Thursday, May 8, 2014

dinner for mom!

 i am the queen of making fancy meals for around 5 bucks a head. less because i dont have to buy spices etc every single time i cook or whatever. i wrote out my methodology for a friend, but i thought, with mother's day right around the corner and money being tight for a lot of people, i would share it a bit more publicly for those who want to celebrate with a nice dinner but your wallet's a little thin right now.

the prices are estimates, of course, because prices vary across different states. but in general all of these items are very cheap and you may even have some already in your kitchen. i included two different options, one which involves making your own (very basic) spaghetti sauce and one using jarred sauce. i do most of my shopping at walmart, but some of these things if not all of them can also be gotten from the dollar tree, dollar general, or a grocery store---but the grocery store will be a bit more expensive. either way both options should cost you less than $15 to make.





option 1:

ingredients
  • 1 lb box of spaghetti/angel hair/whatever - $0.98
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce - $0.88
  • 1 large can of ttomato puree - $0.88
  • 1 small can of tomato paste - $0.88
  • 1 lb of chop/ground beef/meat - $3.00-$4.00
  • 1 loaf of italian or french bread - $1.88
  • 1 canister of grated parmesan cheese - $2.48
  • butter/margarine/butter substitute - $1.98
  • some spices if you don't have any already - $.50-$2.00

spaghetti sauce
  • mix the tomato products in a pot
  • add spices (oregano, garlic, onion, italian seasoning, basil, pepper, whatever you like)
  • simmer on low heat for as many hours as possible. add a tablespoon of baking soda to cut the acid if desired.
  • brown the meat in little chopped up bits and put the same spices you used for the sauce in the pan (make sure there's no red visible anymore)
  • dump the browned spiced meat AND the liquid drippings into the sauce pot. (trust me. the drippings are where all the flavor comes from.) 
  • continue simmering the sauce. it should be on the stove for at least 3-4 hours before you serve it to really get the most taste.
garlic bread
  • mix up some melted butter, grated parmesan, and garlic powder or garlic salt in a small cup or bowl
  • cut the italian bread into 1-inch-thick slices, without cutting all the way through to the bottom of the loaf.
  • spread the butter mixture between every slice, wrap the whole thing in tin foil 
  • stick it in the oven at 250-300* depending on your oven for about a half hour to an hour, checking it regularly to make sure it doesnt burn. 
  • once the inside is a nice light brown (the slices will be slightly crispy but softer in the middle) it's ready to go.

spaghetti/angel hair/linguine/whatever
  • boil some water in a pot and put a capful of extra virgin olive oil in the water if desired
  • cook the spaghetti. (that was super easy, right?)


option 2:

ingredients
  • 1 lb box of spaghetti/angel hair/whatever - $0.98
  • 1 jar of premade spaghetti sauce (i prefer the "meat flavored" prego) - $1.88
  • 1 loaf of italian or french bread - $1.88
  • 1 canister of grated parmesan cheese - $2.48
  • butter/margarine/butter substitute - $1.98
  • garlic powder or garlic salt - $0.98


follow the directions from option 1, skipping the make-your-own-sauce bit.

light some candles, turn on some easy listening music and voila, you have a super fancy dinner for less than 15 bucks! :)



and yes, in case anyone was wondering, i am terrific while watching the price is right. if i ever got on that show i would win ALL the things because i know exactly how much pretty much anything costs.

my girlfriend calls me and asks "how much does this thing cost" and i can tell her right away. once we were at pier one and she was buying xmas presents for all her co-workers and non-family obligations (about 20 people total.)

she looked in the basket when she was done and said "how much money do you think i spent?" and i hadn't even been with her when she picked out half the things--i was off wandering on my own--so i didnt even see any of the prices. but i looked over her basket of presents, gift bags, wrapping paper, gift tags, cards, ribbons, etc for all 20 people, and i said "around $215 bucks." she paled and said there was no way. i just shrugged. we got up to the register, they ran her up.. total including tax? $211.78.

she just looked at me. and now its like a party trick.

and hey, that was a lot of money but broken down she only spent about 10 bucks a person and included the gifts themselves, the wrapping, cards, etc. not too shabby.

any way, i hope you all enjoy the upcoming holidays and i hope somebody out there benefits from this post.

until next time, dear minions. :)