Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cheap Meals 101 . . . the Gina way

This is more of a cooking concept and what I try to have in the kitchen pantry than an actual recipe.

In my personal every day cooking, if I'm not following a specific recipe, I literally throw a meal together based on what is in my refrigerator and what I'm hungry for. Even in days when money is not a concern, I still cook "cheap" because I hate to waste anything.

It is said that poor people are fat people . . . such is the case with my style of cooking, which usually includes rice, pasta, potatoes or Campbell's "cream of something soup".

Bisquick is my secret to awesome biscuits and pancakes. I must come up with a recipe for both a Bisquick type of baking mix and a "cream of soup" recipe to make cooking even cheaper.

While it is important to pay attention to the
type of food you are eating, what is equally or more important is to eat in moderation.

There are other "must haves" for my pantry . . .

One of my greatest cooking secrets is using the mind boggling variety of salad dressing on the market. Cheap, expensive, healthy, not healthy, low fat, no fat . . .

My favorite salad dressings for cooking are . . . italian dressing, vinegar and oil combinations and my favorite for an oriental flavor is something called Asian Sesame with Ginger and Soy. Check out the salad dressing section of your grocery store . . . I stock up when they go on "buy one get one free" sales.

An assortment of cheeses . . . mozarella, cheddar and parmesean . . . always have them on hand.

Pasta sauces in a jar . . . red and white . . . they come in an assortment of flavors . . . stock up when they go on "buy one get one free" sales.

Dry or canned beans . . . whatever you love. Different varieties of beans and rice are among my favorite meals.

Veggies . . . I always have potatoes, onion, pepper assortment and LOTS OF GARLIC. Tomato is also great to have on hand, but you can do without it. When I can afford it, fresh mushrooms are a must . . . I love them in almost everything.

Meat is optional . . .

I buy eggs two dozen at a time . . .

Although I am not necessarily a vegetarian, I could easily adapt to that lifestyle. I rarely eat beef. I stock up on frozen chicken tenderloins . . . fast, cheap and easy. When whole chickens are on sale . . . go for it . . . super bargain . . . even cheaper.

An example of a thrown together fast and easy "cheap" meal . . .

Start a pot of white rice or pasta . . .

Saute onions, pepper and garlic until almost caramelized . . . throw in chicken, fish or pork and cook until browned. (If using shrimp . . . wait until the last 4 minutes of cooking to add to the mix)

Add salad dressing of your choice . . . between the juice of the onions, pepper and salad dressing, this is your sauce . . . put in as much salad dressing to make the consistency you like.

Cook around 10 minutes or enough for the flavors to blend . . . you must taste as you cook . . . that is half the fun!

Voila . . . cheap, fast, easy and delicious meal . . . let the stove do the work. I find that the longer you cook a meal, the better it tastes as the flavors blend. Usually I get it started, turn down on a lower heat and let it cook down, sometimes for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.

I don't use anything but stainless steel cookware . . . it works for my style of cooking and it does make a difference.

There are various combinations of type of meat and spices that I use . . . I'll try to come up with specific recipes.

Otherwise . . . don't be afraid to experiment . . . if it turns out bad, either have a salad or peanut butter and jelly sandwich or call for a pizza delivery . . . depending on how your money situation is. :)

If you use ingredients that you naturally enjoy anyway, you can't go wrong.

No comments:

Visit Our Etsy Shop