Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cooking on a Budget: Recipes for Two

When I lived alone a typical dinner might have been: 

  • leftover pizza
  • microwave popcorn
  • Ramen noodles
  • cereal 

Living with someone makes me realize that both he and I deserve a better effort. Although, don't knock cereal for dinner. It's quick with easy cleanup. 

I find myself making the same things: spaghetti, tacos, and ordering Chinese takeout. I ask people for dinner ideas all the time and know there is no shortage of recipes online to choose from, but it all seems like so much work!

For those who are with me and honestly don't have much time or money to spend on cooking, I have a few meal ideas to share with you that are perfect for two or for one plus leftovers.

Meal #1: 

rice pilaf

Marinate the salmon in teriyaki sauce or cover in pesto before baking. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and cook for 20 minutes. Use foil on your baking sheet so it's easier to clean up. 

You can buy salmon in packs of two at Fresh and Easy for fairly inexpensive. On one side of the baking sheet, put your marinated salmon. On the other side, add asparagus and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put in the oven to bake away.

Then, get yourself a microwaveable bag of rice pilaf. In just 90 seconds, you have delicious rice pilaf and you didn't have to dirty a single dish. For someone who doesn't have a dishwasher, this means a lot.

When you put this on a plate, it looks like you put in true effort, when really the whole thing takes about 20 minutes and uses one baking sheet.

My plating skills could use some work.
Meal #2: 

baby carrots

Roast definitely makes you feel like a big deal when really you put everything in a pot and let it simmer forever. Raise your hand if you received a crockpot for your high school graduation. Raise your hand if you have not used said crockpot since graduation. 

I fall into that category only using my crockpot to make queso dip a.k.a. Velveeta cheese + Rotel. I could really go for some of that right now.

I pulled out the ol' crockpot in my eager anticipation for fall and decided to cook a roast. Make sure to season that sucker before dropping it in or it will be bland. I used: salt, pepper, garlic powder, and seasoning salt. Rub it in to the meat and place in crockpot. Add in veggies of your choosing. I have always had roast with potatoes and carrots, so that's what I added, plus some chopped up onions.

At this point you can cover with cream of mushroom soup, beef broth, or just use water like I did because I forgot to buy the first two mentioned items. Turn your crockpot to high for about 5 hours or so. Oh, I also squeezed in some BBQ sauce because I felt like that was the right thing to do.

After cooking, use some of the broth to make gravy. Start by mixing about a cup of the broth with flour and then add to a pan on the stove. Stir in more broth and flour as needed for thickness. Taste and season.

There is roast underneath that swimming pool of vegetables.

Meal #3: 

Stir fry

When I fear like something is about to go bad, I put it in the freezer to hopefully use at a later date. This actually worked to my advantage for once as I remembered I had chopped up, cooked chicken in the freezer. 

I added vegetable oil to a pan and added in cut up potatoes. I like using the Yukon gold or fingerling because the skin is better to eat. Once these became slightly tender, I added in my chicken, cut up zucchini, cut up leftover asparagus, and rice. I added in salt, pepper, soy sauce, and sriracha. I didn't take a picture because I was too hungry since I had just finished taking an Insanity class. But it was delicious and took practically no time at all. 

These are all recipes if you don't have a lot of time or don't want to take a lot of time. Or, if you are tired of getting take out. Or, if you are on a food budget. I am all three. But please, please share with me your easy recipes. 

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