During the last week of August, I ran out of grocery shopping money in our budget.
Oops. August was a loooong month and the five whole weeks threw me off.
Well, to be totally honest I had $15 left to buy milk, eggs, bread, and some fruit. The basics.
...and we don't survive on eating "the basics" every meal all week.
So on Sunday night I found myself trying to figure out what dinners to make during the week
that wouldn't require me to go over on the food budget.
Nothing like having no money to inspire frugality and creativity!
I decided to challenge myself to make the menu public
and I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
More importantly, so was my husband...
both for the financial aspect of my personal challenge AND because our meals weren't half bad.
So here it is:
Disclaimer: I am not a food photographer
and I was quickly taking these pictures because I am usually famished by the time we eat dinner.
2/3 lb. of ground beef (makes 8 mini burgers)
mixed with 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, splash of Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper
mini-burger rolls from trader joes ($1.79), toasted
lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese, condiments
pre-made waffle fries (bag from wholesale club lasted us a month)
are a little dish from my upbringing.
They are egg fried green beans.
I'm not sure if they are made anywhere but Costa Rica.
Barbudo means "bearded" I assume these got their title from the fluffy egg consistency.
I've mentioned before that my husband works late on Tuesdays
so I tend to make things he wouldnt eat.
If you're the other person in the world to whom these seem appetizing,
contact me, because we must be soul mates.
1/2 lb green Beans makes about eight barbudos
oil for frying
Cook the green beans in boiling water until tender.
Beat the egg whites a lot... I'm talking with a hand-mixer for 3 minutes on high
until its REALLY fluffy.
then add the egg yolk and beat some more for about a minute.
Pour a bit of the batter onto a frying pan with hot oil forming a circle like shape
and immediately lay 4-6 green beans on top of the egg all going in the same direction
Cook until the bottom is golden (a minute or two), then turn to cook the top (less than a minute).
Two Chicken breasts cut in half width wise to make thinner cutlets
marinated in olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper
Grilled...nearly charred like I like them.
Pasta cooked per package directions
Creamy Tomato Sauce adapted from The Pioneer Woman's recipe
1/2 onion, 3 garlic cloves diced (actually put it all through the processor)
One 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
put through the processor with a handful of fresh basil*
1 cup of heavy cream
grated Parmesan cheese**
In a saucepan, heat up a bit of olive oil then add onions and garlic and cook until golden
Add the tomatoes with basil
Season with salt and pepper
Simmer for 20 minutes
Move away from heat and add heavy cream and mix in cheese
*this may not be a staple in your home and it didn't used to be in mine either. i used to go buy some every time i needed fresh basil for a recipe but then i started buying approximately 1 bunch every month, taking the leaves off of the stem, washing them and freezing them. Now I have fresh basil to use all the time.
**fresh Parm is a luxury around here. a lot of recipes ask for freshly grated parmesan cheese. well... that's not something i have on hand all the time... so i use the regular ol' Parmesan cheese. like the kind you get on sale for a buck. don't judge me.
Pork chop Marinade:
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of tariaki sauce
1/4 cup of olive oil
Marinade two pork chops for at least 1/2 hour
Peel 5 potatoes
Cook in boiling water
Remove when thoroughly soft
Add butter, milk, parmesan cheese
Mash to desired consistency
Heat oven to 350 degrees
Line a cookie sheet with tin foil
Place trimmed green beans in a single layer on cookie sheet
Splash with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Remove from heat, drain, and allow to cool.
Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions.
Don't omit salt as it keeps them from sticking together.
While noodles and chicken are cooking,
mix 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, and one egg.
Shred chicken by hand or using two forks.
Drain noodles, place flat on tin foil.
Spray pan lightly with pam spray.
Arrange lasagna by placing a layer of noodles length wise on the bottom of the pan, then layers of cheese, sauce, and chicken (these will mix together and it's fine). Another layer of noodles, this time width wise. Repeat cheese, sauce, and chicken layers. Add a final layer of noodles, lengthwise. Top with a bit of sauce and some mozzarella cheese. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.
Alternating the direction of the noodles keeps lasagna from totally falling apart when being cut.
The sauce was leftover from Wednesday's meal.
Since there are only two of us, I make lasagna in small broiler pans ( I think 8.5x7").
This recipe made two of those and I froze one.