Real Food on a Real Budget blog series : : Episode 4, At Home With the Gadbois Family

Real Food on a Real Budget | Grains + Beans

Hey there, I’m Nissa from At Home With the Gadbois Family. I am the mother of nine children, the wife of a deacon. We know a little something about the importance of good food to maintain good health, and a whole lot about how to get that food on the table with a small budget. I was so honoured to be asked by Tricia to share with all of you some of my favourite tips for serving delicious, nutritious food without breaking the budget. In fact, used liberally, you might be able to save some pennies aside for something extra special.

We are blessed to own a beautiful farm, nestled in the hills of central Massachusetts. Growing your own vegetables wherever possible, putting up extras for winter months, keeping chickens or a couple of milk goats if that is possible where you are is the ultimate in frugality – particularly if you have a LOT of grass for those creatures to eat. But that isn’t possible for everyone, so finding a local farmer that you can work with is excellent. If you visit a farmer’s market, go toward the end of the day. The farmers may be willing sell for less, or will put a little extra into your basket.

Plan a marathon cooking session around what is going to be abundant each week. Put extra meals into the freezer for days that are unexpectedly busy, or when Mama is feeling unwell. I learned that I saved – consistently – 30% by planning this way. I tend not to buy on impulse, but to stick with my list; and I had no waste (which saves on rubbish).

As the mother of five boys, who require a lot of protein and calories, my favourite tip for serving up Real Food on a Real Budget is to use clever food combining to get a complete protein without meat. Grass fed organic meats can be very costly to buy in large quantities, and there are times when they are a luxury item to be served in smaller-than-usual portions, or just less often.

However, organic legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains are abundant, diverse, and extremely affordable, especially in bulk. And – BONUS – they look so pretty in jars on your pantry shelf! I recommend trying to locate an organic food co-operative local to you, or use an online co-op where you can get a variety of other natural living products at excellent prices. You can purchase grains and legumes in very large quantities (if you have the storage) and keep them in their whole state for a very long time. {Make sure you store them in glass or metal canisters with tight lids in case a little furry critter should catch a whiff and want to visit your house.}

Just keep these three simple formulae in mind for inexpensive, nutritious, protein-packed meals::

With those in your toolbox, and a pantry stocked to the gills with whole grains, legumes and seeds, all you have to do is add whatever fresh organic produce and herbs you can pick from your garden or buy on special each week for an infinite number of really delicious nutrient-dense meals. Change your companion ingredients and seasonings and you have a sweet breakfast or super healthy dessert!

These recipes make large amounts, since I’m feeding eleven people. You can either reduce the ingredients to suit your family, or make them up and have a couple of meals’ worth – one to put by for tomorrow or the next day.


Real Food on a Real Budget | Baked Oatmeal

Baked Oatmeal {50¢/serving or less, makes 12 servings}

Seriously our fave cold-weather breakfast. My husband can’t handle the crash after regular oatmeal. With this, no crash because it is a complete protein. I have loads of variations of this recipe available. Just get in touch with me through my blog ( and I’d be happy to send them all to you!

Preheat Oven to 350° F


  • 5c. organic oats
  • 1 c. sugar (white or brown depending upon your taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 – 1 1/2 T. spice (see variations below)
  • 3 c. milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T. vanilla or vanilla paste

Combine dry ingredients and spices in one bowl, set aside. Combine wet ingredients with fruit purée. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add chopped or dried fruits. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Pour into a 1/4 sheet pan and bake, cover with foil, for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for a further 15 minutes. Serve with milk or cream.


Real Food on a Real Budget | Any Bean Hummus

Any Bean Hummus {25¢ – $1.50/ serving, makes 20-24 ( ¼ c.) servings}

A variation on the traditional version made with chickpeas. You can use any beans you have on hand – experiment! I’m using mung beans, which I bought for a treat. NOT economical at $5-$13/lb. But you can use navy, black, kidney, cattle… whatever you can find for a great price. You can also try substituting other nut and seed butters. But not peanut butter since peanuts are actually legumes and won’t get you your complete protein.

  • 2lb. beans or peas, cooked
  • ¾ c. lemon juice
  • 1 c. tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1 – 1 ½ T. garlic, crushed (4-8 cloves)
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • olive oil (your preference, but I love the green EVOO)
  • water as needed to achieve consistency

Blend beans (or peas) through salt in a food processor, food mill, or blender; or with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add a little water if the hummus seems too stiff. Blend in some olive oil, or make a divet in the top of the hummus and pour in some olive oil before serving.

Real Food on a Real Budget | Hummus Tabouli Pita

SERVING SUGGESTION: Spread hummus on pita breads, top with tabouli salad and spread. Place on baking sheets and bake for about 10 minutes in a 400° F oven for a delicious lunch treat!


Real Food on a Real Budget | Chick Pea and Rice Casserole

Brown Rice and Chickpea Casserole {.50¢/serving, makes 12 servings}

This is one of my family’s favourite recipes, and consequently, my go-to when the fridge is getting empty. I always have these ingredients in the house. Often, as long as it isn’t a Friday, we’ll add in some chicken sausage or leftover roasted meat from another meal to make this dish extra special. Delicious served with a garden salad!

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, sliced or minced (your preference)
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 T. fresh herbs or 2-3 tsp. dried (we like thyme, oregano, marjoram)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. mild curry (or to taste)
  • 3 c. brown rice (uncooked and rinsed)
  • 1 qt. stewed tomatoes, diced, (you put them up last summer, right?)
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 2 lb. chickpeas (cooked)

Sauté onion and garlic until tender and onion is translucent. Add herbs and seasonings, rice, tomatoes (don’t drain them), and stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and cover tightly. Cook for about 30 minutes, then add the chickpeas. Cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes before serving with a dollop of Greek yoghurt or shreds of your favourite cheese. NOTE: if you choose to use white rice, put the chickpeas in with the rice and cook for 15 – 20 minutes over low heat.

**Tricia here,  Thank you Nissa so much for taking the time to share with us.  Your photos made me very hungry as I was uploading this post 🙂

If you enjoyed this post, please leave Nissa a comment and share this post so other families may benefit.  I hope to see you here every Friday.  We have such a great lineup of amazing momma bloggers ready to pitch in every Friday.  If you missed the list of bloggers you can see it here as well as the other weeks you might have missed at this link.

Also,  I will be back here tomorrow for the Pinterest Pin-along.  I hope to see you here and would love to see your projects!


8 Responses to Real Food on a Real Budget blog series : : Episode 4, At Home With the Gadbois Family

  1. Amy February 26, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

    HI Nissa! These recipes look great. I can't wait to try them. I just started following your blog as I am in MA too and love to find local bloggers especially when it comes to food.

    • Nissa February 27, 2014 at 12:27 am #

      Hi Amy! I don't know where in Massachusetts you are, but we would welcome you warmly to the farm anytime. Just send us an email through the blog when you'd like to visit! Sugaring time in March is a fun time to visit. We'll show you around.

  2. Carrie February 25, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Hi Nissa, would this recipe work with honey? I'm so grateful to Tricia and all the other bloggers. I really need help with budgeting and good recipes that my family will actually eat.

    • Nissa February 27, 2014 at 12:25 am #

      Carrie, the baked oatmeal would absolutely work with honey, or 100% maple syrup, or any other natural sweetener you might like to use. It's delicious.

      I just added another version to my recipes today. Be in touch through my blog if you want all of the variations I have available.

  3. Nissa February 22, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Absolutely, Patricia!

  4. Patricia February 22, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    We will definitely be trying the brown rice & chick pea dish during this coming season of the Great Fast. I am always happy to try new vegetarian or vegan dishes for Lent. I suppose one could substitute vegetable stock & steam/blanch the onions & garlic if going meat & oil free.

  5. Nissa February 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    Reggie, I used my own baked applesauce. About 2c. in most of the variations, but you can use as much as you like – to your own taste. Use any other puree you might have – peach, pear, berries… Anything goes!

  6. Reggie February 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    For the oatmeal, what kind of fruit purée? Also, about what quantity? The recipe looks very good. Thanks so much

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