My wife and I regularly check out cookbooks from our local library to scavenge for new ideas for our cooking repertoire. While most of the time, the recipes are complex and the ingredients expensive, we occasionally check out an interesting one that really hits a frugal sweet spot.
This week, we checked out because it promised a pile of recipes that you can make in a slow cooker and then reuse the leftovers in another distinct recipe. Generally, we use recipe collections like this one to learn techniques and things that go well together, so we were hoping to learn more about making reusable foods in the crock pot.
How does it work? The recipes in the book come in pairs, one on the left page and one on the right page when you open it. The one on the left is a slow cooker recipe; the one on the right takes the leftovers from the slow cooker recipe and applies them to another dish.
For example, Saturday evening we had chicken succotash (basically, a chicken stew with corn and lima beans), then on Sunday evening, we used the remaining succotash to make a chicken and cheese casserole. Each one took about fifteen minutes of prep time.
How can this fit into my day? The workflow that we found that works best for us is to prepare the crock pot meal one morning before work and set it to cook while you’re at work. Then, in the evening, enjoy that meal, then prepare the second meal for tomorrow. The next evening, just come home, pop it in the oven, and you’re ready to go.
How tasty is it? What we found was that in terms of required effort, most of the recipes in this book were incredibly easy and also (for the most part) quite tasty. We both expected that all of the recipes would taste the same both the first time around and the second time around, and this was true for at least one of them (the crock pot beef stew that turns into beef stroganoff), but then we tried the chicken succotash / chicken and cheese casserole and found it to be far more tasty.
What’s the cost? The chicken succotash meal pairing cost about $17 in ingredients all told. It provided three meals each for my wife, my son, and I, making the average meal cost slip below the $2 mark. Considering these were complete dinners with good nutritional value (chicken, beans, corn, carrots, other vegetables, etc.) and they didn’t take long to prepare, this was a very impressive cost.
We’re looking forward to trying out more ideas from the book in the coming week, but so far we’re impressed with the quality and simplicity of the meals and their inexpensive nature. Give it a shot by stopping by your local library and checking out a copy.