Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard 11/10

It is time to assess my first week of my meal challenge.  I hope I don't bore you with it but I think my meal planning and cost analysis fits into the weekly post.

The first step to eating well, using all your hoarded food and seeing if you are being cost efficient it to prepare at least a weekly menu.  I try to do a month so I don't get caught in a rut of eating the same thing every week.  I only do this for our main meal at night.  I know another list that hangs of the refrigerator.

So here goes nothing.

Thursday night was Dried Beef with Milk Gravy in Patty Shells and canned green beans from the garden.  This was a bit extravagant in price but we do love it.  This meal fed 2 for dinner plus one 1 lunch.  Dried Beef was around $4 I think, Gravy was $.06 and I estimate the puff pastry to be about a $1 for 4 patty shells since I don't know the cost of cake flour.  The regular flour and margarine (which I used in place of butter) came to $.36 so total estimated $5.42.

Friday night was company night so fed 3 adults and on toddler.  Dinner fare was pot roast with gravy, dilled carrots fresh from the garden and boiled potatoes from the root cellar.  Cost of meat $6.00 and you will see this reappear a couple of times.

Saturday night back to our usual 2 for dinner and it was comfort night.  We had chili.  Dried beans, home canned tomatoes, and tomato sauce came from the pantry.  Green peppers and ground beef from the freezer, and onions and rotele tomatoes from the store.  To round out the meal we had Johnny Cake.  Cost of Chili was $3.00 and Johnny cake $3.47.  Total $6.47.

Sunday was Baked Pork chops with Stove Top Stuffing (didn't have any of my own on hand) and cream of Mushroom Soup and cole slaw made with fresh cabbage.  Don't have exact cost on this as chops were in the freezer from a former purchase of a whole boneless loin but estimated at about $2.00, soup and stuffing $1.69.  Cole Slaw was $.15 for the Mayonnaise.  Total $3.84

Monday leftover Chili and Johnny Cake.

Tuesday Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches, fried potatoes and dilled carrots.  All left from Friday's dinner.  Made bread for the sandwiches and that cost was $.42

Wednesday I eat alone.  Had stuffed green peppers from the freezer that were made last year and french fries (potato from the root cellar)

Total for a week $15.68  DB also ate Johnny Cake for breakfast 3 mornings.
Other things made this week

 Buckwheat Pancakes
Recipe makes 12  pancakes using 2 oz. laddle
Cost $1.20

English Muffins
11 muffins $.64
Breakfast egg, cheese and muffin sandwich
cost $.22
Puff Pastry


  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp/4 1/4 oz/120g all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 cup/4 1/4 oz/120g cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/8 stick/1 1/2 oz/40g butter, chilled and cubed
  • generous 1/2 cup/4 1/2 fl oz/130ml cold water
  • 3 tbsp/7 1/2 oz/210g butter, softened (see intro)


Put the flour, salt, and chilled butter into a large bowl and rub them together with your fingertips until they resemble fine bread crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the water. Mix with a knife, then bring the dough together with your hands.

Squidge into a ball, then wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.

Unwrap the dough ball and use a knife to score a large cross in the middle of it, cutting no more than halfway through. Lift all four corners from the middle of the cross, then pull them up and out to make the cross big enough to put the softened butter into.

Add the butter, then fold the corners of the cross back to the center, covering the butter so it is completely enclosed. The corners should overlap in the center so no butter is showing. It is important that the butter is not too hard or too soft, otherwise it will escape through the dough when you roll it out and the resulting pastry will not rise as well. If it's too hard, let the ball of pastry stand at room temperature until the butter inside has softened; if it is getting too soft, pop it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to firm up a little before rolling.

This next process is called "rolling and folding" (or "turns") and it creates the characteristic flaky layers of puff pastry. Begin by rolling the pastry out away from you on a well-floured counter to a rectangle roughly 3 times as long as it is wide (don't turn the pastry when rolling). Keep the corners square and edges straight by pressing a spatula or rule against them. Lift the dough occasionally to make sure it isn't sticking; flour the counter again if necessary and sprinkle with more flour as you go, dusting away any excess with a pastry brush. Take the short edge of the pastry nearest to you and fold it up a third, then fold the top edge down a third to give a rectangular block. Turn the dough 90 degree and then repeat the rolling and folding.

You have now given the dough two "rolls and folds." Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator. Chill for 20 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, then unwrap and give it two more "rolls and folds." Wrap and rest in the refrigerator for at least another 20 minutes. The block of puff pastry can at this point be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two, or frozen.

Remove from the refrigerator, then unwrap and give the dough a final couple of rolls and folds. Roll it out to the size desired for your chosen recipe. Place on a baking sheet, then cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before using.
Also no baking temp or time.  I baked at 425 for 20 minutes.  I could have gone 25 I think.  I also brushed the patties with egg wash before baking.  They came out great.  I am going to make croissants with the remaining dough.

All prices were calculated using Pound-to-cup-conversion-chart found on this blog.

Be sure to visit our host
and see how others are using their cupboards this week. 


  1. Great post Wilderness! It's amazing how much money you can save by making everything from scratch!

    I am so hungry for Chicken A-la King now. We used to serve it with puff pastry...back when I cooked for a living.

  2. Thanks Robin. This puff pastry recipe is so much easier than anything I ever did before and it was as good as the ones that take all day with making the dough and the butter the same size rolled out etc. I haven't made Chicken A-la King in a long time. I too like that.

    I knew it was much less expensive even when you consider the cost of running the stove or the oven but until I started doing the cost analysis I didn't really know how much.

    Where did you cook? It is something I always wanted to do. Have done some catering but very limited with my DH. I could never do it alone for a very big party now.

  3. You are eating very cheaply. I think you'll make your challenge.

  4. Seeing that chipped beef brought back childhood memories. My dad was an Army cook during WWII, and he did a lot of the cooking in our house long ago when I was growing up. We had creamed chipped beef on toast at lot, only he called it by its Army name, "Sh*t on a Shingle." Your puff pastry looks fabulous, much better than the Wonder bread toast we had.

  5. Very interesting. We eat this way all the time. It isn't a challenge for us,just a necessity. I will be interested to see all your recipes. For instance: last night we had catfish stew: the catfish cost a little over $3 a package and I only used half, the potatoes were marked down to $1.19, a half an onion, a very few pieces of red pepper that I had frozen (also marked down) (about 8 onions in a bag for $2.00), a few shakes of hot sauce, some salt and pepper. I don't believe the whole meal costs more than $3.50.
    I need to make English muffins again soon but need a whole wheat recipe- easy to find with any search engine.

  6. Very inspiring post Wilderness! I don't track my food costs per meal - rather I budget a set sum per month (rather modest) and then challenge myself to buy the highest quality ingredients possible and create great meals within that financial limit. Growing all our own vegetables and getting eggs from our hens helps tremendously to make that work. Makes for fine eating too!

    Love that puff pastry recipe - the results look fabulous.

  7. Marci, I have been living this way for a long time but haven't put it on paper in a long time and also love to grocery shop which is bad.

    Lou I fix in on toast also as until I found this recipe I hadn't made puff pastry in years. This one is so much easier.

    Becky this is not only a challenge but a necessity and yes I have been doing it for a long time but not really keeping track. Which I could do classes on it for many of the people that have limited incomes and just don't know how to spend their food money wisely.

    Kitsap, don't really live by a budget but I'm with you on quality ingredients and great meals. I have always said there are 2 things I am going to have in life and that is good food and heat.

  8. Wilderness, I was a cook when I was 21 years old in a private home for the mentally disabled. I cooked lunch & dinner for about 50-60 people. I have to say that we had a wonderful menu and everything was made from scratch. I even fed the Governor's wife one time.

    My mother and I also used to do a little catering many many moons ago when people we knew would ask.

    Since then, I went to college and have a degree in Architecture.