Monday, March 09, 2009

$3.33: Big Spender!

Rice Pasta with Simple Marinara and Lentil Balls

I am working my way through my brown rice pasta stash! I need to make a Trader Joes trip soon as their brown rice pasta is PERFECT and cheap at only 1.99/lb.

This dish tested my lentil balls big time. They sat in sauce for 4 days before I used them and I'm not sure I liked them. I think they would have been fine if used the next day, but after 4 days they got mushy. The flavor was delicious, but the texture not so pleasing. I will probably revise the recipe so they will stand up to 4 days in the fridge.

Lentil Millet Soup and Pumpkin Corn Muffin

Making the BEST use of leftovers.. I had some millet, lentils and creamy tomato basil soup. I mixed them together with more spices, garlic, red pepper flakes and water to make this soup. Super delicious! It produced 2 good sized servings, PLUS one cup which I turned into pizza burgers!
Pizza Burgers

I took the cup of soup, added more spices, tvp, flax meal and some oats. They were served on my sourdough english muffins with cheese sauce, baby spinach and marinara. I topped them with fried onions. Totally satisfying and I still have enough burger mix for 2 burgers!

That cup of dry lentils sure went further than expected! One main dish protein serving, 8 burgers, 2 large servings soup and 16 meat balls! Obviously, I used other ingredients along with the lentils to create everything, but they were a main component in everything!

Baby Spinach and Sprout Salad with Cranberry Dijon Vinaigrette

Yes to salads again! Greens, sprouts and homemade, lowfat/calorie dressings are served at least once a day!

I went shopping this morning and spent more than I planned on again. I wanted to keep this month's budget to $60.00. ($15/week)

I have an internal battle to some degree. I don't want to deprive myself so much that this seems HARD... but I want to save as much in my Bulk Buying Fund for future purchases.

Who knows, I may still be able to meet my goal? Obviously, my $3.33 a day equals around $100/month, so anything less is gravy on the cake! (ewwww gravy on cake!)

This is what I bought today for a total of $23.64

8 oz dried apricots

8 oz raisins

1 lb chickpeas

Toilet Paper

40 freezer bags

12 oz pickled jalapenos

5 green peppers

1 bunch celery

Huge bunch kale

Huge bunch collards

Bulk peeled garlic

2 lbs carrots

2.65 lbs bananas

1 qt soy milk

12 oz orange juice concentrate

Tofutti sour cream

3 lbs cabbage

I put back a 5 oz container of organic baby arugula, tofutti cheese, grapefruits and zucchini after adding up the total in my head. I really wanted an arugula, grapefruit and avocado salad. Oh well, it made much more sense to get the cabbage for $.39/lb.

I still MAY meet my very lofty goal!

Total spent this month: $42.81

Bulk Food Fund: $24.83


  1. That's one incredible use of a cup of lentils!!! I love the sound of the lentil balls--can't wait to see the stand-up recipe :) And pizza burgers--YUMMEEEE!

  2. Those pizza burgers look awesome! What a way with lentils!

  3. Those lentil balls just keep sounding better and better...I bet they were even good mushy! I can't wait for the recipe!


  4. I love how frugal you are and how you try to use everything. I use all my veggie peelings and whatnots for veggie stock. I throw any cores, ends, etc of veggies into a gallon freezer bag and when it is full. I put in a pot with some water, let it boil for several hours and I have a very rich vegetable broth. As always your food looks great.

  5. You really know your way around a lentil! Such creativity - I feel like I have to try harder. :D The pizza burgers on muffins look great.

    I live 2 blocks from Trader Joe's so I'm definitely going to try their rice pasta.

  6. Wow, what a versatile cup of lentils! That pasta looks fabulous and I really want that burger right now.

  7. Melody = queen of lentils!

  8. I love that lentils are great to use in so many recipes. You are so creative with your leftovers! And I have no doubt you will stretch your ingredients to stay on budget.

  9. Everything, of course, looks great. I can't believe that you made those lentils go so far! I have a bag sitting in the cabinet and I'm inspired to use them now :)

  10. Pizza = good
    Burgers = good
    Pizza Burger = genius!

    You really know how to work the same food so that it doesn't seem like it's the same food over and over again. Know what I mean? You are a genius re-fooder! :)

  11. I love how you incorporate leftovers into entirely new meals-- sure keeps the boring factor at bay! I'm not sure how much Tofutti sour cream costs, but have you ever tried making your own? There's a recipe in Yellow Rose Recipes (or I'm sure you could find one online) for sour cream made with silken tofu, lime juice and just a few other ingredients. That might save some money.

  12. Yum-- Loving all of your meals today! I love lentils, they are so good for you and filling! Mmm!

  13. Clea, I often make my own sour cream, but bought it this time as it was only 1.69 for the container. It would have been a little cheaper to make my own.. especially if I had picked up silken tofu for 1.29 at the asian market. silken tofu was 2.29 at the store I went to yesterday.

  14. you are so talented at food menus and budgeting that it is insane! if i had the money, and you lived near me, i would SO hire you as a food/money/nutrition consultant!!!!

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  16. I figured you'd be ahead of me regarding sour cream costs :). I just searched your blog for "millet" since I'm inspired to make my own batch of lentils and/or grains, and might try your aduki bean burgers soon! Great ideas on turning a soup into a burger by the way...and it isn't too soggy? Do you have to add a huge amount of oats, and how do you bake the burgers?

  17. amazing use of your lentils!

  18. Hey Clea.. I cooked 1 cup of dry millet and turned it into millet polenta which I used in two dishes, the polenta lasagna and the polenta, lentil and sunflower cream dish.. I took the leftover polenta and lentils and made soup and then added TVP and oats to 1 cup of the soup and turned it into 4 burgers. I fried the burgers in my cast iron on medium heat with cooking spray..

    Other uses for millet.. use it to stuff peppers, use in place of rice in sushi, use in croquettes, mix it with beans and spices for a burrito filling, serve any hearty veggie or bean stew over it or just use as a pilaf type dish instead of rice. You can also eat it for breakfast like you would oats or use in breads, pancakes and muffins.. You can fry it in a little bit of earth balance and drizzle with maple syrup.. anything you can do with rice you can do with millet.

  19. wowzer, Melody! you're just too awesome! i can't believe you made all that awesomeness with just a cup o' lentils! hoooooray! your pizza burgers look awesome, and so does that millet soup! mmmmmm! i've never had rice pasta, but the next time i'm at trader joe's i'm gonna have to pick some up! yay!

  20. yummmmm! is it asking too much to request the recipe for the cranberry dijon vinaigrette? please!! :) it sounds amazing

  21. Lentil balls sound amazing!

  22. That is a beautiful pasta dish and the muffins sound fantastic, too!