Friday, June 15, 2012

how to stretch your food dollars

If you have a bit of time and are into saving money, this post is for you. 

When I realized yesterday that I had taken a $4.88 chicken, added about $7 in other ingredients, and made roughly 16 meals, I knew I had to share the news. 

I bought the chicken last week to roast and have on hand for Steve's lunch.  Here's how I like to roast a chicken:

- place the chicken, breast side up, in a cast iron skillet
- cut one lemon in half and stuff inside the chicken.  Go ahead and throw in a few garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary too
- rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil
- rub a few smashed garlic cloves over the skin, then sprinkle with salt and pepper
- stick some rosemary stalks under the skin
- roast the chicken at 450 for 30 minutes, then decrease the temperature to 350 and bake for one hour

We enjoyed the chicken for several days- it's great on its own, or in sandwiches.  Once we had gotten all the meat we wanted, I made chicken stock with the rest of it.  Here's how I made stock:

- put the chicken in a large pot
- add salt, black peppercorns, fresh parsley, bay leaves, and onion.  Feel free to add any other vegetables or herb you have on hand
- fill the pot with water so that everything is covered and put a lid on it
- cook over medium heat for about two hours.  You will have much less water than you started with. 
- strain out the solids (I just pour it through a colander) and let the liquid cool in the refrigerator
- once cool, scoop off the fat on top with a spoon

 Usually, I put the stock in jars and freeze it at this point, but this week I went straight into soup making mode.  I made a big pot of lentil soup to use for lunches and will probably freeze half of it for a later date.  Want to make lentil soup?  It's super easy:

- in a large pot, combine 2 cups stock, one chopped carrot, one chopped celery stalk, 1/2 cup dried lentils, 1/2 diced onion, 1 minced clove of garlic. 
- simmer until veggies and lentils are tender
- scoop into a blender and blend it up (this step adds some thickness to your broth for later on)
- return blended soup to pot
- add 8 cups liquid (I just use as much stock as I have and then add water to get up to 8 cups)
- add lots of chopped vegetables (I used carrots, onion, radishes, celery, garlic)
- season with salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes (again, this is really up to you.  Just use what you have.)
- add a splash of balsamic vinegar
- simmer over medium heat until everything is tender (usually takes about an hour or so)

Lentil soup is very hearty and super healthy!  And even though both roasting a chicken and making stock and soup take time, they are the kind of cooking where you can leave them alone for an hour or more while you do other things.  Plus they make the whole house smell amazing!  I don't normally make soup in the summer, but it hasn't been too hot here yet, so it's been fine.  I try to cook in the morning when the house is the coolest. 

Do you have any big plans for the weekend?  My mom is coming and we're so excited to see her!  We have a long list of fun things we want to do and I can't wait to get started.  Hope your weekend is a happy one!

1 comment:

  1. Oh how I love all your posts. Pinch your mama for me:)



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