Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Freezer Smorgasbord

Today's post comes care of Laura Rennie, who was an intern at my first newspaper. Laura is a recent graduate of JMU and has been married to her husband, Andy, for a year. 

My husband is a manager at a grocery store, which means we have access to whatever food cravings are haunting us because Andy can simply pick it up after work.  If I see something delicious being made on the Food Network, you better believe we’re eating it for dinner. 

Inevitably, by the end of the month we’ll have overspent on items such as fresh fish, fresh produce, organic sauces, bakery items and even cereal.  I spent $18 on salmon that was gobbled up in minutes and $12 on chicken legs that took so long to cook on the griddle that Andy and I ended up eating salad for dinner.  I haven’t even told you how much money I waste on produce that never gets eaten … like when I bought a basket of mushrooms, used 1/3 of it for our meal, and let the rest sit in the back of the fridge for three weeks.  Oops.

Not to worry, though.  We have come up with the perfect solution:  eat out at home.  At the end of the month when our grocery budget is more than used up, we throw open the freezer and pantry door and take inventory.  There is almost always something, because when I go out of town Andy gets to buy what I refer to as “bachelor food.”  Here is what we usually come up with:  Ramen, chicken patties or fish sticks, tuna, frozen veggies, rice, tomato soup and boxes of crackers.  Here is what we do with them:

  • Reinventing Ramen:  Add corn or other vegetables to Ramen while it boils.  Drain if desired, top excessively with broken crackers (we use Saltines). 
  • Easy Chicken Parmesan: Chicken patties can be the starter for an easy Chicken parm, but my personal favorite is to melt cheese on the patty, toast a bun, add mayo and then bacon and lettuce if I have it.  A fish stick sandwich made the same way is delicious, too.
  • Tuna Melt: Another hot sandwich we love is a tuna melt.  Toast a slice of bread, spread tuna over it and top it with a slice of cheese. Broil until cheese is melted. Also delicious with bacon and lettuce, but wait until the melt is out of the oven before adding lettuce.  Eat open-faced or add another slice of toasted bread.
  • Mashed cauliflower: Prepare frozen cauliflower like you would mashed potatoes.  Cook until tender, add salt, pepper, butter and milk to taste, then use an immersion blender to work out the lumps.  The end result will blow you away by its subtle flavor and extraordinary texture.
  • Frozen Veggies and Rice: Cook frozen vegetables in sesame oil or soy sauce and serve over rice. 
  • Veggie Grilled Cheese: Grilled cheese with veggies cooked inside and tomato soup topped with crackers (we use Cheez-Its) is the perfect comfort lunch. 

Sure, none of the above meals are exactly mind-blowing or difficult to come up with.  All we’ve done is taken one thing, added another and made a meal out of it.  Best of all, we didn’t spend a cent!  

1 comment:

Amanda said...

The other night I made a pizza like this. Leftover sauces, cheese, vegetables... it was really really good.