Monday, August 12, 2013

Growing Money Day 9: Fast, Cheap, Nutritious

The concept of saving money on food seemed unethical at first.  Food, like education, should be of the best available quality.  Food impacts your future, your ability to function and your children’s future and ability to function.  Those things are so tied together with happiness that the mere thought of cheap food made it hard to breathe.

But my images of cheap food were faulty.  Dollar-store cheese puffs and donuts are not the limits of cheap food.  And donuts aren't so cheap any more.  These days I'm stumped on why people think a $3 bag of chips is affordable but a $.50 cucumber is not.  (Does anybody know where they have hidden the cent symbol?)

We have a couple go-to recipes when we have lots of vegetables from the garden.  Here is the one that uses vegetables we don't like, most notably eggplant and squash.  Best part: It's C H E A P and FAST.  Fringe benefit: It boosts our food diversification by using vegetables that we normally don't eat very often...
  These same vegetables grow easily and quickly so we almost always have a low-cost source in the summer.  Even if you have to buy them, they aren't expensive.

Tortilla pizza:

Use a tortilla as the crust and put on whatever pizza sauce and topping syou like.  It cooks in the oven as quickly as a cheap, processed pizza cooks in the microwave.  Here is what we use:

Pizza sauce:
- Tomato purée sprinkled with oregano.  Let the tomato puree sit for a few mintues so the thin liquid settles and just use the thick stuff from the surface.  This can be done earlier and extra frozen for later
- Alfredo garlic sauce 

- Thinly sliced yellow squash, zucchini and eggplant.  We use the long, oriental eggplant.  If you use the big Italian kind, you might want to salt and drain it first to reduce the water content.
 - Pepperoni.  Yes, it's processed and loaded with salt.  It also covers the flavor of almost anything I want to sneak past the kids.

- We try to sprinkle a little mozzarella, but will use whatever we have in the fridge.

All these elements can be eaten in this form, so heating it is just a formality.  I cooked it for about five minutes at 325.  Other times I put it under the broiler and watched it until it the veggies were toasted and the cheese melted.  It took less than two minutes.

Tomorrow we'll make Cheap, Fast, Nutritious with tomatoes and cucumbers!

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