Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Frugal Impromptu Meal

You know how it is- You've been working all day, you're hungry, and you haven't planned on anything to make for dinner. You're driving home and passing by all of the fast food joints, thinking how easy it would be to just go through drive-thru and pick up something off the dollar menu- I mean, it's a dollar, right?

Then you have a tiny moment of clarity and think of all the fat and calories that dollar menu burger has. It begins to sound less tempting- though on some days, you go for it anyways.

Today was NOT that day. I was good, and drove home, where I knew lots of random food items awaited me.

So, I opened the pantry and stared. Then I started pulling out a few items, getting more as I went.

I started with a bag of that Kraft Deluxe Mac and Cheese. My sister had worked at a food and wine event, and they were giving away bags FOR FREE! So, I opened my free bag of mac and cheese and started cooking the pasta.

Now, I'm one of those people who can't leave well enough alone. I knew that if I JUST ate the mac and cheese the way it was, I'd eat the whole thing- there's not a lot to mac and cheese really. So, then I got creative.

I saw a jar of veggie chili in the pantry. Visions of southwestern mac and cheese came into my brain.

So, after draining the pasta, I bypassed the "seasoning blend" in the bag of mac and cheese and went straight for the squeezy thing of cheese. I put that with the pasta, let it melt, and added the can of veggie chili. Better, but still not good enough.

Next came a can of Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chilis-I like the HOT kind ) that I got a few months ago during a crazy sale/coupon deal at Publix. Regularly $1.39/can, I got about 30 cans for 4 CENTS a can! How awesome is that! So, that went into the pot. Close, but still no cigar. I wanted meat- or at least something like it.

So, I opened the freezer and found a bag of Boca veggie crumbles that I had left over from a Boca House Party (more on that later). Perfect! So, I nuked the bag and dumped it into the pot. Added a little garlic and onion powder and some cumin, and...Voila! A somewhat healthy, filling, and FRUGALTASTIC dinner! I toasted up some homemade bread to go with it, and YUM!

It tastes WAY yummier than it looks- I swear!

So, to break it down...

Kraft Mac and Cheese-  Free!
Veggie Chili- 99 cents at Aldi
Rotel- 4 cents (from crazy stockpile Publix Sale!)
Boca- Free!
Seasonings- less than a penny

Total cost of awesomely yummy meal- $1.04! LESS than if I had gotten a dollar menu burger (with tax, dollar menu burger would have cost me $1.07) Not to mention I don't feel ill from the fast food, AND I have plenty of leftovers, which will be great for some lunches this week.

This "recipe" is one I change up all the time. You can use boxed mac and cheese, some leftover pasta and some velveeta, even pasta and some leftover queso or remnants of cheese from the fridge. Anything works! Then what I add to it changes on my mood- sometimes frozen broccoli and a can of chicken. Sometimes ground turkey and ketchup (sounds weird, but it makes it like cheeseburger mac-realllly good!) The possibilities are endless.

So, sometime when you're driving home, and REALLY want to stop and get some fast food, just TRY to make it home and check out your pantry. You never know what yumminess you might come up with!

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