Monday, January 24, 2011

To cook, perchance to bake - the art of frugal eating

Here is the food post, I've been meaning to write for a nice long time.  I like to cook but I am usually pressed for time.  So my ideal  recipe is something that is easy, quick, healthy and frugal and has a high yield at the end of the process ( the kids and their appetities are only growing with age:).  I like to experiment and improvise with seasonings or substitute or add ingredients to a recipe.  Over the years, I kind of learned to intuitively know what flavors will go together, so most of the time it works out.  I cook and bake from scratch for the most part.  Having a child who is allergic to many things, does limit our repertoire somewhat but for most part everyone takes it in stride. We do get some convenience foods such as frozen burekas for friday lunch but mostly we eat simply and pretty healthily, even though one could always improve on perfection I suppose.  I have a list on my refrigerator with menu possibilities for breakfast, lunch and supper and snacks.  There, I have listed the meal ideas that I know work and those that I think might work or I'd like to try out.  I bake a lot but only quick things.  I am a mix and match cook.  When there is a little bit of something left, it usually gets reinvented as a soup or a stew by adding additional leftovers and other ingredients to make it into a full sized meal.  If I know I have company coming, I make a lot of different salads by precooking more of such things as pasta, rice, potatoes, etc and chopping up more of different vegetables and then combining the above in many different permutations, with different spices and dressings.  I make a big batch of challah on friday and some of it makes it into the week.  It tasted good reheated in the oven or made into a french toast.  Also, if I have some extra challah dough, I freeze it and then use it during the week to make cinnamon buns or something similiar.  I have lots of cookbooks, most of which I use mainly for inspiration and a few for actual recipes. I like to try out new recipes, provided they meet my criteria of easy, quick, healthy, frugal and BIG.  But occasionally, I try out things that are slightly more complex or time consuming.
So here is my list:
Breakfast:    eggs (usually scrambled), toast with tomato paste/ketchup and olives, sandwiches with hummus, or carob spread or eggs, oatmeal, sometimes with toppings, warm rice or potatoes                    
Lunch/Supper : Soups - chicken,plain or with matzo balls or rice or pasta, pea, vegetable, cabbage, mushroom/barley, leftover medley
Pasta - plain with ketchup or with stir fried vegetables or with ground turkey/chicken or with pasta sauce
Potatoes - boiled or mashed or fried or boiled and then fried,  mashed with boiled carrots or cabbage, etc.
Rice - plain or with stirfried vegetables or with fried onions and mushrooms
French toast
Sloppy joes with pita
Pizza(minus the cheese due to allergies) or Foccacia
Sandwiches with either, tuna and tomato, egg salad, hummus or a sweet spread
Snacks: Homemade bagels, muffins, banana bread, apple sauce, baked apples, cake, fruit, carrots, peppers, cinnamon buns, halva, puff pancake, pop corn, ices in the summer
We drink mostly water and tea during the week, for Shabbos we get sweet drinks like iced tea and fruit nectars. We often eat bread with our meals. 
Next on the foodmaking agenda for me, is to try making sour dough bread and lacto-fermented vegetables.
Here are a few of my favorite sources of frugal recipes or frugal cooking ideas.
The Complete Tightwad Gazette - an excellent source of great frugal recipes and general frugal living ideas
Cookmiser - a canadian cookbook translated from french so the english usage isn't 100%, but I like the general approach to easy and frugal cooking, I use some of the recipes from there
Not Just Beans - many good recipes and lots of good tips
And that pretty much covers our eating situation and of course cooking and baking are wonderful, family friendly and educational activities that allow one to use one's creativity and learn about the world at the same time:)


1 comment:

  1. I have just made sour dough and it really does work. I took the bowl outdoors each day to get some fresh air/yeasts onto the surface. That isn't mentioned in any recipes I found.