This past week, I’ve been kind of busy, plus I’ve mentioned before that I think blogging is a little boring. I really love the cooking and eating, and I really enjoy working up a $25 low carb menu, but sitting still for the amount of time it takes to put up a menu post is a little difficult for me. It’s really satisfying, though, to spend that time in the kitchen and watch everything come together the way I thought it would.
For people who are unfamiliar with my $25 menus, they are designed to feed one person 3 low carb meals daily plus snacks for a week. Divide the meals in half and carry one for the next day’s lunch. They do not accommodate any addictions you may have, like diet soda, coffee, beer, etc. They presume a few things, like that you have salt and pepper in your pantry. Toilet paper costs extra.
Weigh your veggies for a good, solid carb count. I have a cheat sheet I use for quick reference.
This past week, I headed to Aldi and did some browsing. Aldi is a great store for a budget conscious shopper, and one would assume it would be pretty easy to work up a good menu for a week’s time and you can do it. The issue for me was that I like to make sure that the meals stay varied to ensure they don’t get boring, and when you eat LC, you need a certain amount of fat in your meals to keep yourself satiated and burning fat. You have to eat fat to burn fat. That’s why butter, mayo, cheese, and bacon fats are often seen in LC cooking.
Shopping at the Dollar Tree provided tons of great variety. You can get 25 individual items there. Other stores are a little more problematic. You have to buy the big package of certain ingredients, for example, cheese. For your three bucks at Dollar Tree, you get three separate types of cheese while for the same three bucks at other stores, you get an 8 ounce block of one flavor. Thus, some creative thinking and unconventional use of certain things can be in order.
Here is something to remember about Aldi shopping. You pay a per item price on produce, not per pound. See the two cabbages above? Those cost the same $1.29 each. If you are shopping there, look through the box for the biggest item when you are buying cabbages and cauliflower. Of course I bought the one on the left.
Here is what I picked up this week. I want to say that I went over budget by ten cents! I was really conflicted about that dime, it’s a $25 menu, not a $25.10 menu but I went ahead and went with it.
Also, the package of chicken was $1 off. Full price was $5.33 (It was slightly over five pounds and had five thigh quarters) but I was there early in the morning and I didn’t know they did markdowns. If you really wanted to stick to the $25 theme, skip buying the lettuce. I didn’t use it. In fact, just skip the lettuce, anyway. Use that buck for something else, like chili powder if you don’t have any. You’ll need it.
One pound pack of bacon (get the cheap stuff, we are recycling the fat since we couldn’t afford butter)
One pound of ground turkey
One pound package of Fit N Active turkey hot dogs (these were $1.49 and only had one carb per dog. You could go with the .79/lb pack and have a few cents left but they’re kind of carby)
Five pound package of chicken leg/thigh quarters (or a package with five leg quarters)
Two dozen eggs
One can of black olives
One can of tomato paste
8 oz block of cheese
16 oz tub of sour cream
Bag of pork rinds
Head of cabbage
Head of cauliflower
.99 bag of onions (get the one with more small onions, rather than a few big onions)
Head of lettuce (again, I’d skip this one but it’s in the pic, so I included it in the list)
This menu is based on the presumption that you have certain things, like salt and pepper and some basic spices, like chili powder.
Let’s start with the week’s prep work.
Put 5 eggs on to boil for deviled eggs. If you don’t have mayo for the eggs, use some sour cream and maybe even a little bacon fat. I had mayo in the fridge, but I didn’t buy any because it wasn’t in the budget, so I made mine with sour cream since I am my own beta tester.
Put three of the leg quarters on and poach them. Put them in a pot and cover with water. Bring them to a boil, turn off the heat and put a lid on the pot. They will cook in the water for 15-25 minutes or so. Remove them with tongs, allow to cool, then take the meat off the bones and put it in a container in the fridge. Save that skin! Throw the bones back into the water, set the pot on the back burner, and simmer them all day because of course, we are going to make soup one day. After several hours, strain your soup broth and reserve it in the fridge. You’ll want about four cups of broth.
Take the chicken skin, salt and pepper it, and cook it in a skillet till it is crispy. Eat it.
As your leg quarters are poaching, heat your oven to 425 and lay your bacon out on a sheet pan covered in foil. Bake till crispy, and reserve the fat. My pack of bacon had 19 slices. It all cooked in two batches and made almost a cup of bacon fat.
While this is all happening, make a quart of tomato juice using this recipe.
I gave my husband a cup off the top to drink. He loves this stuff.
Here’s a thing, though. If you don’t have those seasoning ingredients, don’t sweat it. Use what you have. If you skipped the lettuce and bought the chili powder, then you’re doing well enough.
Your breakfast per day will be two slices of bacon and two eggs cooked however you prefer them. Cook the 14 eggs now or don’t. I prefer to cook them all at once and keep them in the fridge, because I hate washing dishes and I only have to wash my skillet once like this. There is a reason why I have very few dishes that won’t go in my dishwasher.
Snacks are black olives, pork rinds, and deviled eggs.
Roast Chicken and vegetables
Preheat your oven to 450.
Take a small onion, 1/4 of the cabbage and 1/3 of the cauliflower, cut them up and put them in a 9×13 or so baking dish, drizzle with bacon fat, then put two of the chicken quarters on top and salt and pepper the whole thing. Roast this, uncovered, for 45 minutes or till the juices run clear and the internal temp is 165.
This is a combo recipe based on Sara Moulton’s Blasted Chicken and a technique I saw once where, in a market in France, they roast chickens on a spit with the veggies on pans underneath where the juices drip on them.
This is by far my favorite method of roasting chicken and it is so incredibly easy.
After you’ve dipped your food and set aside your lunch, pour the pan juices into the container with your soup stock. Also, set aside about 1/2 cup of the roast veggies for later in the week.
Chili dogs and slaw
Brown the pound of ground turkey. Divide it in half and put the second half in the fridge for later. Cut half of the hot dogs into penny slices and put them in the skillet with the turkey, add a cup of the tomato juice and a TBSP or so of chili powder. You can add a little onion here if you want, or garlic, just whatever you have. Heat this on low till it’s hot.
Take 1/4 of the cabbage, shred it, mix it with enough sour cream (about 1/4 cup) to make it into slaw. Always salt and pepper, and I add a packet of sweetener to mine because we like sweet slaw.
Grate your cheese. Go ahead and grate the whole thing, so you only have to wash the cheese grater once LOL
Put half the cheese in the fridge for later and divide the rest between your two meals. There was actually enough here for three meals, so you have a little wiggle room with this one.
Unstuffed cabbage rolls
This is a simplified version of the recipe that floats around the web regularly. You want to take half of the reserved poached chicken, 1/4 of the cabbage, and one onion. Give the cabbage and onion a rough chop and put it all in a pot together with a cup of the tomato juice, S&P, and the chicken. Season with some garlic and shake in some Worcestershire if you have it. If not? Don’t sweat it. Simmer this with a lid on till the cabbage is tender.
Here is a pic of mine with a blob of some butter I found in the fridge on top, I think a little bacon fat would have been better, though. I got three meals out of this one, too.
Hot Dog Hash
Take 1/3 of the cauliflower and a small onion (or 3 oz or so) and give them a chop. Slice the remaining 5 hot dogs and add them to a skillet (I used my mom’s cast iron) with some hot bacon fat. Salt and pepper then cook these, stirring, till the veggies are tender and starting to brown. This is really good.
Cabbage stir fry
This is commonly called “Crack Slaw” but I don’t like that name. You want to take the remaining 1/4 of the cabbage and the reserved ground turkey plus 3 oz or so of onion, cook them in a skillet (I used my wok) in hot bacon fat till the veggies are tender, add S&P plus any spices you have (I used some ground ginger and garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon each) and if you have some soy sauce, add this at the end, even if it’s fast food Chinese packets.
I stirred in the scrambled, reserved egg white here from my experiment with making bacon fat mayo, but you can just scramble and egg and add it in.
Loaded Cauli Soup
Take the quart of chicken stock you made, plus the remaining third of cauliflower, 3 oz or so of onion, whatever bacon you have left after 14 slices (I had five), S&P, your sour cream, and the rest of your cheese. Cook the cauli and the onion in the stock till they become soft, then slowly add the cheese, stirring to melt it. This is tricky, you want the soup to be hot but not boiling and you want to add the cheese just a little at a time, melt, then add more. Put about 1/4 cup of sour cream in a separate bowl with a little of the soup juice and whisk it till the sour cream in fully blended, then add it back in and stir in the crumbled bacon. Serve it with a dollop of sour cream. I sprinkled some chopped wild onion to the top of mine.
I also took some to work in my handy dandy soup thermos that my guys gave me for Christmas.
Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce plus a mini Fritatta
Preheat your oven to 375. Whisk together the last cup of tomato juice and 1/2 cup or so of sour cream with some S&P and a teaspoon of chili powder, put this in a small baking dish with the rest of the poached chicken and bake for 30 mins till bubbly and hot.
While this is baking, get out that bit of leftover veggie from Day 1, plus the four eggs you have remaining. Put a Tablespoon or so of sour cream in a bowl and whisk the daylights out of it with a drizzle of water till it is the consistency of cream (you only want about 2 tablespoons of this liquid). Add the eggs and whisk again. Heat an ovenproof skillet (I used cast iron) on the stove, add some bacon fat, then heat up the leftover veggies from the fridge. Pour in the egg mixture and let it cook over low heat for a minute or so till the eggs start to set around the edges. Once this happens, put it in the oven alongside your chicken dish and bake it for about ten minutes. Don’t overcook it.
The frittata was really the star of this meal. The chicken was ok. It was good, but nothing special. I forgot to take a pic of it (but it’s not very pretty), till I was sitting at work with it in my lunch container. This meal doesn’t really make any sense, but when you’re broke, your meals don’t always make sense.
So there you have it. I know this all came from Aldi, but these items can be sourced anywhere else, and for relatively cheaply, so this menu could easily be recreated from another store.
Don’t forget to find me on facebook , set a bookmark, or subscribe to my emails in the upper right corner. I’m really looking forward to making, testing, and sharing more of these menus, and extreme budget recipes really are one of my passions.