With food costs rising and budgets tightening, it’s time to get creative at mealtime. The trick is to do more with less, and there are many great options — from smart recipes to great food products — to help stretch the dollar and delight the appetite.
Here are some helpful tips:
* Buy on sale. Check weekly ads in-store and online for deals.
* Try the store brands. They cost less than national brands.
* Plan a weekly menu. Use that as a basis for your shopping list. You’ll stretch your dollars and your leftovers. Last night’s roast chicken is a perfect filling for taco night. Sautee the remaining shredded chicken with onion, warm up corn tortillas and add salsa, guacamole and a squeeze of lime juice.
* Buy larger portions on sale to split up into smaller packages or freeze.
* Make it a challenge. Take the family to the grocery store and challenge everyone to come up with a meal for $10 or less.
Don’t think a family meal for less than $10 is possible? It’s not only possible; it’s a piece of cake to make. Try the following delicious recipes:
Enchilada Lasagna Pie
8 ounces. lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10-ounce) can red or green enchilada sauce
4 corn tortillas, quartered
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Cook beef and onion six to eight minutes or until beef is browned; drain. Season to taste. Stir in beans.
3. Spread a few spoonfuls of sauce in 8-inch deep dish pie plate. Layer half tortillas, beef mixture, half remaining sauce and half of cheese over sauce in dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and sauce.
4. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, top with remaining cheese. Bake five more minutes or until cheese melts. Enjoy topped with sour cream and chopped cilantro (optional).
Makes four servings. Prep time: 15 minutes, Total time: 50 minutes
Salad with Mexican Vinaigrette
Stir two tablespoons chopped cilantro into 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing. Serve over mixed greens, tomatoes and green onions.
A Twist on Flan
Spoon caramel ice cream topping over a dish of vanilla pudding. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
Date night doesn’t have to mean dinner and a movie out on the town. When you throw in a babysitter your simple night out could cost more than $100. Stay in, rent a movie and make the following recipe for a delicious homemade dinner.
Prepare frozen spinach and artichoke purses as an appetizer, an artisan French petite loaf and a mixed salad for course number two and warm some prepared molten lava cakes topped with whipped cream for dessert. You’ve got a restaurant-quality experience on your home turf. Candles optional.
This menu makes a great dinner for two for less than $15.
Seared Patagonian Scallops with Herbed Linguini Alfredo
8 ounces linguini (from a 16-ouncepackage)
8 ounces scallops, thawed (from a 16-ounce package)
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup prepared Alfredo sauce (from a 12.3-ounce jar)
2 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons garlic and herb cheese spread
1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
1. Cook and drain linguini as directed on package.
2. Meanwhile, blot scallops with paper towels. Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat until foamy. Add scallops to skillet, not touching, in single layer.
3. Cook one minute or until well browned; gently toss to turn. Cook an additional minute or until just opaque. Stir in remaining ingredients except parsley. Heat just until hot.
4. Spoon scallops and sauce over pasta in serving dishes. Sprinkle with parsley.
Serves two. Prep time: 15 minutes, Total time: 15 minutes