This week’s food total came to
for what we ate. We already had a frozen chicken in the freezer, so that helped, and I stocked up a few weeks ago on cereal, so we didn’t have to buy that either. I did buy a gorgeous white pumpkin for $3.99, as well as some whole hazelnuts, in the spirit of fall decor, but I didn’t include those. We went out to eat after we got the news of O’s promotion, so we didn’t actually buy the crab legs. If we had eaten as planned, our total, including this luxurious crab leg feast would be
We ended up going out quite a lot this week, as my parents are taking us to dinner to celebrate the promotion, but this news came after I bought groceries for five dinners.
We could have easily stayed under $40 if we’d actually eaten six reasonable meals (instead of crab legs).
1. Creamy Dijon Chicken with Leeks and Rice
Straight from Simply Delicious
Doesn’t this recipe just sound so good? French Dijon mustard, cream, garlic, leeks, mm! We’re on our very last super cheap frozen chicken, so from here on out we’ll have to actually buy chickens weekly.. but I’m enjoying the extra cheap grocery shopping while it lasts. I’ll be using half the chicken for this recipe.. and the other half for the next recipe.
We had a bit of rice leftover from meal #2, so, maybe not the most nutritionally dense side ever, but it works.
2. Japanese Chicken with Rice and Edamame
Straight from Japanese Mum’s Chicken Recipe
I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for years–it’s the top rated result for “chicken” on Food.com, after all! Sweet, savory, and simple, it sounded like a definite winner. We both loved the sticky glaze, and I adored how incredibly easy it was. I served it with some rice and some steamed edamame. Super easy, super quick, super cheap.
3. Asian Meatball Soup with Vermicelli and Kale
This was on last week’s meal plan, but we ended up going out for cheap fried chicken instead – I already forget why. This week, we had it on the list, using frozen leftover ground chicken, but O got a promotion! My parents offered to take us to dinner to celebrate, so, since this meal can “stay” a little, we’re putting it off til next week. Again, however, it fit in the original budget and so I’m accounting for it.
4. Sweet Potato-Chipotle Ravioli with Coconut Milk Reduction and Sautéed Chinese Spinach
Holy moly! I used some frozen leftover wonton wrappers from our wonton soup, filled them with a mixture of one smashed sweet potato and a bit of adobo sauce, then coated them in a coconut milk reduction. It was so simple, yet so delicious. I followed a simple sautéed spinach technique for our veggie side.
To recreate the ravioli, you’ll need..
– 3 strips bacon
– 3 cloves garlic
– 1 can coconut milk
– 1 sweet potato, roasted or microwaved, skin peeled off
– 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from chipotle in adobo)
– about 20 wonton skins
Fry up about the bacon and then remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels. Pour off all but about 1 teaspoon of the bacon grease (save that liquid gold!), and fry garlic for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Be careful so as not to burn your garlic! Remove about 1/3 of the garlic, and pour in a can of coconut milk. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to about medium and let simmer. Add in 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Meanwhile, smash your sweet potato, add sautéed garlic, 1-2 tablespoons of the coconut milk mixture, about 1 teaspoon adobo sauce, and salt to taste. Leave some chunks for texture.
Lay out wonton skins, about 5 or so at a time, and cover the remaining with a slightly damp, clean towel. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the sweet potato filling into the center of the wonton skins. Dip your index fingers into a small bowl of water and wet the edges of the wrapper. Fold in half to form a triangle. Press edges firmly together, making sure to squeeze out all the air.
Cook about 2-3 minutes in boiling, salted water. Toss in coconut reduction and top with crumbled bacon.
5. Snow Crab Legs and Potatoes with Beurre Monté, and an Artichoke
We love crab legs, and every so often, when they go on sale, we splurge for a special at-home dinner. We each eat about a pound, and at $5.99/lb. this week, they’re not cheap! However, we make up for it by eating cheaper around this more special night.
On my way to the grocery store this week, however, O called me with great news of his promotion! We decided to go out that night and use a gift card we’d received at our engagement party, so I figured we should cross this meal off our actual list to make up for any extra we might spend. However, this completely fit in our weekly budget, so I’m including it. I know – this was a less-than-standard week!
6. Homemade Pasta with Ad-Hoc Details & Italian Spinach
If you’ve read my past meal plan blogs, you’ll know I like to have what I call an “ad-hoc” meal every so often, using just what we have at home. We typically keep some pretty good cheeses on hand, and we always have bacon. The homemade pasta elevates the dish beyond just a bowl of boiled stuff that came to you out of a cardboard box. Homemade pasta is indeed one element of budget gourmet, recognizing that you can eat gourmet food at home on a stellar budget by learning a few simple culinary techniques, such as bread-making, pasta-making, the mother sauces, etc. My favorite recipe is Dave Lebowitz’s. It’s simple and produces exceptional results every time.
This week we’ll use bacon, brie (set in the freezer for about 20 minutes to make it easier to cut), some chive oil, butter – what more could you need? This entrée cost us no extra . I’ll serve it with our favorite Italian spinach, made from a box of frozen spinach, an egg, and some parmesan, just like our favorite famous local high-end American-Italian joint!
Creamy Dijon chicken with leeks and rice
- 2 large chicken breasts – I don’t usually condone “boneless skinless” chicken breasts (unless you’re making something particular to that sort of cut), and this is no exception. By cooking chicken on the bone with the skin, you’ll elevate the taste, and it’s easier when butchering a whole chicken.
- 1 – 2 large leeks, finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 125 ml cream Used leftover half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon wholegrain mustard Both are part of a well-stocked gourmet pantry
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- parsley or tarragon to serve – I love tarragon, so I splurged on a bunch for this dish
- rice – Or starch to serve
Japanese Mum’s Chicken with Rice and Edamame
- Chicken pieces for two We used the thigh and leg from our whole chicken, and I cooked up the wings, as well. O thought they were the best part, even though they were an afterthought for me!
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 1/4 tablespoon sugar (or mirin would work very well)
- 1 garlic clove
- small chile or squirt of Sriracha or sambal olek
- rice – I used one of my guilty pleasures here – flavored rice – as I had a coupon and had been craving it since I’d used it in a casserole I made for our friends recently. You could absolutely use any sort of grain here
- edamame for 2
Asian Meatball Soup with Vermicelli and Kale
- 2 cups chicken broth I used the stock I made from last week’s chicken back
- 2 quarter-size slices fresh ginger root Leftover from last week’s wonton soup
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 6 oz. ground meat Leftover chicken from wonton soup
- 1/2 egg white Who doesn’t love splitting eggs?!
- 1 tablespoon plain dry bread crumbs
- 3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 1/2 trimmed, chopped, firmly packed kale leaves – Bought a fresh bunch of lacinto kale
- 4 oz. thin rice noodles – I bought a small package at the Asian market for about a buck
- 3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 scallion
Sweet Potato-Chipotle Ravioli with Coconut Milk Reduction and Sautéed Chinese Spinach
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 strips bacon
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
- 1 sweet potato, roasted or microwaved, skin peeled off
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- about 20 wonton skins
- CHINESE SPINACH
- bunch Chinese spinach
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon butter
Snow crab legs and potatoes with beurre monté, and an artichoke
- 2 pounds snow crab legs
- about 3-4 potatoes
- 1 stick butter (for beurre monté instructions, check out this Saveur article on the technique)
- 1 Old Bay or other Cajun boil-in-bag crab boil box
- 1 artichoke, steamed and cut in half
Homemade pasta with ad-hoc details and Italian spinach
- 7 ounces flour
- 1 egg
- 3 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
- about 1/3 cup brie, cubed
- butter (about 2 tablespoons)
- chive oil (a few chives, barely blanched, blended with oil, refrigerated overnight, pressed through cheesecloth, salt to taste)
- ITALIAN SPINACH
- 1 box frozen spinach
- 3 cloves garlic
- olive oil
- 2 eggs
- parmesan cheese to garnish
Check out what I actually spent. I included the crab legs cost, in case you’re going to treat yourself at home this week!
I leave you with this totally appropriate gif.1