Pizza Night on the cheap!

I am really fascinated with finding the cost of every meal because I think people are just wrong with how much it cost to eat real food. Tonight me did tortilla pizzas. Its a pretty simple thing. Tortillas on a cookie sheet with all your fixing, baked in the oven at 350 for about 8 minutes (my oven runs cold, so you might not need so long).

Now lets look at how much this cost (again, I will round some numbers up).

1 pack of 10 tortillas I got at the bread outlet for $1.10

1 bottle of organic pizza sauce that I paid $1.00 for and I used less then a third of the bottle. I will say the cost for this meal is 34 cents.

1 bell pepper I bought in the discount produce section for 33 cents

1/2 an onion  for 19 cents

Six of the pizzas had cheese. I bought the cheese on sale for $3.99 for 2 pounds, that makes the cost for this recipe about 50 cents.

The ones with cheese also had smoked sausage. I got the package for $1.00 and used a third of it, making it 34 cents for this recipe.

Three had no cheese and I used hummus. I bought a 2 pound container for 4.99. I used 1/4 of a cup for all 3 pizzas. That is a cost of 33 cents.

I used Field Roast Sausage on those. A package of 12 cost $12.00. I used only 1, costing $1.00 for this meal.

The total for this meal for my family of 5 is $4.13. That is actually a lot better than I thought. It is interesting to see how cheap you can make a healthy meal. What is your best and healthiest “budget” meal?

Easy Veggie Alphabet Soup

One argument for eating healthy is that it is too expensive. For example, you can buy a box of mac and cheese for under a dollar, than with butter and milk it cost closer to $2.

I can do better and have done better. This meal is an example of that. I am new to writing recipes but am very familiar with the math, so if a miss something in writing it out please let me know. I am going to round up the prices to give you a “worst case scenario” for this recipe.

1 quart of broth – free (I make my own with veggies scarps)

1 can of diced tomatoes (59 cents at Fred Meyer or 78 cents at Costco for the organic)

1/2 an onion (onions are 39 cents a pound at Costco, so if an onion is a pound the cost for this recipe is about 20 cents)

2 minced cloves of garlic (I head of garlic is 33 cents a piece at Fred Meyer, if there is a dozen in a head The cost for this recipe is about 6 cents)

1/2 a bag or 1 cup of frozen veggies (These were 79 cents a bag at Fred Meyer the other day, for this recipe is 40 cents)

1 can or 2 cups cooked of beans (I used black beans today, which is 83 cents a pound but this could be made cheaper with a cheaper bean, i.e. lentils are 53 cents a pound. For this recipe, I paid about 40 cents.)

1/3 cup of alphabet pasta (I got mine in the Hispanic section at the grocery store for 33 cents a 7 ounce bag. The cost for this recipe is about 11 cents. This could be made even cheaper using rice. Rice is only 19 cents a pound, which would make the cost for this recipe would be 6 cents.)

For the last few ingredients I am going to roughly estimate 50 cents. These are harder to calculate.

1 tbls olive oil

1 tbls cumin

healthy pinch of salt and pepper.

Warm oil in a pot and sweat onions and garlic. Add Add everything except pasta and bring to a boil. Add pasta, bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer and cover. Simmer for about 15 min or until pasta is tender. Now your ready to eat.

The total cost for this is $2.45. My kids think it is ok and my hubby had seconds. Plus, I have leftovers. When was the last time you had left overs with mac and cheese. If you use lentils, rice and the cheaper tomatoes your cost is $2.02. Eating right on a mac and chees budget!

My first canning adventure

One task I have always wanted to tackle is canning. I am afraid it is a skill that maybe dieing. It helps us be more self reliant people, when we grow and preserve our own food.
A few years ago my sister gave me this book.

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I never got around to using it. It has been just sitting on my shelf.
This past weekend, I wanted to work on my tater tot casserole so I packed up the kids and walked to the store. We checked out the discount bin and found tons of apples. This is what we got.

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All this was under $18. The most expensive things were the tater tots and the hot dogs, my back up plan if dinner went south.
There are more than 13 pounds of apples in that picture, totaling $8.
The whole process of canning applesauce was easier than I thought.

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Aren’t they beautiful? All jars sealed. Yay! My total for this project was, about, $2 a jar. Not the cheapest but nothing in the jar but apples and lemon juice.

Vegan Tater Tot casserole

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Pardon the picture but I am not a photographer and I won’t pretend to be.

I have been craving Tater Tot Casserole for weeks. I had no idea where to start on a recipe. When I would search pinterest, everything that came up had some vegan “meat” involved. I hate fake meat. I accepted the fact, when I gave up eating meat, dairy and eggs, there are just some things that won’t be the same and I have never tried to replace them.

One day, someone posted a recipe for “tuna” noodle casserole on the plant based facebook group I am a part of. I don’t remember that recipe being particularly interesting but it did reference a website that had a recipe for “cream of mushroom” soup. BINGO! I can not find the original recipe to link you to it. The website is worth a look for anyone looking into plant based recipes, though. I found, as I was trying to make this, that the specific recipe didn’t work for what I needed it to, anyways.

“Cream” of Mushroom soup

3 Tablespoons all purpose flour

3 Tablespoons Olive oil

2 cups non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened, unflavored almond)

2 cups veggie broth

8 ounces mushrooms (finely chopped)

1 large onion (finely chopped)

salt and pepper

In a pan on medium, heat oil then add flour and make a roux. When roux is ready (a clay like consistency), add liquid a little at a time, stirring well, so everything is nice and smooth. Once all liquid is add, bring to a simmer and add mushrooms and onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let everything simmer for about 20 minutes, until desired consistency and flavor is reached. (Makes about 4 cups of soup) *Note* I could just eat this with some nice crusty bread and be really happy.

For Tater Tot Casserole:

1 cup dried lentils

4 cups veggie broth

ground sage

12 – 16 ounce package of frozen mixed veggies

1/2 of the mushroom soup recipe above

Salt and pepper

1 package of Tater Tots

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a pan, after you rinse and sort lentils, cook lentils in veggie broth until all broth is absorbed by lentils (30 – 45 minutes). Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sage (sage gives you more of the “beef” flavor). Mix cooked lentils with veggies and soup. Place in a 9X13 pan (I didn’t “grease” and had no problems). Top with Tater Tots. Bake for 45 min.

Let cool before you eat. My kids loved this! I think it is a win and the first time writing a recipe. YAY! I hope you enjoy this, too. Try this and let me know what you think.

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Update 4/13/15: I made this yesterday and forgot to divide the soup in half before pouring over the lentils and veggies. That means I used the whole soup recipe instead of half. I simply added another bag of frozen veggies and followed the rest of the casserole as written. It turned out fine. It is just a ton of food.

Dinner this weekend….YUM!

Friday I made fajitas! Yum, right? Not so much this time. They were good but not great. The only thing that I did different was the way I marinated the meat before hand (note, vinegar is not a great marinade for fajitas). Needless to say no one really liked them. I tried to force it on everyone for the next night’s dinner and that was still a no go.

I hate wasting food and wasn’t ready to give this to the chickens. So instead I decided to make soup. I sautéed fresh peppers and onions , chopped up all the leftovers even smaller. I added the mexican rice and refried beans that I had also made on Friday and homemade broth from the freezer. And then, AWESOMENESS! It is killer soup.

Lesson, don’t give up on your food mistakes. Many times it can be rescued into something fantastic.

Was there a meal that you rescued recently? Dinner is a huge challenge for me, so I would love to hear what you have done.