Friday, March 20

Eating well on a Budget

One creative way our family is making the grocery dollars stretch is by using inexpensive foods in creative and delicious ways. Some of our foods even come to us "nearly" free, like eggs, squash and potatoes. Those basics have been turned into quiches, home fries, gnocchi, meringue cookies, pumpkin bread, and soups among other things.

Another inexpensive meal ingredient is pasta.
Have a kitchen aid or hand roller? Make your own. Usually I buy the whole grain unorganic Barilla pasta in the stores. It costs us about $1.29 a lb. I figured out the homemade pasta, basically made with eggs and flour, costs me under $1.00 a lb and it is organic, an added plus. If using conventinal flour, it would cost just fifty cents or so a pound. Have you tasted homemade pasta? It makes store bought taste like cardboard. We make it as a family and have a lot of fun with it.

Think you can't afford a fancy pasta roller? Most craft/fabric stores sell a roller for the purpose of rolling polymer clay for about $10. This is identical to our pasta roller which, years ago, I spent much more money on. Add a 40% off coupon and you have yourself an inexpensive pasta roller. Although I know back in the day pasta was rolled with a rolling pin, I don't recommend it unless you are desirous of a serious upper arm workout....

Pasta pairs easily with any fresh veggie on sale in your grocery store. Saute your veggie with some salt and garlic, add a little olive oil and good grated cheese and - Yum! Easy, inexpensive dinner served!

Back to the gnocchi.
Gnocchi, a pasta made with potatoes, is priced at our Walmart for over $2 lb. Not about to spend $4 for just pasta for one meal for our family I pulled out a handy, reliable cookbook and found that gnocchi is made with mashed potatoes, a little flour, olive oil and either egg or milk, depending on the particular recipe.

That night the seven of us lined up at the table and rolled and cut and twirled pounds of mashed potatoes into gnocchi, some for dinner, enough to freeze. Not only was the meal basically free (garden potaotes, our eggs) but we had a great time together laughing and creating as a family.

Though it can be served with traditional tomato sauce, we like gnocchi with peas, a little cream for the sauce and lemon zest. I roughly use this recipe. By now you should know I'm frugal and use milk in most recipes calling for cream. More on milk soon in another post...


Diane Shiffer said...

we'll have to try that gnocchi.. it looks like great fun, and yummy too!

Me said...

(Hope I didn't double up on this post)


Many years ago, as a girl, I would watch Gramma make noodles. She would role out her dough, cut it in long strips, and then them on a clean sheet on top of the bed to dry. What beautiful memories this brings to mind.

Jen said...

I wish I could eat more pasta and potatoes...... I'm wheat and dairy intolerant. I've gotton into a bunch of studay because of my strange physiology. I had this far out (but brilliant) nutritionist tell me to stop eating wheat and dairy-- I ignored him for two years until I broke out in little blisters. I saw three docs/dermatologists and no one had an clue... Stopped eating wheat and dairy for two days and I was clear.

Turns out that I'm type O blood along with hubby, so kids are too. We are meat, fruit and veggie people. Which = expensive, even the non organic kind. We can tolerate a bit of dairy, and grains but I am especially sensitive. Bread is also #1 in packing on pounds clogging down my digestion.... anyhow i do my best to buy on sale meats, ect.... it would help if i could get a garden growing....possibly raise my own meat and eggs-- someday. We just don't know if we are staying in this area, so I am hesitant to invest all the time, etc right now.

Your pasta and gnocchi look delicious though!! Mabey a small side dish would be ok?!

mandi said...

oh hannah! thank you for this post! it is very encouraging- for a girl like me who thought pasta way too hard to attempt!