I knew this would be a week where I would need to eat dinner quickly to get work done and workouts in, so I went with my favored chicken legs. I am a huge fan of making half the pan of baked chicken flavored different ways and I continued that trend this week with my pan of 10. I seasoned half the chicken with cumin, salt, pepper and cayenne and the other half with smoked paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper.
For sides I rinsed and warmed a can of organic black beans that I mixed with cumin, canned diced tomato and cilantro as one side. I also brought a few ears of corn that I cut off the cob and seasoned with fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
For my lunch and dinner this week, I alternated between chicken with those two sides, chicken tacos and a basil and peach salad that all used that original pan of chicken from Sunday.
The chicken took 35 minutes to cook, the black beans 10 minutes to be warmed through and seasoned and the mango pico took 10 minutes to make. I cut the corn off the cob and seasoned it as needed for meals since it doesn’t need to be cooked and also diced tomato and cucumber for salad lunches in the morning before work.
The “cooking” this week took less than an hour for 10 of my 15 workday meals and also totaled $24.91 or 2.49 per meal. It helps if you can pick flavors and main items first and build from there. See the details below and give meal planning a try!
1 can of organic black beans – $.89
1 can diced tomatoes- $.98
2 ears of corn- $.29/each
Romaine and arugula- $7
Chicken legs- $2.31
Hola Tortillas- $2.59
Fresh tomatoes- $5
Cooking on a budget is always a challenge but it is a rewarding one that pays off when you have a little extra spending or saving money. I have been training to become a Food Literacy Educator and one of my biggest take aways is writing my food plan down. I’m a planner by nature, literally going to bed knowing what I will have for breakfast, but writing it down is a completely different experience. It means I actually stick to it and don’t over spend by buying the extras that were displayed beautifully in the store and end up in the trash by the end of the week because it went bad. This is a great challenge to help eliminate waste. I started with some oven-cooked spare ribs that were a main dish on Sunday with potatoes and string beans, leftovers one day, a spare rib sandwich with creole mustard and pickles another day and spare with tacos with guacamole and picked vegetables on the last day. I worked in some boudin and roasted veggies for a couple of easy meals and celebrated with my treat of one meal out on Friday. While the menu will certainly change, having a game plan is key and something that can make your food week a breeze. Check out the recipe below for the oven spare ribs that started it all. Enjoy and share your thoughts!
Oven Spare Ribs
1 package of pork spare ribs
1 large white onion diced
1 small red onion diced
1 head of garlic (10-12 cloves)
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. fresh ginger
1 juicing orange (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup bbq sauce
2 cups of water
1. Preheat oven to 280 degrees.
2. Open meat and rinse well before adding to a roasting pan
3. Peel and dice white and red onion and add on top of ribs.
4. Smash cloves and remove skin before dicing and adding to pan.
5. Add seasonings atop the mixture and add water around the edges of the pan.
6. Grate in fresh ginger and squeeze in orange juice into a small bowl. Mix with a fork then add around the pan like the water.
7. Cover in foil and let it slow cook for 3 hours.
8. After 3 hours, add bbq sauce evenly and let cook for another 40 minutes to an hour.
9. Serve with preferred sides and enjoy!
Tacos are a great go-to dish for me since there are so many different things you can do with it. It was great to be able to incorporate a lot of the fresh produce coming in this Spring in the slaw and the salad at the farmer’s market this past Saturday. These tacos were loaded with flavor and a variety of nutrients. Slaw is a great way to eat a vegetable you know is good for you, but may not be a favorite, such as beets or radishes. They add complimentary flavors to the other vegetables without being overpowering. I was excited to try something new myself with an herb called lovage. It was leafy like parsley and similar in taste with the addition of celery and carrot notes. It taste great with the arugula salad I also made to go on the tacos. While I didn’t include it, you can always add salsa and sour cream to make your tacos your own. *Note the jam used in the marinade and dressing for the slaw came from the Red Stick Spice Company. You can always substitute with any berry or citrus jam you have on hand.
I hope you give these a try for a taste of something new! Check out the recipe below.
Shrimp marinade ingredients:
2 lbs. fresh peeled and deveined shrimp
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 ½ tsp. F.R.O.G. jam (figs, raspberries orange and ginger)
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
½ cup shredded carrot (2 medium)
½ cup shredded turnips (2 small)
¼ cup shredded beets (1 small)
1/8 cup finely shredded radishes (1 medium)
1/8 cup chopped green onion
½ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. F.R.O.G. jam (figs, raspberries orange and ginger)
2 tsp. local berry honey
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
Arugula and Lovage Salad Ingredients:
2 cups shredded arugula
1 cup fresh chopped lovage
1/8 cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. local berry honey
1 tsp. olive oil (for cooking)
1/8 cup lemon juice
1. Peel and devein shrimp and add to a ziploc bag and refrigerate until ready to use. In a medium-sized bowl add vinegar and jam and whisk until jam is dissolved.
2. Add olive oil slowly while continuing to whisk. Squeeze lemon juice in, seeded side up to avoid getting seeds in the mixture and add in half of the remaining ingredients for the marinade. *If preferred, preheat the oven to warm your tortillas.
3. Mix until well blended and then add to the bag of shrimp and add in remaining seasoning. Close bag and massage the mixture gently to distribute marinade evenly. Set aside until ready to cook.
4. In the same bowl from the marinade, add the honey and jam with vinegar and dissolve by whisking. Add in half the seasonings and whisk until well incorporated. Set aside for slaw.
5. Remove large outer leaves from cabbage and rinse thoroughly. Cut off the end of the cabbage for stability and place it cut side down on the board. Cut in half and remove the core from one half of the cabbage.
6. Cut four strips into cabbage about an inch from the narrow end. This will make it easier to keep the cabbage together while you thinly slice it. Slice the cabbage and add it to a large bowl.
7. Rinse and peel roots vegetables using a potato peeler. Grate each vegetable into the bowl with the cabbage. Add dressing and remaining seasoning and toss gently with a spoon. Set aside until ready to plate.
8. Rinse arugula and lovage. Cut off long stems of arugula and chop into strips. Chop lovage like you would parsley and add both to a medium-sized bowl. Rinse bowl from marinade and slaw dressing and squeeze in half of a lemon, seeded side up and whisk with the olive oil. Add to the bowl with the greens and toss with a spoon.
9. *If warming, add tortillas to a non-stick baking sheet and brush each with a little water. (You can use a wet paper towel, a clean wet hand or a fine mist spray bottle). Place in the oven.
10. Place a tsp of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the pan heats (2-3 minutes) add the shrimp in an even layer. After 3 minutes of cooking, sprinkle with remaining lemon juice and flip the shrimp to cook for an additional 3 minutes.
11. Remove tortillas from the oven with one minute remaining on the shrimp. The shrimp should be white. If so remove from heat. If at all gray or translucent, cook an additional minute.
12. Chop shrimp and then make tacos.