Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Bottom of the Barrel

In an attempt to save money, I have vowed to not buy new groceries until I have used up the old. I also want to get rid of all meat in my fridge so I can embark more firmly on vegetarian pursuits. This first meant eating a lot of turkey bacon sandwiches. (I only eat pig bacon if it is prepared for me at restaurants or a friend's house and there is no turkey alternative.) And now, I have used up the last of the chicken breasts.

I bought this bag of frozen chicken breasts a few months ago after I first moved in, which I think goes to show how little I eat meat even without consciously cutting it out of my diet. I used it to make chicken tikka masala and probably some other things that I can't recall. (The chicken tikka masala was delicious! I bought a jar of masala sauce from Trader Joe's, so don't think I'm so skilled yet as to make it myself. That comes later.)

There are a lot of odds and ends in my cupboards right now. Half a serving of couscous, some brown minute rice (I hate brown rice, but I'm trying to eat it since it's allegedly healthier than white), a can of tuna, some pasta... There was a box of Tuna Helper that I discovered has zero nutritional value, so I added peas to it in an attempt to add some fiber. I also learned that after dining on dishes like couscous and fresh vegetables, something like Tuna Helper is pretty disgusting and unsatisfying. But it fed me for two days, and it was free from my mother, so I can't complain. I just won't ever buy it in the future.

There was also a can of cream of chicken and mushroom soup. A light bulb went on over my head as I was taking stock of my dwindling, well, stock, and I decided to thaw the remaining three chicken breasts in the fridge and bake them with the can of cream of chicken and mushroom soup, then pour the whole thing over brown rice. (It helps if I mix something like a sauce into the brown rice. Then it doesn't taste quite so awful.) I didn't realize it would take two plus days to thaw chicken in my fridge. What the heck!? So I ended up baking it only half-thawed, and I am glad I made the effort to de-ice the chicken. It turned out more tender than it has in the past when I baked it frozen. It also took less time to cook.

My next dinner project may simply be pasta with Parmesan and a side of vegetables. I need to do something with that couscous, as well, but I'm not quite sure what. I do have a decent selection of spices I can throw at it, and perhaps mix in some broccoli. It sounds a little bland, but when one is scraping the bottom of the barrel, one has few choices. (Hence the Tuna Helper.)

I ate the last of my instant oatmeal packets a few days ago, and the last of my cereal yesterday. So today for breakfast, I fried an egg, sprinkled cheese on top, and put it on a slice of artisan bread. Pretty tasty and very satisfying. When I have more time, I will have to make pancakes. I have two boxes of pancake mix, pumpkin and whole wheat. I was thinking I could also use the pumpkin mix to make something like a pumpkin sugar cookie, but I have yet to work out the recipe. I've probably eaten enough cookies this month to last me the entire winter, between treats at work and home baking projects, but I am really curious about the prospect of pumpkin sugar cookies. They sound tasty!

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