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Posts Tagged ‘budget’

“Mouthwatering” and “lentil” in the same soup? I wouldn’t have thought so until this week. I’ve come to realize that brown lentils taste and look a little too much like dirt to be palatable to me. Red lentils, however, are a different beast. These tiny salmon-colored disks cook down into lovely, soft golden layers of mellow goodness. The red lentil soup I made previously was delicious. But this soup – this last lentil soup was divine. And really, really filling. And would have been really frugal, if not for the rich, creamy coconut milk the recipe called for. It wasn’t too bad for me this go-around: I used up another 1/3 of a can of coconut milk I had bought in Austria for only a euro…so about 50 cents for the coconut? Not bad. However, it would be a little more decadent if the coconut had been purchased here, as the only store I know of that carries it charges about 35 kn ($7) for a can. Now I know what to stock up on when I visit Austria again! I’m also interested in trying to make coconut milk…one option I saw called for equal parts unsweetened dried coconut and boiling water, allowing them to steep for 20 minutes and then straining the pulp out.

Garam Masala Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk
adapted from The Nourishing Gourmet

1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup brown rice
4 cups water
1 carrot
1/2 cup coconut milk

Tadka
3 tbsp coconut oil
3/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/16 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

Saute onions and turmeric in coconut oil until soft and translucent; add the garlic and cook another minute.
Add the water, lentils and rice. Grate the carrot with a fine grater into the soup, and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, on a low simmer until the lentils and rice are soft.
Add the coconut milk and cook for a few minutes. Blend to desired consistency using an immersion blender.
In another pan, melt the coconut oil on medium heat. Add the spices and stir, cooking until fragrant. Stir into the soup, and season with salt and additional pepper as desired.

Makes 3 servings. Serve with fresh naan bread for a delicious and fragrant meal!

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Two Keepers

The past two evenings we’ve enjoyed quick and comforting meals for dinner – beef stroganoff and chicken paprikash. They definitely weren’t the most exotic dishes I’ve ever created, but they were really simple, came together quickly, and required a minimum of ingredients. Budget-wise, they were fairly frugal, especially since the little meat I used in them went pretty far and I felt satisfied for hours after eating them. Each recipe made enough for three full servings – I would have had a lot more leftovers, too, if I had served some side dishes with them. Although I probably won’t be craving these dishes anytime soon, they were yummy. Yummy, quick, cheap and filling? I’d say they’re keepers!

Beef Stroganoff

1/4 kilo ground beef (17kn)
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, chopped (.50 kn)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1 packet (3 servings) cream of mushroom soup (8 kn)
1 cup sour cream (3 kn)
1/2 bag of bowtie pasta (3.50 kn)
Salt to taste

Set a pot of water on to boil, salting the water with about a teaspoon of salt, and cook pasta.
Brown ground beef; remove meat from pan but retain juices. Saute onions in butter and meat juices until translucent; add garlic clove and saute for another minute. Return meat to the pan. Prepare cream of mushroom soup with boiling water and add to meat and onion mixture. Add Worchestershire sauce and salt to taste and simmer for several minutes. Temper sour cream with pan juices and then add sour cream to pan. Adjust seasonings to taste. If necessary, add a tablespoon of flour (mixed in a little water to prevent lumps) to mixture and simmer until thickened.
Total cost: 32 kn / $6.40 / $2.13 per serving

Chicken Paprikash with Gnocchi

1 b/s chicken breast (6 kn), cut into strips
1 onion, chopped (.50 kn)
1 large red pepper, cut into strips (2 kn)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1/4+ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can (14 oz) tomatoes, broken up into chunks (4 kn)
1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream (.50 kn)
300-400 grams frozen or fresh gnocchi (5 kn)

Set a pot of water (with 1/2 teaspoon salt) on to boil.
Salt and cook chicken in oil on high-ish heat until starting to become golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside. In same pan on medium heat, saute the onion and pepper (with a little more oil) for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, paprika, and cayenne and saute for another minute. Return chicken to pan and stir to coat with paprika. Add tomatoes and salt and reduce heat to simmer until mixture becomes thickened but peppers are still on the crunchy, rather than mushy, side. Temper sour cream with pan juices and add to pan. Adjust seasonings to taste. Reduce heat to lowest setting while gnocchi cooks.
Cook gnocchi in boiling water just until all gnocchi float to the surface. Do not overcook gnocchi, as it will become mushy and fall apart if overcooked.
Serve paprikash over gnocchi.
Total: 18 kn / $3.60 / $1.20 per serving

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Depression Week Menu

In order to curb eating costs and to see how inexpensively one can eat, while still enjoying healthy, delicious, filling, and varied food, a fellow missionary and I decided to have a “Depression Week,” inspired by the fact that according to a quiz on Facebook, he should have lived during the Depression, due to his frugality and overcoming attitude :-). We had planned to carefully plan out meals and shop ahead, but this didn’t really happen as much as we had hoped. However, our experiment was very successful, and I think the flexibility was good, as we ended up having lots more leftovers than I had anticipated and therefore prepared fewer meals than I had planned.

The outcome of the week was surprising and encouraging. Altogether, I think we spent about 192 kunas on food for the week, which comes out to about $19 each. Not bad! We thoroughly enjoyed every meal, and weren’t hungry at all, despite the fact that we had meat in only two of the dishes. We decided later that the quiche could have used an accompaniment such as muffins or a salad, so next time I’ll probably round out that meal a little more. The oatmeal, which I’ve been eating almost every morning for the past year, was the roughest part of the week. I’m pretty sick of it by now, and warm cereal on warm mornings isn’t really all that appealing to me in the first place. David decided he’d rather just break down and eat real cereal this week, but I’m still eating oatmeal. Not sure what I’ll decide to do about that…

Here’s a breakdown of our menu and our prices for each meal (most of them don’t include every pantry item, but I think for the most part it’s pretty accurate) for two people. Also, a few of the ingredients were free from the village (some of the salad fixings, plums, etc.), but they would have been inexpensive to buy regardless because they’re in season right now. (I calculated them on kunas, of course. Right now the exchange rate is, unfortunately, about 4.9kn = 1 USD.

Breakfast: Oatmeal, 1 kn/day total

Monday: Lunch – leftover enchiladas from Sunday
Dinner – Spinach / Gouda Quiche (increased original recipe by 50% because my only
round pan is too large for just one recipe).
Snack – plum upside-down cake
Tuesday: Lunch – leftover quiche, watermelon
Snack – yogurt
Dinner – pizza with ham, onions, and peppers; salad
Wednesday: Lunch – baked potato with cheese, caramelized onion, sour cream
Snack – peaches
Dinner – Coconut Chicken Curry with rice
Thursday: Lunch – leftover quiche and baked potato
Dinner – ate at Warholics
Friday: Lunch – team lunch at the cafe (10kn each)
Dinner – leftover curry, pizza
Saturday: Breakfast – eggs, muffins
Lunch – pb&j, chips, peaches
Dinner – roast chicken, mashed potatoes, salad

Recipes *might* follow soon, if I get my act together… 🙂

What are your favorite budget meals that are filling and healthy?

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