Frugal, Sweet Rewards and Menu Planning?

Went to the market and found raspberries and blueberries on the mark-down shelf! The raspberries have been picked over. (The bad ones were buried in the compost heap.) The good ones are rinsed, and I’m about to make some simple syrup for them. Also I have a batch of limes to use up, so I’ll make lime syrup too.

I can’t afford raspberries, except wild ones, most of the time. Indulgences like raspberry syrup are something the budget rarely includes. This way I’ll use the about $3 worth of fruit plus sugar and water, and make an indulgence.

When I add the cost of the sugar, the water, the energy for serilizing the bottles, and making the syrup. I’m probably not saving that much, but despite all that, this “feels” frugal. Mostly because I just wouldn’t buy raspberry syrup. And, every time I manage to make something at home instead of buying it prefab, it just feels good.

Also frugal : we’re going to have the last 1/2 of the chili verde for dinner. I’ll make up  rice, maybe beans and grab some lettuce from the garden and that will be dinner: HM chili verde, probably prefab rice (there’s still some left!), prefab refries, home-grown lettuces with HM flavored vinegarette.

If I am diligent enough, there will also be two bottles  of syrup in the fridge and a bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer (blueberry pancakes Sunday)!

Yesterday’s citrus/mint water was good, but it was bitter today. 😛 Any extra limes will probably be made into lime/mint water for tonight’s dinner.

How could I possibly include this in a menu plan? The only plan I had today was that I knew I didn’t want to cook entirely from scratch AND make syrups. I l also knew the salsa verde was in the freezer, so that became the entree. Otherwise,  I’d probably have made stuffed peppers instead (I also got some salvage baby bell peppers), but  that’s the “plan” for tomorrow (subject to change!).

Last night?  Last night I went out to the garden, picked herbs and chopped them. I sauteed 1/2 a sweet onion, then added enough broth for two of us and added 2 thinly sliced med. red potatoes. When the potato slices were cooked, or nearly so, I added the chopped herbs and cooked it briefly. Dinner would have benefitted from some cheese or a large salad, but we had it with bread.

DH asked me what I was making while I was cooking the onion and I said, “I don’t know; I’ll know when I make it!” And so it was.

Menu plans? No menu plans here. How could I do that with a menu plan? Part of this is that I just love the creativity: “WTF am I going to make for dinner???, ” the search through the available foodstuffs and pulling it together. It takes having a pretty good pantry but it makes cooking something I enjoy, a challenge, rather than simply a chore.

Of course I didn’t feel that way when I had a 9-5 job and so did DH, then I tried to not only follow recipes, but do menu planning by the month. It worked, but I hated the drudgery of knowing tonight we were having meatballs in spaghetti sauce and two days from now the rest of the meat balls would be crumbled up over mashed potatoes or in a casserole or something.

My “should” voice tells me I “should” do menu planning: it would save us money and save me time and allow me to have a more organized pantry — all good. But I’ve never found a way to do menu planning that didn’t just make a task I love into drudgery.



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