I admit, when I wrote my Meal Plan post, no matter how intensely I want to prove the worth of The Unemployment Cookbook, a tiny part of me thought I’d cave and order a pizza or grab a hamburger for lunch within the first week.

It’s not that I want to deceive anyone. But I like fast food. It doesn’t always agree with me, and I’ve learned to order without onions or special sauce when I need to. Yet now and then, I really enjoy my flame-broiled red meat. And if I found a few extra dollars in my wallet, I’m more likely to enjoy a Starbucks than buy a bag of vegetables.

I’m happy to say, six days into the New Year and new eating plan, I’ve stuck to it. It’s so much more than just satisfying. It’s like acing a test after a year of just homework. Not only have I loved cooking and baking this week. I’ve also enjoyed sharing my savings and recipes with others.

Imagine my surprise on New Year’s Eve when I received a tweet from WinCo Foods: they stumbled across the link to my WinCo Wins post, and thanked me. They thanked me.

I took the nudge and posted the link on their Facebook page. It took just 15 minutes for them to respond by asking if they could share my savings tips with everyone. They actually said, “Would you mind…” As if I could possibly say “no”…

So now, I’m not only accountable to my family for my cooking. I’m accountable to you, my wonderful Blog readers. And WinCo followers. And, yes, to the Cookbook itself.

In keeping with my Plan, I came home on New Year’s Day and put a double batch of Ratatouille in the Slow Cooker.

In the Slow Cooker

In the Slow Cooker

It filled the Slow Cooker. So much, that the lid wouldn’t sit flat for the first 20 minutes. But, oh, what a delicious smell! When it was ready, I had the first bowlful.

The aromas, the steam, the flavors… I wish there was internet magic that could let you indulge in this wonderful dish.



I immediately put half into my freezer for later this month. Then I took half of what was left and put that portion in the fridge. The remainder is what we had for dinner January 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. There was still two servings left! I put those in the freezer for February.

Friday night I topped a frozen pizza crust with a little spaghetti sauce, half of the refrigerated Ratatouille, and the 4-blend shredded cheese.

Veggie Pizza

Veggie Pizza

How hearty and delicious is this?!

The Meal Plan called for us to have Baked Frittata on Saturday morning, that would also provide leftovers for dinner.

Unfortunately, my furnace broke down for the second time since Christmas and I had trouble learning to work the new thermostat. It’s incredibly easy. That was my problem. I’m so used to technical issues and Steps 1 through 3 and whatnot… I couldn’t grasp the idea of “Arrow Up” and “Arrow Down” and nothing else. Well, it took the better part of the morning, but I figured it out and now Bedford Manor is once again cozy and enjoyable.

Yesterday was also a big day for Cheeseheads: the Green Bay Packers were hosting the Minnesota Vikings for the playoffs. Anyone will tell you: I am a huge Cheesehead. I’m from the Midwest, so I love all the teams from Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. But when it came down to it, I had to root for my Packers. So of course we found ourselves at my Mom’s house, enjoying her cable TV and, deliciously, her dinner.

She made Taco Soup. It’s one of the recipes she provided for The Unemployment Cookbook. And can I just say… it was good. Better than good. It. Was. Amazing.

Taco Soup

Taco Soup

And don’t you just love her soup bowls? These are so on my Christmas wish list for next year!

After Church this morning we stopped by her house for lunch. Hey… she’s one person with a gallon or more of soup. We’d hate for it to spoil if she couldn’t eat it all. (We’re only thinking of you, Mom…!)

Finally this evening, as Dot was heading out with friends, Mom came over to my house and I repaid her Kitchen Kindness by sharing my Baked Frittata. I just scrambled eight eggs with a little milk, drained the last of the refrigerated Ratatouille, and added about 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese mix. Less than an hour later, we were at the dinner table.

Baked Frittata

Baked Frittata

The photo doesn’t do it justice. We topped it with a dollop of the spaghetti sauce. After two servings each, there’s still over half of it left. That’s breakfast and lunch for Dot tomorrow, and dinner for the both of us tomorrow night.

According to the Plan, I should have the Turkey Chili in the Slow Cooker right now. But with this wonderful leftover begging to still be enjoyed, I won’t have to make the Chili until Tuesday.

That sets back my Meal Plan by two days. Yet another boon for the savings book. Since half the Ratatouille and spaghetti sauce are now in the freezer, that means I’ve fed my family for five days (I won’t count the one day we spent at Mom’s) for $11.65. And I still have a dozen eggs and half a gallon of milk in the fridge.

Breakfast? Packs of instant oatmeal or a cup of Malt-o-Meal. For lunches, I’ve taken fresh-cut vegetables and Campbell’s Soup at Hand. Dot’s been enjoying small frozen foods we stocked up on: mini corn dogs and personal pizzas. The total cost here isn’t more than $5.00.

That’s not bad for feeding both of us, and sometimes company, for nearly a week. In fact, I think those savings are downright delicious!

How do you save money in your Kitchen?

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

[To pre-order your copy of The Unemployment Cookbook, click here.]

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