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Cooking on a (shoe string) budget

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  • UsagiUsagi Feminazgul ~*special snowflake*~Registered User regular
    I'm not saying they're not useful tools, but blenders and food processors are definitely unnecessary if you're on a $200/month cooking budget

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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Blenders and food processors have nothing to do with what kind of budget you're cooking on as long as you're above a certain minimum. With $200 a month you can make practically anything, including stuff that would require a blender or a food processor. I think in general it's good to have both (or at least a food processor {I also recommend a stick blender rather than a normal one}) because the more tools you have, the more you can make different things, and more importantly, the more you can use ingredients in different ways. If potatoes are on sale at $1 for 10 lbs, you're going to quickly run out of options if you can't make scalloped potatoes, potato casseroles and kugels, mashed potatoes, potato soup, potato stew, hash browns, and other things that are really hard to make without a food processor. Thus you will either go crazy from eating 10 lbs worth of baked potatoes and french fries or you will have to pass up on the good deal.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • NeylaNeyla Registered User regular
    On a cheap budget, your magic meat you should stock up on (and is cheap in bulk) is ground beef. You can add ground beef to almost anything. KD is on sale? Cook up a box of KD add a pound of cooked ground beef to it. Spice up the ground beef to add a slight kick to it! Freeze the left overs in tupper ware containers.

    You said you have alot of ramen? Well you might be sick of it by now, but you can buy some frozen veggie mix, chicken, and a bottle of honey garlic. cook the ramen with the frozen veggies. Cut the ckicken into chunks, fry them up. add the Honey garlic to the chicken. Then top your ramen/veggie noodles with the chicken. This is one of my favorite dishes!

    One of the biggest key to saving money is having the tools for it. Like freezer bags and tupper ware containers. You can stock up on such essentials for cheap at dollar stores. I even recommend buying spices and such from these places so you can gives your "cheap" meals alittle kick.

    Need more ideas?:

    http://allrecipes.com/

    You can search for things to make based on what you have on hand. Always read the reviews, tons of people add some really good tweeks to recipes!

    Also, check out this blog post. Now you may not do everything this lady did, but it might give you some ideas in the future!

    http://www.aturtleslifeforme.com/2011/06/freezer-meals-on-cheap.html

    Good luck and bon appetit!

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  • Skoal CatSkoal Cat Registered User
    Meats good and all, but protein powder is $/lb the cheapest protein you can buy

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  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    ...but then, why pay money for protein powder when after an initial outlay for a trap, squirrels are basically free? O_o

  • jefe414jefe414 The wall the darkness breaks against Registered User regular
    I'm personally not a fan of beans so i'll keep away from that topic. Ground beef (when on sale) is a great choice as is the whole chicken. Roast it up, carve it up, save the bones and make chicken bone broth (more soup for you). Frozen vegetables are pretty cheap and the big one, my favorite - eggs. Especially if you are lucky enough to live near a farm and buy them direct.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Eggs are pretty cheap. Also if you have a deep freeze (and it might be worth it to you to get one), turkeys and hams often go deeply discounted after Thanksgiving and Christmas. Like 20-25 cents a pound cheap. Similarly some of the bigger BBQ cuts (brisket, pork butt, ribs) get heavily discounted when the BBQ season gets under way starting around Memorial Day; not as cheap as ground beef or chicken legs, but it might go from $4/lb to $1.80/lb.

    Though I expect beef prices to start creeping up dramatically as feed prices basically tripled and a lot of beef that should be on feed lots right now and over the next 3-6 months have already been sold and processed as ranchers just could not afford to keep them.

    Djeet on
  • jefe414jefe414 The wall the darkness breaks against Registered User regular
    A slow cooker can really take super cheap cuts and make them delicious.

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Fresh veg is not that expensive when you buy the normal stuff. Don't be afraid of non-frozen veggies.

  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    quote=jefe414

    Yeah, if you're going to buy a new food appliance when you're short on cash, a slow cooker will help you out a lot more in cost-effective meals going forward than a blender or a food processor. Pretty much all the best cuts for slow cooking are the cheapest ones.

  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    What Usagi says is true, unless you're planning on making shakes every day, I don't see the point of a food processor. The majority of things a blender/FP can do you should already be able to do with other basic kitchen items.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    I'm not saying you should buy a food processor or a blender if you're severely cost-constrained, but the only thing a blender does better than a food processor is make smoothies (specifically pureeing ice or frozen fruits), which is pretty much the only thing I use the blender for anymore. The main reason I brought it up was b/c it's a time saver. You can shave a half hour or more off sauce making if you break down veggies in an FP (or maybe a blender) instead of cooking them down. I'm willing to put down good money to save myself time now that I've kids.

    That all said, a slow cooker's a great time-saver too, though I paid 10x on a 14 cup FP with small work bowl than on my 6 qt slow cooker. I find it (slow cooker) most useful in cold-weather applications (soups or long braises of cheaper cuts). Don't use it much in warmer weather outside of making queso and oatmeal.

    Djeet on
  • RavynBlackheartRavynBlackheart Registered User regular
    I see a lot of people mentioning whole chickens when, at least at King Soopers/Kroger, Chicken Leg Quarters are 20 cents per pound cheaper. May just be my region though.

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  • eponagirleponagirl Registered User
    edited November 2011
    i don't have either, but do you have Trader Joes???

    trust me. without even a garlic press, you can do it -- just sharpen your knives, regularly. aim on doing one new recipe a week, within your budget, and you can do it.

    eponagirl on
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    I see a lot of people mentioning whole chickens when, at least at King Soopers/Kroger, Chicken Leg Quarters are 20 cents per pound cheaper. May just be my region though.

    Yeah whole chickens are far cheaper in my area. A whole chicken can run me $5-10 depending on how huge I get. 4 chicken breasts will run me $7.

    bowen on
  • cabsycabsy oh it's a boat Registered User regular
    Shop per ounce, learn to love your freezer, especially if you're like me and the idea of eating the same meal for a week is absolutely miserable, that way you can freeze the leftovers and have them later on without having to decide between never having lasagna or eating it every day for 7 days straight.

    Browse for recipes and try to learn how to judge when you can fit together one ingredient into a bunch of different dishes - for instance, one night maybe you roast a chicken, that's $5 for a roasting chicken where I live. Perhaps you eat a full breast of it on day one. Then strip the meat, including all the dark meat, off the bones and put in the fridge. Toss the carcass, splitting the bones if you can, into a pot with a few carrots, a rib of celery, some leftover onion or even if you have to dried onion, clove of garlic, and cover with water and simmer it to make stock. Next day you can chop up the leftover meat, maybe make a chicken salad sandwich for lunch, and then for dinner make a chicken pot pie out of the carcass stock, leftover chicken meat, carrots, celery, and frozen veg to really stretch it. Similarly you can do roast beef, reheated leftovers, hot roast beef sandwiches, slice it thin into a soup or stew, etc. I prefer frozen veg over fresh most of the time just because frozen is generally much cheaper and you can get a larger variety of things to keep in your freezer and just throw into a recipe to pad it out and make it more filling. In the summer if you live in a great farm area with good produce obviously you want to look for good deals there but that's sort of moot advice at the moment.

    Since I think you're a single person, you can also make a half batch of shepherd's pie, so that you don't have to eat it for half a week solid, and freeze the other half pound of burger to make meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, tacos, whatever. I generally do half a pound of burger into meatballs, eat half now, freeze half for later, and break the other half pound into burgers. Don't be afraid to buy the SPECIAL TODAY meats that have a sell-by of 1-2 days out and either cook it that night for dinner or freeze it immediately, or if your store offers bachelor meals sometimes those go on special and those can occasionally be VERY good deals, sometimes I can find things like apple raisin stuffed pork chops ready to go in the oven at $2 per large chop. Most steaks are double what you actually need for a serving if not more, so if you see a deal on steak figure 6-8oz is a really healthy portion for a steak and go home and break it up into smaller steaks and freeze it. You can freeze bacon in ziplocs of 3 strips (which can go straight into the frying pan, as long as you're willing to babysit it while it cooks) or cook an entire pound at once and take pieces out of the bag as needed, depending on your bacon consumption. I would say that if you like pasta an essential splurge is a chunk of parmesan cheese and a grater, because parm is just so versatile and on nights when you're feeling lazy you can just boil some pasta and whack together a piece of bacon or two, egg yolk, some parm, and a little of the pasta water and have a carbonara ready to go.

    The main thing you need to eat on the cheap is something I am terrible at - you're going to need a recipe plan for the week and a shopping list. I'm the worst at this because I can never think in advance what I might like to eat in 4-5 days so I end up just going to the store every other day and spending more money than I strictly need to because once I got to the store something sounded good. Also learn what things are staples for your kitchen and buy them when they're on sale, for instance I know that I use butter relatively regularly and that it freezes pretty well so if I see a good deal on butter I will bring home 4-5lbs of it and freeze it.

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  • TheRoadVirusTheRoadVirus I will show you why hurricanes are named after peopleRegistered User regular
    As far as beef goes, I've found that if you can find a sale on ground beef, buy in bulk, and brown it all at once with some pepper, onions, etc.
    Then, if you have a scale, divide it into 1 lb bags (thats the size we use. most recipes call for it in 1 lb increments.) and freeze the leftover so that when you make dinner, all you have to do is thaw it out.

    Also, I've been cooking eggs more often and meats less often, and it's showing in our budget a pretty good bit.

    I've worked on finding which store brands are cheaper while still being tasty, and shopping the hell out of sales (store near us has a $.88 sale on a large majority of things that are normally $1-3. Great time to stock up.

    I've managed to bring our monthly food expenditure to about $250 for our three-person household.

    Planning a menu helps a TON.
    Look at sale flyers, write down things you wanna buy, and then pull from that list and make a menu. Staying on plan will help a ton when it comes to being in the store and shopping.

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  • elevatureelevature Registered User regular
    So, I eat much more than just "rice and beans," but following very loosely the cookbook I linked earlier plus cooking a lot of casseroles/bread/pizzas and stuff, my food costs are $20 a week during a really bad week. Average is closer to $15. And I eat massive amounts of food because my metabolism is weird and I will die if I don't inhale everything in front of me. So with $200 a month you can do pretty much whatever you want compared to eating for actual cheap.

    What's an average week look like for you, meal-wise? I downloaded that cookbook and I'm going to take a look through it, but I'm expecting to be unemployed very soon and so will need to eat as cheaply as possible. Right now I'm mostly eating oatmeal or toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and pasta or chicken and rice for dinner. Which is fine, but gets pretty boring.

  • shutzshutz Registered User regular
    I second (or third, or whatever we're at now) using a slow-cooker. With just a little common sense, it's almost impossible to mess up a dish, and it's perfect for "lesser" (read: cheaper) cuts of meat.

    I can make a full crockpot of my spaghetti sauce, which is usually then enough for 10-12 meals worth. I just brown my meat (I use about 2 pounds of hot italian sausage meat, all crumbled up, then I sauté all my veggies (onion, celery, mushroom, garlic) using my trusty nonstick wok. As each item is ready, I just dump it in the slow-cooker. Once that is done, I add all the herbs and spices I use (probably close to a dozen, all-told... each one contributes something) and then pour one to two cans of Pastene crushed tomatoes (with added tomato paste) and one to two cans of tomato sauce (whatever I find at the grocery store). I usually do all this in the evening. Once I'm done, I just place the ceramic part of the crockpot in the fridge, with the cover on. When I get up in the morning, I put it back in its place, and start the crockpot for 8-9 hours on low. This makes for a great dinner, although I personally find that my spaghetti sauce actually tastes better after getting frozen, and then heated again later on. Something about evaporating excess water, and concentrating flavor.

    Anyway, I'm pretty sure it never costs me more than 40$ to get all the meat and veggies I need for the sauce. Herbs and spices will affect your initial investment, but will then last you through many batches. You can also get good pasta in large quantities for very reasonable prices. I think I got a huge bag of spaghettini (slightly smaller in diameter to spaghetti, which I prefer) that is only about half-gone after going through one batch of sauce for about 10$, which leads me to calculate about 20 meals, so about 50 cents per meal. Say one batch of spaghetti sauce is 10 meals, that means you get 10 meals for less than 5$ per meal. And that's big portions -- you can easily stretch this out. You can also use the sauce in a lasagna.

    Chili will probably be within the same range, probably cheaper.

    A slow-cooker can also be used to "roast" a chicken. Just make sure you brine the chicken beforehand, otherwise the meat will feel moist, but taste dry (a weird sensation.)

    I've developed a way to cook a pork roast in the slow-cooker that leads to surprisingly good results. The secret, again, is brining the pork. I make a brine using about 16 cups of water, 1/2 cup of kosher salt (table salt contains iodine which will give a weird taste to the meat), 1/2 cup of sugar, brown sugar (better taste) or maple syrup (again, better taste.) Heat up the brine to dissolve the salt and sugar, then cool it off before you place the meat into it. I personally add some allspice and black pepper (both whole, unground) to the brine to add more flavor to the meat, you can experiment with other spices as well. For the pork, I use the biggest roast I can find that will fit in my pot, and I make sure it's a cut that includes a good amount of fat. Also, I find that "dark meat" gives better results than "white meat" (yes, pork has dark and white meat, kind of like chicken). The brining causes the meat to keep more of its moisture as it cooks.

    To actually cook the meat, I first cut about 3 good-sized onions in half, and place them flat-side-down at the bottom of the slow-cooker. If you have anything made out of glass, ceramic, or stainless steel that can be used to prop up the meat by about an inch above the bottom of the cooker, use it: it will reduce the contact that the meat will have with the juices that will accumulate at the bottom, making the underside of the meat less "soggy". I use various spice rubs on the meat, and I poke some slits with a good knife, into which I slip garlic slivers. Recover the spices from your brine, and drop that into the pot as well, for more flavor. Unlike most other slow-cooker recipes, DO NOT ADD ANY LIQUID. The onions and the meat will create enough liquid that you don't need to worry about things drying out. In my experience, this works better with the crockpot on high, as the results tend to be more "roast-like". So that's 4 hours on high, or, if you like, you can try about 3-4 hours on low, and then 2 hours on high. This has resulted in some of the most succulent pork roast I've ever had. Oh, and once you take the meat out, you can use a hand-mixer (or a food processor) to pulverize the onions along with the cooking juices, which you can then use to make gravy, either by seasoning and adding a thickening agent, or simply by mixing with one packet of gravy and its requisite amount of water. The pulverized onions (and the pulverized spices that were left in the pot) will lead to a unique flavor for the gravy.

    In this case, 10$ worth of meat (you can probably get enough meat for even less than that, if you look hard enough) makes for 4-6 meals, depending on the size of the portions. Add some potatoes (or fries, hash browns, white rice, couscous, quinoa... even ramen... whatever tastes good with that gravy) and some veggies of your choice, and you've got another great meal that, although it seems like a lot of work, is actually pretty simple, and cheap.

    The main advantage of a crockpot is that you can prepare food for many meals, and freeze some of it. Make 3-4 different things, freeze the results, and you always have some choice every time you need a meal. Also, with Gladloc or Ziploc "disposable" containers of many different sizes, you can pack things into meal-size portions pretty effectively.

    Note: for lunches, you can even cook pasta in advance, and then freeze it in individual portions. These can then easily be heated up in the microwave. Same thing for the pasta sauce.

    One last thing I might suggest: visit your local dollar-store. Some of the food there will be of a lesser quality, but in some cases, you'll find some regular brands for cheaper, and you might also find some exotic stuff for very cheap. I like getting some of the non-ramen oriental noodle packs (like udon and soba noodles, or Kung Pao or even Pad Thai, that sort of thing.) I like the flavor of the seasonings offered with those -- a lot more than standard ramen. These are usually pre-cooked noodles, so they're about as quick to prepare as ramen.

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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    elevature wrote:
    So, I eat much more than just "rice and beans," but following very loosely the cookbook I linked earlier plus cooking a lot of casseroles/bread/pizzas and stuff, my food costs are $20 a week during a really bad week. Average is closer to $15. And I eat massive amounts of food because my metabolism is weird and I will die if I don't inhale everything in front of me. So with $200 a month you can do pretty much whatever you want compared to eating for actual cheap.

    What's an average week look like for you, meal-wise? I downloaded that cookbook and I'm going to take a look through it, but I'm expecting to be unemployed very soon and so will need to eat as cheaply as possible. Right now I'm mostly eating oatmeal or toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and pasta or chicken and rice for dinner. Which is fine, but gets pretty boring.
    Breakfast every day on the weekday is half a cup of steel cut oats dry, which is like, 2 cups cooked or something (for flavor you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, sugar, allspice, cloves, whatever. Spices are cheap at ethnic groceries). On weekends or when I get bored of oatmeal, I'll have eggs (pretty cheap if you get them on sale) or scones/pancakes/waffles/whatever (milk is sort of expensive but the other ingredients are pretty cheap, especially bought in bulk). If you need more energy in the mornings or whatever you can put peanut butter on any of this (except the eggs...) or make your own bread and put peanut butter on that.

    Lunch is usually a piece of fruit, half a cup of rice and half a cup of beans cooked (which turns into like a cup each or whatever), plus whatever vegetable/spice thing turns the rice and beans into an actual meal. For example, if it's Indian food, it would be brown rice or basmati rice flavored with onions, turmeric, cardamom, and cloves, and the beans would be a lentil cooked into a dal (basically a soup/stew) with all sorts of stuff in the dal (onions, garlic, ginger, peppers, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, potatoes, cauliflower, tofu, carrots, peas, whatever vegetable I want). Generally I'll make a big pot of dal for the week and just cook the rice each day. Other Indian dishes would be with Kidney beans and other Indian style spices, like garam masala or a curry powder or something, cooked with the vegetables that I feel like eating. Mexican food would be pinto beans or black beans plus brown rice or white rice cooked in whatever way I feel like, with chilis and cumin and cilantro and lime and garlic. If it's Asian-ish food (like Thai) it'll just be a stir fry with rice, and instead of beans I'll eat tofu or whatever for protein. Etc etc.

    In addition to all that (still for lunch) I'll generally eat part of a casserole/kugel/whatever or a big hunk of bread. These are cooked from whatever's on sale, so for example if potatoes are on sale I make a big potato kugel, or if bananas are on sale I'll make banana bread. Cornbread is like my favorite thing in the world so I'll often make a loaf every couple of days (each loaf is about $1.10 if the ingredients aren't on sale and it lasts for a few days). So, three dishes for lunch generally, or four if I've cooked 2 casseroles/breads and am feeling hungry. Lunch is always cooked ahead so I'll usually make a week's worth of lunch at a time, but if you get bored easy you can make a week's worth, freeze half, make another week's worth of something else, freeze half, and have two things to choose from for lunch. I'm sure you get the idea.

    Dinner is generally the same sort of thing, although instead of eating part of my casserole/kugel/whatever or some of my bread, I'll generally cook a second rice/bean dish with a different vegetable or with the same vegetables in a different way. Often I'll make one dinner thing ahead of time for the whole week and then make a second dinner each night. Like I said, I eat lots of food, so often it'll be two dinners, basically.

    Really I'm just largely repeating what that cookbook I linked says. It's a really great resource because it teaches you to cook and to use spices rather than to follow recipes. Once you've got the basic techniques down and you've learned what tastes good and why, you can make delicious meals out of whatever's on sale for $.99/5lbs at your local ethnic grocery. Around here the Korean market is slightly better than the Indian market, and both beat the Middle Eastern places and the Mexican places, but of course it's different in each area.

    For a more concrete example, today was oatmeal for breakfast, this stuff plus basmati rice for lunch along with a banana and part of a potato kugel. For dinner I had brown rice, broccoli, and chili bean curd (some jar of weird Chinese stuff from a friend that makes everything taste like China(?)) and then I also had brown rice and beans with chili peppers, plus I ate a grapefruit and some apple kugel. If you buy all these things on sale from a cheap market you're looking at very little money. Unfortunately I stopped recording the individual cost of every single meal because it got tedious, but the two kugel slices together were probably about $2, the oatmeal was about $0.10, the banana was about $0.10 too (hooray Korean market), the rice and beans barely cost enough for me to estimate their price, the cauliflower stuff was probably about $0.40, the broccoli was $0.15, the grapefruit was a gift, and the jar of bean curd would probably be like $1.00, and I ate like 1/60th of it, so that's like $.02. That all comes out to... about $3 today? And it was slightly expensive because the apple kugel wasn't cheap to make.

  • ArcanisTheImpotentArcanisTheImpotent Registered User regular
    this is all awesome advice that's actually helpful to more people than just the OP

    weighing in on the blender/food processor thing, one of the best christmas gifts i ever got was a blendtec blender

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  • HacksawHacksaw J Duggan Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    I have access to a blender, if that helps. Though I don't know if I'd mash potatoes with it. That seems... messy.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    If it's variable speed that's best. If it's only got 2 or 3 speeds you'll have to learn how to pulse and slowly add liquid so as to prevent an air pocket from developing and impeding your blending. It's particularly good for bringing cooked veggies and their liquor into a sauce/gravy and for bringing together a vinaigrette.

  • jefe414jefe414 The wall the darkness breaks against Registered User regular
    I have copied down your slow cooker advice Shutz and will try it this weekend.

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  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2011
    I don't get why you'd "roast" a chicken in a crockpot unless you didn't have an oven. Roasting a chicken in the oven instead of braising it in a crockpot only takes about an hour, and roasting it properly gives much better results.

    Druhim on
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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    The only reason I cook chicken in a crockpot is simplicity and timing. I can cook it all day while I'm at work and come home to a meal instead of waiting another hour.

    But yeah oven roasted is 100xs better if you can spare the time.

  • jefe414jefe414 The wall the darkness breaks against Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    I like the pork idea. Also, when roasting a chicken, how hot? I have a roasting pan (with that grate like thing you can put in). Do I cover it? What height should I put the rack on in the oven?

    EDIT: While I do buy whole chickens, I tend to cut them up before cooking the different parts.

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  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    Pork on the bone has to be my favorite slow cooker food. Mmm...

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    There are several factors: weight of bird, is it room temp or fridge temp, is it stuffed?

    For a 4lb fryer, start at a preheated 375 and go an hour, check temp and again every 5-10 minutes afterwards depending upon how close you are to doneness; Shoot for 165 in the thickest part of the breast and thickest part where the thigh meets the leg. Let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes after you pull it. I always use an instant read thermometer cause online cooking shows have made me think that birds are salmonella factories. My MIL says she does it by touch, if you can tug the leg relatively freely she says it's done.

    Edit: You can do it right in the pan, though the skin contacting the bottom will be kinda soggy, if you elevate with a rack you can toss in some veggies underneath and they'll roast in the drippings. If you elevate and opt out of veggies, don't toss the drippings/burnt stuff on pan, put it on the stove top, put in flour, make a roux, add broth and you've got a gravy. Feel free to fancy it up with shallot, capers or mushrooms. Or use wine instead of broth.

    Djeet on
  • VanguardVanguard The system was breaking down. Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    You cannot go wrong with beans. Slow cooked black beans are amazing. Want to spice it up? Throw some sweet potatoes and a red pepper into the mix. Don't want to eat soup? Make some guacamole, drain that same mixture and wrap it in a tortilla. Something else? Take that same mixture and mash it up into a thick-ish paste, form them into patties, and cook it in a skillet. You have just made your own veggie burgers.

    Here's a cheap recipe. Buy some Portabello mushrooms. Rinse them well (seriously, dirty mushrooms are gross), then season their gills with salt, pepper, and some balsamic vinegar. Saute some spinach, roast a red pepper, and stuff them in the gills. Cover with some feta cheese, stick each mushroom in the broiler until the cheese browns.

  • elevatureelevature Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Really I'm just largely repeating what that cookbook I linked says. It's a really great resource because it teaches you to cook and to use spices rather than to follow recipes. Once you've got the basic techniques down and you've learned what tastes good and why, you can make delicious meals out of whatever's on sale for $.99/5lbs at your local ethnic grocery. Around here the Korean market is slightly better than the Indian market, and both beat the Middle Eastern places and the Mexican places, but of course it's different in each area.

    That's a ton of stuff, and super helpful, thanks a lot. I'll have to spend some time studying that cookbook. There are a bunch of ethnic markets around here that I've never been to, so I know I'll be able to find stuff, it's just a matter of figuring out what I need. But hopefully I can actually get a bit of healthy variety into my diet.

    elevature on
  • cabsycabsy oh it's a boat Registered User regular
    Djeet wrote:
    There are several factors: weight of bird, is it room temp or fridge temp, is it stuffed?

    For a 4lb fryer, start at a preheated 375 and go an hour, check temp and again every 5-10 minutes afterwards depending upon how close you are to doneness; Shoot for 165 in the thickest part of the breast and thickest part where the thigh meets the leg. Let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes after you pull it. I always use an instant read thermometer cause online cooking shows have made me think that birds are salmonella factories. My MIL says she does it by touch, if you can tug the leg relatively freely she says it's done.

    Edit: You can do it right in the pan, though the skin contacting the bottom will be kinda soggy, if you elevate with a rack you can toss in some veggies underneath and they'll roast in the drippings. If you elevate and opt out of veggies, don't toss the drippings/burnt stuff on pan, put it on the stove top, put in flour, make a roux, add broth and you've got a gravy. Feel free to fancy it up with shallot, capers or mushrooms. Or use wine instead of broth.

    Generally you want around 15 minutes per pound at 375F. You can put the chicken on the rack, not on the rack, doesn't really matter - the rack is more for supremely fatty roasts where you don't want the meat to be completely saturated with fat. You're looking for a temp of 165F or poke the thigh with a fork and the juices run relatively clear/slightly pink if you don't have a meat thermometer. Most chefs recommend you bring it to room temperature to make sure it cooks evenly, most food safety people don't, that one is up to your personal choice. I always get my birds around 160F, yank it out of the oven, let it rest tented with foil for 15-20 minutes while I make gravy and finish up sides, and by then it has jumped up another 10+ degrees while rested and the juices have redistributed nicely.

    Also my personal two cents, I think chicken "roasted" in a crock pot is fucking vile, it's sort of like this boiled/steamed texture that I just really don't enjoy whatsoever.

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  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    Junk parts can be cheap and fun. Pretty much every culture has at least one way to prepare fish heads, so you can buy them in bulk and have a different ethnic food every night. As for chicken, the easiest ways are to butterfly it or cube it, bones and all. Try this.

  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Djeet wrote: »
    There are several factors: weight of bird, is it room temp or fridge temp, is it stuffed?

    For a 4lb fryer, start at a preheated 375 and go an hour, check temp and again every 5-10 minutes afterwards depending upon how close you are to doneness; Shoot for 165 in the thickest part of the breast and thickest part where the thigh meets the leg. Let it rest for at least 5-10 minutes after you pull it. I always use an instant read thermometer cause online cooking shows have made me think that birds are salmonella factories. My MIL says she does it by touch, if you can tug the leg relatively freely she says it's done.

    Edit: You can do it right in the pan, though the skin contacting the bottom will be kinda soggy, if you elevate with a rack you can toss in some veggies underneath and they'll roast in the drippings. If you elevate and opt out of veggies, don't toss the drippings/burnt stuff on pan, put it on the stove top, put in flour, make a roux, add broth and you've got a gravy. Feel free to fancy it up with shallot, capers or mushrooms. Or use wine instead of broth.

    See, we roast birds 4-5 lbs at 450 for right around an hour and they come out fantastic. I'm a big advocate of roasting chickens at a higher temp. Skin browns nicely and we usually just season with kosher salt, pepper, and herbes de provence. We also roast veggies in the pan under the chicken as it reduces smoking (from the high temp) of the drippings and also you end up with veggies roasted in chicken schmaltz. One of our favorite meals, and super simple.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    That is indeed how I cook chicken too druhim.

  • jefe414jefe414 The wall the darkness breaks against Registered User regular
    Yeah my concern is the smoke from that high temp. My oven is clean but I live in a building with a hardwired smoke/fire detection system and it's VERY sensitive.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    I'll admit that usually there's only significant browning on the breast skin when I roast that way and it's rarely crisp. I like the flavor when I shove a bunch of lemon zest, garlic paste and rosemary under the skin all over the bird. Tastes great cause the skin holds the flavorants in place, but it leaves for a somewhat icky presentation. I've done that (plus bacon of course) on a brined turkey and that was ridiculously tasty.

    I'm much more likely to spatchcock it, use a dry-ish rub, and cook it under a brick in a cast iron skillet. I always preferred the cooktop to the oven and can do that in about half the time as it takes me to roast. I do lose the "single pot" dinner that way though.

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    Yeah whole chickens are far cheaper in my area. A whole chicken can run me $5-10 depending on how huge I get. 4 chicken breasts will run me $7.

    Take a look in the freezer section. Chicken breasts or thighs are often available very cheap frozen in a bag. Paying for the refrigerated ones is a mug's game. I highly suspect they've been frozen in transport and thawed.

  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Ford Nation's Finest Crack DenRegistered User regular
    For a time saver on the roast chicken, a lot of grocery stores sell whole rotisserie chickens for under $10. Sometimes the cost on the pre-cooked chickens is less than buying an uncooked whole chicken, especially if you go later in the day and they've popped sale stickers on 'em. I'll often remove the skin and shred the meat, which gives me a ton of shredded chicken... perfect for Mexican recipes, wraps, stirring into pasta dishes, etc. You can make a chicken last a long time this way.

    For veggies, steaming is a quick and delicious way to prepare many of them. You don't need to buy an electric steamer or anything... it shouldn't be hard to find a cheap metal pot with a steamer insert. All you have to do is get some water boiling, pop the veggies in the steamer insert, cover, and steam 'em until tender. We do this all the time with a broccoli/carrot mix.

    To liven up veggies, I'll often make a cheap and easy aoli sauce. Just take a dollop of mayo, mix in a bit of lemon juice, and stir until it's pourable. Add a bit of pepper and you're done. Works great on broccoli/carrots/asparagus or as a dipping sauce for artichokes at a thicker consistency. Mixing your own salad dressing with olive oil and red wine or basalmic vinegar can also be a good money-saver, not to mention healthier than store-bought dressings. If there are any Italian supermarkets in your area, it's easy to find quality olive oil and vinegar on sale.

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  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Ford Nation's Finest Crack DenRegistered User regular
    bowen wrote:
    Yeah whole chickens are far cheaper in my area. A whole chicken can run me $5-10 depending on how huge I get. 4 chicken breasts will run me $7.

    Take a look in the freezer section. Chicken breasts or thighs are often available very cheap frozen in a bag. Paying for the refrigerated ones is a mug's game. I highly suspect they've been frozen in transport and thawed.

    If they're name-brand, they've absolutely been frozen and thawed. If they've got store-made stickers on them and the store has a butcher, they are probably fresh.

    Want to find me on a gaming service? I'm SwashbucklerXX everywhere.
    3DS Friend Code: 3823-8693-5976
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