how to get out of my way.  While that is an important skill, it’s not the one I was hoping they’d learn. So we’ll keep trying, and I’ll note when they are involved and how it worked out.

Cheep Cheep!

Monday Night Goal Post

I’m doing the plan post before the score post–just this side of criminal behavior. But I really didn’t want to let the plan post get to Tuesday again. It’s so cheating when we’ve already eaten the plan.

So, quick and dirty, here it is:

photo

lemon pepper thighs cooked up nicely!

Mon:  baked chicken leg quarters, grapes, broccoli, spinach salad with strawberries, potato salad

Tues: fried rice, egg drop soup, apples, frozen veg.

Wed: fresh pasta with sausage, onions and peppers, Caesar salad, fruit, 

Thurs: BBQ chicken wings, rice, peas, fruit

Fri:  pizza, fruit, salad

Sale items I’m using this week are the chicken leg quarters, grapes, strawberries, potatoes, and sausage.  Shopping the sales this week had me pondering whether I should get my act together and write up a grocery budget.  It’s one of those things I always mean to do, but never get around to. Like printing out a weekly schedule so we all know what’s happening every day–it’s smart, not too tricky, and should happen, but I just don’t do it.

Do any of you work with a weekly grocery budget? Monthly? Do you plan out meals, or do you plan on shopping sales and then making plans? I’d love to hear how you deal with this. I know my ‘shop sales when I have time and also then buy bread and milk’ plan is not the most effective!

Monday Night Goal Post

In a crazy switcheroo, I’m planning the meals before we’ve eaten even one. It’s possible I’m doing so just because the Walking Dead finale upset me so much that I’m galvanized into action. 

He’s trapped in a car surrounded by zombies, but he’s thinking about the $1 pork butts at HEB.

It’s also possibly because seeing commercials during the Walking Dead finale for not only some abomination of a movie called Poltergeist, but also another Terminator movie, made it hard for me to get to bed last night.  Its kind of a lot to cope with given I was already dealing with Daryl trapped with Happy Camp Counselor Dave in a zombie-surrounded car.

Remaking the movie with the scariest clown ever, and putting your new version of that clown in the commercial? You’re doing Poltergeist all wrong, Movie People. Wrong wrong wrongity wrong.

So, here we go. A week of meals before we’ve eaten any, none of which will involve anything clown-colored or tinfoil shiny:

  • Mon: Cajun stuffed chicken, roast potatoes, garden salad, fruit
  • Tues: soup, salad, sandwiches
  • Wed: pork chops, pasta with garlic and herbs, spinach, fruit
  • Thurs: Leftover Buffet!
  • Fri:  Lasagna, salad, roasted vegetables, fruit

 

***Note: I did write this early on Monday, but due to technical issues I didn’t get it published until today.  Getting distracted by making myself a cheese sandwich is a technical issue for our purposes.