July 03, 2008

Introducing Frugal Fridays

The brainchild of Jerry over at Cooking by the Seat of My Pants, Frugal Fridays implores the budget conscious blogger to construct a tasty and (hopefully) nutritious meal for a family of four for $10.00. A timely challenge, given the rising costs of food and fuel.

In week four I'm jumping in with both feet, curious to see if I can be satisfied with a $2.50 lunch. I'm cautiously optimistic, although I typically spend between $4 and $6 on the ultimate cheap meal: fast food and I rarely walk away satisfied with the experience.

Ironically I did no grocery shopping for this week's contribution. We're headed out of town this weekend so I'm all about using up leftovers. My creation: A Chicken Sausage Saute built on a half package of Aidell's I'd picked up on sale last week. I also had about 3/4 pound of red potatoes left from last week's contribution to One Local Summer, a cup of chopped frozen mango, and some zucchini and onion scraps from my recent Rat-Patootie.

I tossed the potatoes in a bit of olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and a couple of shakes of dried basil and roasted them at 450 for about 30 minutes. Another teaspoon or so of olive oil in my saute pan, on top of which I tossed one clove of garlic (minced with a knife) and the onion shrapnel. I never time anything when I work like this, but I'm guessing they cooked about 10 minutes while I sliced the sausage into bite sized chunks, drained the mango (reserving the juice), etc. I added the sausage next, cooking it until it browned slightly around the edges. Next the zucchini, mango and cooked potato. And what the hell, the mango juice too.

So... was I satisfied? Surprisingly so. Protein, carbohydrate, healthy fat, fruit and vegetables in a single bowl. Leftovers frozen for portable lunches at work next week. Score!

But did I blow the budget. I reviewed a handful of grocery receipts to survey the damage:

2 Aidell's Chicken Mango Sausages - $2.00
Organic Red Potatoes - $2.50
Trader Joe's Frozen Mango - $1.66
Zucchini = $0.40
Onion = $0.40

My 'freebies' from the pantry: olive oil, garlic, kosher salt, dried basil.

Total for 4 lunch-sized servings: $6.96

Damn. I can eat a satisfying lunch for a buck seventy four. With no desire to add fries with that. Who knew?

Thanks Jerry! This has been an eye-opening experience over here, one I look forward to repeating in the weeks to come.

From the archives...
In 2007 we discovered Greek hospitality (and some amazing oven roasted potatoes) in Salt Lake City.

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Jenny said...

Looks good! And if I could make that for that small a budget, I'd be thrilled. Canadian prices, however, are nothing like prices in the rest of the continent.

A&N said...

Great recipe. But I dont think you should let restauranteurs see this. You're giving them a run for their money ;)

cathy said...

What a great idea!!! I am a student, but I happen to love all these things, which works out well...
Thanks Dolores for your comment on my blog, always nice to hear from a baker somewhere. :)