We're not exactly rolling in money especially since my student loans came due, but thanks to Uncle Sam we were eating enough, most of the time. My biggest struggle has been finding food that is quick and easy to make, but keeps well because I have 3 days a week where I'm home for 10 minutes in the afternoon after a 6 hour day at school, and want to eat before I run back out the door for another 3-4 hours. Usually this results in Ramen being used as a stopgap meal till I can get home for a proper dinner. Well, today I found out that we've lost our gov't subsidized meals (aw, shucks) and I finally got fed up... and made enough to feed both of us all week!
We had a ~20lb turkey sitting in the fridge thawing all last week, waiting for a roaster pan (and waiting for me, apparently, because Rick isn't a turkey fan and wanted suggestions). We don't have a roaster pan and our largest baking dish is too small for a large turkey. What to do?
What I did was get up enough motivation to play butcher, which was both amusing and educational (ever had to find a turkey's shoulder joint and cut through the ligaments to separate it?). We thankfully have the right kitchen knives for this task, and none of the blood spilled all over the table was mine (for once - remember kids: always cut away from yourself when using a sharp knife!). In the end, the carnage was complete - the turkey's chest cavity was halved and re-stacked with potatoes and carrots and green onion inside and around him in our little baking pan, and he was buttered up and tucked in the oven (it's going on 4.5 hours now - he's almost done and juicy as can be!). Drumsticks (both thighs and shoulders) were ziploc'd and re-frozen for later meals. The wings, the neck, and all the innards were dropped in the crock pot with another potato and carrot, some water, seasonings and about a cup of black bean broth from the beans I'd been simmering all morning in a fruitless attempt to soften them (the few beans that made it into the crock pot with the broth did soften up, so there's hope for the rest!).
When I came back from 2 hours at work, the house smelled like heaven. Now I've got several servings of crock-pot stew to freeze for later, and another couple servings of turkey and veggies to serve over rice or with biscuits and turkey gravy from the pan, or what-have-you, and I'm more pleased than the cat who ate the canary.
I guess there's really something to say for this buying and cooking in bulk thing (although the turkey was a Christmas gift from Rick's company, so it was technically free). I used:
2 old potatoes
2 old carrots
a handful of old green onions (peeled and diced, threw out the wilted tops)
Spices (pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder, oregano on the baked turkey and sage and a bay leaf in the crock pot)
A free christmas turkey
...and I got enough to feed our family of 2 for at least a week's worth of lunches and dinners, with a little more left over (still 1 carrot and 2 potatoes left - thinking of stuff'd baked potatoes later this week).
Rick's been experimenting with bannock, too, which is a terribly heavy flatbread and so quick and cheap to make that we'll eat well even without any money for food... which is good, because while we're making too much money for assistance programs, we're still not sure where our food money is going to come from. But hey - as long as we can make do with homemade bread, rice, black beans, and the leftovers from our turkey, we'll eat for another month, and probably much healthier than the neighbors!