Thursday, January 6, 2011

Being Flexible and Cooking From Scratch

I feel like I'm busy and don't have a lot of extra time, but I do know I have more time than money these days. Here are a few things I've done this week to save money in the kitchen. They take a little more time, but the savings and the quality are worth it to me.

We wanted tortilla chips with a meal, but we were out. Instead of going out to buy the chips we didn't have, I cut some corn tortillas that we did have and fried them in peanut oil until crisp. They were both heartier and tastier than bagged chips.

Instead of buying egg noodles we didn't have, I decided to make homemade noodles from eggs and flour we did have. Again, more filling (don't need to eat as much) and better tasting. I'll be needing some linguini or thick spaghetti to make lo mein this weekend.  I think I'll make some thinly cut homemade noodles instead.

I like to keep buttermilk in the fridge for making homemade ranch dressing and other things. I was out, but instead of buying more, I remembered I have kefir starter in the fridge, so I made kefir. I could also have made homemade yogurt with some yogurt I already have on hand. Kefir and yogurt can both make a good substitute for buttermilk.

Yogurt was on sale, and I had a coupon, but I decided I'll make my own if I really want yogurt. It's still cheaper than the store yogurt.

I was planning to serve bratwursts with sauerkraut one night soon, but I don't have kraut. Rather than buy any, I've decided to have grilled onions and peppers with the brats, since I have both of those items already. I'll also make the buns from scratch.

Are any of you doing similar things to save money this month/year?  Is it a ramped-up effort, or something you do all the time?  Or are you like me, falling somewhere in between?


slugmama said...

Instead of buying pizza last night or buying a crust and making our own, I made pizza dough. Cost me about the same to make dough for 3 large pies as it would have cost to buy 1 premade crust.
Though I have both spare cash and time on my hands, I prefer to use my time and save the cash this year.
I did buy yogurt today(haven't bought it since last summer!)because the store had it on clearance for .99¢ per 6 pack AND I had $1/1 coupons so it was free!....I heart free and semi-healthy....except for all that sugar they add but that gets the teens to eat it so I'll take that

Jill said...

I like substituting and making from scratch too! right now I have so many leftovers we are still using them up and I have made some interesting combinations, lol.

Andrea said...

We have started doing this in our house more and more too. Most of it seems to be pretty easy once we start doing it. It is just the effort for us to actually start.

DarcyLee said...

We love the fried tortilla chips! So much better than anything you can get out of the bag. I'm also making more of our bread and buns. Another thing we love better than store-bought. I also almost always buy dried beans, soak them, slowcook them, and then freeze them in batches instead of buying canned. Saves so much money.

McVal said...

I make homemade pizza (dough & sauce included) at least once on the weekends. If I dont' have pizza sauce, I improvise. I throw in a loaf of bread into the bread machine when I remember.
I'm impressed with your ingenuity, wow! Kefir starter? You just happened to have that? What if kefir?

The Cookbook Junkie said...

Unfortunately I lack time and money but push has come to shove. This divorce has put me in a huge hole. I need to buckle down and my food budget is about the only place that I can really tighten up.

It helps that my soon-to-be-ex has no shame and has no problem eating the food I buy and make so you won't see me making anything expensive in the near future.

We've always done just appetizers on New Year's Eve and I actually did make a meal that night (I haven't been cooking for 'him'). I wasn't going to have to buy anything special when I looked at what I had in the house already. I had purchased fresh mushrooms on a whim a few days before so I made stuffed mushrooms using one last turkey sausage patty I had in the freezer, breadcrumbs, butter, etc. I had a half of pound of ground beef in the freezer so I made a queso dip (we had plenty of tortilla chips, cheese,salsa and some pickled jalapenos). I stretched it out by making it with a white sauce instead of using all cheese. We had some steaks in the freezer so I made teriyaki steak strips. We had carrots and celery with ranch dressing and chips and salsa.

I was going to make chicken quesadillas too since we had everything to make those but I did end up buying wings in Costco since we traditionally have wings on NYE and I was suddenly feelin generous. They were nice big Purdue hot wings. Then I had to buy blue cheese dip (actually cheaper than buying the ingredients I needed to make it).

Anonymous said...

Making do or doing without....

Yep. We are all eating sandwiches without cheese this week because we ran out and I am not running to the store to pick some up!

I've been living by this principle for several months now. It just takes some thought and "looking outside the box" mentality.


Annie Jones said...

Sluggy: I usually make my own pizza crust, too. I have a recipe that is almost as quick as those pizza crust mixes you can buy at the store.

Jill: With Shane out of town, we've been eating a lot of leftovers, too. The holiday ones are gone, but there were some from earlier in the week before we knew he'd be out of town.

Andrea: You're right that sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Thanks for stopping by; I'm following your blog now. :)

Darcy: I usually cook beans from the dry form, too. The layered bean dip I too to the NYE party was a hit, but I didn't bother to tell anyone there that the beans were from dry and the salsa was from our own canned tomatoes. That particular group of friends just wouldn't have "got it". :(

McVal: Kefir is a fermented grain "beverage" usually made with a dairy base. It's very much like liquid yogurt. I was on a kefir kick a year or so ago and I just happened to have one packet of starter still in the fridge.

CJ: Some things really are just as cheap or convenient to buy. I've made my own mayo, but found that to get the quality of oil I want in it, it's more expensive than commercial brands. Same with chocolate syrup. I can and do make it at home when I don't want to buy it, but it doesn't really save me any money.

Anonymous Melinda: I think you're like me on this...frugal all the time, but even more so when the situation calls for it.

Diane said...

We are truly trying to not spend and save at the moment. I don't cook as much from scratch as I would like too, but working on that. I am working more with cooking from my pantry. Not buying anything grocery wise for another two weeks except milk, eggs, and bread. Only use what I have and make do. After I received our electric bill and it was still high after mostly using wood stoves for heat, I kind of got discouraged, but am rallying.

SonyaAnn said...

This is a great post! Den made homemade tortillas the other day. WOW they are so much better than the ones in a bag.

Alea said...

I like your style! These are great tips. I love the tip you shared on my post for how you make steamed dupplings. The next time you make them you will have to take pictures, it really is a brilliant idea!