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Making ends meet

February 20, 2013
By Pat Jensen , Marshall Independent

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." Our grandparents just naturally followed this old adage. They faced depression, dirt and dust storms - and many other challenges with far less resources than we have today ... and many found the strength to survive. The pioneers, and those who followed, have my greatest admiration.

Often times, we tend to take for granted what we have and focus on what we don't have. We need to dwell on the positive moments, for there is always much to be thankful for.

If money is tight, there are many ways to stretch a dollar. At the grocery store, watch for sales and in-store discounts. Shop with a list and try to stick to it. Coupons can save you money also. Every penny counts.

Try some new recipes that are budget friendly. "Scratch cooking" costs less the majority of the time. And, you control what goes into your food; resulting in fewer chemicals and preservatives.

Avoid paying full price. Wait for items to come on sale and stock up when the prices are lower. Consider using the store brands or generics for many of the items you frequently use. In most cases, you'll notice very little difference.

Eat out less. Take your lunch from home each day. You'll be surprised to discover just how much money you are saving.

Don't drive when you can walk. The exercise is an added benefit, and it doesn't cost a dime.

Find ways to recycle and reuse things you already have instead of spending money to buy more items you could do without for a while.

Need something repaired? Consider trading your talent(s) for those of another. I believe grandpa called it bartering.

Places like Goodwill and thrift shops can provide housewares, books, clothing, etc. at very affordable prices. The inventory is always changing. You're sure to find what you need.

Are you the least bit crafty? Use your talents to make "gifts from the heart." They are often the most appreciated.

A delicious way to stretch a pound of meat


1-1b. ground beef

12 oz. spaghetti, cooked and drained

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 T. butter or margarine

1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (4 oz) mushroom stems and pieces, drained

1 can (2-1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained

2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

1 can (10-3/4 oz) cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1/4 cup plus 2 T. warm water

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large deep skillet, brown the ground beef. Remove from skillet and set aside to drain. Wipe out skillet with paper towel; saute onion and green pepper in butter until tender. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti. To the skillet, add tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, oregano, garlic powder and the ground beef. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 min. Place half of the cooked spaghetti in a greased 13-in.x9-in.x2-in. baking dish. Top with half of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Repeat layers. Combine the soup and water, stirring until smooth; pour over the casserole. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Baking dish will be full. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35 min. or until heated through.

Note: May assemble dish ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Remove from fridge 1/2 hour prior to baking. Bake (uncovered) for about 45 to 50 min. Allow to stand a few minutes before cutting. May omit the ground beef if desired.

Fried chicken without the mess


6 to 8 pieces chicken

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 cup flour

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. baking powder

4 T. butter

4 T. canola oil

In a shallow bowl, beat egg and milk. In another bowl or plastic bag, combine flour, salt, pepper, paprika and baking powder. Dip chicken pieces in egg/milk and then coat with flour mixture. Melt butter with canola oil in a 9x13 baking dish. Place chicken, skin side down, in the dish. Bake at 400 (in center of oven) for 30 min. Turn chicken and bake 30 min. more.

Roasted vegetables pair well with chicken or beef


5 med. carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces

1 lg. sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

1 lg. red onion, peeled and cut into wedges

5 med. potatoes, cut into cubes

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 ribs celery, sliced

1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 T. olive oil or veg. oil

1/2 to 1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. paprika

Place all vegetables, garlic and chickpeas in a greased 9x13 baking dish. (Pyrex) In a small bowl combine oil, rosemary, sugar, salt, pepper and paprika. Drizzle over vegetables; toss well to coat. Roast, uncovered, in a 400 oven for about 1 hour, stirring twice.

Note: Great served with the Oven Fried Chicken. The two baking dishes were placed side by side in the oven.

Easy does it


1 (18.25 oz) pkg. white cake mix

2 egg whites

1-1/2 cups water

1 (3 oz) pkg strawberry or cherry flavored gelatin

Whipped topping

Combine cake mix, egg whites and water. Bake as usual in a greased and floured 9x13 pan. Allow to cool for 15 min. Meanwhile, prepare gelatin using 1 cup boiling water and 1 cup cold water. Poke holes in cake, using a fork. Pour gelatin gently over cake. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours. Top with whipped topping if desired.

Note: I have also made this using a cherry icing to top the cake. Very tasty.

Food for Thought: A bargain is anything you can buy today at yesterday's prices.



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