Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cooking on the Cheap

I love to cook. It's easy for meals to become more expensive than eating out if you are buying premium ingredients, good meat, and fresh produce. As much as I enjoy cooking, I love a challenge and I love to challenge myself. This works in all areas except for exercise! When the triplets were new babies, and then when we had a fourth baby two years later, I found myself throwing away food that had rotted before I prepared it. I had grand intentions, but you know what they say about good intentions! I would plan meals for our family, buy the ingredients, and then not have the time or energy to prepare the food. When you are overwhelmed, something has to give. Now I am taking over that area of my life and cooking dinner almost every night. I have been doing this for at least 9 months and it feels good. I cooked more than many of my friends in the past, but now I am cooking a lot more. Lately I have been challenging myself to make our food stretch. It's okay to eat leftovers.

On Sunday night, I cooked spaghetti. The meat was on sale for $1.99 a pound, so I bought more than one package and freezed some. When I make spaghetti, I cook the ground beef and an onion. Then I add a store bought sauce like Ragu traditional or whatever I found on sale. I also add parsley flakes, basil, Italian seasoning, and any other spice that strikes my fancy. I let it simmer and then serve it over angel hair pasta. This is one of the meals almost all of the children enjoy. Sunday night I added 2 bottles of sauce. Sometimes I just use plain tomato sauce and spice it up with spices. Alas, the more sauce you add, the more your spaghetti sauce will stretch. We had a lot leftover, so I put it in a container in the refrigerator. I took our leftover noodles and placed them in a ziploc bag. The next night we had a fabulous dinner at a friend's house. So, last night I made baked spaghetti. It was the easiest dinner ever! I took the noodles and mixed them with one egg to coat the noodles. This way they don't stick together and make a nice bottom to your casserole. I covered the noodles with the sauce. The sauce was even better after sitting in the refrigerator for 2 days. I topped the sauce with shredded cheddar cheese. Then, I baked the casserole at 350*F for about 20-30 minutes until the cheese melted and it was warm. We had a delicious, economical dinner for a second night on less than $3 of meat, $2 of sauce (it had been buy 1, get one free), and $1 of noodles! I was so proud of our bargain dinner. How do you make meals stretch?

6 comments:

EntertainingMom said...

love baked pasta myself... YUMMY!

perfectly paisley said...

I need to follow suit. Each month I look at my credit card statement and cringe at how much I'm spending on eating out...and starbucks.

Susan said...

Yummie, that sounds so good! Our family is terrible about leftovers...we just don't eat them! I may have to try the baked pasta!!

pink green & southern said...

Hubby doesn't like leftovers and I don't like throwing out perfectly good food so I am all about re-purposing!

Travelbug Mom said...

TACO's - Chili Mac - Sloppy Joe's - Meatloaf - Stuffed Peppers - See the trend?....anything with Hamburger works great in our house!

JET Bags said...

I make my spaghetti sauce the same way--so easy and so delicious!