Monday, October 13, 2008

Frugal cooking

I was inspired by MoneySavingMom's post about eating beans for a week - almost (View post here).

Beans are a good source of protein and are filling. In New Orleans people have been eating Red Beans and Rice every Monday for as long as they can remember. Beans are also very versatile, you can use them as a base for a soup or stew, they can be a side dish or the main ingredient for your meal.

I'm trying to be more frugal and waste less by reusing things we already have and throwing away less food since that's pretty much just throwing money away, so I bought 3 different bags of dried beans (split peas, 16 bean soup mix and pinto beans) to see how many uses I could get. I decided to start with the pinto beans. I soaked them over night and cooked them in my slow cooker with some garlic and an onion and cooked them all day.

I used 1/2 of the beans and made refried beans (loosely based on this recipe), combined with left over taco meat, rice, cheese, tomato and tortillas for a Mexican bake. MEAL #1.

For the next meal, I used the other 1/2 of the beans and made a chili. I cooked some ground turkey, added pinto beans, cumin, chili powder and canned tomatoes. Served it was rice. MEAL #2.

For the last meal, I made flour tortillas, filled them with the left over chili and cheddar cheese, melted some Velveeta and salsa to pour over them, baked it for about 20 minutes, MEAL #3 - Enchiladas.

Not bad for one bag of pinto beans!

I have come up with some other creative meals with leftovers. One of them is Chicken Fried Rice. I found an easy recipe and have been making this for a couple of months. It's a good way to use the extra rice from a previous meal, stretch a package of chicken and incorporate vegetables into one meal.

I start by chopping an onion and carrots and cooking them in a large skillet with little olive oil until the onions are clear. Next I add chicken cut into cubes, some pepper and cook until no longer pink inside. Then I add the rice and some soy sauce and cook until most of the soy sauce is absorbed. Make a hole in the middle of the pan and cook 2 eggs. Stir to incorporate the eggs throughout the pan, add some frozen peas, cook until peas are warm. From start to finish, this meal takes about 20 to 25 minutes to make.

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