The other day, I experienced a nightmare for any frugal person living on $2,000 a month...My hot water heater died! It was leaking and not heating water, so I called my plumber and he told me that it had to be replaced. He also told me that most gas water heaters last for about 9 years and mine was 15 years old. Total cost of the replacement water heater: $839.65. Luckily, I have some savings, but it was still very stressful having to shell out that kind of cash.
After that whole plumbing fiasco, I was seriously ready to just order some takeout for dinner. It was 5:00, I was tired and stressed and my 3 year old had once again decided that being toilet trained is an optional life skill! As I got out my wallet and contemplated feeding the four of us on the $13.60 I found in there, I decided that maybe I'd better just look through my cabinets for something easy to make. Suddenly, like a message from the gods, I found a bag of lentils I'd forgotten about. Now my kids LOVE lentil soup...In fact, when times are tight, I make this kind of chili that has like 2oz of ground beef and about 1/2Lb of lentils in it. My kids go crazy for it, never knowing that the whole pot cost me maybe $1 to put together! I had no defrosted ground beef in the fridge, so I decided to take the lentils in a different direction. I sauteed 2 green onions with 2 stalks of celery and 6 diced baby carrots for a few minutes. I added 1tsp cumin and 1tsp turmeric and stirred it around. I added 6C of water and 1 1/2C dry lentils last with 1 chicken bullion cube for flavor. THEN I remembered that I had four plum tomatoes, so I diced them up and threw them into the mix.
After the soup had been simmering for about 30 minutes, I remembered the garlic bread I got for $.99 on Sunday. It had been sitting in my fridge and actually taking up an inconvenient amount of space. Lentil soup night seemed like a perfect opportunity to use it up, so I heated the oven to 350 and tossed it in there (not literally). By the time the soup was done simmering, the garlic bread had heated up to a crispy, buttery perfection. I called the kids to dinner and we enjoyed our frugal, impromtu feast.
Sometimes I feel sad, only having $40 a week to buy groceries for the four of us. My grocery shopping list is very planned out and I pretty much have to have a coupon for everything. Sometimes I'll see an item I want to try, or a treat I want to get for my kids and I have to pass it up, because I really just can't afford it. I was even heasitant to buy the garlic bread, because it was an "extra" that I hadn't budgeted for, so it meant something else had to be sacrificed.(I sacrificed buying 2 cans of cream of celery soup to use in casseroles) A night of feasting, even if it was on such simple fare, really lifted my spirits. Best of all, I still had 2 servings of soup and half the loaf of garlic bread left after we were done eating! Guess what I ate for lunch the next 2 days...:P
Tonight I plan to make some mushroom, green pepper pizza, because when you make it yourself, each pizza costs maybe $1.