Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cheapass Christmass Part 5: Food!

When turkey day came rolling around some of the blogosphere challenged themselves to prepare Thanksgiving dinner where the food came no more than 100 miles away.

I love this idea, but as many lower-income Americans will attest, the siren's song of Walmart is one that is hard to avoid. One of the downfalls of being "enlightened" is that it's hard to spare the extra bucks in gas to buy a fresh butchered turkey from Farmer Joe-Bob's turkey farm 20 miles out of town; or to take time off from work to drive downtown to attend a farmer's market that is open from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every other Wednesday that Mercury is in on the cusp of Jupiter to buy the vegetables to serve on the side. And like a lot of lower income Americans I'm addicted to cheap and convenient.

So I give you the next best thing--homemade Christmas dinner. My hope is that by buying the core ingredients to our Christmas feast that I can save some money by not using pre-packaged dinner items. It may seem odd highlighting this so many days before Christmas, but with many from-scratch items on the menu, planning is the name of the game.

Here's the run down of our Christmas day menu:

Breakfast: Cinnamon rolls

Now this is a tradition my mother started when we became older. Halfway through the gift unwrapping melee my father would unvariably need a bathroom break. (Ah, fond Christmas memories!) and this would be when my mom would pop into the oven a pan of those cinnamon rolls you can buy in those exploding tubes.

This year to save the $2.59 it costs to purchase an exploding tube of cinnamon rolls I'll be making my own from scratch. Since I always have flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon, baking soda, and powdered sugar on hand I'm not to going to deduct any money from my budget here. I know some of you guys are sticklers for nailing down every cent (*cough*Cristi*cough!*).

(yes, that's a dead ant on the stove--don't get me started...)

Lunch: Fend for yourself

Dr. Mad Scientist and I prefer to eat our Christmas (and Thanksgiving for that matter) dinner at a regular dinner time. This means lunch will commence as usual. Again we'll be using "staple" lunch items such as a PB&J sandwich, microwave burrito, grilled cheese sandwich, you get the picture.

My apologies, frozen chimichangas.

Dinner: Turkey and all the fixin's!


Sausage cornbread stuffing
Wild Rice*-$0.82

*I tried to find a bag of plain unseasoned wild rice, but alas, I had to settle for one of those boxes of generic Auntie Ben's.

Crescent rolls
Again, since these are merely flour, water, yeast, sugar, and butter, all things I have on hand at all times, I won't be deducting money from my budget for these.

Mashed potatoes
5 lb bag-$1.94

Okay, I haven't bought the veggie yet to cut down on the possiblity of spoilage before Christmas. But I'll estimate the broccoli/greenbeans/asparagus to cost say $3.00.

Sparkling apple cider
$2.08 (A total splurge I know! But if I could make it I would!)

100_2353 that a frozen turkey in your freezer or are you just happy to see me?

Dessert: Mormon salad
2 cans of crushed pinapple-$1.98
2 packages of instant pistachio pudding-$1.00
Mini marshmallows-$0.99
Cool whip--$1.29

Mixing all of that up sounds quite disgusting, I know, but oh-so-delicious! We call it Mormon salad because Dr. Mad Scientist was raised Mormon and they come up with these great ideas of how to feed a bunch of kids for real cheap. My recipe for this salad makes up enough to serve 20 easy and it keeps for weeks in the fridge.

So all told my Christmas day fixin's ended up costing me $40.79 total. All I really saved was money on the stuffing, mashed potatoes, crescent rolls and cinnamon rolls. It might seem inherently cheaper to buy the frozen crescent rolls or boxed stuffing, but pound for pound I think my stuff comes out cheaper. Not to mention we'll have a good week of leftovers from all of this food as well!

And of course as any thrifty shopper will tell you, it's easy to save money with coupons, buying store brands and/or buying the brand of item you're looking for that's on sale when the normal brand you buy is not on sale. But that's all common cheapass sense! I used a couple of coupons and bought a lot of store-brand and sale items when I went shopping for our Christmas meals.


Total Remaining Of $250.00 Budget Goal: $162.45*

*This total was arrived at by using the final total of budget money left after Cheapass Christmass Week 4

Aw geeze, THIS is going to get interesting! I have yet to do ANY Christmas shopping for Chunky. And the hardest part of all? Getting Dr. Mad Scientist to rein in the spending to keep us under $250. Let's just say if I spent money like he likes to--we'd have matching fridge boxes a block down from the Alamo. We'd be saving our pennies to buy Chunky is own washing machine box. Ha ha!

Next Thursday I'm taking a day off from Cheapass Christmass.

Instead on Christmas (or the day after) I'll be posting the final installation where I unveil some of the cheapass presents I made that I can't post on here because of certain readers. I'll detail my purchases for Chunky's Christmas presents and I'll be unveiling whether or not I made my $250 budget or not.

However, I'm asking for your help in the final installation of Cheapass Christmass. Do you have a cheapass present or decoration that you made/found that you are particularly fond of? Or maybe you have a cheapass tip to share that I haven't covered that would be helpful. Email me a picture, tip, the link to your blog entry or whatever, and I'll feature it here. You can email me at: rkbezzie @ gmail . com. (Obviously delete the spaces in the email address).

I've seen some great cheapass examples of gifts, etc. on the web so don't be surprised if you see a link to your own blog on here on Christmas!


Blogger LilKnitter said...

I love the Cheapass Christmas installments! And I'm impressed: only $40 for a whole day of fab eats! Hmm...maybe I should borrow some chairs and host a dinner myself this year.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Bezzie said...

I guess I should state that it's just the three of of us and one's only 5! But seriously we'll eat for a week on a turkey and leftovers. So what, $40/7=$5.71 a day, and $5.71/3 people=$1.90 a day in food? Hee hee.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous kristi and otis said...

I have a cheapass tip (but of course, I have NEVER used it myself **ahem**). One word - REGIFTING. Just make sure that to have a system in place to ensure you don't regift to the original gifter.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Zonda said...

Yummy! I love homemade cinnamon rolls and I used to make the crescent rolls too..drooling right now!! We call it ambrosia salad..hehe! Thanks for reminding me to get the ingredients for that! :)

10:48 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

We're one of those locavores :), and I will admit that I went a litle overboard for my $60 local 22lb Thanksgiving turkey (75% of which we're still "enjoying" :). But the rest of the dinner, no lie, was cheap as cheap can be! I found most of the ingredients at our local grocery store.

I'm am in total agreement with you, with regard to driving hither and yon to get local food. It doesn't make sense to go twenty miles out of your way for a local item, and I've been lucky, in that, there are a lot of little markets and farm stores that are "on the way" to wherever I happen to be going, and as I mentioned, many local (and in season) items I find at the local supermarket chain.

I just don't want you to think that eating local is cost prohibitive (except that turkey, and I swear I didn't know it was going to cost SO MUCH! They didn't give me a price when I ordered it, and silly me, I didn't ask). I tracked our food budget for the five of us when we started eating local, and we were actually spending less. My gas consumption didn't go up, either, and I live in a tiny resort community where the nearest anything is fifteen minutes away.

I'm enjoying your lessons in "frugality", and it's giving me some great ideas :).

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

AAAAAAH! PISTACHIO PUDDING! AKA Green Fluff. That's the best stuff ever. And yes, I think I can honestly say (being LDS myself) that it's made an appearance in every single ward we've lived in. Hahaa, too funny.

We always had cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning, but (since there were 6 of us kids) never the out-of-the-can kind. Mom often made them the night before, then reheated them and glazed them in the morning.

As for presents - what sorts of things are you looking for, for Chunky and Dr. Mad Scientist? The collective brainpower of your readers should be able to help you come up with many creative and cheap solutions. (Although it doesn't seem you need much help!)

8:35 AM  
Blogger Pyewacket said...

Can I just say how much I've come to love the phrase, "growing up enlightened?"

I think I need to Enlighten myself and the denizens of Chez 'Wacket some more.

11:01 AM  
Blogger turtlegirl76 said...

So I like to pick nits. Gimme a break, eh? ;)

Only one of my gifts had to be purchased (I knitted everything) and that's only because it was part of a kit for the item (details coming after Christmas). All other items were made with stash yarn. That counts right? So I spent $15 on Christmas. Hee! Nevermind the actual value of the yarn when originally purchased. And if it was purchased, it was with the store credit I've accumulated by working at the yarn shop! It's a good thing I didn't have to buy anything. This last weekend was rather expensive. And I have nothing to show for it. *sniff*

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe that you have a turkey in your refrig/freezer!!! That is pretty good meal plan. I use to make my cinnamon rolls but time became a problem. Being "Santa" and having to make, buy, hide, wrap, and put under the tree on Christmas Eve for seven people became a chore. Plus I had to wait for certain ones to fall asleep! I use to do ambrosia salad also, but I was the onlly one the liked it. Sometimes for a treat for myself I get some at Carrs/Safeway Deli. As for tips I think that you have picked up on all of my tips, and YES I have been "REDFACED", but I am glad that you learned from your up bringing that being frugal can be fun. Love, Your Proud Mom

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Bezzie! email me your snail mail! I have loads of unseasoned plain wild rice. My parents live near a harvest area and they get it cheap. You can have some. I have more than enough.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, here is my Mom's cheapass food tip. Find one of those stores that offer a free turkey if you spend $100, usually around thanksgiving. Mom always made sure she'd get that turkey without padding our weekly shopping bill with crap to make the total.

She would make a huge list. The usual week's work of food, plus thanksgiving meal food, plus any (non persible) future supplies she would need for upcoming Christmas baking. Making one mega-shopping trip that would score the turkey.

You need to plan a bit in advance, but since she was going to buy all that stuff in a matter of weeks anyway, might as well buy it at once and get the free turkey. The only trick is that if you get pais weekly you need to make sure you have the cash all at once to pull it off.

Usually we'd keep the free bird in the freezer for Christmas. Sometimes she could even manage to get a second free bird.

12:37 PM  
Blogger weezalana said...

Mmmmm. Homemade cinnamon rolls. I'm coming over!

And yes, if you amortize the cost of the meal over 7 days, the per unit cost is so cheap! Kinda like yarn...

12:50 PM  
Blogger cpurl17 said...

Homemade cinny rolls sound divine!!

The only cheap tip I can think of off the top of my head is the fanagle an invite to someone else's house for dinner.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've really been enjoying your Cheapass Christmass.... so far it's the only thing about this season that's making me smile. :)

I grew up in NJ, and we called Mormon Salad "Green Goop". Damn, I loved that stuff.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Rain said...

I can't believe how well you're doing with this. It's all such a great idea.

8:08 AM  

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