Monday, November 26, 2007

Making meals with dry goods and pantry basics-A week, or more, of pantry scraping

It's going to be a tight month for us, really tight. The GH's line work has always been affected by season, and this year more than usual. (That means it's been a while since we've seen a paycheck and it may be even longer before one appears. Such is the lot of the self-employed. Especially when some clients don't pay on time. Sigh.) Plus there are two little girls with birthdays in December, and lots of holiday related things. I'll be hand making a lot of gifts from materials I already have stashed, I already have some gifts tucked away. And, I'm spending as little as possible on groceries. I've been talking a lot lately about how little you have to spend to eat real food that's good for you. Now it's time to put my money, or lack of it, where my mouth is. Literally.

A quick look through my kitchen give me this list of things to work with:
lentils-red and green lots
10 pounds jasmine rice
5 pounds red rice
1 pounds black rice
1-2 pounds sticky rice
1 bag dry black beans
1/2 back pinto beans
lots of tiny little white beans
1 pound of black eyed peas
whole oats
a huge bag of textured vegetable protein (Made with soy flour)
whole wheat flour
white flour
fresh ground flour
wheat berries
3 sweet potatoes
4 onions
condiments and crushed garlic
chicken broth
rice stick
spring roll wrappers
maseca-Flour for corn tortillas
alfalfa seeds
zesty salad mix sprouting seeds
One 12 pound turkey in the freezer. Purchased for $5 on sale.
Several chicken legs, $0.49/lb. I have a rain check for more when I run out.
2 whole chickens (These were free because we butchered them ourselves for the GH's parents when they stopped laying. They are old and tough and will take some unusual measures to render edible.)
Frozen edamame
frozen green beans
frozen cranberries
2 eggs
2 quarts of yogurt
half a large box of powdered skim milk
frozen seafood stock
stockpiled baking items, chocolate chips, nuts, icing, etc.
almost out of honey
a little bit of sugar
a lot of tea
1 loaf of bread
maple syrup
canola oil
and many condiments and spices.

I still have a few apples left, I stocked up when they went on sale for $0.57/pound a few weeks ago.

Still growing in my pots,
garlic chives
mint (Not thriving)

As you can see, I do have quite a lot stockpiled that I can work with. I am going to try and not buy anything fresh and see how long I can go this way. I will eventually need to get honey for bread. And I can't imagine I'll be able to avoid buying eggs for long. I'll be making a sourdough starter so I don't need to worry when I run out of yeast. I really wish we weren't out of peanut butter. I read that you can make yogurt out of powdered milk and no one can tell the difference, but I haven't tried it yet. I'll be testing that out when we run out of yogurt.

So, are you wondering what we ate today?

Lunch was rice with an egg stirred in toward the end of cooking. We call it yellow rice. And edamame, (Soy beans). The kids ate it. It all depends on the sauce. I let them dip it in kecap manis. I suppose starving them helps too. And by starving them I mean feeding them yogurt for breakfast, and sprouted almonds, and dates, and apples, and toast.

For dinner I bought something. I spent $1 on a ham hock to make navy bean soup. Actually I spent $3 for 3 because that's how they were packaged. I'll put the other 2 in the freezer for another time.

1 lb dried navy beans (These were free actually, my friend gave them to me when she moved away, but for the sake of conversation...) shall we say $1?
ham hock $1
one onion $0.40

Soak the beans for several hours, then put in the crock pot with the ham hock and a lot of water. Cook on low overnight. At lunch time or so, chop the onion and add it to the crock pot along with 2 tsp minced garlic and some bay leaves. An hour before serving I fished the bones out with a slotted spoon, picked the meat off and added it back into the soup. I'm deciding if there is another broth in the bones still, I think there might be. At the end I also added salt, pepper, old bay spice, thyme, parsley, etc.

So the soup cost $2.40. There is more than half left, which I put in the freezer for another day,

Cost of main course $1.20

To go with it I made Indian Corn Pone, following the recipe in the More with Less cookbook.

1 cup corn meal $0.15 (I got the large bag at Big Lot's for $2.)
1/2 tsp salt-negligible
1 tsp baking powder-negligible

2 tbsp fat-I used canola oil $0.10
3/4 cup powdered milk $0.25
1/2 cup water.

Stir together in order and let sit for a bit so the cornmeal has a chance to soften. Using a table spoon drop spoonfuls into a hot greased skillet and flatten with a spatula. Flip when the bottom is golden and cook until both sides are golden. Serve immediately.

So, the side dish with extra protein cost $0.50.

We also had some fresh springs of parsley for the vegetable. Free from the planter.

Total cost of dinner for 4 people $1.90

Except for the cornmeal, I'm basing this on regular prices, not sales. Imagine if I got it on sale.


Rose said...

I am so glad to hear you mention Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP). I had never heard of it until last week, when I read a blog post on it (, and now I am all intrigued. Do you use it regularly? Do you recommend it? How do you fix it?

Carrien said...

HI Rose,

I usually use TVP in sauces where I would normally add ground beef. IT's flavor is quite distinctive, sort of nutty, and the texture is very similar to ground beef. You should soak it before cooking, unless it's going into a soup.

I like to soak it in broth to add more flavor to it. My favorite thing to do with it is put it in a meatless lasagna to make the cottage cheese go farther. I've tricked my dad before by cooking it in beef broth first and then adding it to pasta.

It's also great in casseroles. It's really quite versatile.

I use it sparingly simply because my husband tries to avoid soy protein. He's of the opinion that it's the cause of really excessive and stinky flatulence for him. SO I stick to it for me and the kids. :)

a. borealis said...

I've had to live like this before too...looking at cupboards I previously would have considered bare and creating a week's worth (or more) of meals out of it. It was really quite fun, I thought. My horizons were definitely expanded: the old rush to the grocery store has been tempered by that experience. There's always something to learn...

Good luck!

coraspartan said...

After seeing your pantry contents, I have an embarassing but nevertheless pressing question: I see you have a LOT of beans. Doesn't your family get gassy from all these beans? Seriously. If I eat anything with beans I am uncomfortably gassy the rest of the night.

I would love to incorporate more beans into my menus, but for this reason am unable to.

Do you eat something with the beans that cuts down on their gassiness?

I am asking these questions in all honesty.

Asha said...

Well said.

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