Posts Tagged ‘$1 and under a serving’

I’m pretty much a sucker for any dish that can feed us for a couple of days, is inexpensive to prepare, and tastes delicious. This pot pie recipe does all that and is good ol’ fashioned comfort food to boot.

The first couple of times I made chicken pot pie, I used this recipe that my friend Jon told me about.  It was definitely good, but Jon warned me that it needed a little more flavor and I agreed. I started experimenting and came up with this new recipe which I now use instead. Jon’s original recipe calls for one pound of chicken breast, but I almost never buy raw meat. Instead, I make this pot pie when I have leftover cooked rotisserie chicken.

Chicken Pot Pie

Servings: 8

  • 2 deep-dish 9 inch frozen pie crusts, thawed (don’t use regular pie crusts or the mixture will overflow; I learned that the hard way)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp celery seed
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • 1 can (10.5 oz) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Boil carrots, peas, and celery covered in water until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the veggies, add the chicken to the veggies to heat through, and set the mixture aside. Meanwhile, melt butter in a deep frying pan over medium heat and stir in the onions. Cook for a few minutes until they just begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic, celery seed, and garlic salt and let cook for another minute, being careful not to let the garlic brown. Add the cream of mushroom soup and chicken broth, stirring to remove any lumps. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer for about five minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary (it may not be necessary; the condensed soup can be quite salty). Place the chicken and vegetable mixture in the bottom pie crust. Pour the cream of mushroom soup mixture over the top.

Cover with the top crust, seal the edges, and cut away any excess dough. Make several small slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape.

As an aside, my top crust never fails to break apart a bit at this stage. I tell myself that it makes the pot pie look more rustic.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

The Tally

  • pie crusts: $2.49
  • chicken: $1.66 (1/3 of a $4.99 rotisserie chicken)
  • chicken broth: $.20 (I used a cup of the chicken broth I make when I buy a rotisserie chicken)
  • cream of mushroom soup: $.99
  • celery, carrots, peas, onion, garlic: let’s say about $1.00 for all of these
  • butter and spices: hmm, something negligible like about $.15

Grand Total: $6.49

Total per serving: $.81

Not bad. Not bad at all.


Read Full Post »

Yes, we’re still in the running to win the $1000 grocery gift card courtesy of the All You contest. As you may recall, the grocery challenge is to spend just $25 per person in the household per week (that means $75 a week for our family of three) for four consecutive weeks. Week two ended on Saturday and we spent a grand total of $71.71 on groceries.

There were several things I did this week to keep the grocery bill down. In addition to the tricks I used during week one of the contest, I added a few more this past week:

1. I took full advantage of coupons. Harris Teeter, our local grocery store, was doubling their coupons up to $1.99 (they normally double coupons, but only up to $.99). So I culled through my coupons for all the ones offering between $1 and $1.99 off of products knowing those coupons would yield especially big savings this past week (between $2 and $3.99, to be precise). Then I based meals around items I could get for good prices based on my high value coupons. And, it paid off (pun definitely intended). In all, I was able to save over $18 just using manufacturers’ coupons. Several times I was able to combine these coupons with Harris Teeter specials for some really good deals (I even got two items completely free).

2. I bought groceries at the drugstore. I had $6.50 in “Register Rewards” from a recent trip to Walgreens where I purchased some toiletries (Register Rewards work like Extra Care Bucks at CVS — they essentially represent store credit for purchasing certain items). I used the Register Rewards to buy some snack items. Snacks represent a pretty decent percentage of our weekly food purchases, so the more I can save on them the better. I even picked some snacks that were on sale for extra savings. All told, I bought two big containers of ice cream and a large bag of tortilla chips that, after using the Register Rewards, cost me only $1.74.

3. I let the traditional July 4th holiday cuisine work to my benefit. Who doesn’t like hot dogs on July 4th, right? We don’t typically eat hot dogs but I’ve found that every so often they taste really good. They’re also really inexpensive. I actually bought the highest quality hot dog sold at the grocery store — organic, all beef — with good quality hot dog buns, and each hot dog was still less than $1. Another cool thing about hot dogs: Charlie will occasionally eat them. That’s a pretty big deal since our picky eater almost never eats meat. I paired the hot dogs with some homemade cole slaw made with CSA veggies and some chips with salsa (the tortilla chips were the ones from the Walgreens visit). So not only did we save some money by celebrating July 4th in traditional culinary fashion, we also had a pretty good meal.

4. Just as I did last week, I made a huge pot of soup at the beginning of the week and brought bowls of it to work each day for lunch. Although unlike last week I didn’t use CSA veggies, I did choose the soup based on items I had on hand or were on sale at the grocery store. I made carrot ginger soup which tasted equally yummy hot or cold (making it extra convenient to bring to work). My recipe was based on the one found here.

Carrot Ginger Soup
Makes about 6 generous servings
Adapted from the recipe for Simple Carrot Ginger Soup found on Whippedtheblog

  • 1 lb carrots (I used a small bag of the mini carrots)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Yukon gold potato, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste


In a saucepan, place the potatoes, carrots, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and ginger and saute until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and saute another minute. Pour the potato, carrots, and broth mixture into the large pot with the onions, ginger, and garlic. Simmer until potatoes and carrots are very tender, about 20 additional minutes. Remove from heat and puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender, food processor, or upright blender.

The tally for the soup:

carrots: $1.50
yellow onion, potato, garlic, ginger: $1.00 (this is just a guess since I essentially bought each of these items in bulk and the potato was part of our CSA box)
chicken broth: $1.17 (I made the broth; you can find the recipe and my calculations for the cost here)
olive oil, salt, and pepper: $.50 (again, this is a guess and a pretty generous one since I doubt they were really this expensive)

Grand total: $4.70
Cost per serving: $.78

When I ate this soup at work, I usually brought a hard boiled egg, a piece of fruit, and some yogurt to go with it which all made for some inexpensive, yet tasty, eats.

We’re in good shape to remain in this contest for the third week. We’ve spent about $50 in groceries this week so far which leaves us $25 for the rest of the week. No problem (I think; I might be getting cocky).

Read Full Post »

In my recent post about our CSA, I mentioned that we receive email newsletters from the farmer telling us what vegetables to expect in the weekly delivery box. The farmer also sometimes adds recipes that highlight one or more of the week’s vegetables. Recently, we received a big bunch of kale in the box and got an accompanying recipe for kale chips — kale coated in olive oil and salt and baked in the oven.

Kale Chips


  • one bunch of kale
  • extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • salt or seasoned salt, to taste


Wash and thoroughly dry kale. Remove tough stems from kale and tear leaves into chip-size pieces. Drizzle olive oil on a cookie sheet (I used about 2 tablespoons of the oil). Spread kale pieces on top of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Mix kale and olive oil generously so that the kale is evenly coated. Add more olive oil, if necessary. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes until the kale is crispy but not burnt. Watch the chips closely though — mine were definitely done by about 10 minutes. (By the way, this is essentially the same method that I use to roast asparagus which I love.)

Here is the kale just before I put it in the oven:

And here are the chips all crispy and paired with some macaroni and cheese I made for Charlie (in which I added white corn and peas for some extra veggies):

Okay, so Charlie wouldn’t touch the kale chips, but he ate all of the macaroni and cheese. And, I thought the kale chips were really good. I gave one to Mark — who has this really odd, inexplicable aversion to kale — and after eating a chip he said, “Wow, these aren’t bad.” That’s about the highest praise kale will ever get from Mark.

I’m definitely going to make kale chips again. Actually, I’m somewhat optimistic that if I make these chips enough times Charlie will eat them. His particular picky-eater preferences tend to run toward crunchy foods which these definitely are. So if I can just convince Charlie to try the funny-looking green chips I think he’d actually like them. And then parents of picky-eaters around the world would call me their hero.

I have now made the kale chips three times. The second time I made them I added too much salt and burned some of them. The third time I added just a small sprinkling of salt and checked on them after about 7 minutes. They were done by about 8-9 minutes and tasted great.

UPDATE 5/24/10
My mom just emailed to say that she’s now made kale chips a few times and offered a couple of tips:

I find it a lot easier to put the bite-size kale pieces into a bowl and toss them by hand with the olive oil & salt before spreading them on the baking sheet. I use a lot less oil than you suggest – barely one tbsp., but maybe I’m using less kale than you are (maybe half a bunch at a time). All that messing around with olive oil in a bowl is no doubt good for the hands, too – some must get absorbed by the skin as well as adhering to the kale.

Then she mentioned that Kiki’s sauce makes a yummy dip for the kale chips. Thanks for the tips, Mom!

UPDATE 6/7/10
I have used this kale chips recipe with swiss chard as well as kohlrabi greens. Both turned out great — maybe not quite as good as the kale, but definitely still quite tasty.

Read Full Post »

Many years ago, I had a roommate from Italy who prepared this dish for me.  I didn’t cook much for myself then, but this dish was so simple and tasty that it inspired me.  We now eat orecchiette with broccoli at least once a month.  I still love it for its simplicity and taste, but now I also appreciate it for its inexpensive ingredients.  Orecchiette pasta looks sort of like curled discs or ears (orecchio means ear in Italian, so I’m told).  It is readily available in our local big chain grocery store.  If you can’t find it in yours, you may substitute another type of pasta.  We didn’t have any orecchiette tonight, but we have lots of fusilli (thanks, Posey!), so I used that instead.

Orecchiette with Broccoli
Yield: 6-8 servings.

Note: the amounts listed below are really just guidelines and are equivalent to how I make the dish. This recipe is very easily adapted to suit your individual taste.

  • 1 or 2 heads of broccoli, with stems
  • 1 lb orecchiette pasta (or similar)
  • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes (use more or less, depending on your taste)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 8 anchovy fillets (you may use anchovy paste instead — maybe 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 – 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (again, use more or less depending on your taste)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water from the cooking pasta
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare the broccoli by cutting off the head, breaking it apart into small florets.  Peel the stem of the broccoli (I just cut the tough parts off leaving the more fleshy inside bits intact).  Slice the stem into slices no more than 1/4 inch thick.

Cook pasta in boiling, lightly salted water according to the directions on the package (about 10 minutes).  During the last few minutes of cooking, add the broccoli florets (not the stems) to the pot.  Drain (note, however, that you’ll need to reserve about 1/2 – 1 cup of the pasta water for use below).

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add the olive oil and 2 Tbsp of the butter.  Add the anchovy fillets and stir gently.  The anchovies will start to break apart and sort of melt into the butter and olive oil.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and let cook gently about a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic (turn the heat down, if necessary).  Add the broccoli stem pieces and saute gently.  Using a mug, scoop about half a cup of boiling water out of the pasta pot (by now, the orecchiette should have been cooking at least 5 minutes and will have flavored the water a bit).  Add the water to the pan with the broccoli stems.  The water will help the broccoli stems cook more quickly and evenly.  If you have a lid, you may put it on the pan to speed up the process even more.  When the broccoli stems are just tender, turn off the heat and add the drained pasta and florets.  Toss together with the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter and Parmesan cheese.  Add a little more pasta water to the pan if you think the pasta needs more “sauce.”  Season with salt and pepper, if you’d like.  The pasta may not need any more salt because the anchovies provide a salty taste.  Serve with a bit more grated Parmesan and enjoy.

This is fusilli, not orecchiette

I have also made the recipe with leftover rotisserie chicken and used chicken broth instead of pasta water.  I cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and add it to the pan with the broccoli stems toward the end of cooking just to let the chicken heat through.  This is also very tasty; in fact, I think Mark prefers it this way.

If you’re wary of anchovies, like many people, please don’t disregard this recipe.  Anchovies cooked in this way take on a very mild flavor.  In fact, if you didn’t cook it yourself, you’d probably never guess there were anchovies in the dish at all.



Several people pointed out to me that I forgot to put a tally for the cost of this meal.  Many apologies.  Here it is now:

The tally:

broccoli: $1.50
anchovies: $1.33 (2/3 of a $1.99 tin)
pasta: FREE (my aunt recently gave us lots of fusilli pasta, which is why I used it in this recipe)
garlic and red pepper flakes: $.50 (that’s a guess, but it certainly didn’t cost more than $.50)
Parmesan cheese: $.76 (about 1/10 of a block that cost $7.64)
olive oil and butter: $.75 (again, that’s a guess)

Grand total: $4.84
Cost per serving (estimating 7 servings): $.69

Wow.  That’s incredible.  Of course, if we’d had to buy the pasta it would have been about $2.00 more total, but that would still keep the cost per serving under $1.00.

Read Full Post »

The other night I made some yummy corn chowder mostly following this recipe from Paula Deen of the Food Network.  I’ve used this recipe in the past and the chowder was delicious, but I balked at the amount of butter the recipe calls for (1 cup–that’s two sticks!).  So, I modified it this time around.  I used 1/4 cup of butter and 2 Tbsp flour (instead of 1/2 cup).  Also, I added 2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces.  I simmered the potatoes with the corn and chicken stock for about 10 minutes.  Finally, I cut up about 1 cup of cooked chicken and added it to the soup just before adding the half-and-half. I used chicken in this recipe simply because I had some in the fridge that needed eating (it represented the final bits of the rotisserie garlic roasted chicken that I bought a few nights ago and wrote about here, and here, and here.  Other than these changes, I followed the recipe closely.  The soup was delicious, easy, and inexpensive.

We paired it with spinach salad and big chunks of sourdough bread for dipping.  It was the perfect meal for a cold winter’s night.  The only drawback: Charlie wouldn’t touch it, but that was to be expected.  He ate a grilled cheese sandwich instead.

The tally:

1/4 cup butter: $.50
vegetables (carrot, celery, onion, garlic, potatoes, white corn): $3.00
flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper: negligible–let’s call it $.10
3 cups chicken stock: I used the broth I made the other night and calculated 3 cups to be $.59
2 cups half-and-half: $2.49

Total: $6.68
This makes 8 servings of soup, so the total per serving comes to just $.84.

And, doesn’t it look yummy?

Read Full Post »

Tonight I tested a recipe for from-scratch (that is, not out of a box) macaroni and cheese.  Now, in case you’re thinking that I’m the kind of mother who refuses to give her kid mac and cheese from a box, you couldn’t be more wrong.  For the past two years I was THRILLED when Charlie ate mac and cheese from the box.  Charlie is a picky eater, and by picky I basically mean I can count on one hand the different meals he’ll consent to eat.  Up until recently, mac and cheese from the box was one of those five meals.  Imagine my distress when, for seemingly no reason at all, he just stopped agreeing to eat mac and cheese.  So, I decided to try auditioning recipes to see if I could convince Charlie to give macaroni and cheese another try.   I made one recipe a couple of weeks ago but Charlie refused it.  Tonight I tried my friend William’s recipe.  Here it is:

Macaroni and Cheese

2 cups cooked elbow macaroni

2 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp flour

2 cups milk

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 bay leaf

2 tsp paprika

salt and pepper

Boil macaroni until just tender (about 7 minutes) then drain.  In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Gradually whisk in flour and let cook for a couple of minutes.  Slowly mix in milk a little at a time.  Stir in bay leaf, paprika and onion.  Bring to boil and then let simmer 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, take out the bay leaf, and stir in 2/3 of the cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in cooked macaroni.  Pour half of the mixture into a greased 2 quart casserole dish, put a layer of cheese on top, add the second half of the macaroni mixture, and finish with a layer of cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The result is above–I know, it looks just like you’d expect, big surprise.  I actually modified the recipe just slightly.  I used 1 tsp of paprika instead of 2, added slightly more than 2 cups macaroni because that’s how much I ended up having left in the box, and I added about 3/4 cups of very finely diced chicken (leftover from the previous night’s roasted garlic chicken).  Charlie won’t eat meat.  Given he’s 3, I’m fairly sure his refusal to eat meat is not based on ethical principles so I don’t feel guilty trying to disguise it.  I worry that he doesn’t get enough protein so I try to be imaginative, hence the finely chopped chicken.

The result?  Charlie ate it!  He ate his entire portion.  The chicken was impossible to detect.

Overall, I give this recipe a thumbs up and I’ll definitely make it again.

And now for the tally:

1/4 box elbow macaroni: $.50

cheddar cheese: $1.97 (for an 8 oz block, although technically I only used about 7 oz of it)

chicken: $1.66 (1/3 of the $4.99 chicken I bought yesterday)

butter, flour, milk, onion, bay leaf, paprika, salt and pepper: hmm, it’s hard to calculate but the amount is pretty negligible.  Let’s call it $1.00, but I think that’s overestimating.

Total: $5.13

But wait, it gets better.  The three of us only ate 1/2 of the mac and cheese, so we’ll have the leftovers tomorrow night.  So basically $5.13 represents 6 servings, or about $.85 a serving.  Wow.  That’s some cheap eats!  And the best part about it–CHARLIE ATE IT!!  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Read Full Post »