What a waste! And Frugal Friday!

Welcome  It is Frugal Friday!  That means I’m talking a little about money and budgeting today.  Although I’m no banker or financial planner, I certainly have had life experiences that have helped me learn a thing or two about managing money and spending more wisely.  Our recipe today is the ultimate in comfort food–a four cheese and bacon baked macaroni and cheese.  It is sooooo good!  Note-I may receive a small compensation from advertisers and affiliate links seen in this blog.  For further information, please see my terms and disclosure page.

Food for Thought  Earlier this week I wrote a post about the Parable of the Lost Son.  I referenced the word “prodigal” that I had heard so often growing up when learning about this story.  I didn’t really know the meaning of the word, but found out it means wasteful or to spend money foolishly or extravagantly.  When writing the post I confidently proclaimed “that’s not me!”  But then I took a step back to look at my adult years and money that has been spent…and wasted.  We live in a society of excess, and our household is no exception.  Consider the fact that I had eight combined days of yard sales this summer, and with God’s blessings we brought in a substantial amount of money altogether.  But you know how yard sales are…you are getting only a tiny percentage back on what you actually paid for the item to begin with.  Yes, most of my items were from 18 years of teaching and I felt no need to keep them, nor store them.  I can tell you that I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars over the years on my classroom, and most teachers do.  I know I didn’t need all of it though.  I had four complete calendar sets to sell, all in excellent condition.  I still have boxes of resource books, which I couldn’t even use in the past few years because of the prescriptive computer programs we were required to use.  That’s just for starters!  I had a box of baking and decorator books to sell along with dozens of candy making molds and supplies.  Sadly, I even had BRAND NEW decorator items from stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s that I bought and ended up not wanting or not having room for.  So much stuff to sell in those yard sales, and I promise our house is not bare or empty!  I haven’t even started talking about the over-stuffed closets and drawers we still have in our house, and I promise you all three residents are guilty!  So I can’t very easily claim to be so frugal and thrifty after all.  What a shame!

I probably always thought that since I didn’t purchase high-dollar, big ticket items, I was doing a good job with our money.  In our house the problem is coming from constant small impulse-type purchases that don’t seem significant at the time, but over time they add up to a lot of wasted money.  My daughter has a crazy addiction to animal toys, stuffed or plastic, and the collection just keeps growing!  She likes arts and crafts, so we get kits to do, but then we put them in the closet and never seem to get around to finishing them.  My husband cannot seem to help himself from stopping for breakfast at the convenience store every morning, even though I have plenty of breakfast choices available at home.  He’s also working on not buying every single movie that comes out on Blue-Ray.  I try to explain that they’re going to be on TV soon anyway.  Don’t worry, I’m going to call myself out too!  I am obsessed with cookbooks and kitchen gadgets (surprise!)  I own over 200 cookbooks.  Yikes, there is no possible way to make recipes from all of those books, and now I have Pinterest and All Recipes as my go-to!  I could also pick out some items in my kitchen that were never really a necessity.  Like the fondue pot we’ve used one time, the smoothie maker I bought when I already have a blender, a quesadilla maker, and probably others.  I also have a weakness when the seasonal decorations come out, they’re so pretty!  Anyway, when I think about how much money we could have saved over the years, it’s a little disturbing.  That could have gone a long way toward saving for our daughter’s college or paying off our house.

Cookbook Shelf
Just a small portion of my massive 200+ cookbook collection!

The good news is that it’s not too late to check our spending habits.  I’ve stopped buying cookbooks and the only new fall decoration I bought this month were the fresh mums.  I’ve convinced my husband to only buy the movies that we both absolutely love and our daughter is learning to make choices with her allowance regarding spending and saving.  We don’t have credit card debt and we have started putting more into savings.  We are not perfect spenders and we’re not perfect savers.  We are somewhere in between, but we are working on it and taking steps in the right direction.

Today’s Scriptures  The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom regarding riches, wealth, and poverty.  I’m going to share a few of these verses today, and hope I can start applying this wisdom myself!

Proverbs 21:5  “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”

Proverbs 21:17  “He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.”

Proverbs 28:11  “A rich man may be wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him.”

Proverbs 30:8  “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”

Today’s Recipe  I am sharing Four Cheese and Bacon Baked Macaroni and Cheese today for our Frugal Friday recipe.  Now I’m going to make three disclaimers about this recipe.  First, it’s frugal if you stock up on things when they are on sale or if you keep staples like dry pasta and bags of shredded cheese on hand.  This recipe also works well when using up odds and ends of cheeses, as you can easily mix and match the cheeses you use.  I got my 24 ounce bag of macaroni for 88 cents last weekend.  Kraft also was running a special that if you bought 8 qualifying products, you would save $8 at the register.  It was very easy to stock up on the qualifying products for this mac and cheese dish.  I also got the bacon on sale for about $4 per pound.  By the way, when did bacon become so expensive, anyway?  I calculated the cost of this dish per serving based on the 8 entrée-size servings and it came out to $2.02 per serving.  When you take a bite of this decadent main dish, it will be worth every penny!

My second disclaimer is that this recipe is not necessarily frugal on time.  There are a few different cooking components for the whole dish to come together.  It took me about an hour and 15 minutes from start to serve, so plan ahead when you want to make this meal…probably not the night you have to rush your kids off to practice and prepare a presentation for work the next day.  My third disclaimer is don’t even try to pretend there is anything healthy about this meal!  Whether you agree or not, I believe some days require serious comfort food, and when I want this type of dish, I want real butter, real cheese, and real bacon, with all of its salty, fatty goodness.  I guess I get some bonus points for using skim milk, ha ha!  I enjoyed every bite at dinner, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy every bite of my leftovers.  This was voted favorite recipe of the week at our house, chosen even over this week’s cupcakes.  Yeah, it’s that good!

Four Cheese and Bacon Baked Macaroni and Cheese (makes 8-10 main dish portions or 12-14 side dish portions; remember, leftovers are thrifty!)

  • 1 stick of butter, divided in half
  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 1 24-oz bag or box of elbow macaroni (we used the large elbows)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp smoky paprika
  • 1 TBS hot sauce (we are Cholula fans at our house!)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

    four cheese sauce
    Standard cheese sauce gets upgraded with four cheeses-cheddar, pepper jack, parmesan, and cream cheese!
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Take half stick of butter and grease a 9×13 casserole or baking dish.  Fry bacon crisp and drain on paper towels; set aside.  In large pot boil macaroni noodles according to package directions; drain in colander but do not rinse.  In large pot, melt remaining butter.  Add diced onion and cook until fragrant and golden, about 5 or 6 minutes.  Add flour, paprika, and hot sauce and stir to make roux.  Whisk in milk, one cup a t a time, stirring to thicken.  Add cheeses and stir until a thick cheese sauce has formed.  Take half of bacon slices and crumble into cheese sauce; add noodles and combine.  Pour all of macaroni and cheese mixture into greased casserole dish.  Crumble remaining bacon on top of macaroni.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.Here are some helpful products I used for this post, and yes, they are what I use! Links verified on 9/22/17 at 11:40 am, CDT