This month's edition of Bon Appétit magazine is all about eating better for less. I like that idea because even though I don't need to stick to a grocery budget personally, I am interested in finding recipes and menus that are tasty and good for you but don't cost a mortgage payment. In January '08, the sale of canned tuna increased 34%, and the sale of boxed mac & chesee increased 19%—these are signs of hard times, I have to say. Thank God for Bon Appétit who gives us economical alternatives to crap.
I am following a week's worth of recipes—meat loaf, pasta with roasted winter vegetables, fish cakes with slaw, vegetarian black bean chili, and clam chowder. I won't bore you with the results of the whole week, but I will bore you with the clam chowder. The magazine suggested this meal would cost $14.11, but I only spent $12.34. That could be because I didn't count the carrots, the little bit of flour or the seasonings because I already had those things, and I skipped the parsley. I used canned clams as the recipe suggested at $1.99 a can—I would have preferred steaming my own clams, but they cost $5.99 for a dozen cherry stone clams, and I probably would have needed more than a dozen.
This made a full batch with dinner for two plus three more servings—lunch the next day. And it was pretty darn good.
Question: what do you do to cut costs on dinner?
New England Clam Chowder
6 thick bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 8-ounce unpeeled white-skinned potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 6 1/2-ounce cans chopped clams in juice
1 8 3/4-ounce can corn kernels, drained
Chopped fresh parsley
Cook bacon in large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour out all but 3 tablespoons drippings from pan. Add next 4 ingredients to pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over; stir 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add milk to pan, stirring constantly. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until slightly thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, clams with juice, and drained corn. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide soup among bowls, sprinkle with bacon and parsley, and serve.
Oh, and speaking of cheap food, here is a link to today's newspaper article.