Veggies as the Main Meal Component

Now that the holidays are over and our new year goals have been set, I bet I’m not the only one eating better than I was during the holiday season. One thing I’ve been considering is the amount of meat I eat during a meal. I can easily load half of my plate with meat, but I’m not sure that’s what we should be doing.

Not that meat is bad. I love beef, chicken, pork, and turkey. However, I think we are seriously lacking the nutrients we need from fresh fruits and vegetables. I want to be eating more fresh produce and less meat, so I’m going to be switching things up a bit.

My goal is going to get in more fruits and vegetables each day. To accomplish this, I’m going to make the sides the main part of my meal, and have less meat at each.

Protein is an important part of every meal, and I don’t want to skip on that, but I think I’ll get enough if I use vegetables that have the nutrient alongside a little meat. Broccoli, green peas, asparagus, cauliflower, black beans, and broccoli raab are just a few of the vegetables that contain protein. I figure, if I can pair a protein-rich vegetable with the little bit of meat cooked in a healthy fat, and then add more veggies to the plate, I’ll be doing good. What do you think?

Shannon

 

Sausage & Apple One-Pan Meal

One-pan meals are easy to make, and there are so many food combinations you can try something new each time. You don’t always need a lot of ingredients to make a delicious meal. Whether you want breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a one-pan meal is a good way to go.

I made one of these meals for lunch today, but didn’t have a lot of food on hand to use for ingredients. I came up with this simple, but delicious, combination.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp. organic coconut oil

1 small apple, rinsed, cored and chopped, peel left on

1 small sweet potato, rinsed, ends cut off and chopped, peel left on

1/4 pound ground pork

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the apple and sweet potato chunks and stir.
  3. Section the sausage into small chinks and add to the skillet, stirring again.
  4. Let cook a minute, then stir. Keep going like this until the sweet potato and apples are fork tender.
  5. Remove from heat, pour onĀ  a plate, and enjoy!

Tips

  • Use produce from the harvest season to save money.
  • Try different meat, vegetable, and fruit combinations.

Serving Suggestions

I love this one-pan meal! The apples make it simply amazing.

Shannon

The Art of Soup Creation

Soups are so easy to make! They are healthy, and you can add just about anything to them. Experiment to see what your favorites will be.

A big pot is best, so you can have plenty of leftovers. Covered and placed in the fridge it’ll last a good 4 or 5 days, and you can freeze some of the soup as well.

I use leftovers first when making a soup, then add to the pot if the need be. If the leftovers are frozen, they don’t really need to be thawed. This process will happen just fine during the cooking period, so no worries.

Here is the basic process of making a soup:

  • Go through the refrigerator to see what needs to be used up, leftovers or not. I’m usually looking for meats, broth, stock, and vegetables.
  • Go through your freezer. Again, leftover meats and vegetables that have already been chopped and cooked, as well as stock or broth if you didn’t have any (or enough!) in the refrigerator.
  • If it looks like there will still be room in the pot, look in your pantry or food cupboards. Is there anything you’d like to add to the soup?
  • Start by placing the pot on a big burner, and pouring in about an inch of broth or stock. Turn the heat on high, and allow to warm.
  • Add any frozen foods when the stock or broth is warm, then chop fresh vegetables and add to the pot.
  • Brown any meat you want to add, unless it was already cooked. If pre-cooked, just add it straight to the pot.
  • Add any other leftovers from the refrigerator.
  • Add more stock or broth if necessary, to cover the food.
  • Once the liquid is boiling, turn the heat to medium-high and continue to cook. Most of the foods will probably be warmed through by now. If not, no worries. Continue cooking. The longer you cook, the more the foods flavors will mingle.
  • About 30 minutes before you’re done cooking the soup, add any canned foods you want to use.
  • Add and any herbs you like 10 minutes later.
  • Cook for 20 minutes and you are done.

There are so many combinations of ingredients that will work. Try using different ones each time you make the soup, mix things up a bit, writing a new recipe out each time.

Try this simple combination for a small pot of soup, following the steps above:

chicken stock

diced carrot

sugar snap peas in pods

chicken or turkey

parsley

Tips

Serving Suggestions

  • An excellent way to add more nutrients to a meal is to serve a side salad. Try a fruit salad with this soup.

Happy cooking!

Shannon

The Art of Casserole Creation

At the most basic level, a casserole is food items put into a baking dish and baked until done. It can be layered, or all the foods might be mixed together, a few ingredients or many. The foods, when baked together, make a delicious meal to be served any time. Most casseroles can even be frozen before baking, to have on a busy weeknight. These creations are easy to make.

Some items, like most meats and pasta (if you use pasta), should be cooked before baking. Others, like peas, don’t have to be. Leftovers are great in casseroles, and help to cut costs on food.

When I make a shepherd’s pie I first cook and mash the potatoes and brown the ground beef. I don’t pre-cook the other ingredients.

My shepherd’s pies usually include these types of ingredients:

Liquid: Just a little in the bottom of the casserole dish. Water, stock, and broth each work. Usually just a few tablespoons, sometimes a little more.

Meat: To cover the bottom of the baking dish. A thin or slightly thick layer, depending on what I have on hand. Ground beef, or chopped beef, pork, venison, chicken, or turkey. Other meats could be used as well. When using leftovers from the freezer, there may be a combination of meats I will use.

Vegetables: Peas, carrots, broccoli, tomato, etc. Use one or more. Thicker vegetables may need cooking first. This second layer is spread over the ground beef.

Toppings: I used to always use white potato, but I have changed it up a bit. Now I will use squash or sweet potato if I have them on hand. Then I’ll sprinkle fresh herbs such as parsley and/or rosemary over the top of the casserole.

Bake your casserole at about 350* for 20 minutes or until warmed through.

I’m trying to stay away from grains, though I am sure many of you will use them. Doing so can be a money saver. Just be sure that there are plenty of vegetables and some protein to go along with it, and I’d use a healthy fat to brown the meat in.

If I wanted, I could slice the potatoes or squash and not mash them, them layer over the pie. Or mix all the other ingredients with sliced potato before cooking. I’m also considering finding a Paleo “cornbread” recipe to make a sort of taco or chili casserole, using the bread as a topping. Paleo breads are not made from grains, so it would work for me.

What is your favorite casserole? I’m always open to new ideas, as I’m sure everyone else her is.

Tips

  • Grow some of your own produce and herbs to save money on these types of recipes.
  • To be extra frugal, save leftovers from meals in the freezer. Saving a tablespoon or a quarter cup of foods over the course of a week or month might net you an almost free meal.

Serving Suggestions

Happy cooking!

Shannon

Simple Ways to Eat Healthier While Saving Money

Consuming nutritious food is important to our health, but can also be darn expensive. I could easily spend around $60.00 a week to eat healthy, but can’t really afford to do so very often. There is only one of me! It would be far less expensive to eat Ramen noodles and boxed mac and cheese, with cans of corn and peas, but I want better than that. I want fresh produce at each meal, along with some protein, because I feel better when I’m eating healthy.

So, how do I eat healthy while not spending $60.00 a week on food?

  • I drink water.
  • I drink tea.
  • I make my own iced teas, lemonades, and fruit waters. No sugar, just some raw honey in the lemonade – and not even as much of that as most people seem to use.
  • I have meat most meals, but don’t go overboard on the serving size. I fill in with more vegetables, usually carrots or celery, along with the vegetable servings I’m already consuming.
  • I don’t use a lot of flour and other baking needs. I try to eat more fresh foods, less processed.
  • I drink smoothies, using leftovers of fresh produce. Even vegetables! This way, I don’t waste anything.
  • I try not to stuff myself too full.
  • I use some leftovers in casseroles and meatloaf.
  • I freeze every bit of food left over from meals and snacks, if it’s freezable and I know I wont use it right off. I even have little freezable containers that only hold a couple of tablespoons of food. And then I use them.
  • I bring leftovers home after eating out, and use them to make new meals.
  • I make slow cooker meals almost every week, enjoying the meal for dinner, then packing up the rest to bring to work so I don’t have to order out so much.
  • I buy nut milks, but don’t drink them at every meal or even every day.
  • I accept food items from those who offer. Fresh produce from my parents garden. Fresh eggs from Tam. Samples dropped off at work by local restaurants. Even if it isn’t healthy, it can be paired with very healthy sides. A treat once in a while is okay in my book.

How do you save money on food? Share with us in the comments, or email me directly at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I respond to all email.

Shannon

 

4 Meat Chili with Butternut Squash

I never was a fan of chili, until I started trying to live a Paleo lifestyle. At that point, in my ongoing search for the perfect Paleo recipes that would be absolutely delicious and satisfying, I came across a chili recipe that looked like it had potential. I tweak, and keep changing it up.

Chili can be made in so many ways. I like to change-up the meats I’m using, and am experimenting with other add-ins as well, as you’ll see here. I use as many organic ingredients as I can, but budgeting is necessary.

(You may also like the one here.)

Ingredients

2 (3-qt) crock pots

2 Tablespoons organic coconut oil (If you need to brown meat before adding to the crock.)

4 pounds of assorted meats, 1 pound each (I buy what is most affordable.)

3 cans organic diced tomato

2 cans organic tomato paste

1 cup diced butternut squash, sweet potato, or organic pumpkin puree

3 Tablespoons chili powder

3 Tablespoons cumin

2 teaspoons oregano

2 teaspoons parsley

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup of organic beef/vegetable broth

  1. Brown the meat (if necessary) in about a tablespoon or two of coconut oil. Drain, and split between two 3-qt crock pots.
  2. Chop the any other meats and split between the crocks.
  3. Pour the diced tomato (including liquid) and squash over the meats.
  4. Add a can of tomato paste to each.
  5. Add the oregano, parsley, and spices, splitting each equally between the two crocks.
  6. Pour half cup of beef broth over the contents of each crock, and cover.
  7. Heat on low 6 or 7 hours/high 4-5 hours. Turn the slow cooker off.

Tips

  • Buy ingredients when they are on sale; specially the meats and spices. If you can afford to stock up at that time, do so to be prepared for future meals.
  • Combine sales with coupons when possible, to save even more money.
  • Use produce for your own garden for even more savings, and better quality and taste.
  • Try using different combinations of meats.
  • Experiment with different types of vegetables.
  • Freeze the leftovers, and use them to create new recipes.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve over spaghetti squash, with cucumber rounds and carrot sticks on the side.

Shannon

Crock Pot Meal: Pork and Vegetables

Have I mentioned that I love to cook? I look forward to having a day off from work because I know I’ll be making good food to have during the busy week ahead. This recipe was made a couple of weeks back, and came out tasting delicious.

The carrots were free, from my parents garden. I rarely eat pork, but decided to that week.

Pork and Vegetables

(Made 5 lunch meals for me)

2 large sweet potatoes
5 or 6 small carrots
1 lb boneless pork chops

water or vegetable stock

  1. Wash the vegetables; pat them dry with a clean towel.
  2. Peel the sweet potato and take the end off the carrots.
  3. Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces, placing the pieces into the crock.
  4. Place the pork over the vegetables. No need to cut the pork, as it will cook long enough for it to pull apart easily.
  5. Pour water or vegetable stock over the ingredients, and cook on high 3 to 4 hours or low 6 to 7 hours.

Tips

  • Try different vegetables, such as Idaho potatoes, carrots, and squash.
  • Grow what vegetables you can to save money.
  • To save even more, buy meat when there is a sale.

Serving Suggestion

  • Serve with a side salad of greens.

Enjoy!

Shannon

Autumn Sausage Slow Cooker Meal

Autumn is here, and I’m using the slow cooker more and more. I love this time of year! The beautiful colors. The smell smoke from a wood stove here and there while out walking. And the aromas coming from kitchens as people are baking and cooking.

The squash I used in this recipe came from my parents garden, and it was delicious. I also used some of this squash when making the Butternut Squash and Carrot Mash.

Ingredients

2 carrots
4 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 small-medium butternut squash
19.5 ounces beef sausage

beef broth to cover (or you could use water)

  1. Rinse the vegetables.
  2. Cut the ends off the carrots, and peel the sweet potato and squash. Save the carrot ends and sweet potato peels in an odds and ends bag in the freezer, to be used when making homemade stocks and broths. Throw the rest out or compost it.
  3. Cut the vegetables into bite size chunks and place them into the crock.
  4. Add the sausage after cutting it into bite size pieces.
  5. Pour beef broth or water over the contents of the crock.
  6. Cover and cook. High = 3 hours/Low = 5 or 6 hours. Carrots should mash easily with a fork.

Tips

  • Try different types of squash. Acorn is a good one, and there are others.
  • There are also different varieties of carrots.
  • Grow your own vegetables to save money.
  • Use coupons combined with sales when buying sausage to save even more.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve with a side salad of greens, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes.

You may also enjoy

Thanksgiving Leftovers – Yum!

Harvest Salad

Enjoy!

Shannon

Pineapple, Chicken-Beef Soup

Previously I posted my Pineapple Kielbasa Soup. It is a tasty recipe that does not require much prep time.

The recipe in this post is almost the same, but I used two different types of sausage: Chicken and Beef. The combination made for a delicious soup this time around as well. I was pleased.

Ingredients

20 ounce can of pineapple chunks, or you could use a fresh pineapple

13-16 ounces of beef sausage, cut into bite size pieces

13-16 ounces of chicken sausage, cut into bite size pieces

water or chicken stock

desired herbs, such as parsley

  1. Put the pineapples into the slow cooker. If it is canned pineapple, the juice can go in with it.
  2. Add the sausage and enough water or stock to fill the slow cooker 1/2 to 2/3 full.
  3. Cook on low 6 to 8 hours, or on high 4 hours.
  4. 10 minutes before serving, and any herbs desired.

Tips

  • Purchase store brand canned pineapple and corn to save money.
  • Use home canned versions to save more.
  • Try other types of sausage for something new.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve this soup with a side salad of greens and cherry tomatoes.

Shannon

Turkey and Sausage One Pan Meal

These meals are so easy to make, and affordably so when using Thanksgiving leftovers. You could use pretty much any ingredients you like to create a meal like this.

Turkey and Sausage One Pan Meal

(Serves 3+)

Ingredients

1/2 cup diced leftover turkey

1/2 lb ground mild sausage

1 or 2 diced leftover roasted or baked sweet potato

freshly chopped parsley

1 tbsp coconut oil

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the sausage and cook until almost done, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the turkey, potato and parsley, cooking until warmed through. Stir every so often.

Tips

  • The sausage may seem costly, but you will get two meals from it. And the overall cost of this meal will be low because of the use of leftovers.
  • Grow your own parsley to save even more money.

Enjoy!

Shannon