One of the things that went to the wayside, a lot, while I was working was my cooking. See, I’d get off work at 6, and the commute was just shy of 45 minutes. (25 miles, half interstate. Yes, almost exactly half.) Add three nights a week where instead of coming home I’d meet my wife and daughter at the exit where she’d get in the car and we’d head on up to karate class – 7 to 8 officially, 8:15 or 8:30 not unkown – and what with changing out of sweaty clothes at the end of class and the 20 minute drive, it was not uncommon to get home not too much before 9 pm.
So, for at least a week, maybe a month (yes, I’m being optimistic), I’m free to cook. Of course, I have to pinch pennies. So, let’s look at some “poor man’s cooking” that I plan to do.
Rice and Beans. Oh, lordy, there are numerous combinations on this. And even with the surge in the price of rice, this is a cheap base meal. If REALLY pinching pennies, you go with this alone. Thing is, there are variations in multiple cultures that amount to, “and mix in some meat or veggies and some spices.” And the stuff you add goes a long, long way.
Fried Rice, just as beans and rice, is another place where a few additions go a long, long way. For the proteins that you’d be missing, add high-protein meats, in small dice. yes, that’s why pork fried rice is a good choice, if you like pork. Or chicken.
Sandwiches are another stretcher. Look, if you really go looking you can get surprisingly good meat in lunchmeat form at extremely low prices. It’s presliced, which denies you the chance for, well, bulk. And it’s already cooked, which imposes other limits. But if you accept those limits… Reubens are CHEAP. So are Rachels (replace corned beef with smoked turkey, or so I learned).
You can also julienne some lunchmeat of choice and toss in a wok along with some julienned onions and bell peppers – and/or other veggies if that’s your taste – and season to taste. Put it in a sub or kaiser roll, maybe with a little cheese if you have it. What, I just described the basis of the philly roll? snicker, yep.
Or… then there’s the monte carlo. Basically grilled ham, turkey and cheese on french toast. Yep – put ham, cheese, turkey on white bread, dip in basic egg and milk batter, and cook on a non-stick skillet till egg is set and cheese is melted. Errr, flip when the egg’s set on one side. yes, it’s good. It’s even better (in my opinion) when set on the plate with one of several sauces drizzled over the top – fork time, of course. what sauce? Well, if you’re feeling really cheap, make a small bechemel – sorry, make a butter/flour roux, stir in milk. Add a bit of parmesan to flavor it, and drizzle that over the top. Or just use maple syrup. Both work.
I’ll be coming back to this thread at irregular intervals, but… an upside, I get to COOK.