Sunday, February 7, 2010

Eating Well at Home

I've been wanting to can spaghetti sauce for two or three weeks; I even bought a bunch of fresh tomatoes recently to use in it. Because I am a master (mistress) procrastinator, I let them go too long, and I had to cut off several bad spots to work with them.

All the same, I did it, and this morning I put 8 pints of spaghetti sauce into the pantry. This will keep us set for about eight weeks, by which time we should be getting close to harvesting more tomatoes from our own garden, which we're about to plant.

With the impending NASA layoffs, it's imperative that we eat in and save as much money as possible. So it's my new mission to do it up right for the family so that we won't be tempted to eat out (like I want to do right now).  I've noticed that we do better about eating at home when we have quick, easy foods to eat. With the spaghetti sauce pre-made, I can make dinner in about 15 minutes. I already have meatballs made and frozen in single-serving portions.

We have several other quick meals that work well as leftovers: lentil soup, cheese quiche and spinach quiche, anything pasta, etc.

The greatest challenge that I face right now is having vegetarians in the house. All our favorite go-to dishes are meat-filled or meat-dependent. Some things are obvious; for example, I substitute vegetable bouillon for chicken broth. Others frustrate me endlessly. Chili is a great example. It's my favorite meal, and I make it with lots of beef. I also make it fast; chili is a 30-minute meal here, and it can feed us for a couple of days at least. I haven't made chili since Julia arrived, though, because it seems kinda pointless. Only Mark and I will eat it, and I'd still have to make a separate meal for the girls. Yeah, sure, I could learn to make vegetarian chili, but I don't want veg chili. Gross.

I want hearty, drippy, chewy meat. Grr.

For now, for this week, our menu is thus:

Sunday lunch and dinner: Lentil soup and rice
Monday lunch for Mark and Mel: Lentil soup and rice
Monday dinner: Baked salmon and salad (yes, the girls will eat fish)
Tuesday lunch: leftover salmon with broccoli and carrots (salad's too much trouble for work)
Tuesday dinner: Girls will have mac & cheese with salad or broccoli; Mark and I are going to an investment seminar and will eat there.
Wednesday lunch: Tuna salad sandwiches
Wednesday dinner: Black bean lasagna
Thursday lunch: Black bean lasagna with any leftover veggies around the house
Thursday dinner: leftovers night; also, Julia has a play performance
Friday lunch: leftovers - just clean out the fridge
Friday dinner: Fish tacos (Julia has a play performance again)
Saturday lunch: I'm going to try The Atheist Homemaker's chickpea cutlets served over a bed of fettucini with alfredo sauce and served with steamed, lightly buttered broccoli. This will be my adventure in cooking for the week.
Saturday dinner: If I get the chance (and succeed) at making pie crust, I'll make cheese quiche.
Sundays are always either for eating out or catch as catch can.

1 comment:

  1. Vegan chili! You won't miss the meat - also made kung pao tofu this weekend if you want the recipe.

    Vegan Chili
    1/2 yellow onion, chopped
    1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
    2-3 cups lentils
    1 - 11/2 cups wheat bulgur
    2 cups dried white beans
    2 cans whole tomatillos
    4-5 cups vegetable stock
    Spices (to taste): salt, pepper, ground cumin, a little chili powder, adobo sauce)
    Cilantro, chopped
    Scallions, chopped

    1) Put beans in the crockpot, cover with 2-3 inches of water and lightly salt. Turn crockpot on high and let the beans cook. Alternately, start the night before, and boil the beans on the stove. After they've boiled for 15 minutes or so, put a lid on the pot and let them soak overnight.

    2) Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy pot. Add onion and pepper and cook to soften. When onions are translucent, add garlic and chipotles. Stir to release the smells (delicious!).

    3) Add spices, lentils, wheat bulgur and 2-3 cups stock. Cook until lentils are tender. The wheat bulgur will absorb lots of liquid so add more as needed to keep your chili at the consistency you like it.

    4) Puree tomatillos in the food processor (you could buy them pre-chopped too). Add 1-2 tablespoons of adobo sauce, then stir into the chili. Remove from heat until you're ready to add the beans.

    5) When the beans are tender, add them to the pot with 1/2 cup stock (if needed). Return to a boil. Serve topped with cilantro and scallions.