$5 Tips and Tricks and Challenges

Dec 08

Fresh Vegi Salad-Chemical,Preservative Free and Kids Love It!

Fresh Vegi Salad (no lettuce)

cut up and toss together fresh yellow squash, cucumber, onion, toss with sweet oil and vinegar marinade. Let set in refrigerator about an hour or overnight to chill.

Serve cold along side

fresh chicken salad
Grilled skinless steroid free chicken breast cubed mixed with chopped onion, chopped apple, crushed basil, crushed dill weed, mayo (homemade is better)

Total cost per person is less than 3.00 each

Pam Slate Hummingbird_produce@yahoo.com

Dec 07

Spanish Rice

brown one pound of ground meat with chopped onion and green pepper.  cook 2 cups white rice while browning the meat.  drain the grease and mix with the rice and 2 cans of tomato soup and a can of diced tomatoes.  bake at 350 for 30 minutes or 5 minutes on high in the microwave. serves 4 to 6 people for less than 10 dollars.

I submitted this recipe to the post gazette years ago for the under 30 minute recipes and it was published.  it’s delish.

Soup: the most perfect food?

Soup is ridiculously easy. Easier by far than most people think. There are two essentials to remember when making soup: always use good, fresh ingredients, and don’t forget to season the broth!

Others have mentioned roasting whole chickens, but I find bone-in, skin-on parts to be cheaper. My new favorite cut? Thighs with legs attached, bone-in, skin on. As a bonus, it comes with extra fat you can render! Yesterday I got 6 of these delicious chicken pieces for less than $5 (not pasture-raised, but I can’t find that anywhere around here). After roasting them, I’ve been not only rendering the extra fat (removed before roasting) into schmaltz, I’ve been saving the skin, bones, and all the pan juices. Each time I do, they get thrown into the freezer, where they can wait until freezing weather to get roasted again and create delicious, super-rich chicken broth.

Soup can be as simple as chicken or bone broth (roast marrow-rich beef bones until dark, then simmer) with slices of stale bread soaked in it (panade, in French) or as I often prefer, chock full of seasonal vegetables. Last night I made chicken and corn chowder with local red potatoes, yellow storage onions, carrots, and sweet corn on the cob from just down the road. A little milk and some egg dumplings plus salt and pepper, with bread made from locally raised wheat (in NY! I know!) and fresh butter. The soup maybe cost $7 total ($3.50 for chicken, $1.69 for 6 ears of sweet corn, $0.75 for potatoes, $0.50 for two storage onions, and $0.10 for one carrot, plus about $0.25 worth of milk) and it fed the two of us with probably three or four more meals out of it waiting in the fridge. 

Another favorite soup is French onion. If you buy storage onions in bulk (usually $2-3 for 3 lbs) and make your own beef stock, it can be ridiculously cheap. Split pea and other bean soups with a smoked ham hock or two for flavor (and a little meat) are also super-cheap if you buy dried beans. I vote we adopt the Swedish tradition of split pea soup every Thursday! With black bread. Yum.

Other favorite soup ingredients include super-cheap cuts of beef, beef neck and knuckle bones, smoked ham hocks or neck bones, smoked turkey legs (LOTS of flavor, although the meat is a pain to get off the bones and tendons), all of which are available at my local grocery market for pretty cheap (those of you without such amazing markets, check out ethnic markets or ask the butcher). Delicious vegetable ingredients include all alliums, leafy greens (even lettuce!), root veggies, cabbage, peas, beans, etc. Homemade dumplings or biscuits (cream biscuits are ridiculously easy and cheap: just flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and heavy cream) thicken the broth and make soups even better. A little vinegar or lemon juice is also great for finishing bean soups.

I will say this about cooking slow and cooking nutritiously: you have to have good cooking skills and you have to have a well-stocked pantry. I am not someone who generally plans ahead more than a day for meals, so it is important for me and my creativity to have all the items on hand that I need. Having a well-stocked pantry also means you can easily cook from scratch. It’s hard to make homemade dumplings or biscuits when you don’t have flour or eggs or sugar or butter or cream. And it’s hard to make a delicious soup if you only have some wrinkly potatoes and a shriveled carrot languishing in your crisper (hard, but not impossible!). Although I will admit that “eating down the cupboards” does force you to use your creativity and skill in a way that is often very satisfying.

One last thing: when I go grocery shopping, I always keep an eye out for local, seasonal produce (which is nearly always cheaper) and I always have a meal or recipe in mind when I buy it. That way, I usually don’t have piles of produce rotting on my counter (I said usually…) because I already have a plan for what to do with it!

Dec 06

Use these ingredients and you can get a meal for under $5.   Main course chicken, eggs or pasta.  Example a potato egg torta from Catalonia or a roasted whole chicken with fennel seed.  Buy and steam some fresh vegetables.

My budget busters are cheese and wine.

Slow Food Katy Trail Menu for $5 Challenge

Slow Food Katy Trail and Centro Latino, Columbia, Missouri are co-sponsoring a meal in a local cafe for the $5 Challenge on Sunday, Sept. 18. Volunteers from both organizations will be cooking and serving.

The cost of the meal comes out to about $4 per person.

(Cost for items is based upon farmers-market and retail-store prices). If you grow your own produce, you can save even more!


Hot pasta tossed with a variety of locally grown tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and olive oil


Mixed salad of local greens, apples and toasted pecans


Fresh locally baked bread


Seasonal fruit dessert

Dec 05

My friend Annie’s blog

My friend Annie has a wonderful blog where she shares recipes, local restaurants, and ideas for living well and eating local/seasonal/organic food on a limited income.  It’s focused on  Western New York, but the ideas and recipes should translate well to other areas.  Here’s the address: http://www.peapodriot.blogspot.com/

TheLunchBox.org’s take on the $5 Challenge!

Check out our blog at TheLunchBox.org http://www.thelunchbox.org/community/lunchbox/2011/9/9/take-slow-food-usas-5-challenge-saturday

for families!

Dec 04

Add zing to your $5 challenge menu!

Getting ready for the $5 meal challenge? Be sure to check your pantry and take inventory of your household staples to add a little zing to your $5 dishes. Try incorporating that honey-ginger hot sauce you bought on an island vacation ages ago, or sprinkle the fleur de sel you paid a premium for but doesn’t cost a dime toward your $5 meal! Get creative and use up your pantry goodies when pressed for cash…a little spice goes a long way so punch up your slow food supper with some thoughtful seasoning. Also be sure to harvest the last of your garden herbs before summer ends and throw those onto your menu as well. It’s another great way to save money for this challenge and add color and flavor to your plate! Can’t wait see all your fantastic $5 ideas! Cook it Up!

Keep it handy!

My problem with eating well is running out of time…all the sudden we are starving and there’s nothing ready to eat!  To make sure there is always something ready for grumbling tummies, I buy an assortment of seasonal vegetables and slice or dice them immediately.  I have a reusable container especially designed for storage (it has a raised rack in it so air can flow) which house them.  With the preparation done, a beautiful salad or crunchy stir fry is just minutes away.  

Dec 03

Making the most of your free-range chicken

Yes, that free-range organic chicken costs more than its sad, factory-raised sister.  Make it go further.  Buy the larger roasters, which are usually less per pound than the fryers.  Thaw if purchased frozen.  Clean and rinse well, and put in a large stock pot.  Add chopped celery ribs and leaves, and a chopped onion and carrot or two, and a few mashed cloves of garlic.  If you have fresh herbs, toss in a few (I use parsley, thyme and a bay leaf, tie them together with kitchen string, then tie the other end to the pot handle for easy removal).  Throw in a dozen or so peppercorns. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken, put on the heat.  Just before it begins to boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer until done, usually @ 1 hour for a 4-5 pound bird.  Check the temperature periodically, and turn off the heat when it reaches 175º .  DO NOT overcook.  Let it sit for at least an hour before removing the chicken.  Strain the liquid and reserve for making soup or gravy, braising greens, cooking beans, or cooking grains. To serve right away, make gravy* with the broth and add just enough of the meat for your meal.  Chill the rest and enjoy chicken sandwiches, make chicken salad, and/or reheat in gravy for dinner.

The last bird we prepared this way gave us (two people): 3 dinner servings, two lunch of sandwiches, and two lunches of chicken salad, plus two cups of stock for gravy and 6 more for stock for later use.

*for maximum chicken flavor, use the fat from the broth to make the gravy.  To minimize cholesterol, skim off the fat and use olive oil.  For two cups of gravy, warm 4 tbs. fat or olive oil in a saucepan.  Add 4 tbs. flour and cook on medium heat for at least 3 minutes until desired color is reached.  Add 2 cups hot broth, wisking to avoid clumping. Allow to come to the boil and simmer for at least 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Season with salt and pepper.

Recyle your scraps before you compost them

To make sure I get the most out of our leftovers, I save bones, stems, and ends of carrots and onions in a freezer bag. When I’m ready to make a delicous, mineral rich broth, I throw everything in the scarp bag into a large stock pot with water, bay leaves and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Twenty-four hours later, we have nutritious broth for soup (also good for rice).

Because we participate in our county’s commercial compost program, I am able to compost everything—even the bones!

Dec 02

one bird, many meals with help from the garden

we buy whole (organically raised) chickens.  The whole chicken gets roasted as a beer-can chicken with herbs from the garden tucked under the skin.  Meal one is the meat from the bird with veggies from the garden, usually roasted along side on the grill.

The left-over meat gets pulled off the bone and are ‘chicken bits’ on top of greens from the garden along with a poached egg for a salad/hearty meal with bread day 2.

The carcass and skin, plus any drippings from the beer-can pan get put in the crock pot with water and more herbs and an onion form the garden and set to simmer over night.  It is cooled then then drained for a FABULOUS rich stock to be the base of a soup for yet another meal.

Mass Appeal

When I have time to cook - I make it a session. Cook LOTS of stuff so it’s in the fridge and freezer to eat. Also, I make myself use the food in the fridge… I don’t let it go bad and it’s not a financial waste.

Sometimes, I throw raw veggies in the freezer as is. The okra is in the cardboard carton purchased from the farmers market, waiting ‘til I have time to use it. 

Dec 01

Black Bean & Rice for a week!

I will often roast a chicken or a pork shoulder, then soak some black beans & cook them. By buying a whole chicken, I can serve it with beans & rice one night, tacos or enchiladas the next night, & a soup made from stock the following night. With the pork shoulder, variations on stew, enchiladas, tacos, etc can be stretched for 4 or 5 dinners. My kids love these meals & they are filling, healthy, & nutitious, if I buy locally raised meat from a sustainable farm.

Cook once, eat twice or more!

Every time I make something, I try to make extra - especially if it can be frozen.  In this way I get a huge stock in the freezer for those busy times:  gumbo, chili, soups, meat or veggie loaves, falafel, quick & yeast breads, tomato sauce - you name it.

Too many potatoes?  Make mashed potatoes & freeze them to use as a side dish, to top shepherd’s pie, colcannon, etc.  If someone drops by I’ve always got something I can take out & heat.  If someone has a baby or  a loss, I have cooked turkey, gourmet burgers, smoked ribs, and on and on.