Thursday, June 12, 2014

Frugal Cooking

So here is another cooking post! I went to the grocery store today. Isn't life something in the US when one feels guilty going to get groceries more than once a month! Oh well, I'm not complaining, I haven't missed a meal and that's a lot more than a lot of other people.

But making the dollar stretch, it takes commitment and dedication!

I didn't need much. I do rely on my Bountiful Baskets produce for much of the basis of my meals. At the local mom & pop grocery store they often have things marked down. Today was a slow day in the store and a good day for a lot of items that were marked down. I got two containers of mushrooms for 99 cents each. A loaf of rye bread for $1.25. Oranges, four for 99 cents. OJ is too expensive now but I'll make slice the oranges to make orange-infused waters and that will be very good and enjoyable! Four green peppers for 50 cents each. A half dozen huge bananas for 99 cents, 4 were brown and 2 were still good.

I also bought milk and yogurt. The yogurt is intended to become the basis for smoothies, and those bananas are part of the reason.

Alfredo sauce was also on sale. Though I'd never had alfredo sauce, I bought it, because I knew at home I had a bag of really good broccoli from BB, and combined with the mushrooms on sale, which needed to be cooked right away, and egg noodles I had on hand, some cheddar cheese I needed to use up, it'd be a great casserole. And it is!

All I did was, cook the egg noodles and drain them. I put them in a large bowl. I chopped the broccoli and put it in a bowl in the microwave and cooked until al dente. I sauteed the mushrooms in a bit of butter and a ready-made spice mix and salt. I threw in the vegetables with the egg noodles and mixed. Then I poured the can of Alfredo sauce over it until everything was coated. I watched the proportion of noodles to broccoli, a failing of mine. I was glad I hadn't put ALL the noodles in, because there would have been too much noodle and not enough broccoli. I saved aside the noodles that didn't make it into the casserole for another day. I had also been careful with the sauce, using just enough to coat but not so much that it'd be soppy.

I put it in an ungreased casserole dish (only because I don't like to butter my dishes, too messy). I added a bit more sauce over the top, and sprinkled cheddar cheese over that. I baked at 350 degrees until the top was brown. That's it! It took only about ten minutes to put together.

While it was baking I looked up recipes for how to use over-ripe bananas. Buying marked down food means you're making a commitment to use it right away, and not waste it.

I found a recipe that, lo and behold, didn't use too many ingredients, take too long to make, was too complicated, and called for ingredients I had on hand. You might get the idea that though I enjoy being frugal and using the food I've bought appropriately and healthily, I do NOT like to spend my afternoons on the kitchen. I enjoy the product but not the process. I am The Lazy Cook

It was oatmeal-banana cookies, that relied on raisins for sweetness. No flour (again, too messy) and used only less than a tsp of sugar (yay!) and Cinnamon and walnuts. I didn't have walnuts but I mashed up some almonds and threw them in. They are chewy and filling. It used two bananas, and made 12 cookies. They are kind of a cross between a cookie and a chewy bar.

Two other bananas I chopped and put in baggies in the freezer, next to the mangoes I'd done the same with. Along with yogurt, the frozen fruit will become smoothies on the next hot day.

Two other bananas went into the fruit bowl on the counter, they're not over-ripe.

I haven't decided what to do with the four green peppers, but one of my favorite dishes is eggs N peppers so that will take care of at least one pepper. Turkey was on sale so that takes care of the bread I'd bought. I keep the bread in the fridge to keep it fresh longer.

Half the trip was to the Dollar Store, where I purchased TP, paper towels, canned black beans for quinoa and black bean patties in a few days, penne (garden tomatoes are coming in, so I'm anticipating) deodorant, trash bags and a few other things. Some items you CANNOT do without! Even for a minute! No matter how frugal you are! Dairy is really going through the roof, but I still bought milk, yogurt, cheese, and creamer. Between fresh groceries and hard goods, the entire trip was still $47. Sigh.

Anyway, that was my foray into the wilds of the small town and the mom & pop store. I very much enjoyed it. The day is cooler and fresh after last night's storms. It isn't too hot and searching for good quality goods on a budget is like a scavenger hunt. I emerged with some great items. I supported the local store. I have transformed the items into comfort food and there's something to be said for that.


Anonymous said...

"So here is another cooking post!" -


The casserole looks delicious. I love casseroles because you can put whatever you want in them!

Where did you find that oatmeal banana cookie recipe? I'm always looking for flourless / no wheat recipes.

Oh yes, and I found a way to finish up the lime - I found I like lemon-lime water. Plain lime, not so much. But in combination with lemon, good!


Elizabeth Prata said...

Ooohhh, lemon-lime water. I will try that immediately. Limes are just SO sour in the water.

Here is the recipe for the banana-oatmeal thing.

Banana Oatmeal “Cookies”
"I’d very loosely call these treats cookies. Why? The recipe is basically two ingredients, oats and bananas, plus a few add-ins. Also, it’s pretty healthy. Probably with my add-ins they’re only about 40 calories each, but don’t let that scare you. These “cookies” are actually very tasty, like baked banana oatmeal in portable form."

They're gluten free and the recipe author explains how she changed the recipe a bit from the original, and also recommends substitutions and also changes that didn't work out so well. Enjoy!

I’d very loosely call these treats cookies. Why? The recipe is basically two ingredients, oats and bananas, plus a few add-ins. Also, it’s pretty healthy. Probably with my add-ins they’re only about 40 calories each, but don’t let that scare you. These “cookies” are actually very tasty, like baked banana oatmeal in portable form.

Read more:

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you so much for the recipe! Definitely sound like they're worth a try.

I agree, lime alone is so sour, but when mixed with lemon, I was very happy with the results. Hope you like it, too!