Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Eating In-Day Two

The snow has all melted, the monsoon has abated and there is an unfamiliar bright orb in the sky today. I believe it's called "sun"?  This has me feeling very optimistic in spite of being home with a sick child today. 

We're on Day Two of eating in and using up those pantry and freezer items instead of spending more $$$ at the grocery store.  Night one was steak and asparagus on the grill.  I had a gorgonzola and spinach sauce left over from a chicken dish I'd made previously.  I also had one leek I needed to use up.  I braised the leek in white wine and added it to the gorgonzola sauce which became a bed for the steak.  I took farro from the pantry and found two slices of uncooked bacon in the fridge, some pitted dates in the pantry. I simmered the farro in beef broth and added the now cooked bacon and chopped dates for a side dish.

Night 2 continued our weekly ritual of the kids choosing the menu for one night each per week.   The youngest munchkin chose this:

Boxed Macaroni and Cheese.  What can I say, the kid loves the stuff.  Her superior older sister is of the opinion that, "Mom's homemade mac and cheese is soooo much better."  But Kid's Night rules dictate that no one can criticize the menu that has been created. She invented a fruit salad made with apples, bananas, grapes, vanilla yogurt and a dash of mini-marshmallows. On the side are green beans with lemon zest.

Leftovers from all meals get packed for the husband's lunch the next day. By doing this, I estimate we're saving about $2600 a year.  Lunch in Manhattan will run about $10/day.

Dinners ? Check. Lunches? Check.  Breakfast? Can you believe how much cereal costs?!  As promised here is a cost-cutting recipe for granola.  My calculations show I can make 36oz. of this granola for about $4.  The same amount would cost you $14 at the grocery store.

Makes 36 ounces
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup slivered almonds or any nuts you like
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2T granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups of dried fruit

1. Preheat oven to 300 F.  Line two sheet pans with silpats or spray pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine oats, nuts, coconut, sugars, salt and spices in a large bowl.
3. Warm oil and honey on stovetop or in microwave until warm and combined.  Stir in vanilla.
4. Pour oil/honey/vanilla mixture over dry ingredients and mix well.  Divide between two baking sheets.
5. Bake for about 30 minutes (or until golden brown) stirring every 10-15 minutes.  Let cool, break apart and add dried fruit.  Store in airtight container at room temp.

This recipe is so flexible you can add flax seeds, wheat germ, change the sweeteners (sub agave nectar instead of honey), spices, nuts and fruits any way you like.  It's a great way to get rid of any dried fruits and nuts you need to use up.  And with all the money you're saving, go buy yourself somethin' purty.

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