Sometimes what's on the menu is out of desperation to avoid going grocery shopping. Grocery shopping has got to be somewhere at the top of my list of things I'd rather avoid doing. Mothers know that when you have kids along for those shopping excursions that things other than those on the list get put in the shopping cart, and necessary things often get forgotten.
Around these parts, there are only a few grocery store options. They are often overrun with other families on payday, making shoppers want to kill each other (or ones self) before leaving to get a good stiff drink. In between paydays, it's often easier to shop at night when the shelves are being restocked so you can find what you need. For me, if I could order all my food online and have it delivered, I'd do it in a heart beat.
On those days when cupboards run close to empty a few handy meals come in to play. They require little ingredients, fill the tummy, and tide us over for a few days while I get a menu together if I don't already have one. Lately I've been keeping 1lb bags of beans, peas and lentils in the cupboard for just these sort of occasions. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to put beans in a pot to cook on low or in a crockpot.
Louisiana Red Beans with Rice
1 pound dry red beans, I soak them over night or for an hour in lukewarm water if I'm in a hurry.
1 large onion, chopped 1 green bell pepper, chopped 2 tablespoons minced garlic 2 stalks celery, chopped 6 cups water 2 bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon dried sage 1 tablespoon dried parsley 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced. Today I only have half a package, which is ok really because it still adds flavor. salt and pepper to taste
Put all the ingredients, minus the sausage, in a pot or crockpot. Cook it on low for 4-6 hours. On the stove, I cook it on low covered with a lid for most of the day. Check the water level periodically and add more if you need to. When it gets to about an hour before dinner, I add in the sausage, and put on a cup or two of rice to cook in a seperate pot. When the rice is done, I serve the beans spooned over the rice in a bowl. My kids seem to really like it, and it's cheap and easy for me. And very filling. There is usually plent left for lunch the next day as well.
Another recipe that has become a favorite, but more time consumming and with many more ingredients is Scalloped Potato and Ground Beef Casserole. Over the last year or so I've become a fan of the casserole. It's nice to only have to wash a few dishes, and serve a whole meal out of one pot/dish.
Scalloped Potato and Ground Beef Casserole
(The recipe says it will serve 8, but we finish off the whole thing!)
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
5-6 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans of cream of chicken soup, undiluted or mushroom soup
3/4 cup of milk
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
(Lots of calories, but so yummy!)
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the ground beef with onion until beef is browned. Drain the fat.
Return to pan and add garlic, salt and pepper, and cook one more minute to soften garlic. Set aside.
For sauce; in a medium bowl mix together the undiluted soup, milk, sour cream, parmesan cheese, garlic powder and mix well.
Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish.
Alternate layers of potato then soup mixture, then ground beef. Put one last bit of soup mixture on top and sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top.
Place the dish on a sheet pan or other baking sheet to avoid spills.
Bake covered with foil for an hour and 15 minutes. Then uncover and cook for 10-12 more minutes. Let cool slightly and serve.
It's really good.
I'm posting my menu for this past week and next week on my Kitchen Page, so check it out. My last shopping trip was $51. That's where we try to keep it each week for dinner meals. There are always other store runs, but it's usually for things like when we run low on milk or paper products.
Trying to be more organized with those things too. Just running low on energy lately. Anyway, feel free to use recipes or menu ideas!