Since we can’t shake hands or hug or whisper on the phone to each other under the covers, here it is: I don’t LOVE to cook. Just so we are clear, I will internet yell it: I DO NOT LOVE TO COOK. I can hear your collective gasps of surprise and shock. I mean I write a cooking blog, right? It is true though, I pretty much only cook because I have to. I cook because I think it is an important aspect of having a family. I cook because I can’t afford to eat out. I cook because I love to eat and mostly I love to eat good food. I cook because my kids say, “Mommy you are the best cooker ever” when I cook. It is hard though sometimes. I have to force myself into the kitchen to start most of the time. I have a terrible time planning meals (as you may know) and being inspired. The purpose behind chaos in the kitchen, originally, was that all around me were people who needed to cook-for whatever reason: expenses, family, hunger-but had no idea what to make or where to start. I didn’t want them to settle for expensive convenience foods or fast foods. I wanted them it know that it doesn’t have to be hard to cook nice meals.
Now, with the economy the way that it is I think even more people who have never had an interest in cooking are taking to the internet to try to figure out ways to cut their eating out and grocery bills. Thus, Blogging the Recession is my way of renewing my mission. To prove that it is not hard, or expensive, to cook good food at home. Even those of us who-after a long day at work, and kids, and cleaning, and school-really have no desire to cook can still muster up enough energy to spend 30 minutes or so making a real meal out of real food that tastes wonderful. Or we shall at least have planned ahead and stashed homemade, from scratch food in the freezer to heat and eat. Now, for being subjected to my lecture all about me I will offer you links to some actual food you may have missed in the last year (yes we are approaching the blog-o-versary). Warning image heavy post.
I like to cook how I like my men: fast, easy and cheap. So let’s do this:
Long before Blogging the Recession there was: Fast Food, Budget Cooking 101, Planned Leftovers, and Pantry Challenges, as well as Meatless for a Meal, and Tips and Tricks. I would say my top ten fast, easy, cheap recipes are (in no particular order):
Creamy Shrimp and Mushroom Pasta: This recipe is an all-time favorite. It is truly fast and easy yet rich and luxurious. With a salad and some bread it is a quick complete meal that everyone loves. If you don’t like shrimp or mushrooms use chicken or broccoli or asparagus spears or anything-just make this. Shrimp and mushrooms are not always cheap but this method is fool-proof for those times when they are on sale.
Tortilla Soup: Tortilla Soup is really my only favorite soup. It is filling enough that I don’t feel like I need to make more food to go along with it and it is easy enough that you are just opening cans and chopping up cooked chicken. If you have left over chicken it is essentially free, if you don’t have leftovers then it can be quickly made and heated up using a rotisserie chicken.
Spaghetti and Meatballs: So many of you answered that spaghetti and meatballs was one of your comfort foods. What could be better? It is easy, cheap, and pantry compatible and makes everyone at the table happy.
Chicken Wings: Don’t wait for the big game, everyone loves chicken wings and they are super easy and fast to make even during the week. You are lucky also that chicken wings are one of the cheapest per pound parts of the chicken.
Reubens: I love sandwiches for dinner. They aren’t the cheapest (though they certainly aren’t expensive) but they are the easiest.
Homemade Rice-a-Roni: This isn’t a main meal but this rice dish is so easy and delicious that we make it probably once a week. I should do a cost analysis for it because it is probably cheaper than the boxed stuff anyway.
Chicken Souvlaki: Simply thread marinated chicken chunks onto skewers and grill. You can freeze the skewers in the marinade earlier in the week or just let them sit while you prepare the grill. Either way it is quick, easy and full of flavor.
Beef and Macaroni: If you don’t already have a version of this in your arsenal, take note!
Tacos: Made with chicken, pulled pork, beans, or ground beef, tacos are quick, easy and satisfying. A taco bar is probably one of the easiest ways to get kids to eat their dinner and their vegetables without complaint.
Pizza Bites: Like wings, pizza bites are game and party food but they are also a great fast dinner when pulled from the freezer. They are not super fast to make the first time but the process is easy and the rewards are worth the few extra minutes it takes to get the hang of it.
So these are my top ten fast, easy and cheap recipes. There are many more I would have highlighted except that they might take slightly longer to prep or cook. However, every recipe I post-even the ones that look hard-is easy enough for a beginner or reluctant cook. I know because I am one.