Saturday, April 27, 2013

Frugal Go-to Meal....Soup, and Other Highlights From a Frugal Home

We had an atypical Saturday morning, a rare day when all four of us were together.  What was the catalyst? The Great Midwest Alpaca Festival!  An annual event that I adore, I long ago requested my husband to schedule "family time" for this AM.  Cost of admission, free.  But parking was $6.  If could have biked it would have been ideal, but we are not quite outfitted for a family bike outing, but we're working on it, stay tuned.

Noticeably smaller than in prior years, we still enjoyed viewing the alpaca, watching the judging, climbing the steep stairs in the arena, and this year purchases skeins of alpaca yarn (great for me, who is allergic to wool).  My plan is to knit a winter scarf for each child to use this fall.  The school they will attend believes "there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes."  Warm outer wear will be key, and alpaca wool should deliver.

Afterwards we made a quick stop at Johannsen's where I picked up asparagus crowns that will be planted in the next day or so.  Grabbing quickly I did not notice the label "purple passion".  A google image search confirmed, I bought purple asparagus, not green.  Roasted they will be tasty, and the color may tempt my oldest child to eat them....purple is his favorite color.  I also picked up two geraniums. I would have gotten more, but the nights are too cool for them to stay outside.  So two will grace our front steps, coming in at night, until later in May.  I will be back for a few more for the backyard when the weather warms up.  The plants I bought last year thrived, and are still going strong in the window at my office.  And for a first time, I bought pansies for the front and back.  Hardy, but lovely, they can already stay outside.  I find them a frugal buy because the give color from Spring to Fall.  Why a pricey greenhouse and not a big box store?  First, service.  These people know a stunning amount about what they sell.  Two, quality.  The plants last, for a long time.  Three, they have a loyalty card.  With each $25 I get a punch. When full, there is $20 off my purchase.  Too bad for me though, my bill today was $41, I got one punch...oh so close to 2, but I didn't add more to the cart just to get a punch.

Then it was a quick run by Dream Bikes, who had serviced both of my husband's bikes. A non-profit operation, their fees for bikes is by far the best in the area and we've used them for several years.  My husband is back to biking to his office, nearly ever day.  It's a great way to lead an active lifestyle, cut down on gas consumption, and is just as fast, if not faster than his car.  It is a return to a more frugal way of life, and encourages me to bike to my office as much as I can now that the snow has left for a few months.

Our last stop of the morning, yes there were four in total, was the West Side Farmers' Market.  Arriving close to Noon we found the cheese curds had been sold out as was the spinach.  I did score a tomato for a meal this week, and a few food items as a thank you gift to the friends who had us at their home on our trip to DC.  If they lived closer I'd make a meal or two for them, but they don't.  Hopefully these locally produced goodies will bring extra joy to a meal of theirs.

Having been cooped up in the car a bit, we took to the back yard after a quick lunch.  My husband used our neighbor's ladder to climb to the roof and clear the gutters.  Savings of $85, something we previously hired out.  It took less than an hour, allowed for a neighborly chat, and gave him some exercise. However, when we are not in frugal overdrive we may outsource this again, one wrong move and a fall would result in injury. Obviously not fun, and not ideal when you run a business.  We carry disability insurance, but hope to never use it.  The flowers were planted, allowing the kids to get their hands dirty.  What a low-cost way to play with children!

My day was more full than expected, throwing a wrench in my dinner plan.  With not enough time to make a pizza dough, I opted to order-in.  Using a coupon I got two large pizzas delivered.  It will provide food for at least three meals.  And the sausage I had set out for a topping was converted to soup.  I called it Italian Sausage Soup, and prepared it on the fly.  Soup, it is by far my most frugal go to meal.  The main reason -- it is a great way to use up items on the fridge shelf.  Here is how I prepared it:

  • brown sausage (removed from casing);
  • saute onion and garlic in olive oil;
  • add in diced green pepper, celery, and carrot;
  • sprinkle parsley, basil, salt, and pepper on veggies;
  • pour in left over liquid from spinach earlier in the week;
  • pour in second have of veggie broth from container in fridge;
  • add 2 cups of water plus broth concentrate;
  • chop up frozen swiss chard from freezer;
  • add a can of chick peas; and
  • simmer for 45 minutes.
One of the tastiest soups I've thrown together this weekend!  Soup, turn to it when veggies need a second life or you need a relatively simple and quick meal.

1 comment:

  1. Alas, I hate to tell you that most purple veg turns green when cooked .. but still tastes delicious. Let us know if that's true for your asparagus as well; i have green in my garden.

    Alpaca fiber is super warm and comfy, so excellent that you got some yarn. I didn't remember that you are a knitter too. Love the "only bad clothes" remark - I tend to agree!