I LOVE being in the kitchen. I enjoy all kinds of cooking and baking. I think I enjoy baking the most but then I start to think about it more and I really enjoy making soup and canning too...so I guess I love it all. My husband enjoys my cooking but is NOT a fan of leftovers. He will take some things in his lunch the next day, but it depends on what it is. One of the meals I find so "reusable", so therefore frugal (my favorite word), is roasted chicken. I buy them when they are on sale at Giant Eagle buy one-get one because theirs are usually between 6 1/2 - 8 lbs. I purchase a couple and keep the extra in the freezer. After we are done enjoying our roasted dinner I strip the chicken. When I tell people this they usually laugh, I can only imagine the images in their minds :) But seriously...I wait until it's cool enough to handle and remove any meat I can with my hands. Yes it's messy but its the only way to get all the meat, don't forget the back meat...yes there is back meat. You can then package it in quart freezer bags to reuse another time or put it in the frig to use within the week. You can make quesadillas, cream chicken & biscuits, casseroles, etc...
But one of our favorites is my chicken dumpling soup. Its soooo easy and I think pretty healthy. The first thing I do is chop up the chicken and toss it into a pot. Then I clean about 4 carrots, chop them and toss them into the pot. You can add anything you like...potatoes, celery, parsnips. Then I add water to cover and some bouillon or stock. I am a "dump" cooker, I just dump stuff in and it mostly depends on my mood. Sometimes I stop at the bouillon and other times I add garlic and onion, this last time I added some Thyme. So whatever taste you like, dump it in.
While the soup is coming up to a boil and the veggies are cooking I mix up my dumplings. I put alot of dumplings in mine because that's what my family likes. So...I crack a few eggs into a bowl, add bouillon then flour followed by (drum roll please) cream of wheat. If you live near Amish/Mennonites you can buy it in bulk, it's called Farina (much cheaper). The flour makes a more 'solid' dumpling. I usually use 4 eggs and 1/4 cup of flour and finish with Farina. You want the consistency to be pretty thick, otherwise your dumplings will fall apart in the boiling water. But again, that's not a bad thing...it will still taste good. Once your carrots and/or vegetables are tender you can add your dumplings. Use a teaspoon and spoons small to medium sized blobs into your boiling soup. Dunk your spoon into the soup to make the dumpling slide off. After you have added all your dumplings, cover the pot, turn the heat to about medium or medium/high and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes. You want to keep a nice easy boil going. Side note~~run water in your dumpling bowl right away and let it soak. I am pretty sure Farina and cement share alot of the same properties.
This is the finished soup. If you don't eat it all that evening or if it gets too thick just add some stock or water. The dumplings tend to absorb the water, but it doesn't effect the taste. You know how noodles get all mushy and icky...the dumplings won't do that.
This is a frugal meal. The chicken is left over, you may use a cup of Farina, your veggies and some seasonings. I would say this definitely comes in as a $5 meal. You could fancy it up by serving it with some crusty bread and a spring lettuce salad. Enjoy!