Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Feed Your Family for $99 a Week

The price of groceries is sky-high, and it’s becoming harder to feed a family on a budget. So we decided to challenge ourselves to create a week’s worth of meals for $99. Difficult, but not impossible. Read on to see how the heck did we did it.

1. Embrace the supermarket flyers. Comb through what each store has on sale and plan meals around seasonal produce (in this case, nectarines, cabbage and corn), which tends to be less expensive.

2. Look for less expensive cuts of meat (yes, cube steak has returned), and don’t assume protein has to take center stage. You should also compare the size of cuts in a package of meat. Go for the 2- pound package of chicken that has six small breasts rather than four large ones.

3. Draw up a meal plan. Make a grid of the week with slots for breakfast, lunch and dinner, then figure out how you can incorporate leftovers into later meals (like we did, using the deli ham twice: first in the Spanish Tortilla, later in the Super Chef ’s Salad).

4. Stick to the rules: no impulse buying, no junk food, choose generic or storebrand products for better prices.

5. Substitute. If you run out of thyme, try the oregano already in your cabinet.

Below are all the dinner recipes. Click here to see what to serve for breakfast and lunch all week. Then, when you are ready to hit the grocery store, print out this helpful grocery list to take with you.

Sunday: Spice-Rubbed Roast Pork

Serves 6
Active: 5 min
Total: 1 hr 20 min

1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp each chili powder and paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 lb boneless center-cut pork loin
Sweet ’n’ Sour Cabbage Sauté

1. Heat oven to 375ºF. Mix sugar and the spices in small bowl. Rub mixture all over pork. Place in small roasting pan.

2. Roast 50 minutes or until instant thermometer registers 150ºF. Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes before cutting to serve.

3. Meanwhile, make Sweet ’n’ Sour Cabbage Sauté. Cut off about a 3 1/2- to 4-in. chunk of pork; wrap and refrigerate for Tuesday’s dinner of Barbecue Pork & Beans.

Per serving: 442 cal, 46 g pro, 3 g car, 0 g fiber, 26 g fat (9 g sat fat), 138 mg chol, 282 mg sod

Monday:Spanish Tortilla

Serves 4
Active: 18 min
Total: 40 min
1 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 lb all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large cubanelle pepper, chopped
4 oz chunk of ham, chopped
1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
8 large eggs
Serve with: salsa

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Heat oil in a 10-in. ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and onion; sauté 5 minutes until potatoes are just tender.

2. Add chopped peppers and ham, oregano, salt and pepper; cook 3 minutes until peppers are just tender.

3. Whisk eggs in a medium bowl. Pour into skillet, shaking pan a bit to distribute evenly.

4. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until center is set. Let stand 2 minutes. Run spatula around edge of skillet and under tortilla. Place serving platter over skillet and invert. Serve with salsa and green salad.

Per serving: 369 cal, 20 g pro, 40 g car, 4 g fiber, 15 g fat (4 g sat fat), 434 mg chol, 601 mg sod

Tuesday: Barbecue Pork & Beans

Serves 6 (4 dinners, 2 lunches), Makes 7 cups
Active: 10 min
Total: 30 min

2 tsp oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 cans (16 oz each) baked beans
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp each cider vinegar and mustard
1/2 tsp each chili powder and ground cumin
3 1/2- to 4-in.-thick chunk reserved pork loin (from Sun; about 1 lb), cubed
Serve with: cornbread (prepare and bake an 8.5-oz box cornbread mix as directed with 1/3 cup milk and a large egg.)

1. Heat oil over medium heat in large skillet or saucepan. Sauté onion and garlic 3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients, except pork.

2. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover; simmer 15 minutes.

3. Stir in chopped pork, cover and simmer 5 minutes more or until pork is heated through. Serve with coleslaw and cornbread.

Per serving: 479 cal, 31 g pro, 58 g car, 14 g fiber, 14 g fat (4 g sat fat), 60 mg chol, 1,027 mg sod

Wednesday: Asian Chicken Thighs

Serves 4
Active: 5 min
Total: 20 min

1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced
4 chicken thighs (1 1/2 lb), skin removed
Peanut Ramen Noodle Salad

1. Mix teriyaki sauce, oil and garlic in ziptop bag.

2. Add chicken; seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

3. Coat grill with cooking spray or oil. Heat grill. Add chicken and grill over medium heat 15 minutes, turning as needed, until cooked through.

Per serving: 192 cal, 21 g pro, 2 g car, 0 g fiber, 11 g fat (2 g sat fat), 72 mg chol, 585 mg sod

Thursday: Grilled Cube Steaks & Peppers with Potato Planks

Serves 4
Active: 10 min
Total: 35 min

2/3 cup oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp red wine or cider vinegar
1 lb cube steaks (about 4), halved
1 1/2 lb potatoes (3 large), scrubbed and cut in 1/2-in. lengthwise slices
1 red pepper, halved lengthwise
2 cubanelle peppers, halved lengthwise

1. Whisk oil, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper in small bowl until blended; remove 4 Tbsp to large ziptop bag. Add vinegar and steaks. Marinate 15 minutes at room temperature or at least 2 hours in refrigerator.

2. Pour remaining oil mixture into another large ziptop bag. Add potato slices and pepper halves. Shake to coat with marinade; refrigerate 1 hour.

3. Heat outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan. Remove potatoes and peppers from bag, saving marinade. Grill potatoes 18 minutes, turning once. Grill peppers 8 minutes, turning once. Slice peppers into strips; toss with reserved marinade.

4. Remove steaks from bag; discard steak marinade. Grill steaks 3 minutes, turning once. Spoon peppers on top of steaks; serve with potato planks.

Per serving: 565 cal, 31 g pro, 35 g car, 5 g fiber, 34 g fat (4 g sat fat), 68 mg chol, 274 mg sod

Friday: 2-for-1 Pasta Primavera

You’ll get two meals from this chockful-of-veggies pasta. Save the leftovers (about 8 cups) and toss with Italian dressing, or just a bit of red wine vinegar, for a healthy pasta salad lunch.

Serves 8 (4 diners, 4 lunches)
Active: 15 min
Total: 35 min

1 box (about 14 oz) whole-wheat penne
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lb zucchini, quartered lengthwise, sliced crosswise
1/2 lb yellow summer squash, quartered lengthwise, sliced crosswise
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 box (9 oz) frozen peas
1 can (14½ oz) reduced-sodium chicken broth
12 oz plum tomatoes, chopped
Serve with: grated Parmesan and crushed black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook as package directs; drain pasta and return to pot.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add zucchini and yellow squash; cook, stirring often, over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.

3. Add garlic and peas; cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer.

4. Pour vegetable mixture over pasta. Add tomatoes; toss to mix and coat. Transfer about 8 cups of pasta to a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Per serving: 251 cal, 11 g pro, 47 g car, 7 g fiber, 4 g fat (1 g sat fat), 0 mg chol, 179 mg sod

Saturday: Super Chef’s Salad

Serves 4
Active: 10 min
Total: 15 min

2 large eggs
2 romaine hearts, cut in thick shreds
1 can (15 to 16 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium cucumber, sliced
2 plum tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 cup shredded Cheddar
4 oz fully cooked ham, cut in strips
Serve with: your favorite dressing

1. Bring eggs (and water to cover) to a simmer in a small saucepan. Simmer 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat; cover and let stand 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Peel eggs and cut into wedges.

2. Put romaine in a large salad bowl. Top with eggs and mounds of remaining ingredients.

Per serving: 336 cal, 22 g pro, 31 g car, 6 g fiber, 14 g fat (7 g sat fat), 148 mg chol, 728 mg sod

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