There’s less than a week of summer left. That means an end to an expensive season when it comes to your food budget – all the get-togethers and dining out on the way to and from the kids’ activities. Not that any of that really comes to an end, but now that it’s not too hot to cook, it’s time to get back in the kitchen and make up for lost time and money.
It just so happens that fall is my favorite time to be in the kitchen. Pumpkin muffins, apple cobbler and cinnamon pancakes are a few of my family favorites. This week we’re talking meals and treats that can really stretch your food dollar.
Is there anything better than a warm bowl of soup on a cool, crisp autumn evening? Yes, when you can turn one pot of soup into several meals. Make it hearty enough, make enough of it, and you’ll be set. A thick chicken noodle or something like this wonderful sweet potato-bean soup www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/sweet-potato-bean--soup can be a meal in itself. Freeze whatever is left for an easy dinner on a busy night (or two or three). Triple the recipe and you’ll be ready for the next game-day gathering.
Most of you know I’m a big fan of the working mom’s best friend — the crockpot. With very little effort and minimal ingredients, you can create a delicious, well-rounded meal that cooks while you work. Trust me, nothing’s sweeter than walking in the door to the aroma of an already-cooked meal.
Save yourself some searching and try these three recipe sources: Craft-O-Maniac http://www.craft-o-maniac.com/2012/09/top-10-fall-winter-soups.html, Crockadoodledo http://www.crockadoodledo.blogspot.com and Chef-in-Training http://www.chef-in-training.com/2012/08/50-slow-cooker-recipes.
As a rule, soups and stews and crockpot concoctions are really inexpensive on a cost-per-serving basis. Not to mention healthy. Especially if you use fresh ingredients that are part of the bounty of the season.
With all the variety and availability of fresh fruits and vegetables today, it’s hard to tell what is in season anymore. But all you have to do is look at the price per pound!
Of course, apples, pumpkin and potatoes come to mind in fall, but you’ll also find some of the best prices of the year on artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, chili peppers and more.
One staple produce item that’s always in my house is bananas. Not one of them goes to waste, either. When they get a little overripe, that’s when I whip up another fall family favorite – banana bread www.thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/08/just-a-recipe-banana-bread. It’s the perfect after-school snack or a different twist on breakfast. I’ll sometimes throw a banana at a time into the freezer until I have enough for a large batch. That way I can make enough loaves to freeze and have on hand for a last-minute potluck invite, or whatever occasion I’m not prepared for!
Fall is all about making the most of what’s left. Spend some time getting reacquainted with your kitchen, and you’ll have a little more time and a lot more money to enjoy the season.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.