Moving into the stretch–Day Five of the $25/wk Challenge!

1 Oct

I prefer Contadina, but that's a childhood habit. Hunt works just fine!

Breakfast 87 cents

Well, here we go! I hadn’t had peanut butter crackers for a long time when I decided to have them for lunch yesterday. So tasty, so filling that I decided to switch things up and have them for breakfast! Ten Zesta Saltines with Jif’s peanut butter, 31 cents, plus iced tea at 2 cents and the last of the plums for 54 cents. Total? 87 cents

Lunch 28 cents

Dreary day again. My friends are getting cold–some have had to turn the heat on to take off the chill. I’m lucky; my superinsulated house is holding 70–heat has not been flicked on, nor has the air conditioner been on for some weeks. Nonetheless, the crack of Fall is in the air, and I was loving those Zesta Saltines. I wanted something fast–Lipton’s Ring O’ Noodle instant chicken soup. The box holds two packets, each of which makes four servings. The box was $1.40, so my serving was about 17 cents, with ten more Zesta Saltines at 11 cents. Water to drink. Total? 28 cents.

Dinner $1.56

The gloom provoked a wish for a heartier dinner–my Mom’s Spaghetti with meat sauce. Take a pound of ground beef; I didn’t use sirloin this time, but a fairly lean ground round. In a Dutch Oven pot, salt it and use your spatula to break it up as it browns with a cut up half onion, into very small pieces. Throw in a large can of peeled, whole Roma tomatoes and two original small cans of Contadina tomato paste. Break up the tomatoes with your spatula, and add water–filling two of the empty Contadina cans will probably do it, but, depending on your stove, you may have to add a little more water. At this point, the burner should be fairly high. Stir and let the tomatoes, paste, water and meat blend with the lid on, boiling merrily away for five minutes of so. Now it’s time to dial it back as far as it will go–the lowest of simmers. If you’re on a very hot stove, put the pot on a burner you’d ordinarily think was too small, and have it on the lowest setting. What you’re aiming for is a very slow, low simmer for four or more hours. If you put it on after you’ve eaten lunch, it’ll be perfect for dinner! At the simmering stage, you add the spices: plenty of basil (even 2 T), some garlic (a fresh, chopped up clove of it or a 1/2 t), thyme, oregano, marjoram to the tune of about 1/4 t each, a bay leaf or two, and then paprika–about a T. Stir it all up, and check it from time to time. Too thick? Add some water, slowly. Needs salt? Adjust the spices. It makes the whole house smell delicious and welcoming, and you can feed plenty of visitors and still have some to freeze for a fast meal in future. The meat cost about $3.25 for a lb. (it was in the freezer); the big can of peeled plum tomatoes was $1.30, and the Contadina little pastes were 76 cents each (this is one of the items to buy in a 12 pack or so at Sam’s Club–per item much cheaper than the 76 cents). The big batch of sauce cost $6.07 and serves at least 8; so my serving of sauce was about 76 cents. Pasta was about 50 cents. I made a cucumber salad, slicing half a cuke with slices of onion, pouring vinegar and water over it–about 30 cents. Total dinner? $1.56.  Delicious and filling!

This was my cheapest day yet at $2.71! Yet I can assure you it was tasty, filling, and suited to the season. Running total at the end of day five? I’m exactly at $20, and I have five dollars for the whole of two days. I think I can, I think I can.

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