Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The $10 Meal Challenge

One of my favorite bloggers is Stefania Pomponi Butler of City Mama. Although I don't know her personally, I have been reading her blog for over a year now and I feel like we could totally be friends. There is a lot about her that I can relate to - she is a proud mother, wife and is part Asian, like me. She even has some Italian in her! She loves to cook - me too! I love her wit and her blog always entertains. Also, she has great recipe ideas, I can totally relive my childhood through some of her food posts. Her Monday Meal Planning posts are genius and I was thinking of adopting that idea in this blog especially since we have been increasingly tightening our belts, keeping an eye on our budget and overall trying to spend less these days.

Recently, she posed a challenge to her readers - to cook a family meal for less than $10. I was like, piece of cake! I can do this! Bring it on!

I had already planned my meals for the week and did my shopping last Saturday, so I had to work with what I had already bought. Usually I budget per week, not per meal so that was also tricky. Luckily, I had planned to make a classic Chicken Cacciatore on Monday night and decided to put my money where my mouth is and figure out if the meal would meet the $10 budget.

This Cacciatore recipe is from a 1970's edition of Better Homes and Gardens, New Cook Book, that I stole from my mom's house years ago.

Pricing the ingredients was the hardest part of the challenge. Not sure how to price the pantry items that I already had, but I took a stab at it.

Fresh ingredients:
3 lbs Chicken thighs - $5.58 (on sale!)
1 medium onion - (0.65 each or $2.49/lb)
2 cloves of garlic (0.69/head)
1 medium green pepper (0.89/each)
1/2 package of button mushrooms ($1.00 for half pkge or $2.00/package)

Pantry Items:
couple of glugs of olive oil
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes ($1.99/can)
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons basil and/or oregano
1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
1/4 cup white wine (optional - I used some leftover stuff I had in my fridge)
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon of salt (optional)
2 cups of brown rice ($1.00 for 2 cups or $3.09/box)

I estimated my dried herbs and seasonings totaled about $1.00. Overall I think I spent about $12.80 for the whole meal but there was plenty left over for another meal, so I think that I am in the clear. Yes? YES!

That was fun, but it did take planning. Worth the savings though! 

Ingredients. I only ended up using one can of tomatoes (the big one!)

Once the garlic and onions are cooked, set them aside while you cook the chicken.

You can use chicken breast, but I use trimmed and ready to cook thighs since they are cheaper and have more nutrients, plus less dry in my opinion and therefore tastier and more tender too.

Add the seasonings to the chicken, onions, green pepper, tomatoes mushrooms. Then simmer with lid on for 30 minutes before adding the wine and continue cooking for another 15 minutes with the lid off.

I like to serve the Cacciatore over brown rice. Ta da! 
My hubby thinks this dish is very tasty! 


Darlene said...

See, it could be done! And it looks like a very hearty meal.

Now to get my post up!

Stefania/CityMama said...

Yummy! Thanks for playing! ...and I spent a summer in Positano when I was a teenager. My dad is italian...It was a magical summer.

Anonymous said...

yummy! nice pictures!