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Friday, February 17, 2017

THE $20 EXPERIMENT: DAY 4

Hello dear friends!  Welcome to day four of my $20 food challenge.  Today was all about making decisions.  Do I use the soup to make another recipe or just reheat it?  Do I use the last of the kale?  Do I use some of the oatmeal to make a thickener?  Use the tortillas?  My supplies are dwindling and now hard decisions have to be made if the food will see us through three more days.

What We Had For Lunch

Pot pie!  Made the decision to use the last of the meat, because well, I don't know how long meat stays good in the fridge, but it was definitely time to use it up.  I strained the soup through a fine mesh sieve.  The meat and vegetables went into the pan for the basis of the pot pie. I also added the remainder of the meat and one more potato to stretch it further.  This ended up being a meatier pie then I usually make. The next question was how to make a gravy without any flour or cornstarch for a thickener.  To get around that I ground some of the oatmeal in my electric coffee grinder.
It made a nice flour if I do say so myself.  To make the gravy I heated the broth from the soup to boiling and stirred in the oat flour  combined with approximately 3/4 C. water.  Whisked it like mad until it began to thicken. I set aside about  1/2-3/4 C. to flavor another meal.
I prepared the remaining Jiffy biscuit mix and patted it out onto a piece of waxed paper since I didn't have any flour to roll the dough out onto.  I patted it fairly thinly and had enough dough left over to make three small
biscuits for a meal for another day.  Here's how it all turned out:
And we had enough left over for a meal on another day, so that's one less worry.

The guys both ate two servings, it was a good and surprisingly tasty meal.

Dinner

Dinner was light fare, one of those quesadillas that I wrote about in the day 1 post, using 6 tortillas, a cup of beans, and a bit of cheese.  Since this is all of the fat I have left:
from defatting the soup, I opted not to use it to make the quesadillas this time.  I'll save it for making bean hash.
They burnt a little without greasing the pan, but tasted fine.

What I Have Left For The Remainder of The Experiment

I still have plenty of cheese, been using it very sparingly, like one swipe over the cheese grater for each time I use it. In the vegetable department I have about a pound of potatoes,  two carrots, about 1/3 of the can of fire-roasted tomatoes, 2-3 C. of the beans and about 3/4 C of the kale left.  We still have almost all of the oatmeal, no one wants to eat it,  we've just been skipping breakfast. There's also the three tortillas and three biscuits, 1/2 the bottle of barbecue sauce, two oranges and three bananas and two meals of leftovers; the pot pie and the dreaded beans and rice.  While trying to make room in my fridge for the chicken I'm canning I discovered that I had a head of Romaine lettuce I need to use soon, so I'm swapping out the taco shells for that, even in an experiment, I'm not going to waste good food.  The taco shells were 99 cents and the lettuce was 98 cents so it's a pretty even trade.  So it looks like I'm in a pretty good position to reach my goal of feeding our family of three adults on $20 for one wee with nothing from the pantry, I might add, except for salt and pepper, which I haven't even used very much and probably could have done without.

What I Learned So Far

I've learned that if you really follow portion sizes, a small bit of food can go a long way.  That I don't need sweets, I'm learning to love fruits.  That I'm glad I did this!  It's actually a very healthy way to eat (except for not having enough vegetables) , there's very little fat and sugar, and if I swapped out the tortillas for whole-grain ones, that would have been better too. There's also very little waste, just orange rinds and banana peels, which went into the compost, so it's good for the environment too.  So thank you Mrs. Shoes, for inspiring me with your comment to give it a try! 

Hugs
Jane






35 comments:

  1. Jane, your $20 posts remind me of several years in the early 80s when all we had to spend for groceries for each week was $20 period, and there were three of us back then. We ate well only because I cooked from scratch, of course.

    I'm droolin' just looking at your pot pie, and I love your pie bird. I have one just like it and a plain white one that I found at a thrift store for 50 cents ea. Love them.
    Have a great weekend!
    Toni

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    1. When Ran and I were married we had a budget of $35 for two weeks, which included toiletries. Potatoes and bacon ends and pieces saved the day for us. We ate a lot of soups, eggs and beans.

      I saw a really fancy blue and white piebird at a thrift store a while back, but was too stingy to buy it, it cost $5. I think it was by that Polish pottery company that sells on QVC.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  2. I don't know that I've ever been a source of inspiration; what a nice compliment!

    Once (years & years ago, when told to stretch my food budget, I made a steak & kidney pie, which I thought was quite good. However, after also having eaten liver & heart the same week, Mr Shoes decided that perhaps he'd rather add a few dollars to my budget than eat organ meats more than once a week. ;-)

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    1. Ha! There's a reason that offal rhymes with awful! Now days it probably cost more for the organ meats than regular meat. I remember making oxtail soup back in the day and it was a nice hearty cheap soup, so I went looking for oxtail. It cost over $8/lb! So much for that!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  3. Dear Jane,

    I'm enjoying following your $20 week. I agree it can be done, but it certainly tests your creativity, doesn't it? Good luck!

    Love,

    Marqueta

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    1. It's kind of fun Marqueta. I imagine our pioneer ancestors had these dilemmas when they were settling the country and couldn't just run to the store. Now I'm wondering if it would be cheaper to grind your own oat flour from oatmeal or to buy it already ground?

      Hugs
      Jane

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  4. Well done in the creativity department, and in feeding your family! I'm curious about your pie bird. I was gifted one last year, but have not yet used it. Does it seem to make a difference in the end product?

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    1. I guess pie birds are used for making berry pies, which can be juicy so that the crusts don't get too soggy, Laurie. I've never noticed any difference, I just use one because they are cute and makes the pies look special, :)

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Good to know. It does indeed look cute. I've mostly been making sweet potato and pumpkin pies lately, but will give it a try with my next juicy pie.

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    3. I don't usually need to worry about soggy crusts, any time I make pie, the guys finish it off before it has a chance to get soggy. Ha!

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  5. Enjoying these posts.
    The pot pie sounds terrific!

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    1. Thanks Annie! It actually wasn't half bad!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  6. Hi, I saw your $20/week grocery experiment, and went back to read from January of this year! I am in So. Calif. and my normal budget (for food only) is $75/month for 1 person. I've been told that it was set too low, but I've been managing quite well on that amount. I love how inventive you are being, to stretch your groceries to cover the entire week. I know you can do it!

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    1. Hello! I'm pretty sure I'll make it to day 7, too. I was thinking if it was just for 1 person, by the end of the week, I'd have about 2 lbs. of meat, 4 lbs. of potatoes, half a pound of carrots, plus some cheese and tortillas and one box of biscuits to start the next week with. It wouldn't take much to build up a nice pantry. $20/month is very doable here. How do the prices here compare to S. California?

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Based on the prices you posted on the Day 1 of this challenge, I'd say the grocery prices are quite comparable. Your cheese price is lower, I think (I rarely buy cheese) and I generally buy my carrots for under $.50/lb. I haven't seen chicken quarters for under $.49/lb. in years, however. They are on sale for $.59/lb. at one of the ethnic stores, this week.

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    3. I thought that was a pretty good price for cheese, Bless. I saw carrots in the store for two pounds for $1.50 so that price was high. The place I bought the chicken quarters at has a once a year sale, that we take advantage of every February. I'm just doing this once, you do it all the time! Job well done!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  7. Wonderful post Jane! That Pot Pie looks interesting, are biscuits like our scones? Here in NZ we have savoury as well as sweet scones and I wondered whether your biscuits are like our savoury ones? I have been known to use loosely ground oatmeal instead of stale breadcrumbs, especially good for gluten free meals. They crisp up really well.

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    1. I guess you'd say they are savory, Sharon. They are akin to a roll. Basically they are just shortening, flour, and baking powder, mixed with a bit milk (preferably buttermilk) to make a soft dough, rolled out about a 1/2 thick, cut into rounds and baked in a hot oven. I don't think they are the ideal thing for a pot pie, I much prefer a pie crust, but it worked in a pinch. Great idea on the oatmeal!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  8. Joan of Crystalview CottageFebruary 18, 2017 at 2:54 AM

    Good Morning Jane, What a wonderful experiment. You are so creative with your meals. When you used the coffee grinder it reminded me of Laura Ingalls Wilder in "The Long Winter" when they used their coffee grinder to grind wheat for their bread. You are very inspiring! BTW Didn't they film a movie in Bad Axe?

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    1. Yeah, I don't recall the name of it, it starred Sean Penn I believe. They filmed a Jeep commercial right here in Port Austin. They had to reroute the traffic. Ha! On any given day in the off-season you can shot a cannon down main street and not hit anyone, so rerouting the traffic must have one of the easiest jobs ever. We are getting to be quite trendy here with our farmer's market, resident artists and microbrewery. Look out Traverse City! Ha!

      BTW, I love the name of your cottage, Crystalview Cottage. We named ours too, Sweet Briar Cottage. Choosing names for cottages is almost as much fun as choosing a name for a baby.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  9. A pot pie! Thank you! I can't help but wonder how some things are difficult to remember. To me, I mean! Pot pie is one of them.

    As to organ meats, chicken liver is the cheapest one here.

    I have been a vegetarian, and even a vegan, for a long periods of time in my past, but last winter I began to yearn meat, it was so cold that my body really needed something sturdier. That got me questioning current nutrition recommendations. When I was growing up in the 60's and 70's, we didn't see vegetables during winter except for pickled cucumbers and beets, and an occasional baked dish of carrots. I have a vague memory of apples or oranges at Christmastime. Split pea soup was the only representative of legume family. What I mean is that vegetables are good, but if you can't afford, you won't die :-) To me, your meals look fancy :-)

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    1. I started getting low on iron, so had to start eating some red meat. Just couldn't eat enough spinach and kidney beans to make up the difference. I think the guys were happy about that, they do like a good burger from time to time.

      You're so right, Miriam, in the olden days before refrigeration and good transportation, people ate what they could preserve or root vegetables that they had in their root cellar and the survived, so all this fuss about fresh vegetables, I think is a tad bit overblown. But I do say, I do love biting into a nice crunchy veggie sub from Subway!
      I'm finding that these meals are so quick and easy to prepare too! I'm really beginning to think this is the way to go!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  10. Wait a minute....
    your closest town is actually named BAD AXE?
    That's awesome.

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    1. Yep, Mrs. Shoes! I think the story goes that a lumberjack tossed his broken axe out in the winter in the area, I guess in the Spring he regretted it and went back to retrieve it, took a look around and decided it would be a nice place to settle down, and founded Bad Axe. We also have a village named Hell here in Michigan. They make their money by selling t-shirts that say, "I went to Hell and all I got for it was the stupid t-shirt" Have a happy Saturday!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  11. We were in Michigan a few years ago and have a picture of my ds in front of the sign about the town of Bad Axe. We loved it. Can't remember why we were in the area but love Michigan, we are from Pennsylvania. Love your $20.00 experiment too. Cheryl

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    1. You must have been lost Cheryl! No one comes to this neck of the woods unless they have relatives here or took a wrong turn. Have a nice day!

      Hugs
      Jane

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    2. Wow you have done great! Your meals look delicious! You did better than I did on the $30 challenge, but I think it did me good to think of what I could cook if funds were really limited.

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    3. I think it's a good thing to try from time to time, Kathy. While I'm doing it, I'm teaching Jamie ways to economize, once we are gone. I think one person could very easily do this, but I'll ba glad to get back to being able to use my pantry.

      Hugs
      Jane

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  12. I had to laugh when you said you had your oatmeal left over because people would rather skip breakfast than eat oatmeal! I think I would have a worse problem here! Around here, they would just scorn the unpreferred food and then sneak out to the pantry/garage, etc. and eat what they wanted, cause that's what they do now. I don't think some of mine would want to "play" this game. It comes from having kids who were deprived as babies and toddlers, and it's a different problem than just being hungry in the moment.

    Since I have never missed a meal in my life, I find it fun to meet a food challenge and read about how others do. Although I haven't jumped on board this one exactly as others are doing, I often challenge myself to meet a certain monetary goal, or use certain ingredients, or to use up things that have been there for a while. I've enjoyed seeing what you are doing.

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    1. And that would be fine with me, Becky! If it makes the girls feel safe to have what they want from the pantry, well I guess I'd just find another way to economize.

      We usually don't eat breakfast so it wasn't that difficult to skip it anyhow. I thought the guys might be hungry and be ready to have oatmeal just to fill them up, but I guess not. I keep asking them if they are getting tired of this, but they say they are fine. Actually, it hasn't been much of a hardship at all, but I will be ready for more variety. Barbecued beans and potatoes and carrots is getting pretty old.

      I didn't even know others were doing these kind of challenges until commenters pointed it out. So I'm discovering some new blogs. It's always fun to see what others are doing!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  13. bluehousejournal I wrote you about just published your $20 challenge to click on today so there will be even more people sharing and learning. 'Sarah' told her about it. :-)) J/Jody

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    1. Well, the more the merrier, Jody!

      Hugs
      Jane

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  14. To be even thriftier, you can zest the orange peels, freeze them and then add them to various dishes, such as muffins. You're doing a fantastic job! Love this blog!

    Cate <><

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    1. A great suggestion, Cate! Funny you should mention it, because I have some sitting in a bowl on my woodstove this very minute. I dry them and then put them through the coffee grinder in place of orange extract. But I'll be sure to mention your suggestion when I write my final post today. Thanks again!

      Hugs
      Jane

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