Sunshine Quilts

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Cost of Homemade

This morning was spent cooking instead of quilting. If you do not like to cook or if you truly do not have time to cook, and I know some of you do not, then this whole entry will probably not interest you. I'm really not cheap but I hate wasting money. Before you ask, buying fabric - even fabric I'll never use is not wasting money. I've already settled that in my own head. We rarely go out to eat and it's simply because we don't really enjoy eating out. I'm not knocking going out for dinner and when we travel, we eat out and enjoy it. I think it has something to do with fact that I usually have to get dressed because a T-shirt with holes in it from the pins on the longarm, no bra, ragged jeans and lime green Crocs aren't appropriate for leaving home. So, by the time I shower, put on makeup, get dressed . . it would take less time and hassle to cook in my own kitchen with my holey T-shirt, ragged jeans and lime green Crocs, right? It is dang expensive to eat out. We ate at O'Charley's for my birthday Monday and for two of us with one appetizer, two entrees, two soft drinks and the tip was over $40. This translates to about 5 yards of fabric in my brain. One morning last weekend, we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel. With drinks and tip, it was over $30. That would buy a little over 3 yards of fabric. Think about it . . would you rather eat out twice or buy 8 yards of fabric? I know exactly what I'd rather do. Then I began to think about how much it costs to cook at home. My goodness! Almost nothing!! Have you ever figured it out? I'm amazed. If I'm careful and watch the sales, I can cook really good meals for less than $10 for 3 of us. If I do just a little planning, I can cut my kitchen time in half too. When I was living at home (as opposed to living at the house in town . . I am not homeless), for many years I would do all my cooking on Monday for the entire week and I would make extras so that on the 4th week, I didn't have to cook at all. I'll go back to doing that when I get back to my larger kitchen and freezer space. Here are some examples of my cheap meals at home. Kroger has green peppers on sale this week for 3/$1.00. This morning I made stuffed peppers. I made 14 but I ate one for lunch so you only see 13 in the picture. Here's what it cost: 14 peppers - $4.63 2 pounds ground meat - $7.20 2 cans tomatoes - $1.40 1 cup raw rice - .10 seasoning - .10 onion & garlic - .25 cheese - $1.00 Tomato soup - $2.00 (Wal-Mart brand is .48) Total cost - $16.68. That comes to $1.19 per pepper! I'll freeze them on the cookie sheet and then put them in individual ziplock bags, then put them in a big freezer bag and just take them out one at a time as I need them, let them thaw, put the cheese on top, pour tomato soup around them and bake them. One dish to wash and no hassle to have dinner on the table . . and a very good dinner! I love stuffed peppers. Figure I add a salad which could easily cost upwards of $4 if I'm buying tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, black olives, radishes, etc., a can of green beans and two of us could eat for less than $8. Tonight we're having smoked chicken. I'm smoking two chickens and the total cost was $7.10. Chad will eat one breast and I'll eat two wings and maybe part of a breast so we'll have one whole chicken and 2/3 of another one left over. The cost for tonight's chicken is probably less than $2. We'll have some kind of frozen veggie (they're on sale for $1/bag at Kroger this week), eggplant/tomato salad which probably costs about $3 to make but it will be enough for at least two meals. Maybe I'll fix beanie weenie for Chad and that might cost .75. We have a Cookshack smoker and we love it! I smoked a brisket when mom and dad were here and they loved it so much, they went home and ordered themselves one. I think they smoked chickens yesterday. It's so easy to use. I used a rub on the chickens yesterday, let them sit in a Ziplock bag in the fridge overnight. Stuck them in the smoker this morning about 8 with 2 oz. of apple wood and they were done at 1:00 p.m. The skin doesn't get crispy in the smoker so I'll stick one of them in the convection oven for a few minutes before dinner. The smoked chicken is great for other recipes. I'll take the leftover chicken off the bone and divide it into about 1-1/2 cup sizes and freeze it for chicken enchiladas, chicken salad or King Ranch casserole. I have rolls rising that probably cost less than .50 to make so tonight's whole meal will probably cost less than $6. These rolls are great. They're called Jailhouse Rolls and the dough keeps in the fridge for at least 10 days so once it's made up, all I have to do is roll them out and let them rise. I've made these rolls for years. They were something we always had at family night dinners at church. Here's another one . . a bit more expensive but still a great meal. Tomorrow night we are having flank steak. The marinade (fresh ginger, honey, soy sauce, olive oil, cider vinegar) probably cost about $1.50. I paid $13 for the steak, $1.25 for the potatoes for baking. Add another $1.50 for potato toppings. Chad doesn't eat salad so I'll slice a tomato for me so that's another $1 and we'll have rolls again, which adds another .50 to make so there's a great meal for $17.75 and because the potatoes are huge and the steak is more than we can eat at one meal, I'll have leftovers for my lunch the next day so the meal really is less than $17.75. Yes, yes .. it does cost some amount to prepare the food at home, whether I'm using the smoker outside, the gas grill, or the stove inside. But, I'm betting it costs less in energy costs to cook the food, and clean up the kitchen than it does in gas to get to the restaurant and back! Looks I like just earned myself a trip to the quilt shop! :) Judy L.


  • Gosh Judy - your making me hungry! Want to cook for me too! My husband hates spending money on eating out and I hear all the time the cost savings! Personally it almost always tastes better too if made at home. My problem - my kids hate stuff that is easy to make and when I walk in the door at 5:30 their first words are "what's for dinner". Ughh - don't even suggest that they could start dinner themselves. I've tried.

    That chicken looks to die for, and I bet my family would love those rolls! I'll have to try those!

    By Blogger Dawn, at 6/09/2006 12:14:00 PM  

  • When I am on the ball and ahead of the game (not often these days) I do as you have described. I will buy the large trays of meat at Sams or Costco, and precook some ground meat and freeze it in a measured quantity so that if I want it for chili or lasagna or whatever, all I do is a fast defrost and put it together. The question no is- what is the recipe for those Jailhouse Rolls?

    By Blogger Gail, at 6/09/2006 02:29:00 PM  

  • whoops- went back and saw the link to the recipe, should have known that you wouldn't have omitted it!

    By Blogger Gail, at 6/09/2006 02:31:00 PM  

  • when i was pregnant with no 1 I got into the habit of making double and freezing half of whatever I made - this developed into a long term habit of a giant pan cook in session in each school holidays of whatever we are short of in the freezer ie chilli, bolognaise etc - takes me maybe the best part of a morning to do it but freezes anything up to 10 or 12 meals which I can then just pull out, defrost and drag together the accompaniments as necessary to save time when we get in from work/school. Then I can spend that cooking time in the early evening stitching instead - win/win situation :o)

    By Blogger anne bebbington, at 6/09/2006 03:31:00 PM  

  • Judy, your menus and food look great. But what I'm really chuckling over is the way you have the justification to buy more fabric all figured out! LOL!

    I still haven't gotten the little grill for the patio, but I've got a freezer full of steaks! Someday soon ...


    By Blogger Vicky, at 6/09/2006 03:54:00 PM  

  • The past year the office I worked at wasn't close to anyplace for lunch so I got into the habit of cooking double at dinner so there would be leftovers. In the end it was so much healthier too! (We do Greek stuffed tomatoes all summer!)

    By Blogger YankeeQuilter, at 6/09/2006 04:28:00 PM  

  • Boy, that was a lot of work and cooking and figuring just to reward yourself with a trip to the quilt shop! LOL

    By Blogger Joanne, at 6/09/2006 04:33:00 PM  

  • First of all...I too have lime green crocs (but I leave them on the deck when I come in the house so they are a bit faded)!!!

    I love stuffed peppers, I love cabbage rolls. My mother was the best of cooks and I so miss some of her favorites.

    Since Ed retired 6 years ago he has taken over the cooking, I do very little cooking now BUT BUT now and then I get a hankering to be in the kitchen and throw something together. Two nights ago I even made a FRESH Key Lime Pie...YES!!! I cut and squeezed teeny tiny key limes to get the needed 1/2 of juice...YUMMY!

    By Blogger Pam, at 6/09/2006 04:48:00 PM  

  • I think I want to come eat every night at YOUR house... :)

    Being divorced, I almost always cook ahead and freeze - not much comes in single serve unless you buy healthy choice type meals (which at $1.50 or so apiece, are a good cheap choice for lunches at work).

    By Blogger ForestJane, at 6/09/2006 06:30:00 PM  

  • Wow Judy - you made me hungry! DH and I also hate spending money on eating out - we eat out for birthdays and that's about all. I'm going to give the Jailhouse Rolls a try this weekend.

    Gail L.

    By Blogger Doodlebug Gail, at 6/09/2006 06:39:00 PM  

  • yummy ideals and even cheaper if you happen to have your own garden full of veggies... thanks for the recipes too.

    By Blogger Peggy, at 6/09/2006 07:16:00 PM  

  • Judy,
    You're pretty convincing...but I LOVE to eat out! ;o)
    PS...light up on AIM sometime...I miss ya!

    By Blogger Laurie, at 6/09/2006 08:08:00 PM  

  • Judy,
    Yummy! The pictures do make the mouth water. Love the stuffed thing is I have a garden and by fall am overrun with them. School starts and I'm so busy, my mom takes my peppers and makes them all up for us to share! I get the best deal, but she is just such a sweetheart. Tomorrow is her 84th birthday and I'm so thankful to have her...and in good health too.
    Sure do enjoy all your posts and the inspiration you give.

    By Blogger Petey, at 6/09/2006 09:10:00 PM  

  • Judy, I just remembered something. Did you ever have stuffed merlitons when you were growing up?

    By Blogger Vicky, at 6/09/2006 09:33:00 PM  

  • My husband travels a lot for business so he eats many meals in a restaurant. I like to eat out, but I'm dismayed that you spend so much money and often get way too much food. I don't mind leftovers, but I would rather pay less and not have leftovers.

    With my son moving out recently we've had to adjust our grocery shopping and cooking. I'm still trying to remember to cook for only two and often, only one.

    By Blogger Sweet P, at 6/10/2006 05:29:00 AM  

  • The virtual smell of your homemade food made me start a load of homemade bread for my family :-) I just remembered I like to bake bread and it is cheaper, tasting better and has better nutrition value than the store bought bread. Thanks for the inspiration :-)

    By Blogger Hanne, at 6/10/2006 06:36:00 AM  

  • I enjoyed this whole entry -- especially the "no bra at home!"
    Yo're geting such good use from that smoker!
    Jeanne :)

    By Blogger Jeanne, at 6/10/2006 07:19:00 AM  

  • While I see your point, I hate cooking enough, and love eating out enough, that I'd rather do that than have the fabric. Most of the time my hubby is too tired from working to want to go out, so we don't very often. But that's not by my choice!

    Maybe if I could cook as well as you do, it would be a different story. That smoked chicken sure sounds yummy.

    By Blogger Tonya R, at 6/11/2006 06:44:00 AM  

  • I'd love to be that efficient & I have done the math, but time and Laziness are big issues with me...

    (I made 2 quiches for a pot luck - one is in the freezer for later.)

    One compromise I make with myself is to usually come home with leftovers so that I can spread the $30 night out into tomorrows lunch too.

    Do you still post your recipes?

    By Blogger The Calico Cat, at 6/12/2006 07:40:00 AM  

  • I forgot, how do you like your crocs? I bought a pair for our trip to Australia - boat = water = plastic shoes.

    I am not sure if I will wear them again. I so prefer the hard sole of my Birkenstocks...

    By Blogger The Calico Cat, at 6/12/2006 07:44:00 AM  

  • Well, I am NOT skilled at cooking, or planning ahead, but, I am admiring you quite a bit!! We now often go to Supper Solutions, which is one of those they do the prep, you do the assembling, they do the cleaning up, then you take home and freeze the meals. It works out to be very very cheap, and, all I have to remember to do is take dinner out of the freezer the day before!

    And, to make it even better- one of the locations is next door to my quilt shop!!

    By Anonymous Samantha, at 6/12/2006 09:14:00 AM  

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