Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

What's for supper?

I was shocked to my shoes when a working person recently told me that they didn't have any money for groceries and they didn't know what to do. I honestly didn't know what to say. Friends, with times hard as they are you just never know what someone's situation is really like.

My kitchen - where all the magic happens. Note cat on table.

Unfortunately, it wasn't someone I could directly help. But I could provide a list of websites with tips and strategies on how to save money on the grocery store and other ways to reduce your bills. We are cheap with a capital "CH" so its easy for us to do without fancy cell phones and cable TV. Some expenses you can't easy cut but I'm telling you, there are lots of ways to save money on food and still eat like kings.

Last nite for supper we had two-goat-cheese and bacon pasta. Tonite (Friday nite) we had nachos. Both meals cost me under $1 for both of us - and we'll get another meal (at least) out of the nachos. And both meals took me less than 15 minutes of standing up time - and it took me that long because I was fending off The Insane Cat Posse the entire time I was cooking. As far as cheap goes - I'm not entirely sure how to get cheaper than that.

Here is how we did it:

Two goat cheese & bacon pasta:
The other nite we had a tomato and meat sauce pasta. When I made that dinner I made the whole box of whole wheat pasta (on sale, 10 for $10) and saved half. Last nite I sauteed some bacon (cost = free because it pays to be nice to people) and a little onion. Then I made the sauce from home-canned chicken broth and a splash of cream. I finished the sauce with some of the hard cheese I made last summer and tossed in the pasta. When I served the pasta I put a big spoonful of fresh goat cheese in the bowl and gave a stir. It was spectacular. And easy peasy.

Nachos
Remember when we got all those $4 turkeys on sale last fall? We ground up a bunch of turkey meat, cooked it in mexically spices and pepper, bagged it in about 1 pound portions and froze them. Tonite I nuked one of the portions until it was thawed. While that was going on I opened 2 cans of home canned pinto beans and heated them in  a pan with a little homemade salsa. Then it was just a matter of mashing up the beans, pouring them into a pie plate, putting the meat on top, adding some blops of fresh goat cheese, shaking on some (on sale) bagged cheese from the store, and baking in at hot oven (425*) until lightly browned. And then we dug in with chips. Ok, I might have gone over the $1 if I include the chips - but we got them on sale and we didn't have the whole bag. And this can easily be served over rice. The leftover meat and beans can be used to make rancho huevos or in super quick tacos. Or just more nachos.

Sure these meals aren't fancy - altho I know for a fact I've paid $15 or more for a plate of the pasta at an Italian place - but they were hearty and delicious.  And sure we aren't feeding a bunch of kids but even if you doubled the cost of these meals for the two of us - you're still under $5 for two meals! That is still a better deal than the dollar menu at drive thru any day.

I can't tell if these folks who were in such a tight spot did not know the value of cooking, or just didn't know how. But its a valuable skill that somehow has fallen out of favor. As far as I can tell a lot of people waste a lot of money because of this lack of knowledge. Sure a life of eating nothing but take out or frozen meals may sound like a good idea... until someone looses a job, or there is a medical crisis, or whatever crazy thing life throws at you happens.

If you are in a place where you can't make it to that next paycheck, go and have yourself a good cry. Then get up and march in there and teach yourself to cook with low cost, low stress, nutrient rich food. Plant a garden, go and make friends with people who you can trade with, come up with a plan, do your research before you go to the store, and work on making savings.

Remember when it was summer and everyone was canning?

I have to tell you. I got a certain amount of flak from people who made fun of my canning and cooking ways last summer. But now we are eating high on the hog because of our efforts. Which reminds me - I gotta go and set some pork chops out for grilling tomorrow. Cost of chops = free (just about).

Now get out there and get cooking! Happy Saturday!

17 comments:

Robin said...

It's amazing how many people don't know how to cook or bake. A lot of people think that popping some pre-packaged food (garbage) in to the oven or microwave is cooking!! If you have the basics in the house...you can always MAKE something to eat or bake a cake. If you are people who can and preserve, you can make a magnificent meal! I just don't get it. I guess that some people just don't know how and others are a little bit lazy.

Robin said...

Oh, by the way....I just love your kitchen...nice job!!!

Grandpa said...

You are the lady after my heart OFG!

I'm a stickler for saving money and cheap, healthy food (or anything else for that matter). Not that I cannot afford it. It's just in me, may be because I grew up with nothing much.

Love that centre table, by the way. That's a beautiful kitchen. I can spend all day cooking (and eating) there!

Mr. H. said...

Yes, the farther removed we become from our food the poorer we will be...in more ways than monetarily. Your pasta dish sounds really good.

Leontien said...

Great post! And i woudn't know what to say either...

I did see your cat and i must say i love your kitchen!

Thanks
Leontien

IanH said...

I was surprised when I read that you took flack for practicing sound economic survival. Hopefully, (but I doubt it) those people will remember your efforts and adopt some of them.
Blessings.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Ohiofarmgirl, You are some kind of woman!! A girl after my own heart. I couldn't have written the truth any better. My kids got a kick out of me doing all the canning when there is just the two of us, but when they visit there is more than enough to eat and I have leftovers..I'd love to tell my neighbors to plant a garden instead of waiting for mine. I'm going to go back and read your post again! I loved it.

Sara said...

Honestly, it was the garden that got us through the winter. We had butchered a cow 2 years ago and had that meat, but the fresh frozen veggies and canned tomatoes made many a meal. Now that I'm on Paleo diet/gluten free, I'm spending my money wisely and putting in a bigger garden. Times are hard. With four roasts in the freezer and some hamburger meat, I've got to start stocking back up on meat. Great blog. You have a lot of great things to say.

Chai Chai said...

I love the butcher block table in the middle of the kitchen, very nice.

Farm food does cost less and there are other ways to save money but it will require a mindset change in the general populace!

Everyone has to have their cell phone, cable (satellite) TV, and personal glitz.

I personally think that families in this country are going to have to go back in time a bit to the 50's where multi-generations live together under the same roof in order to make ends meet. Luckily we like our relatives!

David P. Offutt - The Gastronomic Gardener said...

Boy howdy did you say a mouthful! I'm just staring to scratch the surface of putting up food and it makes a big difference. Making plans to put up even more this year!

Love your kitchen! It's huge!

becky3086 said...

I find a lot of people could have money they just don't want to give up all their luxuries. I don't have a lot of sympathy for those people.

villager said...

I do agree that cooking seems to be a lost art these days. Too bad. I've been cooking almost my whole life, so it seems natural to me.

I do taco meat all the time with leftover shredded turkey and chicken. I make it in quantity then freeze it in meal size portions. We can do tacos, burritos or taco salad from that base. With homemade tomato sauce and our own roasted peppers is super cheap and super tasty.

contadina said...

Pasta really is the best food for cheap meals. You can almost anything to it and create something, which is both filling and tasty. I've got kitchen envy too, yours is so bright, fresh and homely looking. :-)

Tabatha said...

I LOVE your kitchen. Great post as usual, OFG.
I couldn't agree more.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Hello everyone! I'm catching up.. just a little late!

You said it, Robin. I dont understand the "won't cook" thing. I know a lot of younger women who think is too lowly a chore for them to do. But then some of our big celebs are chefs!

Thanks Grandpa - my kitchen is where all the action happens. We really worked hard on it.

Well said, Mr. H. I thought alot about those words since I read them.

Thanks Leotien - the cats are everywhere.

Ian - I was surprised also. But now I think its everyone plan that I come and teach them how to can. How the worm turns!

Thanks Ginny - that means a lot. I think we are "two peas in a pod!"

You said it, Sara. We'd be in a much harder position if we didn't have our little farm venture.

Hey CC! the butcher blocks are from IKEA - i got them on sale in the "as is" department. They were a steal.

Thanks David! We actually took out a small bedroom to make the kitchen bigger. Having our own food has really made a difference. This week I spent about $37 at the grocery and most of that was "stocking up" on their 10 for $10 sale.

Hi Becky and welcome! We dont even have cable tv. shhh.... We don't miss it!

Great work Villager! I'm coming over for some of that yummy dinner for sure!

Thanks Contadina! The kitchen is my favorite place...besides being outside, of course!.

Good to see you Tabitha! And thanks.
:-)

Summersweet Farm said...

What! That can't be a working farm girl's kitchen. Where's the manure on the floor? It's so sparkling! And tidy!!! :D

And I couldn't agree with you more on the cooking thing. Folks tend to snicker at me ("with" me they say, but I'm not laughing) for canning and making cheese and not wasting anything... but it's a great feeling to have the grocery budget lower than ever before. And last night Josh had a sudden yen for some green salsa and lo and behold, there it was in the basement for the taking, no purchase necessary. Everyone says when the big one comes they're just going to come live over here... uh... I beg to differ. :)

Ohiofarmgirl said...

SSF - No Purchase Necessary is exactly right. "They" all think they are coming here also. We keep most of them away with the rule that "everybody works and everybody plucks." That and you know.. the gates and guns and dogs and all.
;-)
ps tonite my kitchen looks pretty used..don't you worry.

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