I served this tonight at a birthday party for my daughter. Upon tasting it, one of my dearest friends announced “I saw Jesus.” This is a variation of the popular snickers salad. This is what happens when you live in a rural area and the store you drove 10 miles to get to doesn’t have the right flavor of pudding mix. Apparently it was meant to be, because it was a religious experience.
1/2 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 tbsp vanilla
15 miniature snickers, diced
6 taffy apples with nuts, sticks removed, cored, and diced
1/2 c miniature marshmallows
In heavy saucepan, whisk together sugar, salt, and cornstarch. Slowly add in milk while whisking and turn stove on to medium heat. Whisk often until pudding thickens and coats the back of a spoon. You don’t want it to be really runny but it won’t get as thick as packaged pudding either. Cool for a few minutes so that the snickers bars don’t melt when they hit the sauce.
Place snickers, apples, and marshmallows in a large bowl and stir in pudding mixture. Chill at least two hours, covered.
This was part of a My Little Pony party. We also served fruit arranged in a rainbow (Strawberries, peaches, pineapple chunks, green grapes, blueberries, purple grapes), white cheese cubes to signify sugar cubes, carrots and dip, and hot dogs. Then of course there was cake and cupcakes. We had lemonade with orange slices floating in it and coffee to drink.
Following the pattern of inexpensive meals, I have another tasty recipe that costs very little to make. (Can you tell it’s a slim week here?)
This recipe is adapted from one I found on allrecipes.com and the original can be found here. Here is my version, which is flavorful and almost addicting. If you have rolls, or the time to make rolls, it makes a very filling meal.
3 tbsp oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
4 ounces frozen green beans
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cups beef stock (the original recipe calls for veggie stock and would make it vegetarian but this is what I have on hand)
4 chopped tomatoes, or 1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
2 cups white beans, cooked and drained, or 1 can, drained
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 c elbow macaroni
Saute the onion and carrot in oil over medium heat until onion is translucent and carrot begins to soften. Add zucchini, green beans, and celery. Continue to saute but be careful not to scorch the onions, for a total of about 10 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes, beans*, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, simmering 30 minutes or so. Add macaroni and cook, uncovered until tender.
*If you use canned beans, add them with the macaroni.
This makes a decent sized pot of soup and is very inexpensive to make. I made it last night and ate four bowls. I couldn’t stop.
Sometimes we find ourselves scraping by for the week or the month or just in general. A person can only stomach so many Ramen noodles, and honestly I can’t stand them at all. I think they smell awful. In place of that, I’m sharing a couple of recipes here for you to adopt into your meal plan that don’t break the bank. If you have a discount store such as Aldi, the foods should be available there. These recipes are intended to feed my family of 7, including one hungry teenage boy, so you may be able to use the leftovers for another meal.
1 pound ground turkey (or any ground meat but this is what’s cheapest here typically)
1 small onion, diced
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic
Brown ground turkey over medium heat. Add onion when meat is nearly cooked. Cook until onion is tender. Meanwhile, boil elbow macaroni per box instructions. Remove meat from heat for a while if more time is needed to cook pasta.
When the macaroni is done, drain and put back into pot. Add meat, tomatoes, beans, salt, and garlic. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning. When beans are hot, meal is ready to serve.
Total cost in my area: Less than $6
1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, diced
2 cans kidney beans, drained
2 cans chili beans in gravy, undrained
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 tsp salt
Brown meat. Add onion and saute until tender. Add in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes to allow flavors to blend. You can add macaroni to this to make a second meal or serve over hot dogs or baked potatoes.
You can also add all ingredients to the crock pot after browning the meat on the stovetop and cook on low for at least four hours. Chili is pretty forgiving and will slow cook for a long time without scorching.
Total cost in my area: under $6, assuming you already have the seasoning on hand
Some other tips:
- Add a can of black beans, drained, to a pound of taco meat to make the meat go further.
- Cut meat in casseroles or soups in half and increase the amount of veggies when possible.
- Make a basic chicken dinner (Here’s a recipe if you need it) and serve the leftovers in a casserole the next night. Then use the bones as a base for broth and make chicken soup the third night. We’re at a point in my house where we need two chickens to do this but when my older kids were little, one was plenty.
- Plan meals that can use the leftovers with a simple addition, such as the chili above. For just a couple of dollars more, you are making a completely separate meal the second night and it won’t seem so much like leftovers.
- Serve soup as an appetizer. It’ll fill you up and you’ll eat less of your main dish.
- Shop sales and discount grocers. Even if you don’t use coupons, you’ll save quite a bit.