Alright, ladies and gentlemen, it is time to stretch our frugality muscles! The recession might be ever so slowly crawling back to normalcy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a few frugal ideas in the back of your head for those tight days. Here’s a three day, $10 menu for a family of four based on prices in my area (Houston suburbs) in late March at my local HEB.
$1.88 40oz. Baking Mix
$1.98 half gallon 2% milk
$1.58 dozen eggs (might get cheaper as we get closer to Easter)
$1.09 28oz diced tomatoes
$0.99 1 lb. dried black beans
$0.96 1 pound frozen corn
$0.92 20 oz. pineapple chunks
$0.69 bell pepper
(* these items are optional, use ’em if you got ’em!)
Breakfast 1 – Pineapple Juice Muffins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Drain pineapple and reserve juice from can. Measure 1/4 c. of the pineapple and chop finely. Put the rest in the fridge for tomorrow. Measure reserved juice. If it doesn’t measure 3/4 c., add water or milk until it does. Mix together 3/4 c. juice, 2 cups Baking Mix, 1 egg, 2 T. sugar*, 1 t. ginger* until everything is just moistened. Don’t overmix! Gently fold in pineapple pieces. Fill greased muffin tin cups 2/3 full with mixture and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes 12. Eat 4 for breakfast with milk this morning and put the other 8 in the fridge for later.
Lunch 1 – Egg Sandwiches
Make 9 biscuits according to the recipe on the box of baking mix. While they are in the oven, cook 4 eggs the way your family likes them (over medium, or scrambled would be my choice) and heat 2 cups of corn. Once the biscuits are baked, split 4 and make sandwiches, and put the other 5 in the fridge for later. Each person gets one sandwich and 1/2 c. corn.
Dinner 1 – Southwestern Black Beans
Using your favorite method, cook entire pound of black beans. Put 3 cups in the fridge for later. Mix together 3 cups cooked black beans, 2 1/2 cups diced tomatoes, and 1 1/4 cup corn. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin*. If you can swing an extra 50 cents, grab a lime and squeeze the juice into this – YUM! Put 3 cups of the bean mixture in the fridge, as well as
the rest of the tomatoes.
Breakfast 2 – Pineapple muffins
Everyone gets one muffin and some milk this morning. To make it a little different from yesterday, you could slice them in half and toast/grill in a frying pan with a little oil.
Lunch 2 – Black Bean Mini Impossible Pies
Inspired by this recipe. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, and grease a 12 cup muffin tin. Mix 2 eggs, 1/2 c. baking mix, and 1/2 c. milk to make the baking mixture. Spoon one tablespoon of the baking mix into each muffin cup. Top with 1/4 c. of black bean mixture from last night. Spoon another tablespoon of baking mix into each cup. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes, let cool 5 minutes before serving. Put 4 pies in the fridge for later, and serve 2 to each person for lunch.
Dinner 2 – Carribean Beans and Biscuits
First make biscuits according to the box. Things that could be added (if you have them) to the biscuits: 1 T. ginger, 1 t. garlic powder, 2 T. shredded coconut, or 1 T. Jerk seasoning. Don’t add ALL of them, though. 🙂 While the biscuits are baking, heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Chop bell pepper and reserved pineapple. Put half of the pepper back in the fridge for tomorrow. Once oil is hot, saute pepper. Once it is cooked through and starting to color, add 2 cups reserved black beans, pineapple, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin*. Serve just over a cup of beans, and two biscuits to each person.
Breakfast 3 – Egg Sandwiches
Just like Lunch 2, make sandwiches using 4 leftover biscuits and 4 eggs fixed how you like them. Serve with the last of the milk.
Lunch 3 – Leftovers
Each person gets one 1 leftover Black Bean Mini Pie and 1 leftover Pineapple Juice Muffin.
Dinner 3 – Mexican Pizza
Using this recipe as a starting point, make a nice big pizza using 1 1/2 cups baking mix (which should finish the box), 1/3 cup very hot water for the crust. Top with the remaining 1/2 bell pepper, 1 cup beans, and 1 1/2 cups tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. If you have cheese, add 1-2 cups. Bake 12-15 minutes at 450 degrees. This makes 8 servings, so you could either serve a filling double portion for dinner, or save half for a twist on pizza for breakfast.
You should end up with 1 egg and 2 biscuits leftover. Or they could have been eaten as snacks. Just to reiterate, my $10 Challenge menus are NOT designed for maximum nutrition. They are designed to get as much good food in your belly for about $10. This particular menu started with the box of baking mix. Just buying the baking mix, eggs, and milk takes more than half of the budget, but it also contributes ALL of the starch. Look for another menu based on data collected during the same shopping trip, but without using the baking mix.
In case you are wondering, here is the post that started my challenges.