Pre-cooking meals, and how to stretch your meat dollar

Yesterday I went to the grocery store and bought a lot of food.

I am on a mission to stop this endless running to the store every few days. Seems even with my list, I end up coming home without items and then off I go again 24 hours later to pick it up elsewhere. It never seems to end.


Anyway I got cooking. I had a lot of beef and chicken which needed transforming into something we can heat up quickly on busy weekend days when everyone is running off into different directions. So I made Mexican food.

Mexican food is so versatile! I can keep it mild, or make it spicier for the bolder ones in the family, I can omit, or add cheese, I can roll the meat filling into flour or corn tortillas, or mix it with rice…so many options!

And I love the way the Mexican spices scent up the kitchen. 🙂

I made taco filling, burrito filling, and chicken enchiladas. I made enchilada sauce too! (The Pioneer Woman website has some inspirational ideas on the Tex Mex side of food….and she’s got mouthwatering pictures to illustrate how scrumptious of her creations turn out.)

But as we all know, food is expensive, and meat even more so. If you buy reputable/pasture fed meat as opposed to factory meat, you know there’s a premium hitting you upside the head. So I’m always looking to stretch meat in various ways that will have even the pickiest of eaters munching, rather than complaining.

For the Mexican beef and enchilada chicken, for example, I grated and cubed into small pieces things like carrots, onions, celery and eggplant. When mixing this with the meat and sauces, it becomes an enhancement of the flavour rather than a main point in a dish. You can do the same with beans, or legumes.

My kids maintain they hate eggplant, but if it’s cubed small and coated in olive oil, onion and garlic, and mixed with the other veg and meat, they don’t see it nor do they complain about it.  I sometimes add eggplant to tomato sauce for pastas, too.

Beans are a little trickier. I don’t make it a habit of duping the kids into eating something without telling them what’s in it, but at the same time, sometimes I prefer to wait before they as, you know? Like the other day, before I went grocery shopping and we were out of meat, I made a tomato sauce that looked rather boring. But I had some precooked navy beans on hand, and when I pureed those with garlic and other spices, and mixed them with onions and grated veggies like carrots and leeks, I managed to add protein into the sauce without meat. They didn’t notice, nor did they ask, so I didn’t mention the recipe. I felt assured that they got their nutrition and that was that.

Pat on the back for me.

Today, I’m going to continue the cooking-palooza. I need inspirations for pork, bacon and broccoli, of which I have more than I need for one family meal.

Back to cooking.



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