Tag Archives: multiple meals

One Week of Meals from One Pork Roast

 

Do you ever wish you had more time?  Do you feel like you spend too much time at the grocery store, or in the kitchen, or waiting for delivery? Does you bank account look emptier because of all the ordering out you do?  Do you want an easy way to make a week’s worth of homemade meals, for less than $100, with minimal prep and cook time from one grocery trip?

I thought so. Here is your answer!

This post is created to show you how to get a week’s worth of dinners (with some leftovers for lunches too) from a single 4 pound pork roast.  All recipes easily feed 2 adults, with many recipes making much more food for leftovers and re-make meals.

By planning ahead to use one main dish all throughout the week, you can get creative and ensure that none of your food dollars get wasted by literally throwing them away. You will save time throughout the week by not having to go to the grocery store to pick up “just one or two things” and not having to worry what to make for dinner, it’s already planned out. And you can eat healthy, whole food, home cooked meals all week long!

Here is the list of recipes you will be making if you follow this plan:

As far as cooking equipment, you will need at least a frying pan, and preferably a slow cooker. You can slow cook the pork in the oven, and make the casserole in the oven as well, but that requires slightly more hands-on time from you. The full grocery list can be found at the bottom of the post, and you can go to individual recipes by clicking on the links throughout.

The first thing you’re going to need to do is assess your pantry and freezer situation.  If you have plenty of Italian dressing, some frozen mixed veggies, noodles, and plenty of spices, you’re already halfway there on this week’s grocery list. Then make your list of what you still need to make the recipes, and head to the store.

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You will need to pick up a nice pork loin roast, or other pork roast. I recommend 3-5 pounds for 2 adults for one week’s worth of meals.  You can adjust to larger or smaller sizes if feeding a larger crowd, or just one, or if you wish to double recipes or omit certain recipes this week.

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Once you have your pork roast, use a sharp knife to cut 2-4 pork chops off the end. You can also ask your butcher to do so if you go to a regular grocery store. These pork chops can be frozen for later depending on when you want to make the Italian Pork Chops.

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Once you have your chops cut, take about 1 pound off the remaining roast. This will be diced up into cubes.  You can also freeze these chunks for later, depending on when you want to make the Pork Lo Mein Stir Fry.

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As for the remainder of the roast, put that guy into your crock pot.  This is gonna become one delicious, fall-apart pot of BBQ Pulled Pork. If you’re game, add a sliced onion and a can of beer, then cook on low for 8-10 hours or high at least 4 hours.

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Shred the pork roast with two forks.  I recommend removing half of the meat to a container in the refrigerator, and adding 1 cup BBQ sauce to the rest and cooking another hour on low.

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Now you have about a pound each of plain pulled pork and BBQ pulled pork! Plus 2-4 chops, and a pound of diced pork in the freezer. And that’s after less than an hour total of hands-on prep time.

Now you can use the shredded plain or BBQ pork for:

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Pulled Pork Burritoes (above) or Quesadillas:

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And slow cooker pork and rice and broccoli casserole:

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And the diced pork chunks for a delicious homemade lo mein:

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And the best part is, you can choose when to make these recipes and in what order, because the pork chops, diced pork, and shredded cooked pork all freeze very well. You can turn these into breakfast and lunch too, pulled pork omelettes are great, as are BBQ pulled pork sandwiches on nice thick buns.  Enjoy!

 

Full Grocery List

  • 1 4-5 pound pork roast
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Frozen or fresh vegetables of your choice
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (or more, to taste)
  • 1 package tortillas
  • ~1 cup white or brown rice
  • 1 can beans (black or pinto)
  • 1 package lo mein noodles
  • Soy sauce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Fresh or frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup milk (optional)
  • Burrito toppings – sour cream, guac, salsa, etc.

And seriously, that’s it! I guarantee you can buy all of these items for under $100 (at least everywhere I’ve lived from Colorado to Connecticut).

 

Also, if you’ve read this far and you’re curious, I also have a post explaining all the cuts of a pig. So next time you go to the store, you can know the difference between a rump roast, shoulder roast, and a loin. 🙂

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Meal Planning: What it is, why you should, and how to do it

 

A very popular topic in food and cooking related blogs and forums is meal planning. What is it, how can you do it, is it worth the time? I’ll start by saying that this article is going to be just full of suggestions, tips and tools. Everyone’s situation is different, so I cannot write an article that will work for every single person who might read it. I don’t know if you’re single, vegetarian, diabetic, have three kids, on food stamps, or a combination of all those things. I will however try my best to give you general tips with more specific scnearios as we go along.

Feel free to email me at BudgetEpicurean (at) gmail (dot) com if you have a specific question, or any question really.

As featured on Stacking Benjamin’s podcast:
Meal Planning Made Easy

What is Meal Planning?


Meal planning is simply that: planning your meals in advance. The period of planning time may vary, for some you don’t plan dinner until it is 7pm and you’re starving. Some people plan per week, others plan per month. It is up to you how frequently you can and want to think about your upcoming meals.

The most common way to go about planning meals is to use a spreadsheet or pre-made printout. If you are an experienced cook or have adequate food in your home already, you could simply list the day and the meal(s) you intend to make. There are abundant options of formats available for free online, and there are also yearly or monthly services which will plan your meals for you. Most paid services will also create a grocery shopping list to go with the meal plan.

But why pay for a service you can do for yourself in 20 minutes on one weeknight? I am after all, the Budget Epicurean!

Why should I bother?


Well, if it really seems like too much trouble, you don’t need to read any further. Or pay for someone to do it for you. But meal planning can save you the loss of significant money in the form of food waste.

Americans waste billions of pounds of food per year, up to 40% of the food that households purchase!! This is due mostly to bad planning. You make too much and no one likes the leftovers. Or you cook, then go out, then cook again, and it goes bad before you can rotate the leftovers. Or you miss an expiration date and the goods expire. 

By planning your meals in advance, you are creating several opportunities to save money. You are also bettering your health. This is what planning meals and cooking at home does for you:

  • You can feature weekly sale items in your meals, saving you $$
  • You can buy in bulk for similar meals, saving you $$
  • You cut down on food waste, saving $$ and landfill space
  • You control portion sizes, helping your health
  • You control what ingredients go in it, meaning you can ‘have it your way’
  • You determine what meals to make, avoiding boredom
  • No preservatives or extra chemicals are added, boosting your health

How to make a meal plan

A typical week’s meal plan for me.

As stated above, there are plenty of free and paid templates online. But the simplest way to do it is make it on your own. If you are super new to cooking in general, take a gander at Real Simple’s “Cooking Basics” checklist. Then follow these steps:

Step 1: Make a list of meals you/your family likes to eat, and meals you know how to make.

Step 2: Draw out a grid for the week. Seven columns, and 3-5 rows for individual meals and snacks.

Step 3: Start filling in spaces you know. For example, if you have kids, you can fill in the “lunch” squares with “school” if they buy a lunch, or “PB&J + apple + string cheese + juice” if you make their lunches. Feel free to add in things like “Eat out” or “Leftovers buffet” for nights you know will be busy.

Step 4: Check your local grocery ads. Figure out what is on sale that could go into meals you would like to make. For example, if romaine, tomatoes, chicken, and salad dressings are on sale, you should schedule in a grilled chicken salad for dinner and/or lunch a few days this week.

Step 5: Once you have figured out what meals you are making, do a quick check of your cupboards and refrigerator. Write down any items you need to buy at the store. This is your week’s grocery list.

Step 6: Take your list to the store, and buy only what is on the list. Don’t let yourself be lured by that juicy looking steak or the whole rotisserie chicken, unless it was on your list. This will take willpower and practice, but will be a huge money-saver.

Step 7: Post your week’s (or month’s) meal plan where you will see it, maybe on the refrigerator door. Then simply follow it each day. 

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The planning process should take you only 20-30 minutes on a weekend or weeknight, and a 30 minute trip to the store. Once you get the hang of a basic meal plan, you can get much more detailed. For example, you can plan to make large amounts of a basic ingredient, like beans or rice, on the weekend. Then throughout the week take the portion you need for that day’s dinner out. Or have notes to yourself to defrost the pork chops you will cook Wednesday on Tuesday night.

Don’t forget to add in little things like snacks, desserts, and occasional days out so you don’t get ‘frugal fatigue’. 

For more information & ideas:
The CDC has a great article on cutting costs and calories by planning meals at home as well as one the go.
EatThisMuch has an awesome calorie calculator/meal planner that allows you to input a calorie amount, and it automatically gives you three meals (or more depending on what you choose) with that amount. You can change out meals you don’t like, or add more.
Cooking Light also has a weekly meal planner which allows you to choose recipes from their archives and drag & drop to create your week.



Do you plan meals in advance?

 

Easiest steak stir-fry

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Anyone who doesn’t have a personal chef is a fan of meals that are fast and easy to make. Bonus if it happens to NOT be grease-laden, deep-fried, double-wrapped hatred of yourself. Aka some semblance of nutritional value. At least to me that’s a priority.
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This is one of my standby all-time favorite recipes, used from the lowly days of undergrad’s first apartment until the present, it has never failed me yet. Once the individual ingredients are made, they are very versatile, and remain so even after mixing.
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Ingredients:
1 cup rice (I used easy brown)
1-2 cups frozen veggie, any you like
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed
*You can stop here for a filling vegan/vegetarian snack or meal, or continue to carnivorize it
2 tbsp sriracha, if you like it hot
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 cube frozen veggie stock or ice cube
1 small steak (or pork or chicken…)
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Step 1: Mix 1 cup water and 1 cup rice, microwave on high 10 minutes. Let sit for 5, then fluff with a fork.

Step 2: Put frozen veggies and beans in a bowl, microwave 5-10 minutes while waiting for rice to absorb the water.

Step 3: Mix rice, beans and veggies. Sprinkle on some garlic salt and enjoy from here, or….

Step 4: Pour on the sriracha and soy sauce

Step 5: Put the steak in a frying pan on medium heat, add extra soy sauce if you like, and the cube of liquid. Cover and cook on medium for about 5 minutes, until nice and brown. Flip and cook on the other side 5 minutes.

Step 6: Remove steak and cut into bite-size pieces. Return to the pan along with the rice, veggies and beans and mix well. Heat through, and enjoy!

This is quite customizable based on what type of vegetables and meat you like, you can use white or brown rice, and mix up the type of beans too. Try Italian seasoning, or garlic salt, or Worchestershire. The sky’s the limit!

Creative leftovers: Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

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The best recipes in my opinion are the ones that either get eaten the first time around, or lead to easy leftover combinations. I hate to see food go to waste, and unfortunately when you’re cooking for only 1 or 2 people that can happen quite often.
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You make something that tastes great the first time, and the second time, but by days 3 and up you are sick of it. So it sits in the back of the fridge, hidden by water bottles and fresher produce until you clean out your fridge tri-monthly and get grossed out by the mold and bacteria on it.
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Therefore I try to cook things which easily lend themselves to meal makovers to dress up the leftovers and make it feel like a whole new meal. So I took some macaroni & cheese I’d made earlier, leftover chicken, and bruchetta topping (since the bread was now mush) and mixed it up for a super-easy, quick & healthy lunch.
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Less wasted food = more money in your pocket = win-win.
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Ingredients:
2 diced roma tomatoes
1/4 white onion, diced small
3-4 oz cooked chicken breast (or meat of choice, or no meat if you prefer)
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Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Microwave on high 1-2 minutes. You can sprinkle with extra cheese, or add any kind of cooked veggies you like. Enjoy!

 

Crock Pot salsa chicken tacos

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I have heard so many recipes raving about how easy and delicious Crock Pot salsa chicken is, it is on nearly every Crock Pot recipe list I’ve seen. So one day before leaving for school, I decided on a whim to try it. Turns out, all these people know what they’re talking about! It was amazing by itself over rice, and it is even better shredded on a taco!
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Ingredients:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups salsa
1 flour tortilla
2 tbsp refried beans
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup diced bell peppers
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 tbsp sour cream
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Step 1: Put the chicken and the salsa in the crock pot. Cook on low at least 6 up to 10 hours. The chicken will be slightly browned, lightly salsa flavored, and fall-apart tender. It tastes amazing on its own, serve with a vegetable and a starch side dish.

Step 2: Put a tiny amount of olive oil or stock in a frying pan, and fry the onion and pepper until soft. Add the taco seasonings, cover and cook another 2 minutes.

Step 3: Smear refried beans on half the tortilla, heat in microwave 20 minutes. Add cheese so it melts, and about 3-4 oz of the chicken. Then pile on the veggies and smear the sour cream on the other half. Pour salsa on top, roll up and enjoy!

This is super filling, and all the flavors combine into a taste bud party in your mouth! Makes enough for several meals, probably 10 tacos depending on how much you stuff them. The meat could also be used for quesadillas or tamales.


 

The versatility of stir-fry

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Especially during the summer, when fresh produce is cheap and plentiful, a veggie stir fry is always an awesome option. Cheap, easy, very filling and excellent for you. It is also very versatile, as my many meals from the stir-fry will show!
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Ingredients:
1/2 red, orange, and yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 large radish, diced
2 turnips, diced
1 med carrot, diced
1 can black beans
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup cous cous
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Extras:
Torn romaine lettuce, tomato chunks, sour cream, salsa, diced avocado

Step 1: Saute all the veggies in order of hardness, until all are tender. Add the black beans and heat until warmed through. Season if you want with garlic and other spices.

Meal 1: Add the stir fry and all extras into a flour or corn tortilla, eat as a burrito.

Meal 2: Put the hot stir-fry over some freshly cooked cous cous. You can top with hummus, salsa or a dressing if too dry.

Meal 3: Cover a large plate with torn romaine, add cooked cous cous, and veggies and extras on top, eat as a salad.

These meals were all eaten on different days, because the stir fry makes a ton and keeps well in the fridge. This is easy, cheap and very versatile. Add whatever veggies you like and have on hand. These 3 meal types will work well with any kind of stir fry, so go crazy!


 

Chicken Tacos

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So yet again I’m moving soon, and need to clean out my freezer and pantry. I had some chicken quarters I had gotten cheap a while back , and was sick of ground beef tacos. So I decided to make some chicken tacos. It helps that Meijer had a great sale this week, $1 bell peppers and avocados.
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Ingredients:
2 chicken leg quarters
Taco seasoning
Chili powder
1/4 red, orange and yellow bell pepper
1/4 red onion
1 tortilla
1/4 avocado
2 tbsp salsa
1 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup black beans

Step 1: Put the chicken in a sprayed crock pot, sprinkle with taco seasoning and chili powder. Add 1/4 cup water to keep moist. Cook on high 4 hours or until chicken is no longer pink.

Step 2: Remove chicken meat from the bones and skin, throw it away. Add more seasoning if you like.

Step 3: Cut the peppers and onion into thin strips. I steamed the peppers for about 10 minutes first.

Step 4: In a tbsp of butter or oil, saute the peppers and onion until soft and translucent. Add some taco seasoning.

Step 5: Warm the beans and tortilla. Layer the chicken, peppers & onion, beans, avocado in chunks, salsa and sour cream.

The combination of flavors is amazing: the creamy avocado, the spiced chicken, the crunchy-soft peppers and sweet onions, tangy salsa, milky sour cream…. just mmmmmmmm! And so much protein and veggie goodness! Obviously you can omit the chicken and just use veggies for vegetarian, and add as much or whatever spices you like.

Jealous? You should be.

Steak salad

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In summer, everything tastes better on the grill. So when craving beef, it is only natural to want to grill a steak. I don’t have pictures of them, but I wish I did. Because I came home to a pound and a half steak that was bigger than my head!

So there was a sizable chunk left (of mine anyways) for the next day. Since I had also bought a head of romaine and I work on a farm, a salad with steak on top worked wonderfully. The farm I work on had radishes by the truckload, and some wild leafy greens that I had harvested 2 days before. Add to it the last leftovers of a veggie tray from a Memorial Day cookout, and a beautiful salad took shape.

Ingredients:
4 oz steak
2 cups torn romaine
1/2 cup leafy greens
1/2 cup baby carrots
2 radishes, sliced
Handful broccoli florets
Balsamic vinaigrette

Step 1:Place a handful or two of fresh washed greens on a plate. Put all the vegetables on top of the greens.

Step 2: Cook or microwave steak slices for a minute, add to greens, and top with 2 tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette. Tasty and super healthy!

Of course, you don’t need the steak on top if you’re vegetarian or vegan. You can also use any other kind of grilled meat you have.

Multi-Mexi

One of my favorite kinds of food is Mexican inspired food. Why?

  1. It is usually cheap
  2. It is pretty easy to make
  3. A little goes a long way towards fulfilling hunger
  4. It is so versatile! 

I made a few favorites this week with a handful of ingredients. Let me walk you through my multi-mexi recipes.

This is a case where one meal gets transformed into a new one, and then another one! This keeps you from wasting leftovers and prevents food boredom.

Here’s a list of everything I used all week:
1 can diced tomatoes with green chili peppers
2 roma tomatoes
1/2 cup minced cilantro
1/2 medium onion, diced
Lime juice
Lemon juice
Garlic powder
1 can refried beans
Cheddar cheese, shredded
1.2 lb ground beef
Taco seasoning

Ok, so meal #1:
I made my own salsa from the can of tomatoes and chilis, diced up fresh tomatoes and the onion. Added the cilantro and a dash of garlic, plus lemon & lime juice. Delicious with chips or as a topping!

Meal #2:
After 2 days, I still had plenty of salsa and was bored. So I heated a can of refried beans in the microwave, added all the rest of the salsa, topped it with some shredded cheddar cheese. You will be amazed at how delicious this simple dip is!

Meal #3:
Another 2 days goes by and it isn’t likely I will finish the huge amount of dip this made, so I browned the ground beef, drained it, and added taco seasoning. To this I added all the bean & salsa dip. This made for some very hearty tacos! Put over tortilla chips or wrap in a tortilla with lettuce, sour cream and cheese.

This is just one example of the many ways you can re-purpose leftovers into a different meal. It is thrifty, creative, and just an all-around good idea!