Thursday, February 17, 2011

Making A Little Go A Long Way

Hard financial times in our home at present, leave little money left over in the household kitty once the bills have been paid.  It's our reality at the moment.  Some days are very hard and coming up with frugal methods of cooking day in day out to keep our house ship shape is a struggle.  In times like this I just have to remember that we are able to pay our bills and put made-from-scratch homemade food on the table.  We are indeed blessed, as others do have it much tougher than us.  So as I hop down off my mighty Frugal Soapbox, I wanted to talk about how s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g  the staples in my cupboard, makes our meals go a little further, without appearing to.

Cooking Up Chickpeas and making Chickpeas with Curried Cous Cous

This dish has evolved over the years, as many favourite dishes tend to.  You become so adept at making it, and one day you think, oh I'm missing some the ingredients, I'll swap something around.  This is how my roasted vegetable salad became a chickpea salad.  Also, this is a dish I spy alot at flash cafes around the city and can easuly make at home.

Based on Roasted Vegetable Salad with Curried Dressing, from Sophie Gray's STUNNING FOOR FROM SMALL CHANGE

Chickpeas: Short cut the soaking period by placing 2 cups of chickpeas in 8 cups of water, bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Leave to stand for 1 hour.
They are then ready to cook for 1-2 hours.  Keep checking the level of water, as it does evaporate quickly.
That's the chickpea part.
Cous Cous: I place 2 cups of cous cous into a dish and cover well with boiling water.  Cover immediately with tinfoil and sit for 15 mins unitl completely swelled and fluffy.  Fluff up with a fork, add small dob of butter and stir through.
Curried Dressing:
2 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup oil
2 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed

Combine above ingredients then add a handful of sultanas.

Everyone has their favourite bolognaise recipe they use week in week out.  I certainly do, and I like to do as much as possible with it, stretching it out into several dishes.  Everyone loves lasagne in our house, and it's one of those great  do ahead dishes.  Monday is our tricky day, when we are out of the house in the late afternoon for several hours. Last year art class was between 5pm and 6.30pm, now we are doing rock climbing in the city from 4pm until 5.15pm.  I make several weeks worth of lasagne in use-again foil dishes and freeze them.  That means I just need to defrost one during the day, pop into the oven and reheat.  With the addition of the cous cous salad and veges, a satisfying meal is provided for the hungry family.

If I keep aside some of the bolognaise from the lasagne, I am able to make several more dishes.  The good old pizza is immediately jazzed up with a layer of the meaty sauce.

Last but not least, pinwheel scones made with the meat sauce, then sprinkled with cheese.  This made for a filling school holiday lunch.  Easily put in a lunch box for outings as well.


  1. If that is living on a budget, then you are eating like a queen! :-) Those all look so yummy! I used to grumble because we were only able to get by, never, ever getting ahead a little. It's our reality, too. But, I have to think about all the good we do have and be grateful on top of it. Sounds like you are too.

  2. Jenn, we have another 6 months of hard times ahead of us until things become a little easier. Very much heads down at the moment. But we have a mission, so to cope, I try to think of paying the bills, budgeting and living frugally like a fun game (bizarre, I Know). I guess it makes me feel like I still have some power and hope and it forces me to not get down over things.
    Thanks for you kind thoughts, Lee-Anne.

  3. Good on you - it is a lot to do about attitude. we too make it a game. It is amazing how often none of us want to go out - plenty to keep us busy at home - hence we do not spend. If going out we usually take our own food. Stopping at Starbuck was a shock $18.00 for 2 coffees & 1 cake we shared. means I don't really enjoy the treat. We eat to season & eat like kings from the garden too.
    Love Leanne



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