Saturday, August 16, 2014
Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Soliloquy to the ham salad sandwich and cooking at home
I was at the grocery store this week, picking up milk and cream for coffee. Since it was close to dinner time and my husband had already said he was eating leftovers, I thought I'd see how much a pre-made sandwich would cost so I wouldn't have to cook.
Well, you probably know already that they are not cheap. I was not going to pay up to $5.00 for one grocery store ham salad sandwich. Thinking I could save some money and buy the ham salad already made, I went to the aisle where they sell it and found one pint was about $5.00. I didn't buy it, either.
I started thinking later about the cost of having someone else make your dinner. If I'm going to do that, I'm going to go all out and have a delicious Panera sandwich and good coffee for just a few dollars more than the cardboard grocery store sandwich!
But when you do stop to think of it, a nicer option like Panera can cost say $8.00 to $10.00 (especially if you are like me and have to indulge in good coffee while there). Then there is around $5.00 for the pre-made sandwich at the grocery store.
It gets a little better when you pay $5.00 for the pint at the store. At least you will get two or three sandwiches from that, just adding your own bread and whatever else you prefer on your sandwich.
Problem with the grocery store brand is it has a little ham and a lot of mayo... which translates to not very much taste and more fat and calories. All that for $5.00.
This line of thinking took me back to my mother working in the kitchen to make salads for the diner where she worked. Ham was ground with the old fashioned grinder and mixed with the other ingredients in just a few minutes and it was delicious with no extra amounts of mayo added to make it cheaper.
Even more frugal was the use of leftover ham as she ground chunks of ham and turned leftovers into delicious sandwiches for the family for very little money. She would be appalled at how much grocery stores are charging for their "watered down" ham salad, not to mention for the sandwich itself.
So, what is my point?
I think you get it since most readers are like minded in their pursuit of putting good food on the table as frugally as possible. Knowing how to make food items yourself saves you money. Knowing how to turn leftovers into good food saves you a heck of a lot of money.
Once again, knowledge is as important as what you have in your pantry. Sometimes even more when the larder is lean (as mine tends to get!) and you want to make something delicious out of little. Like grandmothers did just a generation or two past (according to how old you are at the moment).
Think of the genesis of macaroni salad, bread pudding, hash, hamburger gravy, sausage gravy and biscuits, scalloped tomatoes... just to name a few. Past generations who had to stretch their food tended to know how to use everything. My folks generation called it using "everything but the oink".
I'm still in the process of learning to cook more with beans, lentils, and other inexpensive but high quality sources of protein... and finding some things we like a lot and others not so much. But those we like are being added to the menu and the pantry.
I'm finding as I make these frugal and healthy changes, the pantry begins to look more and more like it would have a hundred years ago with basic food stuffs and a little extras here and there. More pondering on that subject soon.
I'm sharing a link this week that I was delighted to find. One of my favorite chocolate cake recipes is the Wacky Cake (aka: Crazy Cake, Depression Cake). So I was happy to find a young food blogger has been playing around with the recipe to come up with more options. I'm going to try the lemon cake later this week. (I do not mix the cake in the pan but in a separate bowl, then add it to the pan.)
The original recipes are good for two or three people and they can be doubled if you want to bake them in a 9 x 12 pan for more people. I send you to Sweet Little Bluebird's list of recipes with the Wacky Cakes showing up first... here.
Image: Cookbook and Apples; allposters.com