Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Budget Friendly Dinner

Ok, I have tried before to post some of the recipes, but I got side tracked and forgot about posting some stuff on there.

In this incredibly slow economy and Chuck deciding that starting our own business would be good, I have to come up with some budget friendly meals.

I hate the word BUDGET. It really isn't in my vocabulary, but it now has to be. And it really puts me on edge to be on a BUDGET.

But, it also makes me think of what I can make with what I have at home. And I sit and add up how much this is costing me to make and to feed the family. At this stage in the game, the boys aren't big eaters. They love good cooking and enjoy a good dinner.

Before all this went down with Chuck quitting his job and wanting to start a business, I bought another cookbook. I love cookbooks. But this was a wise investment. Very wise!

I bought "Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Meals." Now, to be honest with you, I would watch her show and thought how crazy is this woman to make things from the pantry, truely Semi Homemade stuff. Really, I wouldn't watch the show. But once I tried a few of her recipes, well, she is on to something here.

I tried this a few weeks ago and we all liked it. Of course in this house, adjustments have to be made. Make it once, and then the next time fix it to our standards. For those of you that don't know, my boys (all 3 of them) are SPOILED!

So, this was the first that I tried out of the new book, and we all seemed pretty happy with it

Creamy Spinach Ricotta Pasta
1 lb rigatoni (a box)
1 can (15oz) of diced tomatoes w/ basil, onions & garlic
1 C frozen chopped onions (I lessen them or just take them out.)
1 box (10oz) frozen chopped spinach (Box)
2 1/2 Cups of jarred Alfredo Sauce (I used the 4 cheese Classico alfredo - 1 jar is 15 oz)
1 1/2 Cups ricotta cheese - entire container; used part-skim - Since you don't use the entire 2 1/2 cups of alfredo it is ok to use the entire container
1 t garlic salt (garlic salt doesn't agree with Chuck, or he may not agree with it. So I use minced garlic and then a tsp of kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper

1/3 C dry bread crumbs (I used the seasoned italian ones)
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese
1T olive oil

1. Heat oven to 425. Coat 13x9 pan w/ nonstick spray.
2. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta. Drain & return to pot. Stir in tomatoes & onions.
3. Microwave frozen spinach. Squeeze out all moisture & chop (if not already).
4. While water is boiling, make sauce in a *large* bowl. Add in alfredo sauce, ricotta, garlic salt & pepper. Stir. When spinach is ready...add it in too and Stir again.
5. Add pasta (w/ tomatoes & onions) to bowl & stir again.
6. Place the pasta mixture into the pan.
7. Mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese & oil w/ fingers in a small bowl. Then crumble over the top of the pasta (in pan).
8. Bake & ENJOY!

This was a hit. We had it for leftover lunch the next day. Be careful though, don't eat too much, that spinach will mess with your system. HA HA

I think that this cost about $7 to $8 for the entire meal. You count that we each had seconds, that is 8 and then the 2 for lunch, that is 10 servings. So, what, .70 to .80 a serving. That works for me.

I think that if people really took the time to look at a meal,they can make it for rather reasonable. I don't buy the convenience foods, the boxed potatoes or the premade stuff. I make most of everything myself. It is better for the boys and we enjoy it more.

I should teach a class, the government would love me. Save them some welfare money in the long run!


Elaine said...

So glad to see you blogging again! Yes, that word budget is a nasty word, isn't it? But it's necessary now. Thanks for posting the recipe, especially the meal cost and the cost per serving. It's great to see how little a great meal can actually cost! Plus, homemde just tastes better. : )