Monday, May 23, 2011

A Day in the Kitchen

When finances are especially tight, I spend a good portion of one day stocking our kitchen with a few homemade foods.  The first thing I do is look through my pantry and frige and see what I've got to use.  I try to always keep a stock of pastas, rice, beans, canned veggies, chick peas and flour so that I can make wholesome foods from scratch for my family for a fraction of the cost of store bought items.

Today I decided I had the ingredients on hand to make homemade baked beans, a cheesecake, some alfalfa sprouts, hummus dip, hamburger buns (to make burgers that night) and salsa. 

I started with the one that takes the longest - the beans.  I sorted, rinsed, and cooked 2 lbs of dry northern white beans to start a big batch of baked beans.  Once the beans were on a simmer, I started the alfalfa seeds to sprout. 

Next I made dough for the whole wheat hamburger buns and set the bowl in a warm corner on my counter top for the first rise. 

For the cheesecake, I used my vita-mix to make a graham cracker crust. First I blended the crackers and sugar up, mixed that in a bowl with melted butter and pressed them into the bottom of a spring form pan.  After I cleaned out the vita-mix, I used it again to blend the cream chese batter and then poured it into the pan and set it to bake.  So easy and much less expensive than buying one premade.

While the cake was baking it was time for a little clean up. So I cleaned up the mess and dishes I'd made thus far, washed my vita-mix out and used it to make hummus dip (also great as a sandwich spread) and then some California salsa with fresh tomatoes, cilantro and onions (some of the fresh staples I keep on hand.) Both turned out really fine and I put them into containers to chill in the fridge for snacking. 

Next, the dough was ready to be formed into buns and a second rise. I set the timer for an hour and cleaned up a little and took a much needed break. :) When they were doubled in size, I baked them for half an hour. 

By this time, the beans were ready to be made into baked beans. I gave the alfalfa seeds a quick second rinse and by evening, they'd already begun to sprout. 

So, after only a few hours in the kitchen I was able to save quite a bit of money by cooking things from scratch instead of buying ready made.  Here is the approximate break down of savings:
Food                          Prices                         Savings:

Hamburger Buns  - store bought $3.00             $2.50
                              - home made  $0.50  

Hummus Dip         - store bought $6.00             $3.00
                              - home made   $3.00

Salsa                      -store bought $3.00              $2.75
                               -home made  $1.25

Baked beans            -store bought $6.50            $4.00
                                -home made   $2.50

Alfalfa Sprouts           -store bought $5.00         $4.25
                                  -home made   $0.75
Cheesecake              -store bought $13.00          $7.50
                                 -homemade   $ 5.50

                                                Total savings:    $24.00

So for just over 3 hours or so in the kitchen I was able to keep approximately $24 of my husband's hard earned income. Of course, it bears mentioning that homemade food's secret ingredient is love - and we can't begin to put a price tag on that!  :)

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