Sunday, August 1, 2010

Budget Saver Sunday

Last night while I was trying to fall asleep I was thinking about different ways to save my budget.  This, of course, led to thinking about a weekly post with bits about how I save money.  Lord knows, most writers aren't hitting the Forbes list.  In this economy, we could all use a little help.  So, I figured, why not here and why not me. 

Anyway, if this topic is a hit, I'll post tips, hints, and recipes that will - one hopes - help my readers save a bit o' the cash.  (It seemed like a good idea after an hour of tossing and turning.  You let me know if it's Yay, Eh, or Bleh.)

Probably one of the best ways I pinch pennies is in my food budget.  Unfortunately, it's also one of the places I tend to blow extra money because I love food so much - and good food isn't cheap.  One of the hardest things to do is make good food while still keeping money in your wallet.  Which is why I buy offbrand frozen chicken tenderloins in the big bag. 

They're cheaper than fresh (which are usually frozen at some point anyway and thawed before they're put in the meat case), they last longer, and unless you cook the hell out of them, they come out tender and yummy.  It's a very versatile food.  Cook them while they're still frozen and add them to recipes.  Thaw them and work with them that way.  Hell, sometimes I cook up a bunch for one meal.  My family eats three - four and the rest go into the fridge for later use.  I mean, seriously, a whole chicken breast is way more than I can eat in one sitting.

And chicken works so well in the ol' diet. 

Around here one offbrand bag of tenderloins - not on sale - is usually $6.99-7.99.  I can usually get 4-5 meals for the three of us (with leftovers) out of one bag.  That's $1.40-$2.00 per meal.  Of course, your mileage may vary depending on the number of people in your family, but damn, that's cheap.  And if you can get it on sale, woohoo!

So, last night, I whipped out five frozen tenderloins and threw them in the oven for 40 minutes - unless they were cooked through.  After they cooled a bit so I wouldn't burn my fingers, I cut them into bit sized chunks.  Then I put a dribble of olive oil in the bottom of a frying pan, threw in one thinly sliced small onion and two thinly sliced stalks of celery heart.  When those were lightly browned, but not mushy, I added the chicken and a can of mushrooms (not drained).  While all of this was going on, I put some pasta on to boil - bow-tie this time - and by the time the meat mixture was ready, so was the pasta.  I tossed the al dente pasta into the frying pan with everything else and let it cook for a few more minutes.  Usually I also put in a can of mushroom soup and a dollop of fat-free sour cream - to give it a little somethin-somethin - but it's not necessary.  It was quite tasty even before I started tweaking with other things.

Of course, the above needs to be seasoned to your own tastes.  I used salt and pepper only last night.  Sometimes I throw in onion powder or garlic powder.  Tarragon is also nice if you've got it.  I also switch up the vegetables - using broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.  depending on what I have (and what was on sale that week at the store).  Those tenderloins are even nice with onions, tomatoes and black olives over angelhair pasta.  :drool:

The point is: you can have good food on the cheap.  You can even mix it up and have something different every time without breaking your budget.  And hey, it works for those people dieting as well.  Win-win.  ;o)

Any suggestions for what an enterprising penny-pincher can make with chicken tenderloins?  What do you think of this as a weekly post topic?  Am I telling you anything you didn't already know? 

*pics pulled off the web - none of the above images were taken by me. 

*All images deleted to avoid any chance of copyright infringement*

1 comment:

  1. Great idea, B.E. I love to get tips on saving my money and food - well, I'm all over that!!

    Your recipe sounds great. I've seen the fresh chicken tenders on sale here in Canada, but never by the bag or frozen. I'm going to have to go looking at the story - I may have missed a spectacular money-saving item!

    I cook a lot with chicken - so the tenders would work for all my recipes, I think. Thanks.