Time saving, money saving…both come down to the same thing. And one place that I really need to reign in the budget is FOOD! I have two very fussy children, one of whom has Asperger’s and I’m a single mother, with rheumatoid arthritis on disability support. Sound like fun? Yeah, it is!
I don’t have a lot of money. Having recently separated from my husband, I am tightening the belt in all kinds of ways. Don’t get me wrong – he is generous and will never let me or the kids go hungry. There’s just the pride element of standing on my own two feet, in the face of rather a few hefty obstacles, and thriving rather than just surviving.
Right now I’m just surviving. In time, I’m going to figure out how to thrive. And I’ll blog about it, so you guys can skip a few steps should you ever suddenly find you now have to live on one quarter of what you are used to. So, let’s begin with budget recipes! I hauled out the slow cooker the other day. It ticks two very important boxes – it saves time, and it saves money.
Time because I throw everything in, leave it to cook on the bench for a few hours, and then voila! Dinner is done. Money because I can use cheap cuts of meat and cook them slowing until they are tender and delicious. Or that’s the plan, anyway.
The first thing I made in the slow cooker was gross. Just gross! I ate it…the kids didn’t. I ate it for lunch for many days. I was so glad when it was gone! The thing about a slow cooker is that you generally make large quantities, and freeze. So it saves time in that way too…and for me it’s great to have my freezer stocked because I never know when a rheumatoid arthritis flare will happen.
The downside is, if you make something gross, there’s LOTS OF IT!
Anyway, I’m not going to post that recipe. I’m going to post the good recipe. The yummy one. The one my kids DID eat. So enjoy!
Chicken Cacciatore – in the slow cooker
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 chicken drumsticks
1 medium brown onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 drained anchovy fillets
½ cup (125ml) white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup tomato pasta sauce or passata
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or a tablespoon of dried basil
2/3 cup black olives, pitted and halved
Chopped fresh parsley to serve.
1. Heat oil in large frying pan; cook chicken, in batches, until browned all over. Transfer chickn to 4.5 litre (18 cup) slow cooker.
2. Cook onion, garlic and anchovy in same pan, stirring, until onion softens. Add wine; bring to the boil. Boil, uncovered, until reduced by half; stir into cooker with stock, sauce, paste and basil. Cook, covered, on low for 6 hours.
3. Stir in olives, and parsley. Season to taste.
Pretty simple, yeah?
But I made it even simpler. I just threw everything into the slow cooker and turned it on. No browning the chicken, no cooking the onion and garlic. I know – OMG! You can’t do that! That’s not what the recipe says! But hey, it turned out great. And it took about 5 minutes to throw all the ingredients in. Then I walked away. Six hours later it was delicious. The chicken had cooked so that it was falling off the bones. I did have to fish around and pull those bones out, but that left me with nice chunks of chicken thigh meat in a scrummy tomato based sauce.
I also didn’t have anchovies. I did have some capers, so I threw them in instead. Next time I’m going to throw in some carrots or other root vegetables as well. Just to hide some veges in there.
I served it on pasta…also cheap. And adding it all up, the chicken cost me $8. The other ingredients maybe another $8. (some I already had). So for $16 I fed four people on the first night. Then froze two more portions for later. It also stretched to one lunch for me.
Bottom line? About $5 per meal…to feed one adult and two kids. Hard to beat!