Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Cheap Eats

by Marjorie
Maybe I should post a response rather than a super-long comment to Anne's post on feeding a family for $10 a day. Like I said in my comment, I don't know what our meals cost, but since I prefer to use 'shelf stable' ingredients, I'm betting our meals are pretty cheap.

In addition to each entree listed below, we have a salad and a half grapefruit or other in-season fruit. Okay, only when I have them on hand, usually its just salad or some frozen vegetable that I've steamed. Our meals tend to be sparse. An interesting note: Tom lost 10 lbs. when we were first married because of my propensity for low-fat, bean-based cooking and because he had previously been eating restaurant food twice a day.

What do the kids eat? Gabrielle, 2 1/2, eats table food. Suzanne, 5, eats nothing usually. She may nibble on cheese or leftover tortillas. I read in a book about picky eaters that young kids really only need two meals a day -- I like that so I'll go with it. Suzanne has a good breakfast and lunch and a vitamin pill so I stay off her case about eating. Bad mommy but I don't think its enough to trigger a CPS visit (Child Protective Service is our state's child welfare office). We offer her food, we just don't make her eat it.

Some of our frequent meals include:

Tuna White Bean Casserole -- called Sparky's Cannelini Salad on Anne's blog

Jarred spaghetti sauce with spaghetti -- get 'em on sale

Chicken Florentine Casserole
with canned chicken, frozen spinach, a can of cream of mushroom soup and other ingredients

Chicken Pot Pie
canned chicken, cream of chicken soup, about a cup and a half of frozen mixed veggies and corn muffin mix for the top.

Bean Dip Casserole
a basic black bean dip recipe doubled and served with brown rice.

Hot dogs with baked beans

a 15 oz can fat-free refried beans heated and mixed with a 15 oz can of petite diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers/green chiles (Del Monte or RoTel); this mixture is used as filling for tortillas which I then bake for about a half hour at 350. These are really burritoes, but if you don't cover the pan, they get crisp, hence the name. When reheated in the microwave, they get mushy and become 'sogitos.'

Chicken curry
a can of chicken and a can of chickpeas with a curry sauce -- look for it in The Can Opener Gourmet

Chicken patties
we'll each have a frozen chicken breast patty with a side of mac n' cheese or other Lipton side dish. These are easy to keep on hand for a quick meal.

Once a week we order out from or eat out at a local ethnic restaurant, usually Indian, Thai or Italian. We often get a cheapo pizza at the grocery store for Friday night dinner.


Blogger Anne Zelenka said...

I'm going to make jambalaya from a Zatarain's mix tonight and add a can of chicken. Voila! Budget dinner!

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Genevieve said...

What brand of canned chicken do you use? Where is it in the supermarket? I like pantry meals, but we've never used canned chicken, only fresh. I like the idea for quick meals.

We do a tuna/cannellini meal too, but it's a little different: saute the cannellini in a little bit of olive oil and a lot of lemon juice (or lime juice), serve over small pasta with tuna on top. Ground fresh pepper is good. The recipe for this said top with fresh parsley, but this is our pantry meal for days when we don't have anything around.

Another favorite is pumpkin chickpea soup. I don't remember the proportions, but it goes like this: heat up garlic and cumin in a little bit of olive oil; pour in chicken broth, a can of pureed pumpkin, and salsa; add chickpeas and corn kernels and bring to a boil.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Marjorie said...

Yum! Thanks for sharing!

As to canned chicken, I use Kirkland from Costco/Price Club. I've also used some brand with Valley in the name from our grocery store. I've never used Hormel. I've always found the canned chicken near canned tuna and other meats (ham, probably even Spam).

5:46 AM  
Blogger purple_kangaroo said...

I'll mix canned or fresh chicken with tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, onions, a few spices (oregano, thyme) and mushrooms, and serve it over pasta--instant chicken cacciatori.

9:59 PM  

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