Sunday, January 31, 2010

Getting the Most for Your Money

So I'm in graduate school full time and we are trying to be as frugal as possible, for me that means getting the most out of everything I cook.  This includes clipping coupons and shopping the sales.  So last week whole chickens were on sale, I got a two pack for just under 15 dollars. I stuck one right in the freezer.  Here's what I did with the other. 
First I roasted it, with an onion, some herbs and some lemon juice in the cavity and an olive oil, lemon juice, and herb rub brushed on the skin. I also roasted the extra parts in a separate pan and used them to make a mean gravy. With it we had wild rice and mixed veggies.  For the cost I don't count pantry items (the rice lasts for so long its a pantry item) I buy a bag of mixed frozen veggies and get about six meals out of it. A rotisserie chicken from the store is usually around $15.00
Cost - $8.16
  • Chicken - 7.50
  • Veggies - .66

After we were done eating I picked the bird clean, I saved all the meat, drippings, fat, all the not edible parts and the leftover gravy.

The non-edible parts went promptly into my stock pot with two carrots, two celery stalks, an onion, a clove of garlic, some peppercorns, and assorted herbs both fresh and dried.  Then cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer for at least 4 hours.

I use the pasta insert for my big pot it makes the stock easier to strain but you don't need it. I also simmer my stock for days just turning off the burner and covering when I leave the house or go to bed. When its cool enough to handle strain, I also then strain it through cheese cloth I find it gets all the little bits. I also remembered the next day that I had a bag of wing tips (from trimming chicken wings) in the freezer that I was saving for the next time I made stock, I defrosted them, roasted them with alittle salt and pepper then tossed them in with the stock.

(my sleepy kitchen with a pot of stock simmering away while we watched movies, it smells so good!)
I picked up the carrots and celery in the loose bin in the produce section, in my store it is by the fresh herbs, it was a dollar for all of them. I made roughly 7 quarts of stock. Roughly $28 at the store.  Try back later for when I can it.
Total Cost - $1.00

I used all that fat to make gravy. 1 tablespoon of fat, 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 cup of stock or drippings.  This made about 1 quart and 1 pint which freezes just fine.
Cost of gravy - $0.00

     I made a calzone Monday night with some canned pizza dough, ricotta, marinara, and mozzarella cheese and of course some of the left over chicken meat. Roughly the same type of calzone from the place down the street costs $12.75. When I calculated this keep in mind I used coupons, bought the sale brand and figured the serving cost because things like cheese and sauce I'll use for other things. I also could have saved more by making my own dough and sauce but I was being lazy.
Total Cost - $4.75
  • Pizza Dough - $1.49
  • Ricotta - $1.00
  • Sauce - $ 1.25
  • Mozzarella - $1.00
     I also made a chicken pot pie. A similar size from the grocery store would be $6.40, not bad but I can do better and customize it!  I used the leftover gravy and chicken, some of the frozen mixed veggies, one potato and a pre-made pie crust. ( The pie crusts come two in a box, I had a coupon for a dollar of 2 boxes and got an in store coupon of -$0.50)  I would have saved more if I had made the crust (once again being lazy) and don't worry if you have issues with pie dough like me take all the dry ingredients for pancakes (or bisquick) add millk to thicken (like super thick batter) and use that.
Total Cost - $2.37
  • Veggies - $0.66
  • Potato - $0.59
  • Pie Crust - $1.12
     So for three total dinners (I also used the gravy with a meatloaf but I'm just counting the total amount of gravy) if I had purchase them pre-made at the store I would have spent around $66.50 give or take a few cents, this includes the total amount of stock and gravy.  Making the things I did I spent a total of $16.50 give or take.  I saved fifty dollars!!! In one week. Which I promptly spent on a pressure canner so that the stock doesn't take up precious room in our freezer.
     I shared this with Bruce, he was mildly impressed, he's saving thousands by replacing the clutch and head gaskets in his car.  In our garage which is about 40 degrees with the propane heater going.  He's doing something much harder and much colder. I have to end this post now to go stand on the brakes for him (I'm not sure what this does but he knows what he's doing).

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