By Melissa Mc
I’m not the world’s greatest cook. Nor do I get much of a kick out of meal preparation, but I do my best to prepare descent dinners for my family throughout the week.
I have a rotation of meals that I know my family will eat, and sometimes even ask for seconds – veggie lasagna, port tacos, pumpkin chili – but generally those take some advance grocery shopping and time. When I am down to the bare bones of my pantry and refrigerator goods, I know I can count on the following meals to get me thru dinner time as I ALWAYS have these items in my back pocket – and they are quick and inexpensive!
Sausage and Pepper Farfalle
I always keep turkey sausage in the freezer. They usually come in packs of 5 links, so the first thing I do, after putting away groceries, is break down the 5 sausage links into packs of 2 and 3 – then wrap them in plastic wrap and freezer bags and stash them away. Turkey sausage was on sale today for $3, so I bought 4 packs, so I have 8 meals ready for use. Then I stock up on bags of frozen tri-color peppers and onions – today they were on sale for 88 cents – so I bought a bunch!
When it’s meal time, I prepare the pasta according to the box (we ONLY use Barilla – it cooks perfectly every time and it’s a $1/box) then defrost the sausage in the microwave; after that, I squeeze the sausage out of the casings and brown it in a skillet like I would ground beef. Once it’s browned, I drain on a paper towel; then open the bag of peppers and sauté in the same skillet; once the peppers are done, I dump the sausage back in the pan, wait for the pasta to finish; then drain the pasta and dump it in the pan. Toss to coat; serve with parmesan cheese, and voila, dinner on the table. You could easily add a can of tomatoes (crushed, chopped, sauce) to make more of a “sauce” but we prefer this “dry.” So, for $3.38, I’ve created a meal to feed our family of 5 (and we usually get TWO meals out of this) for the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta – 20 minutes max.
Another staple I always have – bacon and eggs. Without fail.
Again, boil pasta (this works best with a long noodle) according to package directions; sauté 2 strips of chopped bacon, drain, set aside; sauté one sliced onion in leftover bacon drippings about 7 minutes; add 1 cup of peas; dump bacon back into pan; beat three eggs; dump drained/cooked pasta into bacon/onion/pea mixture; add beaten eggs; stir to coat; top with parmesan cheese. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs – if you want it saucier, add some saved pasta water. This is our Sunday evening meal – and I always have leftovers for Monday night, so usually, I only have to come up with a “treat” for FHE. And again for under $4, you have a decent meal.
Finally, if there is NOTHING left in my house, I always have cheese and tortillas.
Turn on broiler, grate cheese on to tortillas, and broil until cheese melts. Done. We call these “cheese crisps” but they are nothing more than an opened face cheese quesadilla. If I have it, I will add chopped chicken or olives to the top before I broil. We eat these A LOT!
Ladies – what do you serve your families at dinner time when you are either short on time or short on supplies?
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