My mother-in-law always says she's going to "Make Groceries" when she goes shopping. I always giggle when she says it. Big Chocolate says it's because she basically pulls the grocery money out of the Miracle Hole and manages to string together food to eat.
I've spent several years of my life feeding my family of four on $20 a week. There was college when I was knocked up and Big Chocolate and I couldn't afford our own place. We lived in a $500 a month apartment in the ghetto with either one or two other football players at a given time. Back then we ate lots and lots and lots of hamburger helper. We could get it for free with coupons occasionally so we would literally fill the pantry with the stuff. Then we would buy the huge 10 pound tubes of hamburger meat when we could get "ground chuck for a buck". We would have those logs stacked like firewood in our freezer. Then there was law school. We couldn't handle the Hamburger Helper anymore, so we took on Fish Sticks in the 10 pound bag and the 29 cent a pound chicken leg quarters. Ahh fond memories.
Well we are watching our nickles and dimes again, trying to ride it out until some of our clients decide that our invoices deserve their attention. Needless to say I have been making groceries like a mad woman. I strung together about $50 of free groceries last week over and above the free Joint Juice I "bought" at Tom Thumb. Then I cleaned up on Pillsbury products for cheap this week at Kroger. I've been operating out of our freezer and pantry for a couple of weeks trying to spend as little as humanly possible on groceries. I actually enjoy the game.
It's finally chilly here, so we wanted to make chili or gumbo today. I was too cheap to spend the extra $10 or $15 on the groceries I would need to make either one, so I walked into the pantry and pulled out a miracle.
I made a lovely counterfeit La Madeleine Tomato Basil Soup. Big Chocolate was pretty sure that it was going to be a cluster fuck, but I knew I could do it!
Here's the recipe. Of course I didn't exactly follow it. I used 2 big cans of crushed tomatoes with basil because it's what I had. I went with the 2 cups of tomato juice/2 cups of chicken stock combo. When Big Chocolate wasn't looking, I added about 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the tomatoes and liquid while it was simmering. It cuts the acidity of the tomatoes. I also used salted butter, because it's what I had, but that offset the low sodium chicken broth I had.
I have to say I was surprised at how well it turned out. It was very buttery and rich like a bisque. I can't wait until tomorrow. It has a date with grilled cheese sandwiches!