So I made a list and checked it twice, and it looks like I can feed us pretty well within the iron-clad budget this week. Nothing fancy, no culinary exotica, but certainly not a drab and soul-killing rotation of variations on the same two or three ideas. [A side note: interestingly, the same sort of dishes that nearly led to mutiny while I was working full time and throwing things in the crock pot appear to be the same sort of things generally proposed as "cheap eats" recipes. As near as I can tell, the crossover is that the proteins that are well-suited to the "throw and go" school also tend to be tough, and therefore fairly inexpensive].
Here, without further ado, is what we’re eating next week on Forest Street:
We will be out to dinner, celebrating my father’s 80th birthday. This is a double bonus since it’s not only a “free” night in terms of buying dinner ingredients; we’re eating at one of the only “serious” restaurants in town, which will give me something to write about. I will be making the carrot cake for dessert, and I am deeply touched to have my own humble baking trump the potential offerings of an upscale Pan-European bistro.
Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes and Carrots
Both Chuck and Round roasts are on sale, so I’ll buy two (you’ll see why in a bit) and make them into pot roast using this recipe. I will buy Yukon Gold potatoes, which are not on sale, and which are more expensive than regular old potatoes, but which are, in my personal opinion, so good that they are worth the cost. Additionally, since they start out with such a nice flavor on their own, they require much less in the way of butter and other additions, so they may really be thriftier in the end, in addition to being delicious.
Pea Soup and Homemade Bread
I’ll make this pea soup, but instead of the usual ham I’ll use thin slices of smoked sausage, which is on sale. Pea soup is one of those dishes where magic is clearly involved – a bunch of things are put in a pot and simmered, and in a few hours there is a dense, flavorful, comforting meal. Served with a slice of warm homemade challah or oatmeal bread with sweet butter, I’m betting this won;t even taste remotely like “thrift.”
West Indian Crispy Pork Bits, Rice and Pureed Butternut Squash with Ginger
The pork recipe is Mark Bittman’s, and calls for pork shoulder. Pork shoulder is on sale, winter squash is always relatively inexpensive and I always have rice and all of the necessary spices.
Beef Pot Pie and Green Salad
Remember the extra pot roast? Tonight it gets trimmed of anything yucky, cut into small pieces and incorporated into my version of pot pie. I may or may not make my own crust; I have a great and allegedly “foolproof” Dorie Greenspan recipe for pie crust, but I still have a deep, abiding and irrational fear of failure in the pie crust department. We’ll see….
Crunchy Curried Chicken Breasts, Rice Pilaf and Citrus Salad
Chicken breasts are on sale, and I have what seems like a gross of oranges on hand already as the result of last week’s buy-one-get-one-free deal. The chicken dish is another Bittman recipe which basically involves adding curry powder to breading mixture, coating chicken and frying.
Baked Pastina Casserole, Homemade Bread and Green Salad
This recipe is Giada’s, and looks cheap, filling and cute in a teeny-tiny pasta sort of way.