Mmmmm. I can almost smell dinner cooking. It always happens when I read wholesome, hearty recipes, turn them over in my mind, compare them to my cooking experience and contemplate including them in our eating plan.
Increasing costs… hitting us where we live
$5 dinners? $3 desserts? Is that possible? Why, even the Hillbilly Housewife discovered her $45/week Emergency Menu Plan had gone up to over $70-a-week since 2006!
Meanwhile, her Low Cost Menu for 4 to 6 went up from $70 to $89 in the same time span. I suspect the greater rate of rise in the Emergency Menu Plan means that staples are going up faster than the “little extras” in the more expensive plan. There’s a chilling thought.
To put together Molly Makes $5 Dinners, the Old Schoolhouse Magazine collected recipes from home educators all over the map. These are the tried-and-true recipes, the family-pleasers, perhaps passed down through the family from Depression days, or maybe honed over time while making ends meet on a single income in these double-income times.
My mom had a bunch of these. Creamed chipped beef over toast. Sausage gravy over biscuits. Creamed tuna on rice. Stretch-a-chicken-or-roast over four, even five days. (Roasted on Sunday, hot open-faced sandwiches with gravy on Monday, hashed with potatoes and onions or soup from the bones on Tuesday, fried rice with the last scraps of meat on Wednesday, leftovers Thursday.) Spaghetti! (My own standby.) And when the cupboard was bare of all but the staplest of staples, it was pancakes for supper! (We always had powdered milk and flour, bought in 50-lb quantities.)
Mom learned these recipes growing up in the Depression, and used them when her own growing up family–five hard-to-fill-up children plus a husband to feed–went through hard times.
I’ve found myself falling back on Mom’s standbys, especially when the price of gas soared and cut into our food budget. It’s a little tricky, sometimes, with our family’s food allergies. Of course, cooking from scratch has the advantage of being less expensive than using convenience food.
However, sometimes I run out of steam, out of ideas… and find myself serving spaghetti for the second time in less than a week.
Molly to the rescue!
You’ll find all sorts of yummy, practical recipes in this collection, whether you have a taste for oven-fried chicken or lasagna; chili or hearty, chunky soup that’ll stick to your ribs; nachos and burritos, and more!
We’re not just talking rice and beans, here. (Dh likes to joke about Dave Ramsey‘s rice-and-beans diet, part of the key to “living like no one else so that later you can live like no one else.”) Well, you’ll find recipes for rice and beans, including one of my favorites, Cajun Red Beans and Rice (yum!), but there’s plenty more here to choose from.
I was a little worried about this book, to tell you the truth. I mean, I’m constrained in my cooking, as I mentioned above, by food allergies. We can’t use convenience foods, and we don’t have a microwave.
I’m happy to inform you that, while some of the recipes take advantage of the convenience of prepackaged food (things like Ramen noodles, Hamburger Helper, box macaroni-and-cheese, canned soup, and Bisquick) the bulk of the recipes are made from scratch.
Convenient, easy to follow recipes
If you’re not a “scratch” cook, don’t worry! None of the recipes is complicated, and yet, the results promise to be both delicious and satisfying (not to mention easy on the pocketbook).
These homeschool cooks have also broken out the cost for each recipe by ingredients used. Some items were bought on sale, some are staples that you probably have in the cupboard (spices, for example). Almost every dinner is under $5–that’s not $5 per serving, but $5 for the whole dinner, serving four or more people. Some dinners are everything in one pot or casserole, while others include accompaniments (parmesan “bread” for example, or corn waffles to go along with soup; or salad) within the $5 limit. Some of the dinners are just over $5.
We don’t have dessert every night, but we still suffer from that great American malady, the Sweet Tooth. Perhaps that’s why Molly took pity on us, and included a section of inexpensive desserts. I think the Brownie Mix is our favorite, so far, and so economical! …but there’s also chocolate pudding cake, a version of Dump Cake you can make in the crockpot, three flavors of homemade pudding that cook in the microwave (I already make homemade pudding on top of the stove, but the microwave version sounds much faster and easier), pies, and more.
Gluten free recipes, too!
Ooh, I almost forgot to mention that lots of the recipes will fit with gluten free cooking. There’s even a GF donut recipe!
In short, Molly Makes $5 Dinners and $3 Desserts is sure to be a hit with your family. And your budget.
Look for this handy e-book, coming soon, at the Old Schoolhouse Store.