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Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Frugal Food: Another Dinner from Leftovers and Odds & Ends

Yesterday was one of those extra busy days - back-to-back appointments, afternoon floor duty at the office,  end-of-the-day appointment, and finally a 7 pm committee meeting. There wasn't enough time for a "real" dinner, but I hadn't eaten lunch and was really hungry. Typically when I have evening meetings, I'll just heat up something leftover and eat before I go out. But it was pretty slim pickins - or "slim chickens" as we say in our house - in the fridge.

But even with no obvious leftovers - like some roasted chicken, a pot of soup or stew, or the remains of a casserole - there are usually a few things stowed away in food savers that can up to a meal. Here's what I used:

  • a package of 3 zucchinis from the past-their-prime shelf at the SuperFresh
  • 1/4 large onion
  • 1/3 of a box of orzo
  • about a cup of left-over, home-made spaghetti sauce
  • fresh parsley
  • fresh thyme left over from a spectacular pork dish
  • 1/2 a cucumber from the same source as the zucchini
  • 1/4 of a head of iceburg lettuce, another Frugal Find at the grocery store
Here's what I did:
  • sliced the zucchini and onion  (I would have added garlic, but we had run out)
  • chopped about 2 tbsp. of parsley
  • stripped the leaves from 4 stems of thyme
  • sauteed the zucchini and onion in a little olive oil until nearly carmelized
  • added the parsley and thyme
  • cooked the orzo in salted water per the package instructions (about 9 minutes)
  • added the cooked orzo to the sauteed onion and zucchini
  • added the spaghetti sauce to the orzo-vegetable mix and heated thoroughly
  • adjusted the seasoning with a little salt and pepper
Then I made a quick salad of cucumber and lettuce and topped it with a little of Nadine's Salad Success vinaigrette.

Done. My husband added some red pepper flakes and grated locatelli cheese later - he ate after I did because, really, 6:30 is just too early for dinner. The dish wasn't particularly pretty, but it was tasty. And I used up foods that might have gone too far past their usefulness if left in the fridge much longer.

Here's a break-down on how much this nutritious, filling and reasonably flavorful meal cost:

  • zucchini                  .45
  • onion                      .20
  • orzo                        .33
  • leftover sauce         .50
  • olive oil                  .20
  • cucumber               .20
  • lettuce                   .30
  • salad dressing         .25
  • locatelli                  .50    
  • pepper flakes          .05 
  • parsley and thyme   .20
  • So the whole meal - dinner for two - cost just over $3. Not bad.        

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