Lauren wrote:
<<I really like the idea of getting away from the convenience
foods but how do you handle "snacks" at your house?>>

Hi Lauren,

On my squeaking budget, snacks are in the luxury column.
Nevertheless, with one teen and one preteen still in the house,
I have to have *something.* I make popcorn the old-fashioned
way since the microwaveable kind is too expensive, and I no
longer have an air popper. It takes me about 7 minutes instead
of 3 to do that way, and I buy a pound of kernels for about $1.00.

I think it was Liss who recently posted (which means it's on the
Budget101.com site! lol) some great ideas for various flavors of
popcorn.

Sometimes, I'll splurge and buy the shrimp or prawn chips at the
Oriental market around the corner. For less than $2.00, I can
make two huge bowls of these. You just put them in enough oil
to cover them (I've done them in a medium size pan with the oil
and just watched more carefully because these things cook up
so quickly, and you want to be sure the oil isn't too hot in such
a small space.), and when the oil is hot enough--around the
temperature of deep frying, but you can use less oil--you toss
in a handful of these chips (they're translucent and sometimes
you'll find them in multicolored pastels and other times mostly
white) in a large pan, or perhaps 5 at a time in a smaller pan.
I always reserve enough (maybe 10 chips) to fry up to garnish
a dish, and those few chips are never missed. When I have
time to do these, the kids like them better than potato chips.

Make homemade doughnuts for a treat. The cakelike ones are
quick and easy, and far cheaper than the storebought ones. I
did mine without one of those things that puts the holes in the
last time because I haven't the foggiest where to get one, much
less how much they cost. I just made each into a sausage and
then closed the circle.

Susan just posted a recipe for focaccia. This is a fantastic
Italian flatbread, and it's really easy. I do mine with garlic and
crushed rosemary, and while I like mine just hot out of the oven,
plain, the kids like to dip theirs into a little spaghetti sauce. It's
super for a snack or for a side dish at dinner. Susan also did
a recipe recently for pizza chicken pockets.

Chocolate chip pancakes are a fun snack too. My kids thought
I was out of my mind the first time I did these. Now, they're
hooked, and it's a great way to satisfy chocolate cravings! lol

In message 915, you'll find my recipe for my homemade version
of hot pockets, and since this is something you can vary with
whatever leftovers you have, you might want to give it a try.
Here's what I wrote for the pepperoni kind, but you could just
as easily do it with mushrooms or veggies or even a little
leftover of sloppy joes (I'm suggesting...for variety), and these
would also make a meal, as you'll see:
==================================================
It's fun, quick and easy, but the cost depends on where
you buy the ingredients and how much you use. I can often pick
up what I need at the dollar store, so I can make enough for
dinner as a special meal when we're craving pizza. There are
no measurements for this one, so just keep that in mind. You'll
honestly know as you're doing this one!

You can even use leftover spaghetti sauce, which will lower the
cost of this dish--or snack, whichever you prefer...

Pepperoni Envelopes, Makes 4

1 can crescent rolls
Pepperoni slices, quartered
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Tomato sauce
A little beaten egg (optional)

Open the can of crescent rolls and separate them so you have
two rolls per person.

Press two rolls, side by side, together, so they become one.

Next, dab tomato sauce in the center, not too much so the
sauce would spill out, but enough so there will be a small
puddle of sauce.

Add pepperoni slices to the sauce, and top with some of the
cheese.

Fold the roll over the filling, taking care to seal the edges
well. *How* you fold them isn't as important as their staying
sealed.

Brush the tops of the rolls with a little beaten egg if you'd like.

Bake according to the instructions on the package of rolls as
if they're crescent rolls. I think they take about 15 minutes,
so this probably also falls into the 30-minute recipe range as
well.

If you have enough pepperoni, cheese and sauce, you can
get an extra can of crescent rolls and build a meal around
these with a salad.

I'm planning to make these soon with chicken and broccoli
in a cream of mushroom base also.
===============================================

Carla wrote:
<<We live in Canada and have a grocery budget of $40 a week.
Which is not here! My dh is a meat and potatoes man and none
of us like beans. So the typical "beans and rice" is out. *L* Oh
yeah, and nobody likes rice except for me. (Picky, picky, picky) I
know, *sigh*. Thank-you for any help or suggestions.>>

In the same message I mentioned above, I posted my Motorcycle
Stew. Sounds like this would be a goodie for your family, Carla.
It costs me $1.50 to make. I don't remember how many are in your
family, but you can stretch this by adding a little more rotelle if you
need to:

Liss wrote the challenge for at least 1 recipe that's 30 minutes in
prep or less, less than $5 and tried and true. Now I'm not quite
sure whether you mean that as a combination effort, Liss--must
be less than $5, tried and true and 30 minutes at the max, or if
you mean cost effective OR tried and true OR quick timing
(because I'm backlogged on my digests! lol)--but here goes:

Ummm...can I cheat and direct people to my column for Fried
Rice? lol

Okay, how about my Motorcycle Stew, which my kids *love*? That
qualifies for all three of these components. Ready?

30:00
Put the water on for boiling pasta, and if you put the lid on and
start with hot water, it'll boil faster.

29:00
While you're waiting for the water to boil, about 10 minutes, toss
a pound of lean ground beef (if you want, since Liss has been so
generous as to say $5 or less, you've got spare change here!...
add a little more than a pound!) into the frying pan (I prefer the
electric pan because there's more room) with just enough oil to
keep it from sticking (1-2 Tbsp).

27:00 (probably 28 minutes here though...doesn't take *that*
long to toss in the oil and beef )
Season the beef to taste with seasoned salt, 2 cloves chopped
garlic and one large diced onion.

22:00
Stir the beef so it breaks up as it's cooking.

20:00
Check your water and see if it's ready for you to add the pasta

in. It should be. Toss in that pound of rotelle (you know the
kind--it's the corkscrews), stirring the water once and leave the
lid off. Head back to the beef to stir again.

12:00
The rotelle will be ready when it's al dente, about 8 minutes,
as I recall. I never really time it, but that's fairly accurate.
If the beef is done and you're just waiting for the rotelle to
finish, you might think you'd like to add in some chopped
tomato. Feel free. It's not necessary, but if you really want
to, you can't destroy this by doing so. If you do want to add
the tomato, drain the rotelle first, and then add the tomato.
That way, you won't overcook the rotelle, and while it's in
the colander, you can cut the tomato and add it.

(I taste as I'm cooking this, btw, so I can tell the right flavor of
the beef. You can too, honest!)

10:00 (being generous with how long it takes you to cut the
tomato if you want to add it as well as putting the rotelle in
the colander lol)
Add the rotelle to the beef and other ingredients in the pan.
Stir, season a bit more if you want.

8:00
Set the table and put whatever else you want there because
you're ready to enjoy your Motorcycle Stew.

You can serve this with salad on the side, and you can stay
within the $5 limit usually if you decide to make more by
using 1.5 pounds of beef and 2 pounds of rotelle. My two
sons still at home are 12 and 14, and they're hearty eaters
despite their small frames. For this dish, 1 pound of beef
and 1 pound of rotelle will feed the three of us with no
leftovers if this is all we have.

There you have one of my Q, T-n-T, $5 or less recipes.

And still another...this is really cheap because you can do it
with leftover chicken:

I also make quick chicken and biscuits, using a standard
biscuit mix and while those are baking (unless I decide on
dumplings instead), I add a couple of cups of diced chicken
and a little diced onion to a can of cream of mushroom or
cream of chicken soup. If I'm in the mood, I'll add peas as
well. If I think it's too thick, I'll add 1/2 can of milk. When it's
heated and the biscuits are done, I split the biscuits and
serve this mixture over them. If I'm making dumplings, I'll
add the dumplings on top (I usually have to double the
recipe for the mixture itself when I do this though, so it's
in a larger pot), and as soon as the dumplings are done--
about 15 minutes--so is the meal.

Okay, enough babble for me for the day. I need to get some
work done before I go to sleep, and it's already pushing 1 a.m.

Hope that helps.

Warmly,
Michelle