Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Real Value Meal

Today, Slow Foods USA is sponsoring a $5 challenge to prove that real, wholesome food can be as inexpensive as fast food.  As you might have guessed by the volume of food-related posts, we eat at home a lot.  I'm by no means saying that we don't eat out, or even at fast food restaurants, but cooking my own food is better, healthier, AND cheaper than the vast majority of fast food.  It really bugs me when I spend a lot of money for food that I could make better.  So here are a few of the things we ate for dinner this week with the per serving cost and calories.

Pinto Beans and Cornbread
I actually made these a few weeks ago when I had about 20 leftover roasted hatch chiles which I added into the crock pot.  A pound of dried pinto beans costs 89 cents and makes 6 very large bowls of yummy beans which can be frozen for later.

  • Calories: 490
  • Cost per serving: $2.00

Falafel w/ Tzatziki and Greek Salad
We're big fans of falafel around here.  I usually use canned chickpeas, which requires a bit more flour to get the consistency right.
  • Calories: 600
  • Cost per serving: $3.50

Zucchini Carbonara
I love carbonara, but it isn't exactly a healthy dish.  The roasted zucchini is a delicious, nutritious, and inexpensive addition.  I've been making it all summer with double the zucchini.
  • Calories: 500
  • Cost per serving: $2.75

Veggie Chili w/ Baked Chips, Light Sour Cream, Cheddar Cheese
We make this frequently in the winter, but since football season has started, I figure chili pies are seasonally appropriate. This recipe makes a LOT of chili, but it freezes well.
  • Calories: 600
  • Cost per serving: $3.75

Italian-Style Jucy Lucy, Caesar Salad
You guys, these are so good!  The onion and Worcestershire keep the turkey burger plenty moist and having the cheese on the inside means it is still nice and gooey (it does that fun string from your food to your mouth thing like in a pizza ad).  I can imagine all sorts of variations on this.  The classic beef burger with cheddar, bison and blue cheese, lamb with feta...mix and match to your heart's content.
  • Calories: 500
  • Cost per serving: $3.50
Seves 4

1/3 cup grated onion
1 lb. ground turkey
1 tsbp. of Worcestershire sauce 
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into 4 pieces
1 red bell pepper
4 rolls

1. Roast the bell pepper over an open flame or under the broiler.  Place in a closed container until cool, then peel.
2. Combine onion, turkey, Worcestershire sauce, dried herbs, and red pepper flakes.  Divide into 8 balls.
3. Press each patty so it is slightly larger than mozzarella round on a piece of plastic wrap.
4. Layer 1/4 of the roasted pepper and a slice of mozzarella on four of the patties.
5. Cover with a second patty and press to seal.
6. Grill over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side.  Allow to cool a few minutes so the cheese inside isn't still molten!
7. Toast buns and smear on a light layer of pesto.  Add the burgers and devour.

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