Food Stamp Challenge: Recipes
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Thrifty Jinxy

Cooking more or less from scratch helps stretch the food dollars. Here are two recipes I made this week, with cost breakdown.

Fair Warning: I use recipes as "inspiration". I really do cook with a shake of this and a handful of that (except baking) (well, okay, sometimes baking too, which doesn't always turn out so well.)

You will want to scale these recipes waaaayyy down. They fed 9 people for two meals each!

Root Vegetable Chili
(inspired by Good Housekeeping this month.)

1 med. onion $ .25
3 cloves garlic $ .20 ??? Who knows. It's cheap.
1 med. rutabaga $1.80 (almost 2# @.99/lb.)
2 small turnips $.65 (.99/lb again. They were small!)
3 medium carrots (5#@$1.69... maybe .15?)
1 6 lb. can crushed tomatoes ($2.81 at Sam's Club)
2 c. Pinto beans, soaked. (I'm lazy, so I quick soak a ton of navy and pintos together then package and freeze in 2-3 c. portions. You could totally just add 1-2 cans of beans, drained.) $.50
Olive oil (half an oz, @ .21/oz = $.10)
Chili powder, black pepper, salt. (negligible)
Total cost: $6.46

Peel the onion, carrots, rutabaga, and turnips. Cut them into pieces about the size of your pinky. Try to get them roughly the same size.

Place in bowl, toss with olive oil to coat. Add seasonings. Put in crockpot, add three cloves of pressed or minced garlic, and roast on high for about an hour - 90 minutes. When they start looking and smelling roasted and softened, add the crushed tomatoes. Adjust seasonings. About an hour before serving, add soaked and/or cooked beans.

I quick soak my beans, then freeze them, which gives them a tender almost cooked texture. If you soak your beans overnight, you might need to cook them a little longer.

This made 15+ servings, definitely a two nighter. The key to good flavor is to roast the veggies first.

I liked it, husband thought it was good but would be better with beef (his verdict on every vegetarian recipe I try), half the kids loved it, half hated it. Oh well. Stinks to be them.

Chicken StirFry
(I made a huge amount - double what I normally would. We usually eat 2-3 lbs. of meat in a stir fry, but with so much chili leftover we're going to have planned leftovers later in the week)

5 lbs. boneless, skinless breast cut into 1 inch pieces $5.00 (I stock up big time at loss leaders for $.99/pound; I won't pay more than $1.49/lb. for boneless chicken because it's always on sale somewhere)
3 bags frozen veggies $2.97 (.99 each for 16 oz. Frozen veggies are a better deal for me than fresh because they are cheaper + there is no waste)
Orange juice (1/5 of a pitcher, made with 1 can OJ and 4 cans water. 1/5 of $1.25 = $.25)
Soy sauce (2 oz. maybe?) $.26
Various and sundry spices (tonight, curry powder, onion powder, black pepper)
Corn Starch (two spoonfuls)
More garlic
3 c. white rice (after a year of forcing brown rice on husband dear, I took pity and bought the junky white stuff this week. He loves me again. (3/5 a bag = $.65)
Total cost: $9.13

Make the rice (3c. rice, 6 c. water, cover, boil, turn off heat and let sit)

Cook the chicken over high heat, stirring it (stir - fry, get it?). Meanwhile, microwave the veggies so they are not a giant block of ice.

Mix 2 c. OJ with about 2 oz. soy sauce. Put in some garlic, and some onion powder, black pepper, and curry powder. Or whatever you have and the family likes. Stir in two heaping forkfuls of cornstarch. Mix thoroughly.

After chicken is cooked, pour sauce over. When the sauce starts bubbling, try a piece of chicken. Adjust seasonings. Add veggies, mix together to coat with sauce. Serve over rice.

Everyone loved this one.

BTW - I have a 24" wok to cook it in. I bought it for under $30 one year for husband's Christmas present, because he loves to cook!

I used several frugal strategies:
  • Made a meatless dish
  • Planned dinner around loss leader protein (chicken was on sale)
  • Used frozen veggies that won't spoil and have no waste
  • Stretched meat with veggies and rice
  • Used bulk food (6 lb. can of crushed tomatoes is the equivalent of 3-4 large cans of crushed tomatoes.)
  • Tried new things and a varied diet
  • Used spices to make bland foods (turnips, beans) taste great
  • Used a crockpot (this is frugal, because in Houston we are still running our AC and I am loathe to turn on the oven while the AC is running!)
  • Ate seasonal vegetables (root veggies are only going to get cheaper through October into November)
  • Cooked in bulk to get another meal out of it (only frugal if you actually eat the leftovers)

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 10/16/2008 09:03:00 AM | Permalink | |