Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Frugal ingredient substitution

I've been working diligently to find more and more frugal solutions to a tight grocery budget (I'm feeding the four of us on $60/week). Trying to put together dinner on Tuesday nights is sometimes particularly difficult since grocery day is Wednesday which is the day DaHubby gets paid. But, a couple of weeks ago I stumbled onto something I thought I'd share.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to make an easy and quick chicken pot pie dinner on a Tuesday night with a recipe where I didn't have all the required ingredients. I needed a can of cream of chicken soup. Hmmm. And, I was standing with my cabinets when I had a light bulb moment.

I've recently started making the Vikings' beloved "cheese noodles" from scratch - using elbow noodles and a cheese sauce started from a standard white sauce of butter, flour, salt, pepper, and milk then adding shredded cheese to taste. It's just as easy. I can make it "cheesier" if we want. And, no "powdered" cheese.

Anyway, I mentioned here that we often have several Raman seasoning packets leftover around here. So, to replace my cream of chicken soup need...I made a more "watery" than usual white sauce (a little extra milk) and added a Raman chicken flavoring packet! This could also be done with bullion granules and possibly a cube, I suppose. Need cream of mushroom? Use a Raman mushroom flavoring packet!

I measured out about 2 cups of my concoction, inserted into the recipe, and DaHubby and the Vikings never knew the difference!

Simple (and frugal) ingredient substitution? Works for me!

For more WFMW, see Shannon's place today.

P.S. White sauce recipes abound on the net but here's the one I use:

3 T butter
2 T flour
1 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1.5 C milk

In a saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil - stirring constantly - over medium heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.

At this point, add 1 C shredded cheese for cheese sauce or whatever seasoning you need!


Lisa said...

Great tip! Your post is difficult on the eyes and I'm not even old :) You might consider changing font color. I had to copy your text and place it in my email so I could read it. Thanks for the post.

Karen said...

Last night I was thinking about ingredient substitution and hadn't even thought about ramen packets. Good idea!

Milehimama said...

I'm even lazier than that. Last night I made shepherd's pie, and I just sprinkle it with flour and top with milk - I let the oven do the thickening! I make scalloped potatoes the same way.

Lady of Value said...

Hey, I use that white sauce all the time!! It is really good too for augratin potatoes. I slice up potatoes and preboil them just about 5 minutes and then add the sauce to that and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Good tip about the ramen noodle seasoning, haven't thought of that before!

Jodi said...

thanks for the idea for the cheese noodles - will have to try that with my guys!