Saturday, January 30, 2010

End of First $40 Challenge!

Drum roll please...

And the total amount spent on dinner this week is...


Though I may not be trying this again for a while, I really learned that there are some sneaky ways you can seriously cut cost at the supermarket.

Go late in the afternoon and grab specials.

Only buy what you NEED and never buy food "just in case" or "I might feel like it." Eat recommended portions (for instance, one recommended serving of meat per person is just 100 grams.)

Make up for less meat with extra vegetables, or a little extra sauce and extra rice/pasta to fill you up.

It may sound obvious or juvenile, but when you chop up your meat for a stir fry (or anything, really) make it as thin as humanly possible so that it looks like more!

I'm sure I'll think of more as I go...I will continue to see how many bargains I can grab and how cheap I can manage dinner each day, but for now, the $40 is over, and almost $13 under budget, no less! Yay!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday, 29 January 2010

Whoops, bit late on this one, sorry. Earlier in the week I scored beef mince on special, so I grabbed it (it always, always pays to look.)

$2.45 -- 400g beef mince

Total amount for dinner: $2.45
Total weekly budget spent: $26.09

Serves 4

400g beef mince
1 egg
Approximately 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I just pour them in until I'm happy with the consistency)
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestorshire sauce
2 teaspoons French mustard
2 cloves crushed garlic

(1) Smoosh it all together with your fingers until it's not really dry, but not too wet. Form into any shape patty you desire and grill.

(2) Serve on wholegrain buns with lettuce, tomato, cheese and desired sauce.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thursday's Dinner

After a lovely brunch with my beautiful mum, I'm ready to think about dinner. Tonight on the menu is the fallback risotto. Risotto is the kind of dish you can make when you only have 50 cents in your pocket - you can skip the meat and it'll still be great.

$3.12 -- chicken breast
$0.90 -- bacon rasher

Total amount for dinner tonight: $4.02

Total weekly budget spent: $23.64

Serves 2

1 chicken breast, cubed
1 rasher bacon, chopped
1 cup rice
3 cups chicken stock
50g butter (approximately...I totally didn't measure, just threw a whole stack in)
1 small carrot
1/4 cup peas
1/4 cup beans
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/4 cup cheese

(1) Melt a small amount of the butter with a little bit of oil in a large saucepan. When bubbling, add the chicken and the bacon. Cook :D

(2) Had a small saucepan with your three cups of stock simmering away nicely next to you; you'll need it hot and ready to use. (My stock was made with three teaspoons of Vegeta chicken stock powder and three cups of boiling water.)

(3) Add the vegetables, the rest of the butter and the rice. Stir to coat.

(4) Spoon on some of the stock and stir until absorbed. Then add some more. Then, if you're anything like me, lose all patience with it and just throw the rest of the stock in, cover, and simmer very gently for at least half an hour.

(5) Once the rice is tender and all stock has been absorbed, add the sour cream and stir in well, then stir in most of the cheese.

(6) Serve and top with remainder of the cheese.

Thursday, 28 January 2010 - Brunch, argh

I invited my lovely mum over for brunch today (it's currently 1 am, so that counts as today, right?) and it dawned on me about half an hour ago that I have no food whatsoever to offer her. Around here, lunch is a piece of toast or a bowl of cereal (we sleep late, nyah) and then, before you know it, it's dinner time. So what am I going to do?!

Fortunately, over the last few months I have discovered that baked things go a long way, and cost so little to make. I made a butter cake two days ago (I will post that dead easy recipe very soon, promise) with a coffee icing out of stuff I already had in the pantry.

Consequently, on the menu for tomorrow is this dead easy peach slice (yes, I know it says muffins but, you know, no muffin pan) and pikelets which I will be serving with choices of toppings such as raspberry jam, honey and peanut butter. (Yes, peanut butter. If you haven't tried peanut butter on a pikelet you've never lived.)

Total cost of brunch: $0.50 for one peach which I bought yesterday on a whim. Yay.

Provided this slice thing works out, I'll post a pic later.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

You can't get much easier than this. I started making this now and then when the weather got really hot and all I had in the fridge was a bit of beef and some lettuce. Obviously, you can use any meat you like, and any greens you like, too.

$2.20 -- beef schnitzel (from the butcher, pre-made)
$2.60 -- asian salad greens (again, I cheated
and got the pre-mixed pack so I would get a variety of different lettuces, not just something like iceberg or cos)

Total amount for dinner tonight: $4.80
Total weekly budget spent: $19.63

Serves 2

1 beef schnitzel
1 asian salad greens pack
1 boiled egg, halved

1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar

(1) Cook your schnitzel in a little oil and a little butter.

(2) Divide your asian salad greens into two bowls. Top with dressing. (Really needed some lemon juice in that baby, so do add some if you have it)

(3) Slice schnitzel into strips, divide into halves and place on top of salad with boiled egg.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I'm a bit ashamed to do this, as it's Australia Day and hugely unpatriotic of me not to be having a big barbecue full of lamb steaks and sausages. But I don't, because this is the $40 Challenge, and that would be cheating! (Plus, sigh, we don't have a barbecue).

$3.25 -- Flat piece of beef
$1.83 -- Small carton of sour cream

Total amount for dinner tonight: $5.08
Total amount of weekly budget spent: $14.83

Serves 2

1/2 onion, chopped finely
Small piece of beef, sliced thinly into strips

2 large tablespoons of sour cream
1/4 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
Dash of paprika
Flour for dusting
Egg noodles (cooked)

(1) Heat a small amount of oil with a touch of margarine or butter in a fry pan. Fry onion until clear.

(2) Dust the beef with a bit of flour until coated. Fry in the pan until cooked.

(3) Add beef stock and paprika, bring to the simmer.

(4) Add sour cream and tomato paste. Simmer gently for a few minutes and serve on the egg noodles.

Monday, 25 January 2010

$2.45 -- 1 chicken breast

Total amount for dinner tonight: $2.45
Total weekly budget spent: $9.75

Serves 2

2 heaped tablespoons of green curry paste (I had some already)
1 chicken breast, cut into strips
2 cups of coconut milk (I have a box of coconut milk powder, so I'm never without it!)
1 cup jasmine rice

(1) Put your green curry paste into a saucepan along with some of the coconut milk, and stir until combined. Bring to the boil, then add the rest of your coconut milk until it's up to temperature.

(2) Add your chicken to the pan, and simmer until cooked.

(3) Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to the boil. Add 1 cup of jasmine rice, cover, and lower the heat right down. Simmer very gently for 12 minutes (I use this method constantly, it never fails!)

(4) Serve curry on bed of rice and enjoy.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

On Sunday my boyfriend cooked an amazingly hearty chicken noodle soup. At this point I kind of cheated and used what was left of a roast chicken we'd had Friday night - but it is a great recipe for that leftover roast.

$0.75 -- Bunch of spring onions (he only used a few springs, not the whole bunch, but obviously I had to buy a whole bunch!)
$1.00 -- Half a bunch of celery

$3.20 -- New tin of chicken stock powder (I understand this is the bane of a true chef, but when money's tight, this stuff is the shiznit.)

Total amount for dinner tonight: $4.95
Total weekly budget spent: $7.30

Serves 4

Leftover roast chicken (bones and all)

Spring onions
Spiral pasta
1 tablespoon of chicken stock powder

(1) Remove all the meat from the bones of the chicken, and place the bones in a large pot of water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for at least 2 hours. After that, strain to remove the bones, then place your stock back in the pot over a low heat.

(2) Add chicken stock powder and vegies, and cook until tender. Add the pasta and cook for 15 minutes, then serve with any bread you have.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

So I started the challenge on Saturday. I should point out here that I did have a lot of food already in my pantry and my fridge, just your regular old staple foods with nothing out of the ordinary.

$0.90 -- 2 potatoes
$1.45 -- 1 rasher of bacon

Total weekly budget spent: $2.35

Serves 4

For the gnocchi:
2 potatoes
2 cups plain flour
1 egg

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons butter (I used my margarine from the fridge, but I bet real butter would be even better)
1 rasher of bacon, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon chicken stock powder

(1) Peel and chop the potatoes, then boil in lightly salted water until soft. Strain the water out, and then place potatoes back in the pot and cook until dry. Place in a large bowl and wait until it's cool enough to touch (but not too cool, it needs to still be quite warm so that the flour will blend in with it).

(2) Add the egg and 1 cup of the flour, then get in there with your hands and mix it up until it's really well blended. Gradually add the second cup of flour until it's a nice consistency (not too dry, not too wet). You may not use all the flour, or you may need a little more depending on the size of the egg used.

(3) Once that's done, you can take chunks of it in your hands, then roll it into long sausage shapes about 1 cm thick. Chop it into 1.5 - 2 cm chunks, and there's your gnocchi. Place it in a big pot of salted boiling water and cook for about 3 - 5 minutes.

(4) For the sauce, melt some of the butter in a pan and then add the bacon and garlic. Once the bacon is nice and crispy, add the rest of the butter along with the chicken stock. Once all the butter is melted, stir it into your drained gnocchi and serve.

The $40 Challenge

I started this blog to document my dinners. I know, exciting, huh? But the challenge I've set for myself this week is to spend no more than $40 on food for dinner. Can it be done? Let's find out!