What is better than barebones basics? When you splurge on your food now and then. Now, I’m not saying get a party sized bag of chips along with all the soda you can get. No, this is more along the lines of using what was available and working more ingredients in. Buying a bit more better food that doesn’t quite have the shelf life of the staples without prep work. More proteins for the diet, and more fresh stuff for the taking.
Updated grocery list:
Tomato (fresh, canned: diced, puree, paste, sauce, jar)
Cooking oil (not spray)
Updated cooking equipment:
Crock Pot (slow cooker)
Deep Dish Bake pan (cassarole dish?)
Stock Pot/Soup Pot 6-8qt (I would recommend something without the plastic/rubber grips, this is why we have oven mitts, and a thick bottom for even cooking)
Oven Mitts and/or pot holders (I totally forgot these in the previous post)
So, we can make beans and rice. Right, enough with that I say. Lets make chili!
Dry beans (I use pinto but whatever you choose is fine)
Soak the bean (overnight or for at least 2-6 hours), then start cooking them I’d say about noon, or slow cook them from morning. When soft add the hamburger(break into pieces for faster cooking, brown ahead of time if you wish), chopped onion, spices(paprika, chili powder). Once the hamburger is browned and cooked, add in the tomato. Let simmer until desired thickness. Done. For a quick dinner canned beans can be a nice substitute as opposed to the prep work for dry beans.
This is a barebones chili, you can spice it up however you wish, add whatever you want. We can do many things with this chili now, read further on.
Make some fry bread (I would recommend finding a recipe that has clear instructions, I’ve typed and retyped my recipe, it was a mess trying to explain it, good luck). Prep some lettuce, tomato, and shredded cheese like you’re making tacos, any thing extra such as sour cream, onion and what not is your call.
Put a fry bread on a plate (pull it apart first if you wish), then add the chili on top, along with your standard taco stuff (lettuce, tomatoes, onion, so-on).
Nom Nom Nom. Eat with a fork & knife (or spoon, depending if you pulled the bread apart before adding stuff).
Usually 1-2 tacos will fill you up. This can easily feed a whole family
Chili Dogs, Burgers, Fries, So On
You can easily drizzle the chili on pretty much whatever, no guarantee it would taste good on Everything, but hey, who am I to say? Sometimes it is easy to make too much chili, and must endure and be creative.
get some ground beef, mix it together with eggs, oatmeal, bread slices/crumbs, onion, herbs and spices. Mash & Mix together, flatten it or roll it into a loaf, put in the preheated oven at 350. Let it cook for about an hour? When browned and cooked thoroughly, you can cool it off and freeze it, then again to eat now, you can put demi glace, or tomato sauce on top(put back in oven for about 5 more minutes until sauce is hot).
It is easy to make too much, and is advisable to cook ahead of time, make single portions and freeze it. You have an instant meal, just have to microwave for about 2-3 minutes. Serve with potatoes, or rice a roni.
Roast Potatoes Carrots & Gravy
Simple to make, kinda easy to mess up as well. Some would spice up the roast in many ways, others would just toss it all together and eat what comes out. You can slow cook all day, or cook on high for say an hour.
The trick with the gravy is this: use the juices from after cooking, its like veggie and beef stock all rolled into one. Put some of the “stock” into a sauce pan(frying pan works as well for you single people) and simmer it. In a separate bowl, add some flour and maybe some seasoning (whatever that may be: onion powder, garlic powder, salt pepper, so on, trust me it’ll give it some more flavor, you do not want to go overboard though), mix in some water until its mostly liquid no clumps! Slowly stir in, stir the gravy as needed, it should thicken up within a minute or so. If not, just let it simmer until thickened. Tada! Gravy that isn’t so full of sodium or starches! For a creamy kick use milk? Half & Half?
With the extra left overs you can easily convert this recipe into Stew, just add more water, some more veggies(corn, peas, green beans, rutabaga, sliced celery, so on) and some pasta(rotini, elbow macaroni, egg noodle, so on). You can also add in Tomato(diced, puree, paste, sauce).
For a side you can have fry bread, buckskin bread, or whatever really. Your budget is the limit.
Everyone should learn how to make this. Simple recipe calls for jar spaghetti sauce, and cooked spaghetti. Why stop there though? Why not use ground beef? Sausage? Heck, sirloin or something?
Boil some spaghetti pasta. Brown some ground beef with some onion, herbs & spices (oregano, thyme, rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder). Once ready add Tomato(diced, sauce, so on), simmer it down some. You can either mix this in with the drained spaghetti, or serve on top of it, your call. The internet is your friend here, there is quite the number of ways to make this.
Rice a Roni hack
Did you know you can stretch those boxes of rice a roni just a little bit? Take some thin spaghetti (small handful) break it into small pieces about the same size as the box kind. Take about 1/4 cup of rice uncooked and add it in. When it comes time to add the water, you can substitute the water for broth of the box flavor (chicken with chicken broth, beef with beef broth, or generally vegetable broth). Bullion cubes can work in a pinch in place of liquid broth.
If for some reason you don’t like the packets that come with it, or don’t want to get it, you can always just break apart spaghetti, add rice, fry it until golden brown, add water, then bullion/broth. It probably tastes better, and is probably more healthy.
Sneaking in some more nutrients to pancakes. You can add in some cream of wheat when mixing the batter. Mash up a banana along with it. Its Pancakes, you can do much with such a simple meal. There is a whole day dedicated to pancakes, no joke. I seen some people put the batter over a cooking bacon strip, that blew my mind away the first time. Add some flavor with a few drops of vanilla extract? Perhaps some ground cinnamon.
Snack time! Peanut butter and celery sticks. Cheese and crackers. Carrot & Celery Sticks. Sliced apples. Peanut Butter and banana sandwich.
I think I’ll stop here for today, otherwise we’ll run out of Life topics, particularly the food category. Still, it is a somewhat impressive list of recipes considering all we’re adding is ground beef half the time along with some fresh veggies. Just building on our previous post here.
Remember, there are some nice generic and store brand foods that taste the same, sometimes better, than name brand goods. Organics may cost more, but may very well be healthier? I don’t know. Be on the look out for new shipments, get down the sales pattern. For instance, Safeway has $5 Fridays. No idea if the prices are actually lower or higher, its your judgement call. This is probably when they rotate the goods. Outlet stores sometimes have good deals.
Local farmers market, sometimes prices are good, other times not so much. Your call here I say.
Soups, once cooled off, can be frozen, just remember to leave some space between the soups and the lid/seal, water likes to expand once frozen. I would not recommend though, refreezing after rewarming something. Furthermore, plastic has this habit of picking up the essence of foods(taste, smell), so Tupperware can spoil relatively fast after repeated use. Plastic can even become brittle with repeated freezer time, or prolonged freeze. Sometimes food can even pick up the plastic taste.
For more storage information, the internet can be your friend, but research is a constant ally against bad information. I am not the End All Be All, even I get things wrong. -Kenneth
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