Sunday, October 2, 2011

What's cookin'

Yesterday I bought over $200 worth of food. The week before, we ate out for every single meal, spent over $500. It goes like that, sometimes I feel completely sick of my kitchen, tired, worked late or whatever and thinking of what to make is torture and then I realize how fun and simple it can be to cook at home.

I get busy, like everyone. We have those nights, around 5 p.m. when I have no idea what we are going to eat and that's when a call to Thai Ku comes in. It's hard because not only is it expensive to live like that but it's bad for you. Believe me, I worked in catering for years and if something needed something... it was usually butter. I can neither afford that in the bank or anywhere else.

I went to the store, actually two. Okay, 3. But only because they are close and I had a couple hours to myself. First the produce stand. I buy all the fruit and veggies that are IN season and looking good. Next up Safeway. This is where I get staples... last stop Trader Joe's. This is where I buy my meat and cheese, cereal and snack food. You know, fruit in a tube. It's nasty but try getting your kid to eat an entire apple in the 3 minutes they have for lunch... doesn't happen. It's either coming home (sliming the lunchbox) or it gets thrown out. Either way, money in the trash. I put 1 fruit and 2 veg in every lunch. It's my thing. I am the queen of lunchboxes. I pack a mean lunch.

Anyway, so that's the deal. It doesn't have to happen at 3 stores. I could probably skip one, but I actually enjoy them all. Last night I planned, roughly, what we were going to eat this week. I am a little spontaneous. I try to allow myself to be inspired by something, so I roughly plan for the meals, allowing myself freedom to change what we eat.

I roasted parsnips, carrots, red potatoes and beets, cooled them, chopped them and put them in the fridge. I used walnut oil and salt with some dried rosemary. The beets I made a little foil pouch, oil, salt and some thyme. 350-375 oven for about 30 minutes. You don't want to burn them but you want them to be completely cooked through, "fork tender".

I bought a rotisserie chicken (these rule, graphic but they rule) and took all the meat off. Well most of it. After awhile I just get grossed out, chickens have SO many bones, when I'm done. I'm done.
I put all the meat in a container and throw "Marcus the Carcass" in a big pot. Tossed in a carrot, giant sprigs of rosemary, salt, onion, garlic and boiled it, covered, for an hour. Drained it into a tall pitcher (too dangerous to put in a giant bowl in the fridge, it WILL spill) and officially through out the remains.

Then I was on such a roll, I brown some ground turkey with cumin and salt. I added garlic, basil and tomatoes. Poof! Red sauce.  I have everything for chicken noodle soup. Today I boiled some egg noodles and kept them separate. I put some mushrooms in a hot pan, added two cloves of minced garlic, through in the root veg I had roasted, some fresh thyme and the chicken. Added my homemade stock, 2t of veg soup base (I love the Better than Bouillon brand) and viola! Lunch/dinner/linner, whatever.

Tonight I made a pork roast. I put rosemary, garlic, oil, salt in the food processor until it formed a paste and then added some vinegar (or wine would work), smother the roast and bake it for about 6 hours at 275. You can brown it, cook at 350 for a shorter time, but the slow version is great for Sundays.

If I have any time and my daughters nap lasts long enough I will assemble and not bake the lasagne. Remember the red sauce? Ricotta, two eggs and some boiled noodles (the no boil ones are WHACK!) fresh basil. You have yourself some kick booty, simple, and delicious lasagne.
Okay, so get to work. Don't try and do it all in one day. Don't try and start with three meals. But if you are tired of paying too much ordering out, try this. I will post next weekend of how it went, what I did with leftovers and how I plan on keeping this up. If you are smart and don't waste time/food, $200 at the market can last you at LEAST 2 weeks.


  1. Fantastic! Made me laugh and put me in a good mood. Thanks! My mood got ruined a bit today.

    Being not from North-America I can tell you the first thing that left me stunned with an open mouth was my first time in Toronto to visit my people over there: The _HUGE_ supermarket, with just one complete aisle ONLY with cereals for instance... oh my goodness... Everything was big, there were so many different kinds of anything... wow.... that was back in 1992. It got a little better in the meantime over here in Germany ;) We have 'Marktkauf' and 'Kaufland' - 2 supermarkets with a fantastic variety. I hate buying groceries, but to be at 'Marktkauf' is fun, I have to admit. Unfortunately I really do have to kind of count the pennies, but sometimes I just go and buy - f*ck the price :)

    Do you like Feta cheese? Try your lasagne with Feta cheese. I usually use swiss cheese (emmental cheese), but Feta is a nice replacement. Layers would be noodles (cooked), bolognese sauce (minced meat fried with onions and garlic in some olive oil, all fried until through and crispy, add tomato paste and something we call in German "passierte Tomaten" which means something like tomato-juice, just thicker! In the end just put the spices in, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, a bit paprika, a sip ketchup - important! - and basil, a bit cream or milk, the lighter version - et voila, there we go with sauce bolognese, cheese, if you like broccoli or carrots or peas, do not forget the white sauce (bechamel) - last layer definitely the swiss cheese!

    I am definitely not a good cook, but my lasagne is loved by everyone and friends of my daughter usually ask before they come over if by any chance there is lasagne for dinner... ;)
    that sounds so much like "housewife", but believe me, I am so much everything but a housewife...

  2. "marcus the carcass". snort. i'll have to do that the next time i get a rotisserie chicken!