I wanted to unsee the homemade ‘sketti’ recipe whipped together by Mama June and her 7-year-old daughter Alana, the stars of TLC’s new reality TV hit Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
For weeks I tried to pretend this likeable family livin’ on a tight $80 per week food budget didn’t really eat a microwaved ketchup and butter concoction dumped on spaghetti, calling the mess an “old family recipe”.
But no matter how hard I tried — and I really did try — I could not stop thinking about this so-called cheap recipe. Was it really that cheap for Mama June to nuke a few squirts of ketchup and call it dinner? Or is there a healthier ‘sketti’ recipe a family could enjoy and still stick to a tight budget?
Take a guess. Is it possible to cook something cheaper than Heinz on noodles?
I figured, if I could make a Starbucks Frappuccino for $0.32, create healthier Lunchables for 32% less, and stretch 1 organic chicken into 22 healthy meals for $49 bucks, then I could surly remix and squawkify Honey Boo Boo’s ‘sketti’ recipe into something tastier, healthier, and far more frugal. Right?
It all starts with a shopping list.
Recipes: Sketti vs. Squawketti
To squawkify Honey Boo Boo’s ‘sketti’ into a healthier and less expensive spaghetti dinner — which I’m calling it Squawketti — I went to Walmart for a little grocery shopping action. I figured Walmart would be a Mama June approved shoppin’ place, and I like Walmart too.
Attention Walmart Shoppers: I stuffed the cheapest spaghetti, Heinz ketchup, and margarine I could find into my shopping cart. I know Honey Boo Boo and Mama June rave about butter in their ‘sketti’, but if you watch the video clip closely, you’ll see they’re melting Country Crock margarine into their ketchup ‘sauce’. Yes, margarine. So I bought margarine to keep it real and make authentic ‘sketti’. This is serious journalism, people. SERIOUS! *cough*
I figured a competin’ ‘sketti’ recipe would have to be made with store bought ingredients too. I don’t see Mama June growing her own herbs and tomatoes to cut costs. In my frugal world, I’d grow basil and heirloom tomatoes from saved seeds to really save money. But my world ain’t Honey Boo Boo’s, so let’s keep our Squawketti fully packaged and bought. Albeit, Squawketti does have a few fresher ingredients (basil) and foods with higher nutritional value (whole wheat pasta, tomatoes). Both recipes yield approximately 16oz (473ml) of sauce, which should feed a family.
Cookin’ Roadkill? Like Mama June, I’m a little light on fresh roadkill these days, so my spaghetti recipes are served without tire treads and deer caught in headlights. Sorry.
Honey Boo Boo’s ‘Sketti’ Recipe:
- ketchup: 8oz (240ml)
- margarine: 8oz (240ml)
- spaghetti: 1lb (454g)
Sketti Cookin’ Instructions: Throw cooked pasta against a wall. If it sticks, that $hit is done. Dump ketchup and margarine into a plastic container. Without letting the container melt, microwave on high until ‘sauce’ melts together. Serve on pasta.
Squawketti Spaghetti Ingredients:
- 1 can of diced tomatoes: 14oz (414ml)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- whole wheat spaghetti: 1lb (454g)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- small bunch of fresh basil
- pinch of sea salt, fresh ground pepper, chili pepper flakes
Squawketti Preparation: Cook whole wheat spaghetti according to package instructions. In a large saucepan on medium heat add 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add chopped garlic and chili flakes. Stir. When garlic browns, add basil and canned tomatoes. Turn up heat to high and stir for a minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the spaghetti and transfer it to the pan with tomato sauce and stir. Serve. A similar recipe can be found in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, or in any dang cookbook written after 1968 (except those semi-homemade recipes by Sandra Lee).
Cost and Calorie Comparison:
Shop around and you can often find lower prices on tomatoes, spaghetti, margarine, or any other ingredient. For a fair comparison, all ingredients were purchased at regular price in the same stores. My price and nutritional comparison use these serving sizes: Spaghetti 85g (3oz), Sauce: 120ml (0.5 cups).
Bottom Line: Priced at 12% more, Honey Boo Boo’s ‘sketti’ has over twice the calories, nearly nine times the fat, and almost one-third the fibre of my Squawketti recipe.
Don’t believe me? Here’s the ingredient cost breakdown. My recipe is less expensive — I squawk you not.
Bottom Line: For the same serving of food, my Squawketti spaghetti recipe is $0.09 cheaper — that’s a 12% savings — compared to Honey Boo Boo’s so-called budget ‘sketti’.
So where am I going with this?
Eating cheaply doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly. Sure, you need to watch your food budget and aim to stock up on staples when they’re on sale. But adding foods with higher nutritional value and preparing more wholesome meals on a tight budget is easy if you use your dang noodle. Don’t get me started on the roadkill.