Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cooking is a marathon, not a least for me.

One part of saving money for me has been doing more cooking at home. If I have food I actually like in my house, I am way less likely to eat out. However, I have also realized that I have zero desire to cook anything after work, so I like to do marathon cooking every other weekend or so. Yesterday, I cooked four different meals at the same time, portioned them out, and refrigerated/froze them so I will have meals for the next two weeks or so (maybe even longer). So, if you like recipes, read on.

All four burners on my stove going at once. And the egg bake was in the oven too!

The total I spent on these four entrees was $41.24, and I would estimate that I am going to get around 25 meals out of them. (I ran out of individual tupperware, so some of the soups are in bigger containers. I am guessing on how many portions they will give me.) Also, you could probably do it cheaper, but I bought some of the items organic, when it wasn't too unreasonable.

Recipe 1: Krista's Egg Bake
This one is super simple and delicious! I usually make it Christmas morning for my family, but decided it doesn't need to be a special occasion dish.

Shredded hash browns
10-12 eggs
Package of sausage (you can also use bacon)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Brown sausage as directed on package. While that's cooking, spread a layer of hash brown potatoes on the bottom of a 9x12 pan.
3. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, milk, sour cream, and salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the hash browns.
4. When the sausage is done, slice it and spread it out on top of the eggs. Then sprinkle as much cheese as you like over the top.
5. Bake for approximately 1 hour (check at 45 minutes).
I cut this into 12 squares and put it in tupperware to have for breakfast before work. 

Recipe 2: Shelley's Chicken & White Bean Chili
For the next two recipes, I buy a whole, pre-cooked chicken from the deli department of Ralph's. This runs me about $6.99, but the convenience is worth it, and you can get a lot of chicken if you really tear it apart. :) I pulled all the meat off and then split the chicken between the two recipes. If you would rather, each recipe can also use two chicken breasts, which is how I wrote them below.

2 large chicken breasts
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium white onion
3-5 cloves of garlic
2 cans chicken broth
1 can diced green chiles
1 packet chili seasoning
1 can pinto beans
1 can great northern beans (or white beans if you can't find them)

1. Cut chicken into cubes (or shred if you are using pre-cooked chicken like I did)
2. In a stock pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and diced onion. Saute until your whole kitchen smells delicious. Then add the chicken.
3. When chicken is fully-cooked, add green chiles, seasoning, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cook on low for 30 minutes, covered.
4. Strain and rinse beans. Add beans to soup and cook 15-30 minutes on low.

I like to serve with sour cream, some shredded cheese, and tortilla chips. Super easy and super good!

Recipe 3: Becca's Chicken Tortellini Soup

2-3 tbs. olive oil
1 medium white onion
2 cloves garlic
2 large chicken breasts (optional. It's also great vegetarian style).
1 can stewed tomatoes (Italian style)
2 cans chicken broth
1 package tortellini (I got the 3 Cheese Tortellini from the refrigerated section of Trader Joe's for $1.99)
1 can artichoke hearts (again, Trader Joe's has a good one. It's the can, not the glass jar. Also $1.99)

1. Heat olive oil in pan. Add garlic and diced onion in large stock pot. Add chicken and cook completely. (sound familiar? I did the chili and this soup at the same time. Just don't mix up the pans.)
2. Add chicken broth, stewed tomatoes (break up into bite sized pieces), and the tortellini.
3. Cook just until tortellini is tender.
4. Remove from heat and add artichokes with juice from can. I like to break up the artichoke hearts first to make it easier to eat.
Tastes great with fresh parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Recipe 4: Lana's Smoked Gouda and Beer Mac & Cheese

I got this recipe from Lana's blog, but have reytped it here as well.


16 oz. pasta (I used wheat penne, but any type works)
8 oz. smoked gouda (you can use anywhere from 4-12 ounces)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup beer (I used Simple Times from Trader Joe's because it was $2.99 for a six pack and isn't half bad. Also, if you drink some of the beers while you cook, this whole process is a lot more fun.)
salt & pepper
Optional: bread crumbs and fresh parmesan (not from the can. Cheese you don't have to refrigerate must be from the devil.)

1. Start cooking the pasta as directed on package.
2. In a separate sauce pan, melt butter with moderate flame. Add flour and stir continually with a whisk for 2 minutes or so to make a rue. Slowly pour in milk and beer as you stir. Continue stirring as you simmer and sauce thickens. It should coat your spoon in about 8 minutes. (The first time I made this I thought it would get really thick, but it's just enough to coat the spoon). Then remove from heat and add the grated gouda. Stir until it all melts in.
3. Drain your pasta, but back in the pot, add cheese sauce and stir.
4. If you like, put it in a baking dish, add some bread crumbs and fresh parmesan to the top, and put in the oven at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this one. But I promise it's DELICIOUS. I was eating the leftover sauce from the pan with a spoon. It's AMAZING!

Then I divided everything up into portions.
This is what my counter looked like.

The End.


  1. OMG That picture makes me smile. You have been beat at cooking ahead. I usually cook one meal and put in 4-6 containers. But you have like 20 containers. :) haha

  2. Jess,

    Had forgotten to check in with you here and I am WAY impressed! Good for you, girl. When I was at your stage in life, I was still bumming off Biola's cafeteria and eating slice and bakes at my Cookie All-Halls. You are way ahead of the game.

    One idea. If you get the free-range/organic whole chicken (uncooked) at TJs then you can just sprinkle salt and pepper all over it and roast it at 400 or so until it reaches 160 (need a simple thermometer for this). The benefit is then you can throw all the non-meat parts (bones, etc.) into a crock pot filled with water and a splash of vinegar (to draw out the calcium and minerals) and make your own chicken broth. Way more healthy and tasty than the store bought stuff and you're truly using the entire chicken just like grandma use to do.

    Huh, I just read that and imagine that it sounds more difficult than it is. Maybe on mile 15 of your cooking marathon, you can give it a try...

    Love you, friend!