Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Frugal Week and Oatmeal Bread and Soup Recipe

I have noticed that a lot of you are blogging about your frugal accomplishments on your blogs and I love to read all your ideas. So I thought I would post more often about how I have been making our money go further.

This week I have been able to feed my family for less, thanks to a nice ham, milk on clearance and homemade bread.  I have had to pinch our dollars a little tighter than usual, so I thought I would start by cooking one of the picnic smoked hams I had in the freezer. They were on sale for $2.00/lb a while back and I bought 3 of them.

These are the meals we have enjoyed so far;

Ham supper
Ham and cheese omelet
Ham supper again
Ham macaroni casserole
Ham sandwiches
Yellow bean soup x 2

And I still have 3 little packages of ham put away for either ham and cheese omelets, or for pizza topping.  So this $15 ham will serve us 10 meals! I love it!

It is so easy to make ham broth. First I put the bone in a big pot and fill with water. Then I bring it to a boil and simmer for 3-4 hours. Then I let it cool enough to take the rest of the meat off the bone and strain the broth.  I like to put the broth in the fridge to chill because the fat will harden on the top to make it easy to take off.

Yellow Bean Soup

My grandma made yellow bean soup every time we were able to visit her. I have always loved it and I am so happy to able to pass the recipe down to my children.  I think it is a Mennonite recipe.  This is how I make it. (Please let me know if I've done something wrong Mom)


1/3 c margarine
1 chopped onion
3 cubed, cooked potatoes
3 c chopped, cooked yellow beans (or green beans or a mixture or mixed frozen vegetables)
1 - 2 c chopped ham
4 c ham broth
1 c water
1 c milk
1 c whipping cream
2 tsp summer savory
salt and pepper

Cook onion in margarine. Add the ham and cook 1 minute.  Cook potatoes if not cooked yet. I add the beans the last 4 minutes. I also use this vegetable water for the water in the recipe.
Add the veggies, ham broth, water and bring to a simmer.  Add milk, cream and spices. Heat and serve.

For the last 7 months or so I have been having an awful time making bread.  It just hasn't been working out. I have been making bread for over 10 years and used to sell out at the farmers market. 
I decided to start from the very beginning and make one loaf at a time with a simple recipe. By doing that, I think I found out my problem.

I had been letting the dough rise too much on the first rise.
If dough rises too much to begin with, it uses up all the power in the yeast and won't rise later.  I wanted to make a nice big, fluffy, crusty loaf.  So I need to get lots of oven spring.
Once I figured that out, I set to work making a new recipe.  This is what I have come up with so far;
Oatmeal Bread (Rebekah made this batch and is still improving on her loaf forming)

This recipe makes 4 loaves and you could substitute 3 c whole wheat flour for the white flour and still have fluffy bread. (I sometimes add some honey as well to make it "Honey Oatmeal Bread".)
4 1/2 c warm water
(If using dry active yeast, dissolve yeast in 1/2c of the water above with 1 tsp sugar for 10 mins. In the meantime, mix the other 4c of water with the following sugar, oil and oats. Follow the instructions and add the water and yeast mixture to the other water mixture before you add the 1st amount of flour.)
1/4 c sugar
1/3 c oil
1 1/2 c oatmeal
Mix together in mixer and let sit for 3 minutes.
5 c flour
2 1/4 Tbsp instant yeast
4 c flour
2 Tbsp salt
Mix for 7 minutes.  This dough needs to be a little sticky, as the oatmeal will absorb some water while rising, but not so sticky that it sticks to your hand.  If it's too sticky, add more flour, 1/2 c at a time.
Let rise in greased bowl for about 45 mins (until doubled in size)
Punch down and divide into 4 equal pieces. Shape in to loaves and put into greased bread pans. Let rise for about 50 minutes (until dough has doubled or is above the pan by about 1-2 cm). 
Bake for 30-35 mins at 375 degrees.
Another way I have saved money was to buy milk on clearance. There is a store in town that I buy all our milk from. When I'm there, I always check the expiry dates.  I know that they will mark them down to less than half price one week before their best before date. We had errands to do today and I knew this would be the day they would be marking the milk down. So, we went there, hoping there was some left and there were three 2 litre bottles. 
I will make some yogurt tomorrow, even though we would drink all that milk in a day and a half (or less if I  make cookies), but we also need yogurt.
I am really trying to get to know each store in our area.  So I know where is the best place to buy certain foods and how they mark down their groceries.  This has been a huge benefit to us and has helped us substantially.
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
Psalm 54:4

This post is linked up to Feminine Adventures - Thrifty Thursdays ; Raising Homemakers


  1. I cooked a ham this week too--have had ham dinner, broccoli and ham casserole, ham and lentils (crockpot with bone)and some ham in an egg casserole. We are still eating on it and I'll probably freeze a couple bags too. My mom and I happened on a great ham sale at the store right before Christmas and I bought 2 and froze 1. Good tip about making broth with the ham bone; I always use it in the soup pot but never for broth by itself!

    Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog!

    1. Hi Mary Ann
      I really like making the broth, because it makes a lot and I can use it in a few different meals. Like soups or ham and macaroni casserole. I usually have some in the freezer too.

  2. That looks delicious! I love yellow/green bean soup, with fresh homemade bread! I enjoy your posts. :)

  3. Wow, seeing your yellow bean soup recipe makes me really hungry for it. I remember a few years ago (more than a few), Grandma made yellow bean soup and told me while I was talking on the phone to her on a Fri. night, after I got home from work. Well, I couldn't stand it anymore and drove 5 hours to have a bowl. I knocked on her door at 11:30 at night and she was surprised for sure but really happy to share her soup with me. Good memories.

  4. Thank you for sharing your awsome story Mom! I can just see Grandma's face when she opened the door.
    I wish you showed up at our door to share our soup with us!