This series from Dee Ann Guzman has been helpful to hundreds of moms suddenly finding themselves in hard times and needing to feed a family with the absolute minimum amount. The prices may be off due to rising grocery costs, but the overall plan is still helpful.
I am writing this for Moms who sometimes have to feed several children on very little money. We all get to this place at one time or another.
Staples for Hard Times
These are the basic things that I use when really low on money. If you usually cook from scratch you may already have some of these things. Go down the list and check off what you have.
- Dry beans
- Frozen chubs of ground turkey from Save a lot .69/lb
- Chicken leg quarters
- Tomato paste
- Baking powder
- Salt pork or bacon
- A few packages of frozen veggies
- Ramen noodles
- Cans of tuna
- Peanut butter
I don’t know where you live, but I live in Oklahoma. Here, Save-a- Lot foods is one of the best places to pick up deals. However on the West coast, I used to shop at Grocery Warehouse. If you have one of these nearby you are certainly blessed. Their logo has a rainbow on the building usually.
[Ed note: This article was originally written as advice to a specific person in specific circumstances, hence the indication that the money comes from "your husband".] Now, I am going to assume that all your husband can give you is $30. Maybe he can only give $20, and I’ll show you where to adjust. Here, chicken quarters are sometimes on special for .29/lb. So for two weeks I would probably buy 2-3 of those. If they are more expensive I would buy two, but at .29/lb. I would buy 3. Shop for sales with your news paper before going out. Plan your route in advance to save money on gas. Assuming that you bought 3 chicken quarters we’ve already spent $9.
The next thing on the list is bacon, salt pork or very cheap ham. Now I am going to assume that you have dry beans in the house. If you don’t they must be purchased. The bacon can be bought in ends and pieces the cheapest, and this is perfect for using the ways I will suggest. If you spend $3 on the bacon, and $3 on the beans, we have spent $15.
Now if you can, pick up some ground turkey at Save-a-Lot. Try to get 4 chubs @ .69/chub. So you have spent $2.80 more or $17.80. Now here is where things get sticky. First of all you need two things more to get through – milk and eggs. Now milk and eggs is something I always have, due to my goats and chickens. In fact it has been awhile since I have been in a really desperate situation, because of homesteading. However I started homesteading to help prevent us getting into a bad spot (within the Lord’s will of course). So at this point, on $30 you should purchase: 1 gallon of milk and 3 dozen eggs. The milk is NOT for drinking. Use the milk for cooking. On $20 you should drop 10Lb of chicken to get your milk and buy 2 dozen eggs.
Now on $20 you are done. On thirty dollars the balance should be made up with Ramen noodles, a can or 2 of tomato paste, a bag of potatoes, cornmeal, peanut butter and frozen vegetables. Now, you probably noticed that I said not to drink the milk. This is because that milk can be used more wisely for making meals. If your family are big milk drinkers, they will have to get used to not drinking so much right now. This is not a permanent thing, but rather temporary to get through. Also, as much as you are capable, try to balance your meals. However hard times call for hard ways of eating. Our grandmothers and grandfathers often simply ate meals like cornbread and milk. Extra money should be used for missed things on the list or luxury items such as cheese.
Now for the cooking. For all the cooking I am assuming you are feeding 6, like I would be. When you come home from the store divide the chicken into smaller portions, say four to a gallon ziplock bag. Put them in the freezer.
The first thing you do is put beans on to soak. Soak them overnight and rinse in the morning adding fresh water. Put those on to cook either in a crockpot or in a pan on the stove. Add a couple of pieces of bacon. At the same time you put the beans to soak, take a cup of milk, a cup of flour, and a teaspoon of sugar, and blend together. Leave in a warm spot covered by a paper towel. [Ed. note - this is for the sourdough starter. There is some confusion regarding this recipe for starter and bread, so we have separated it into its own recipe below. If it is unclear, try this recipe instead.]
- 1 cup of milk
- 10-12 cups of flour, divided
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 additional quart milk, divided
- 1/4 cup oil
Blend 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, and sugar and place in a warm spot covered by a paper towel. Leave for 2 days, checking to be sure it starts to smell sour after 1 day. On day 2, take 1 egg and put it into a glass of hot tap water (do not crack it). Warm some milk, about 1 quart, not hot just warm. In a large bowl place three quarters of your starter and set aside. To the rest of the starter add 1 cup of flour and a cup of milk. Mix the starter and put it into the refrigerator. To the portion of the starter you put into the bowl, add your beaten egg, 1/4 cup oil, the remaining warm milk, 8-12 cups of flour (start with 5-6 cups and add a little at a time until the dough is the right consistency), and mix and knead well (about 8 minutes). Allow to rise in a warm place overnight. In the morning, punch down the risen bread dough and form into loaves. Let dough rise again for 1 1/2 hours, then bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.
The next day, get up early and make eggs and bacon. In our house fried eggs stretch longer than scrambled. Partly because I usually make too many scrambled. So fry each person in the house an egg and make a little bacon. Also make some quick muffins.
- 2 C. flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder (omit if using self rising flour)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 to1 C. milk with a dash of vinegar added, or omit if you don’t have vinegar
- 1/4 C oil
Mix all together and pour into muffin tin filling cups by half, or pour into a loaf pan, and have bread. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown.
After breakfast, make sure and put your beans on to cook. Then check the starter I had you set out last night. Does it smell sour? It should be beginning to smell sour. Set it aside until tomorrow. Now for lunch you can either choose tuna or egg salad sandwiches. Either way, make a batch of biscuits and stuff them with the mixture. Now take your tomato paste out, open all the cans. Drop large spoonfuls of tomato paste onto a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer. Allow to freeze. When frozen take them out and put them into a ziplock bag. Now they can be used whenever you want a little tomato flavor.
Take two of these little tomato nuggets and drop them into your beans. Add a chopped onion and a little chili powder. Serve this for dinner along with cornbread. More than likely you have some left over beans, and they should be served the next day for lunch.
Tomorrow morning you will be making bread, so we will start it tonight. [Ed: see recipe above] Take out your starter. Take 1 egg out and put it into a glass of hot tap water (do not crack it). Warm some milk, perhaps 1 quart, not hot just warm. Now get out a large bowl. Take three quarters of your starter and pour it into the bowl. To the rest of the starter add a cup of flour and a cup of milk. Put this back in the refrigerator. To your starter in the bowl, add your egg, 1/4 C oil, the warm milk, 8-12 cups of flour (start with 5-6 cups and add a little at a time until the dough is the right consistency), and mix and knead well. (Another word for beating the heck out of the dough: excellent stress reliever! No wonder our foremothers rarely got anxiety attacks!) Allow to rise in a warm place overnight.
Now, everyone has had a full stomach for today. Tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. Simply enjoy today’s contentment, and give thanks to God for his provision.
Breakfast- Oatmeal and bacon
Right now apples and pears are getting ripe across the country. Perhaps you know of someone with apple trees or pear trees. Many times people don’t do anything with them. Ask around and you are likely to find someone who would love to have someone glean their apples. It would be a good outing for the kids, and would help remind you of the wonderful joy that God has for us through his creation. Bring them home and cut them up and make applesauce, and apple pie, and apple muffins, and apple juice.
Punch down your risen bread dough and form into loaves. Let rise again for the morning, then bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Now for lunch you have left over beans and fresh sourdough bread. After lunch take a ziplock of chicken out of the freezer.
About 2 hours before dinner, put the chicken in a large pot to boil. Simmer one hour, and then take the chicken out of the pot and take it off the bone. While you are deboning the chicken add a little water, and one chopped onion, and salt and pepper to your broth. Simmer while deboning. Now put your chicken back in the broth and make up a batch of biscuit dough. Drop the dough into the water about ten minutes before you serve your chicken and dumplings. Put a lid on the pot and leave it until serving time. Turn off the burner and serve your family a meal. Save the leftovers Now notice I don’t mention vegetables. If you have some use them, but keep in mind that there may be other recipes later in this incredibly long e-mail that call for them.
Now take a walk outside. Sit by yourself somewhere, and just breathe. Hopefully hubby is home, and all is well. Make a list of how God has blessed you today. Remember those adorable things the kids did. Now get a good night’s sleep. I always read my bible at night. After the labor of the day is finished I can take all my cares to the Lord.
You more than likely had leftover chicken and dumplings. Breakfast is toast (made with homemade bread) with peanut butter, and a little bacon.
Lunch, take some frozen veggies (broccoli would be excellent). Take a deep casserole pan, fish out all the leftover chicken out of the chicken and dumplings. Put one cup of rice, and one cup of broth (conserving the rest), and one cup of water in the casserole with the chicken and half a bag of broccoli. Season to taste, and bake covered for 1/2 hour. Uncover and sprinkle a little of any kind of cheese (if you have it, if not omit) Serve this for lunch.
- 1-2 cups frozen veggies (broccoli would be excellent)
- leftover chicken from Chicken and Dumplings
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup rice
- Seasonings to taste
- Cheese for topping
Take a deep casserole pan, fish out all the leftover chicken out of the chicken and dumplings. Put one cup of rice, and one cup of broth (conserving the rest), and one cup of water in the casserole with the chicken and half a bag of broccoli. Season to taste, and bake covered for 1/2 hour. Uncover and sprinkle a little of any kind of cheese and continue baking until cheese melts.
Get out your starter and put half of it in a bowl. Replace with 1/2 C milk, 1/2 C. flour. Adding some milk, mix with flour, a little sugar and salt to make a stiff dough. Let rise until after dinner. Punch down, and put into the refrigerator. For dinner, take out a chub of turkey and 5 packages of ramen noodles. Brown the turkey, add ramen noodles and the contents of one of the seasoning packets, and leftover veggies from lunch. Simmer and serve.
Also take some of your bread and cut into chunks. Add a few raisins if you have them. Mix 1 egg, 1 cup of milk, 3/4 C sugar (brown would be nice, but not necessary.), and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Pour mixture over bread, and bake. This bread pudding is wonderful if you pour just a little milk over it.
- Bread, cut into cubes
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of milk
- 3/4 C sugar (brown would be nice, but not necessary)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
Mix 1 egg, 1 cup of milk, 3/4 C sugar (brown would be nice, but not necessary.), and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Pour mixture over bread, and bake. This bread pudding is wonderful if you pour just a little milk over it.
Get out your starter, and use half of it in a bowl. Replace with 1/2 C milk, 1/2 C. flour. Mix and return to refrigerator. Adding some milk mix with flour a little sugar and salt to make a stiff dough. Let rise until after dinner. Punch down, and put into the refrigerator.
First thing when you wake up take dough out of fridge. Roll out on a board to about half inch thickness. Dot with margarine, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and roll up in a roll. slice across the roll, and place your cinnamon rolls on their sides in an oiled pan. Turn on your oven for few minutes just to warm it, and then turn it off and put your rolls into it to rise. When they have risen some, turn on your oven to 400 degrees and bake until golden brown. Serve this with an egg each.
This calls for determining amounts as you mix in order to get the right consistency.
- Half of Sourdough Starter
- Flour as needed
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- margarine as needed
- 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 cup sugar
Adding some milk to sourdough starter, mix with flour, a little sugar, and salt to make a stiff dough. Let rise until after dinner. Punch down, and put dough into the refrigerator overnight.In the morning, take dough out of fridge. Roll out on a board to about 1/2″ thickness. Dot with margarine, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and roll up in a roll. Slice across the roll, and place each slice in an oiled pan. Turn on your oven for few minutes just to warm it, and then turn it off and put your rolls into it to rise. When they have doubled in size, turn on your oven to 400 degrees and bake until golden brown.
For lunch take out whatever ramen you have left over, add the remaining broth from the dumplings, another fresh package of ramen, and serve for lunch. Also take another package of chicken out of the freezer. For dinner boil the chicken and take off the bone. Set aside the broth. Now take 1 1/2 cups rice and brown it gently in a little oil. Add three cups of the broth into the hot pan, putting the leftovers in the freezer. From the freezer take out two of the tomato nuggets, and add them and the chicken to the rice. Cover and simmer on medium until all water is absorbed. Add salt and spices to taste.
Now another day is done, and all is right with the world. Everyone is probably full, and God is watching over you. This is four meals.
©Dee Ann Guzman; Used by permission
Too busy to plan dinner?
With the Busy Mom Menu from Menus4Moms, we plan for you. Take advantage of the Secrets of a Busy Cook and just... Print. Shop. Cook.