Thursday, August 20, 2009

Simple, Cheap, Healthy

We can all relate, can't we?

Those nights of the week when you know you're going to be scarfing something, anything, down before you have to be out the door. Those nights you know you should make dinner, but you just aren't feeling like a big production. Those nights when another drive through sounds just about right.

I hear you.

Enter pretty simple, cheap, and healthy go to meals! All of these standbys are easily accessible mostly by box or bag. They are especially easy if you do things like cook the meat or chop the veggies earlier in the day or week. They also serve at least a family of four (or split the final product into one-serving containers and feed the number you need throughout the week!)

Each of the meals cost only a couple of bucks per serving. When you take into account the sales/manager specials, coupons used or that could have been used, my love affair with Trader Joes, and garden produce... totals may change slightly. I also approximated how much it would cost for the small bits of some staples I used like soy sauce or spices. The "Optional Add Ins" are not included in the final totals. And I apologize ahead of time if any of my math is off. Just saying. :)

Blue Corn Hardshell Tacos

1 box Garden of Eatin Blue Corn Taco Kit- $3.50 (will have enough shells leftover to do more than one meal)
1 lb. package organic ground beef- $2.50 (manager's special; substitute regular ground beef)
1/2 head Trader Joe's organic romaine lettuce- approximately $.50
1 Trader Joe's organic onion, finely chopped- approximately $.30
Sour cream to taste- approximately $.30
1/2 bag of Kraft 2% shredded cheddar cheese- $.45 (had coupon; substitute cheapest cheese)
1/2 jar of Trader Joe's Corn Chile Salsa- approximately $1.10 (could leave out since the kit comes with sauce)
1 tomato- FREE from garden (substitute store/Farmer's Market bought tomato)
Optional Add Ins: black beans, pinto beans, cilantro, avocado, corn, guacamole

Grand Total: $8.65
Price per Serving: $2.17

Over medium high heat cook the ground beef until brown on all sides. Once brown, add the taco seasoning from the kit (One of the FEW MSG-free versions!) and a couple tablespoons water. Fill taco shells with meat and all of the veggies finely chopped. Top with sour cream and shredded cheese.

Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry

Stir fry beef- $3.58 (could substitute chicken, cut into strips)
1 bag frozen stir fry veggies- $2.25
1 box couscous- $1.99 (on sale, but generally not much more than that- could substitute brown/white rice or lomein noodles)
2/3 cup soy sauce- approximately $.30
1 tbsp. ground ginger- approximately $.20
Extras: Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Optional Add Ins: Any other fresh veggies you prefer, like peppers or snap peas

Grand Total: $8.32
Price Per Serving: $2.08

Drizzle a few drops of EVOO into a large saucepan or wok. Add your meat, 1/3 of the soy sauce, and 1/2 tbsp. of ginger. When the meat is brown, add the frozen veggies and remaining soy sauce and ginger. While this cooks, follow the easy directions on the couscous box. Put a scoop or two of couscous on each plate and top with the stir fry.

Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Pizza

Trader Joe's whole wheat refrigerated pizza dough- $1.19 (substitute other refrigerated pizza dough)
Trader Joe's organic marinara sauce- approximately $.55 (substitute other jarred spaghetti/marinara/pizza sauce; one jar this size lasts for three or four pies)
Fresh mozzarella- $2.25 (on sale, but Aldi almost always has this for about that price)
Basil- FREE from garden (substitute store/Farmer's Market bought basil)
Optional Add Ins: Fresh tomatoes and any other veggies or meats

Grand Total: $3.99
Price Per Serving: $1.00

Bake the dough according to the package instructions. Top with sauce and toppings and continue baking until cheese is bubbly. (The Trader Joe's crust only has to be baked once with toppings and sauce included).

To wrap this up, you know I couldn't forget dessert! A new fast, favorite is this:

Grand Total: $2.o0 for one (had a coupon, but I've seen them range in price from $2.55-$3.00)... that's like pennies per person!

Just follow the directions on those there packages!

Bon Appetit'!

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