Frugal foods, eaten for fun

Over at Grumpy Rumblings of the Half-Tenured, Nicole and Maggie wrote this week about frugal foods they ate when they were broke, but now eschew. Think radish top soup and other dishes made from leftover greens.

It got me thinking about my own frugal food stories. I ate a lot of Ramen noodles during my various internships in college and immediately afterward. Ramen is very cheap — rarely pricier than 33 cents a pack, and there were often deals like 5 or 6 for a dollar. But here’s the thing: I never bought it solely because it was cheap. I learned that I liked the taste. I’d buy stalks of celery and a package of frozen spinach, and mix those in. I’d use about half the seasoning packet to cut down on the sodium factor (still huge, I’m sure. But less huge). It was a cheap, filling, meat-free meal with a fair amount of green vegetables. So I’ve actually cooked it for myself during the past year, even though my finances are fairly different now than they were back then. (I was never technically broke back then either…but I enjoyed grocery shopping like I was).

Likewise, I learned early on that chicken legs and thighs are much cheaper than chicken breasts. But I like the dark meat better. Bake some chicken and sweet potatoes and boil some corn (it’s been about 5 ears for $2 in the market the past month) and you have a family feast for $10. Pasta can be $1-2 a box; pasta sauce can be marked down to the $2-3 range — so that’s another cheap meal. Mix in some extra veggies and you’ve got yourself a fairly healthy dinner.

Are there any meals from your salad days you still eat now? Are there ones you’ve chucked for good?

In other news: Subscribe to Redbook? My advice is featured in this month’s story on “Love your weekday mornings, start to finish.” Check out page 148. Interesting survey result that 70% of readers are solely responsible for getting their kids ready in the morning. Hmm… Where’s dad?

Investor’s Business Daily features 168 Hours in an article on “Time management by the week and by the bigger picture.

I’m over at Acculturated, writing about boys wearing dresses. Sometimes a dress is just a dress — particularly when your boy is in preschool.

I discovered a New York Times series on how people spend their Sundays. Good fodder for my ebook on weekends! I’m still looking for more tips on using weekends well. Please email me if you’d like to be in the book. We have a tentative pub date of mid-October.

At CBS MoneyWatch, I’m telling readers to Fight the urge to look busy. I realized recently that I feel guilty for reading the newspaper during work hours, but I don’t feel the same way about reading headlines online. Is it because the proximity to my inbox and my word docs means I look busy? Where on earth did I get that idea, and why did I internalize it? I’m also writing about Why you have more time than you think. I somehow managed to watch about 2 hours per day of TV during the 2 weeks the Olympics were being broadcast. If you’d asked me three weeks ago if I had time to watch two hours of TV per day, I would have scoffed. Yet I managed to find the time. Time is highly variable, it seems. We find time for things we really want to do.

I’ll be away from the blog for the rest of the week, and will resume posting Monday or Tuesday of next week. Please explore the archives while I’m gone! 

Photo courtesy flickr user yoshimov. My noodles never looked quite this good. But they were tasty!



4 Responses to Frugal foods, eaten for fun


  1. ARC says:

    Re: reading headlines online vs the newspaper while at work – a few years ago, one of the sites that hosted a March Madness bracket setup had a “Boss Button” that you could click to pull up a fake spreadsheet so that your boss didn’t see you messing around with your bracket. I thought that was pretty clever, though I agree that “looking busy” is overrated.

  2. Alissa says:

    I’d be in that 70% that gets the kiddos ready in the morning. My husband stays up late but he also stays home with the girls during the day so get them up and do breakfast so I have special time with them before I go to work. He gets up right before I leave. Instead of fighting this I’ve restructured my mornings so I am less stressed.

  3. Arden says:

    My husband and I have been very good about splitting child stuff 50% where he does the AM drop off and I do the PM pick up. However in the summer, M attends a summer camp that is close to my work so I do drop off and pick up. Wow, is that hard to do both!

    School starts in a week!! I’m going to be Happy Mom to get her mornings back.

  4. Heather says:

    Raman noodles were always on my grocery list. Another simple meal that I made “way back then” was chicken broth + 1 cup cooked noodles. I’d season it with sea salt & cracked pepper. It was a nice option on colder evenings.