February 18, 2009

Deliciousness on the cheap

Last week I challenged myself to make a week's worth of food for as little money as possible. If this sounds familiar, start by taking a gander around your pantry. In our case we had a few pounds of mung beans and plenty of brown rice. Another goal for this meal was to include sweet vegetables in an attempt to curb my nighttime sweet tooth.

Beware, this isn't the simplest recipe and it makes A LOT. We ate it for a week. Be sure to cut everything in half if you aren't prepared to fill a bunch of tupperwares with leftovers! It was worth the effort though. One of my coworkers shouted out of his office as a walked by with a piping hot plate, "Michelle, that smells amazing!"

And it was.

Indiasian Mung Beans with Veggie Rice
Serves 10
For the beans
3 cups dried mung beans, sorted and soaked overnight
3 Tbl. toasted sesame oil
3 Tbl. unhulled sesame seeds
2 Tbl. minced chives
For the rice
3 cups brown basmati rice, soaked overnight
4 Tbl. ghee
4 Tbl. olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 carrots, chopped small
2 small Delicata squash, unpeeled and chopped small, seeds washed and reserved
1 bunch Dinosaur kale, sliced thin, including stems
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 tsp. garam masala
2/3 cup water
2 tsp. tamari

1. Cook mung beans until just tender by bringing to a boil and simmering for about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. While beans cook, heat smallish skillet over medium heat and add the seeds from the squash. Keep a close eye as they toast, occasionally tossing. When toasted, add tamari and mix. Allow liquid to cook down. Scrape seeds out of pan and set aside.
3. Bring a pot of water to boil and add the rice. Return to a boil then lower heat to simmer 10 minutes. The rice will only be partially done at this point.
4. Add the ghee and olive oil to the largest stock pot you own, something with a tight fitting lid. When the ghee and oil are hot, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes until browned. Add carrots, tomato, squash and garam masala. Sprinkle with S+P and 2/3 cup water.
5. Wrap a clean kitchen towel around the pot's lid so the corners are on top and come nowhere near the burner. Add the rice and cover the pot. Heat should be at medium high. After a few minutes it will start to sizzle and you can reduce heat to low. Cook undisturbed for about 20 minutes.
2. While you wait, heat sesame oil in the largest skillet you own over medium high heat. When hot, add the mung beans and gently toss to coat in oil. Cook until they start to pop. Add sesame seeds and mix. Add a drizzle more of the sesame oil and remove from heat. Stir in the chives, salt and pepper. Set aside.
6. Add chopped kale to rice mixture and stir. Cook another 10 minutes.
7. Remove carefully from heat. Spoon rice onto plates to serve, topped with mung beans and toasted seeds.

(And yes, the challenge was met. I spent only $35 at Whole Foods and fed Max and I for a week. Plus, we cleaned out some of our pantry items. It would be interesting to see what else we could make out of the food already in our house...anyone have a recipe for sardines and raisins?)

How do you save money and still cook healthy meals?


The Fat Dietitian said...

That looks delicious! It can be difficult to save money and eat healthy, I try to buy in season produce or frozen veggies (so pretty much nothing you haven't heard before I'm sure). I am hoping to learn how to coupon and save money on toiletries and such, so that I can spend more money on fresh produce. :)

luckytastebuds said...

Wow I'm so impressed by how creative you are with your food!! I love that last post about PB being the new black and all sorts of toppings to try on bread. It's so fun it looks like you play with your food!!!

And to your question, I ALWAYS clip coupons and stock up on non-perishables when they go on sale. I also buy frozen fruits! Most importantly, I compare different items at different grocery store chains to see where I can get the best deal! :)

Darya Pino said...

Sounds awesome! I pretty much always turn to beans, rice and greens for health and $$ saving. Scarfing down some black eyed peas, collard greens and brown rice right now :)

Not Another Omnivore said...

I always look forward to your posts.

I'm still doing the no shampoo thing. It's coming along. I'm getting ready to draw final conclusions....

I'm getting ready to move to Boston in May. Do you have foodie/all natural/whatever suggestions? It's close enough I'm going to start collecting them.


Nancy said...

Now you are talking my talk! Living on a budget challenges you daily in eating healthy and amazing as it seems, it's all the junk food, meat and cheeses that run up the bills! Buying certain items at alternate stores, like salt, kechup, mustard & pickels,pasta, etc at the Dollar Tree or Grocery Outlet instead of Safeway or ??, while putting the bulk of your $$ into fresh veggies, whole grains, beans & seeds in the bulk section of your better, whole foods or organic sources...and then there is Home Grown! Summer is coming and even now, my Granny taught me that you plant lettuce on Valentines Day! So she lived in St Louis, MO where it stays cold!! Pretty much anywhere you can break ground you can start your early crop of lettuce and peas too! So get out there and plant kids!

Culinarywannabe said...

I've never even heard of a mung bean! I'm probably the only person in the world who loves leftovers, so this kinda thing is right up my alley.

Adam said...

Michelle, we think alike. My post today was about a recession-proof chicken and rice soup recipe that cost me all of $4 to make. http://gourmetalltheway.blogspot.com/2009/02/107-chicken-and-rice-soup-p-122.html

P.S., Do you make your own ghee? If so, how do you do it? How long does it keep and what is the substitution for regular butter?

Lori said...

This is my kind of meal! It looks so tasty and filling with a side of comfort. :)

A big fear I have of moving back to the US is our food budget and cooking healthy. It has been so easy in Brazil because food is so inexpensive, especially produce. I plan to eat in season even more than I did before. Rice and beans will be staples as well and we'll continue to eat more vegetarian dishes.

Vered - MomGrind said...

I don't really try to save on food. I prefer to splurge on food and save in other areas. But this looks really, really good, regardless of cost!

Julia Baumann said...

Hi Michelle-
I'm also an IIN student and found your blog from one of your OEF posts. I love your style and I've really enjoyed reading through your blog.

As far as on the cheap, we have also been cleaning out our freezers and pantries. I have some great things in there that need to be eaten, and it almost makes meal planning easier. Also, I'm finding that this forces me to build a meal around a grain or a veggie versus around an animal product - a cool bonus!

Hope to meet up with you at Avery Fisher at some point.


The Blonde Duck said...

That looks really good!

Elizabeth Jarrard said...

mmm that looks good! I've never done anything besides sprout mung beans! I'll have to try!
personally I just buy in bulk and make all my meals at home, except for the occasional treat at Wheelers or Grezzo. Eating out can really add up!

Michelle said...

fat dietitian--good plan!

lucktastebuds--seriously, i know the price of tamari at three different stores :-)

darya--collards and black eyed peas are so great! i like that combo with some bbq sauce.

NotAnotherOmnivore--I have plenty of Boston suggestions. leave me your email and i'd be happy to send you a list!

Nancy--oh, if only I had a yard...

Culinarywannabe--Oooh, do try mung beans. Nice with anything asian, for starters!

Adam--I don't make the ghee, Max does! I'm spoiled. It's delicious and I substitute 1 to 1 for butter. He can give you the recipe I bet but it's mostly just heating butter til it's browned and scooping off the solids that float at the top. Smells divine.

Lori--Produce in Brazil is in a whole different category of food! Ahhh you are lucky!

Vered--Well if you're going to splurge anywhere I would agree food is a good place. Versus splurging on flat screen TV's or whatever. :-)

Julia--would love to meet up with you! Thanks for stopping by. Leave your email address next time!

The Blonde Duck--It was :-)

Elizabeth--Now I know Grezzo, but what is Wheelers?

Not Another Omnivore said...

notanotheromnivore (at) gmail (dot) com

I'm not super worried about your readers spamming me :)