Post # 1
Backstory: I grew up cooking and baking with my mother, and I really enjoy it. When DH and I moved in together, I thought it would be pretty easy to cook for us — how wrong I was. Through a combination of tight budget, lack of time, and general fear of screwing up, I’ve only been cooking a limited number of dinner recipes for us… and I feel like a failure.
I expressed my disappointment to DH, and he told me that he loves what I make, but maybe it would bo good to slowly introduce new things. I agreed, so he issued me a challenge: make one new thing — ingredient, recipe, style, method — every week, while maintaining our budget. YIKES.
In keeping with the times, I’ve started a blog about it (not intentionally emulating the Julie/Julia Project, but her idea of accountability isn’t too far off). But now, I’m on the hunt for inspiration!
So tell me ladies, what do you cook for dinner? What’s easy, inexpensive, local? Did you discover a method of cooking an old favorite that totally made it feel new again? TELL ME PLEASE!
Sidenote: truffles and gourmet mustards are out ($$$), local and fresh are in. We have access to a fab farmer’s market in the summer, so that will be great when it opens again. Also, we both hate mushrooms of any kind. 😀
Post # 3
My absolute favorite cheap and easy meal would be shredded bbq chicken sandwhiches in the crockpot. Easy Peasy! All you need is 4 chicken breasts and a bottle of bbq sauce. Thrown them in the crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours. After the 4 hours (i like to drain some of the bbq sauce because it gets really watery) I shread the chicken with 2 forks, Add some more bbq sauce if desired, i usually do and eat with some hawaiian bread rolls. so yummy! it makes a lot too so we will usually store it and use it later for bbq chicken pizza or quesadillas. My husband and I both love it. I’m not a cook by any means but this is by far the easiest and most tastey think i make haha.
Post # 4
Do you like Ethnic foods? I’ve found that by going to our local Asian Food Market, we can make so many new things for SO cheap. It really broadened our horizons – in the past week or two I’ve made bulgogi, lo mein, fried rice, and masaman curry, and our Mexican store carries good products as well. The best part is its so cheap – we ate each dinner for about $6 total!
Post # 5
My favorites are chicken parm and home made chinese food!
Post # 6
Second ethnic food! We have a taco night once a week- it might be ground turkey, or ground beef, could include fajita style veggies or just lettuce and tomato. Always includes beans, cheese and sour cream!
Also, if you do have an asian food market, I get these little cans of thai curry paste (I like the panang) for like 45 cents. Mix with coconut milk, add cooked chicken and peppers, cooked rice, and voila!
Post # 7
@bells219: Love taco night!!
Chicken and biscuits is a good, cheap & easy recipe. Biscuits, veggies, and some soup (depending on what you like to use) and some spices!
Post # 8
I third ethnic food! lol easy and can be cheap, depending on what you make. We also have a taco night every week,FI lovesss tacos!
I also have a great roast crock pot recipe that is to die for…seriously!
1 – 4-5 lb chuck roast
1 – packet of Italian dressing
1 – packet of brown gravy
1 – packet of ranch dressing
1/2 cup – of any beer (you can use water but I perfer the beer, it tenderizes it)
Put it on low for 8 hours or high for 4…our fav meal ever! I just make some mash potatoes, macaroni salad and some rolls.
Post # 9
I make pulled pork/chicken in the crock, and its always a huge hit. I add onions and apples, plus brown sugar, and some water. Let it cook for 4 or so hours on low (depending on the amount of meat you have) and then shred it. I always add the sauce when I’m making a sandwich or whatever I am doing, that way you can add whatever you like to the meat!
Post # 10
@MrsSl82be: Pulled pork is also awesome.
And pulled buffalo chicken.
Post # 11
Get yourself a crock pot cookbook where you will find a ton of different styles and pretty much everything will be budget friendly.
I’ve also found some great recipes online from food blogs with a particular focus on budget meals. I track what I’ve made with a software called MacGourmet. I’ve added far more recipes to it than I should have, so my recent inspiration is to try and make a new recipe from my collection on there every week.
Post # 12
I love trying new things! DH is a great critic of my kitchen adventures! He either praises it to no end when he likes it, or he doesn’t say a thing at all when he doesn’t like it. When he hates it, he starts out with “Maybe, next time you could..” or “I wasn’t crazy about the…”
Yesterday, I pan fried chicken cutlets that I had seasoned with “jerky” seasoning and put home-made salsa cruda on top. Served with rice and beans.
Post # 13
What we do almost every Sat or Sun morning is go through a couple of cookbooks and pick out a couple of new recipes to try. I love Julia Child! I made a cookbook of my own to collect the recipes we like the best, with my modifications. I sometimes don’t follow a recipe exactly, I usually find two or three and combine them.
Cooking is a science and an art – have fun with it.
A few I’ve tried that turned out great were: Coq Au Vin, Beef Bourguignon, Chicken Florentine. Sometimes it takes too much time for week nights – once we didn’t eat until 10pm, lol – so now I confine the complicated ones to the weekends.
Easy stuff for during the week: Baked chicken or fish with fresh veggies, pasta dishes, soup and salad, broiled steak, anything in the crock pot (Love!). Last night we had BLT’s with cheese and crackers, which was quick and very easy. Breakfast for dinner is good sometimes, too, like omelets . . . yum.
Gettin’ hungry now.
Post # 14
I do use the crockpot (great invention) but probably not as much as I could. Beef stew was one of the first things I ever made, and it will come back to the table when the weather gets cold again.
Also, breakfast for dinner = our favorite. Maybe I should look into more omelette and savory muffin recipes?
How about some good, easy veggie ideas? And I’m running out of potato options, so those are welcome too. Savory salads? I’m seriously sick of chicken-caesar-salad all the time.
I’m going to try some of these suggestions and recipes — thank you and keep them coming!
Post # 15
@BostonBaby: We are big on very flavorful food. Doesn’t matter what the flavors are so much, we both just really like very strong flavors. Then it seems like lots of the “easy” recipes are kind of one-note in flavor because, well, you save time, effort, and money by limiting ingredients. So we find that a lot of them don’t work for us.
What I tend to do more often is take a recipe that seems complicated and see how I can simplify it. One new recipe I just made this week was chicken thigh paella and that’s a great example of something that’s normally complicated. Oh I’ll mention too that we observe Kosher laws in the home which includes no pork or shellfish, and not mixing meat with dairy. So in this recipe it’s really traditional to add different types of sausage and seafood but I had to figure out a way to leave them out so I just used chicken thighs and it turned out REALLY really good.
For salads – my husband doesn’t like this so much but I will bring them for lunch. I will roast sweet potatoes or butternut squash in cubes. My favorite salad is romaine with the roasted sweet potato or squash, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinegar (and any other veg you like, I usually do like some red onion and tomato). Again I don’t do the meat with dairy but you could always add chicken and it would be awesome.
Post # 16
@BostonBaby: I made a salad with cucumbers, snap peas, tomatoes, pears, feta cheese, grilled chicken, and a raspberry walnut vinaigrette for dinner last night that was really good!