Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Keeping to a Food Budget

This past spring my wife and I suffered some unexpected expenses. Retired and living on a limited income, we cut our food spending to balance our books. My wife managed to spend just under $150 feeding the two of us for a month.

Now, we do have a pantry and whenever we see an incredible buy, we stock up. For instance, when Primo pasta went on sale at 99-cents for a 900 g package, I bought a dozen packages in a variety of shapes.

We're starting to hurt again and my wife is tightening the food budget screws. Last weekend I bought two packages of boneless, skinless chicken thighs at $2.94 a pound. It is important to watch the food flyers as these were on sale at another store at $4.99 a pound.

We also picked up two packages of boneless, sirloin pork chops at 99-cents a pound. Each package held three chops and my wife cut these in half. We will get 12 individual  meat servings for about 33-cents a serving.

I noticed a young couple debating whether or not to buy the chicken thighs. I encouraged them, promising them I would post my wife's recipe by Tuesday night. As promised, my wife's recipe ends this post.

Each piece of chicken cost about 53-cents and if you are a healthy, not heavy eater (there is no reason to eat anywhere near as much meat as we do) one and a half pieces make a serving. Compared to some of my wife's other suggestions, this seems expensive at 80-cents a serving.

But, you can stretch out the chicken by unrolling a couple, cutting them into strips, and quickly frying them in a hot skillet. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the strips to some cooked pasta, tossed with a basil pesto mix and a some walnut pieces toasted in a hot pan. Serve with tomato on the side and you have a main course that will have set you back  just more than a dollar. 

These boneless, skinless, chicken thighs are versatile.

Recipe - preheat oven to 375 degrees
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tsp parsley flakes
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1 cup white flour
2 tbsp olive oil
12-15 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  1. Mix bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley flakes and Italian seasoning with your hands. Pour them into a pile on a sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle with garlic powder (you can be generous), salt and black pepper.
  2. Pour 1 cup of white flour onto the waxed paper, away from the bread crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl whisk 2 large eggs.
  4. Trim any excess fat from the chicken thighs. (You're looking for large full strips of fat. Some fat will add moisture during the cooking.)
  5. Unroll one chicken thigh at a time and dust on both sides with flour. Dip it into the egg and drop the chicken onto the seasoned pile of bread crumbs. Coat both sides with bread crumb mix and roll the chicken back up and place on a plate. These should be rolled with the smooth side up. Coat each piece of chicken in this manner.
  6. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan on top of the stove.
  7. Place chicken in pan, smooth side upthis will seal the bottom seam quickly brown, turning the pieces to brown all sides. As each piece is browned, place smooth side up in an oven proof dish or pan with a tight fitting lid.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and serve. Leftovers can be frozen and microwaved for later use.

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