The Department of Agriculture's thrifty food plan for 2008 suggests a budget of $77 a week for two people. But nutrition educator Jodi Balis challenges herself to do it for $60 a week or less.
You won't see pricey packaged or processed food in Balis's pantry. "It is ultimately cheaper to cook from scratch, as opposed to buying convenience foods," Balis says.
Below are a few of the recipes Jodi Balis uses to stay within her food budget and still eat delicious, nutritious meals.
Chicken Breast With Citrus Pan Sauce
4 bone-in chicken breast halves with skin
5 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 425°F. Slide fingertips beneath skin of each chicken breast to loosen.
Sprinkle each chicken breast with 1 teaspoon cumin and salt and pepper; rub seasoning beneath and on top of skin.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken, skin side down, in pan and cook until skin browns, about 5 minutes; turn chicken over. Place skillet in oven and roast until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Transfer chicken to plate. Add remaining oil to drippings in skillet; add garlic and sauté over medium-high heat 30 seconds. Add chicken broth, orange juice, lemon juice, orange peel, lemon peel, and remaining 1 teaspoon cumin; boil until reduced to 1 scant cup, about 3 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken; sprinkle with cilantro and serve.
2 TBS butter
**Other extra ingredients you can add from this week's menu (1/2 cup shredded carrots, ½ cup cabbage)
Turn on broiler.
Melt butter in 8-inch oven proof skillet over medium heat.
Add corn, edamame, salt, and rosemary. Saute 2 minutes.
Cook slowly until frittata is set but top is still runny- 7-9 minutes.
Add cheese and put under broiler until browned and top is set- 2-3 minutes. Check frequently so top does not burn.
Remove from oven (pan will be hot!) and cut into four pieces.
Quinoa Quesadillas with Chipotle Roasted Corn and Greens
4 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
1 med sweet potato peeled, cooked, and mashed (1 cup)
¼ cup salsa plus more for dipping
2 tsp adobo sauce (use sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce)
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup roasted corn (stick under broiler 5 minutes)
½ cup frozen or fresh spinach chopped (if using frozen, drain all water)
Juice of ½ lime
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp salt
1 TBS chopped cilantro (optional)
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, etc.)
Oil for cooking
Combine mashed sweet potatoes, salsa, adobo sauce, quinoa, roasted corn, spinach, lime and spices.
Spread ½ cup filling on ½ of an 8-inch tortilla shell.
Add cheese on top of filling. Fold other side of tortilla over, making half moon shape. Press firmly. Some filling may fall out- not to worry!
Heat 12-inch skillet with 2 TBS oil over medium high heat. Add two tortillas, cook until golden. Flip and cook other side until golden. Cook second batch or save until later. Serve!
When flipping, keep closed end of tortilla in contact with pan to prevent filling from spilling out.
For baked quesadillas: Spread one cup filling on one whole tortilla, top with ½ cup cheese. Place second tortilla on top and press firmly. Repeat. Bake on an oiled baking pan at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Serve by cutting into "pizza" wedges.
Serve quesadillas with rice or salsa and chips.
Time Saving Tips
Substitution and Addition Tips & Stretching Ingredients
This is a kitchen sink recipe! Substitute or add any of your favorite grains or vegetables in this dish.
Spinach- I used frozen chopped from my freezer
Sweet potatoes- also used as sweet potato fries Corn- also used in frittata
Cheese- mozzarella will also be used in pizza this week.
Protein and calcium from the cheese
Vitamin A from the sweet potatoes
Protein from the quinoa
Calcium from spinach
Carrot Squash Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup plus 2 TBS brown sugar (packed)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 pinches of ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil or other vegetable oil plus more to oil muffin tins
1/2 cup plus 2 TBS of whole or 2% milk
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (1 banana)
1/2 cup mashed roasted squash (butternut or acorn squash)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tsp orange zest
¾ cup dried fruit (optional- adds a nice natural sweetness)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or brush oil.
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in brown sugar.
Combine eggs, vanilla, oil, milk, banana, roasted squash, carrots, and orange zest in a small bowl.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir in dried fruit if desired. Combine just until moistened. Do not over mix.
Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean and dry.
Cool muffins for five minutes, then remove from tins and allow to cool on a rack.
Jodi's Notes: Time Saving Tips
Bake butternut squash a few days ahead and store in the fridge. Purchase a 3# squash to be sure you will have enough for several dishes.
Shred 3 cups of carrots and use them in different recipes (including this one!) throughout the week.
Ingredient Substitutions and Additions
Substitute 1/4 cup corn flour, whole wheat flour, oat flour, or any other types of flour that may be in your pantry. If using whole wheat flour, increase sugar to 3/4 cup.
Add raisins, chopped dates, apricots, or figs for a natural sweet flavor.
Add chopped nuts if you have them in your pantry.
Nutrition Info & Stretching Ingredients
The carrots and butternut squash are a great source of vitamin A.
These muffins are not overly sweet. If you desire a sweeter muffin, add dried fruit.