714d7163-69e7-4477-bfa8-965537149405As longtime readers of this blog know, I’m no stranger to making my own pizza. At least, I wasn’t before I became a parent. These days, however, I’m not only short on time, but recognize that eating a big slab of white bread with cheese is probably not the best idea if I’m trying to keep energy levels up. Socca, a sort of flatbread made with ground chickpeas, is not only pizza-like enough to sate a craving, it’s inexpensive, gluten-free, full of protein and, best of all, can be made quickly and easily in a single cast-iron pan. It can also be topped with anything you happen to have on hand. You don’t even need cheese! (This time I’ve used feta, but other times I’ve gone without and it’s been just as great.)

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The never-ending turkey

b6a5fb57-fd2a-4b5c-9561-7b29ec234ec3As most turkey fans (and chest-freezer owners) know, the best time to buy a turkey is a few weeks after Thanksgiving. I normally smoke a turkey on the holiday itself, but this year I did a breast roulade that resulted in no leftovers, s0 when turkey-clearance time came around ($1.19/lb.), I went big. Very big. Like, 22 pounds big. It was by far the largest bird I’ve ever worked with (trying to spatchcock a turkey that weighs more than a medium-sized dog is not up there on the list of tasks I enjoy), and while at the time I swore I’d never do it again, nearly a month later we’re STILL eating turkey sandwiches, turkey enchiladas, and turkey soup, and my deep freeze is packed with gallons of smoked-turkey stock. It’s hard to argue with weeks upon weeks of meals for $26.50, so yes, I will probably do it again. Read on to see how it went. (And, above, enjoy a photo of a particularly bountiful day at the Fred Meyer meat-clearance section.)

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Fudgy pantry brownies

image1No chocolate? No problem! I discovered these super-simple yet undeniably delicious brownies when I was pregnant, and they continue to be a trusty go-to for desserts, parties, and the like not only because they’re CHEAP (no baking chocolate—or even chocolate chips—required) and based entirely on pantry ingredients, but because they’re objectively some of my favorite brownies. Chewy and fudgy, not cakey and dry, with so much chocolate flavor you’ll swear you taste an expensive chocolate bar in there somewhere. (It’s just cocoa powder!)

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Green Pancakes

IMG_5681.JPGYou asked for them, and here they are: The bona fide kid- and adult-pleasing spinach breakfast pancakes made famous by my food-stamp challenge article. Given that I seem to have given birth to the one kid on earth who doesn’t like smoothies, ensuring adequate vegetable consumption has been a years-long process of trial-and-error, with these being the most successful result. They don’t taste like spinach in the slightest despite being quite obviously packed with it, and the fact they’re whole wheat is barely perceptible. We always have a freezer stash of these individually wrapped and ready to just pop in the toaster (or microwave) on busy school mornings. I promise they’re cheaper and healthier than anything you could find in the grocery-store freezer aisle.

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Fancy apple chips: $1

fe02b018-b9f3-4853-b122-6176a97796bbYou may have seen packages of these at your local upscale grocery store for anywhere from $3-$6, but did you know that with just 10 minutes of labor and a food dehydrator, you can make two bags’ worth for a buck? They’re sweet, they’re crunchy, they’ve got no added sugar or preservatives, and you can make them year round. They also keep well for vacuum sealing, and are a great holiday-season hostess gift when packed in a cellophane bag with a nice ribbon. Read on for the secret that makes them so inexpensive.


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Apple sauce muffins

IMG_5196Before I had a child, I always mentally classified apple sauce as a foolproof kid food. It’s sweet, it’s fruity, it doesn’t require chewing…what isn’t there to like? According to my son, a lot. For whatever reason, he hates apple sauce. Like, will throw a tantrum if I so much as imply that apple sauce might be present within 50 feet of his lunch or dinner plate. I knew this when I purchased a large Grocery Outlet container of apple sauce for the spice ornaments (which are still fragrant on the tree, by the way) and had intended to eat much of it myself, but even I can only eat so much monochromatic, unsweetened apple mush. Thankfully this old family recipe (one of my husband’s childhood favorites, the recipe hand-lettered on an index card by his grandmother) is an easy, inexpensive, KID-APPROVED use for leftover apple sauce.

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How to get rid of old spices…craftily

IMG_5022 I know, I know…not only is this not exactly a food post, but I’m advocating getting rid of otherwise perfectly good* spices! In this case, though, two wrongs do make a right, especially if you have kids and are jonesing for a Pinterest-y activity that won’t require trashing the house after a $50 trip to Michael’s Crafts.

(*Yes, spices do go bad, and this is of particular concern to budget shoppers, both because we tend to buy in bulk and thus perhaps not repackage the spices as well as we should [i.e., leaving them in their original baggies…anyone? No? just me?], and because cooking on a budget requires adding more flavor through inexpensive ingredients like spices rather than meat or fat, and older spices = less flavor, especially if they come pre-ground. Always buy your spices whole when possible!)

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Update to the update

2Hi, remember me? Last we left off, strong-willed, extra-spirited Baby F arrived, and to say that threw a wrench into everything is…well…let’s just say I considered a ketchup sandwich a legitimate lunch for almost 2 years, OK?

Fast forward to late 2015, and while I’m still not busting out fresh-roasted squash soufflé on a Tuesday night (I actually did that?), Baby F is not exactly a baby anymore (that’s actually his hand at left), and I finally feel like I’m able to up my cooking game beyond steamed rice and marked-down vegan hot dogs from Grocery Outlet. I also bought a handful of new toys (InstantPot, food dehydrator), and wrote this article about eating on a food-stamp budget, which felt absolutely decadent after $35! Be on the lookout (for reals this time, I swear) for new tips and recipes in the next few weeks to help YOU eat within your budget, whether it’s $35 or $85.

P.S. Site is not yet in full update mode, so the Recipe and Tip indices are linking to a previous domain that I’m having trouble recovering. If you’re interested in something specific, just type it into the search bar!


An update

As y’all have no doubt noticed, the $35 a Week project has been offline for quite some time now. Most of this is due to the time-sucking vortex that is Life With a Baby, and another part of it is due to the fact I work from home now, and any free time I have during Baby F.’s two distressingly short naps a day goes toward…well…making money. Not blogging. But I am still cooking! Am I doing it for under $35 a week, you ask? (And many of you have asked.) Unfortunately, no. For two reasons: 1. Baby F. is sensitive to dairy, so as long as I’m nursing I’ve had to cut out any traces of dairy from my diet—cheese, milk, buttermilk, etc. I couldn’t go straight vegan because I still needed protein for the nursing, so this necessitated eating more meat, which we all know is not cheap. And 2. We’ve switched to eating all organic produce, which has upped our bill considerably. But I’m still cooking with the $35 a Week principles in mind, and going dairy-free has definitely opened the door to some things I had never considered using before (almond milk, nutritional yeast) but most likely will continue to use even after I can eat dairy again. In any case, stay tuned in the next couple of months for some tips on what I’ve learned about cooking for dietary restrictions on a budget, and thanks for all your words of encouragement!



Mahogany chicken with chipotle-lime sweet potatoes & cilantro chimichurri: $2.16/serving

If you’re thinking this looks awfully fancy and composed for something I’d come up with on my own, your suspicions would be founded. It’s an oldie but goodie from the Food Network—a recipe I’ve had in the rotation for quite a few years now when I happen to have some chicken thighs to spare (in this case, Costco: $1.69/lb.) and the weather calls for sweet potatoes. Not only are the colors fantastic, but it’s relatively quick to make and is an excellent vehicle for an ending-its-lifespan bunch of cilantro. (If you haven’t yet been enlightened with my tip for making bunches of herbs last for weeks past when they’d normally die a sad, slimy death in the crisper, check it out.)

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