Grab and Go

Mini Pot Pie

We do our absolute best to be as frugal as possible and have been trying to do so for some time. But one thing both of us struggled with was wanting the convenience of eating out. When I was not working I didn’t struggle quite so much with this. Now that I’m back to work and we’re rocking out the same schedule, it is actually hard to come home and cook.

Even with me working we want to be as frugal as possible. Simple fact, no one knows what will happen in the world in the coming days, weeks, months, and sadly, even years. So, we want to be as smart as possible. One simple way to save money is for us not to eat out. And of course simple does not necessarily mean easy.

So how will we continue to save money even with us both working? Well, prep work is definitely involved.

The plan is this! Our crock pot is about to get the workout of it’s life. And other than that I will have as many ready to go, easy to eat meals and snacks ready for us as I can without creating unnecessary waste. If we can have things prepped and ready to go for our work week, it’ll make sticking to our resolution that much easier. We were given a TON of food storage for my bridal shower so we have the storage to do it. All that’s left is making the food. This is what I came up with.

Mini Pot Pie

Filling:
1 lb meat of choice cubed (I used venison but you could use really any that you want)
5 C water (divided)
1/2 C peas
1/2 C corn
3 medium potatoes cubed
2 medium carrots, cubed
1 onion diced
dollop fresh garlic
pinch of rosemary
pinch of thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp cornstarch or flour

In a large skillet brown meat on high in a little olive oil or any fat of your choice, adding a little salt and pepper. Add onion and garlic, reduce to medium heat and cook until onions are caramelized. Add rosemary and thyme. Pour in 4 1/2 C water. Stir. Add vegetables and bay leaf. Cook on medium low heat until well cooked. Remove bay leaf. In a separate bowl mix 1/2 C cold water and 2 tbsp cornstarch. Bring pot back up to a full rolling boil and slowly add your water/cornstarch mix, stirring constantly as it will thicken very quickly. Turn off heat and set aside.

Simplest Pie Crust

2 1/4 C flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 C milk
1/2 C + 1 tbsp oil

Mix dry ingredients. Add liquid all at once, mix through. Roll out between wax paper or pie crust sheets. Voila! Done!

This pie crust recipe is simple, fool proof, and delicious. It is a little on the dense side which is what we want for these mini pot-pies as it would really stink to have the filling seep out from super fluffy pie crust!

So for the remainder of the recipe! I used a tart dish but you could use a muffin tin or actual mini pie tins. Roll out your pie crust and cut to fit your chosen pan. Fill with gravy mixture. Roll out a second layer of pie crust. Cut again. Place on top of each mini pie and pinch the edges to create a crust edge. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Remove from heat and let sit until cool. Remove from pan. Package and store as you like!

Next up! Bran muffins and breakfast biscuits! Keep checking in to get those recipes in the next couple weeks. And as always, take care and God bless!

Dirty Rice

Today a new challenge fell in my lap. Little did I know this morning when I asked my fiance what we should have for dinner I would be researching a food I’ve never made and creating a new recipe from scratch! See, this morning I asked Manny what we should have for dinner. In our house this means, pick a protein and I’ll do the rest and sometimes he’ll give me some ideas of what I could turn that protein into. He said I should make whatever we have the most of which is in fact venison. So I went in the freezer and grabbed the first package of venison I found which just happened to be a pound of venison hamburger. If you’re starting to get squicked out by the prospect of deer meat, take a deep breath. You don’t have to use venison. You can easily substitute traditional hamburger or even leave the meat out entirely to make a delicious vegan/vegetarian version of this meal!

We had gotten a rice cooker as a gift at my bridal shower and Manny has been dying to try it out so he suggested I make a big pot of rice, half it, make dirty rice tonight with the hamburger and tomorrow we can make fried rice (which will be another adventure I’ve never been on!) So that’s what I’m doing! Tonight is my version of Dirty Rice and tomorrow we’ll see how I do making Kimchi Fried Rice.

Sorry to have had to put the introduction before the recipe this time, but let’s get into it!

Dirty Rice

2 C uncooked rice ($0.70)
3 C water (free-ish)
1 C mixed frozen veggies (peas, corn, lima beans, green beans, and carrots) ($0.33)
1 can dark red kidney beans ($0.48)
1 lb hamburger ($3.71)**
pinch cayenne (< $0.01)
pinch black pepper (< $0.01)
1 tbsp paprika ($0.12)
1 tsp fresh garlic ($0.06)
1 small onion ($0.16)
cajun seasoning to taste (I used a lot… like a lot a lot.) ($0.05)
Total without beef: $1.90
Total with beef: $5.61

As mentioned above, I was working with a rice cooker, so first step is to start the rice. If you don’t have a rice cooker you can make your rice in a pot. Remember to rinse your rice though in order to get excess starch off and make the texture more pleasant.

In a separate pan brown hamburger with the spices and the onion. Strain kidney beans and add to pan along with vegetables when the meat is done browning. When rice is done add rice and mix. Eat and enjoy! We topped ours with Franks hot sauce and it was absolutely delicious!

As always, prices are an estimate. Obviously the venison also does have some cost as well. Best I could figure our venison cost about $0.58 a lb. This of course does not take into account time for hunting or processing. I come from a hunting family and hunt myself so it makes sense for us to use a lot of venison. All recipes involving venison can easily be made with beef or even pork sometimes.

Why venison?

For me, I’ve grown up hunting. It was a think I did with my papa before he passed away and a thing I continue to do with my dad. This year Manny decided to try it and although neither he nor I got deer it was still a fun experience and we will likely continue to hunt as we are able in the future. On a purely humane note, I like to hunt because I know how the animal was killed. If done correctly hunting can be very humane. Instead of living in big corporate pens, raised with the sole purpose to be someone’s meal some day, the deer get to live free and wild. A good shot can kill a deer with a single shot. This means the animal gets to live a free, wild life and have a humane death.

Venison is also really good for you. It is higher in protein than beef, with 26g per 3 oz as opposed to only 22g per 3 oz in beef. Additionally it has only 2.7g of fat per 3 oz serving instead of the whopping 13g in beef per 3 oz serving. Venison is high in vitamins B6 and B12 AND it’s high in iron too, making it a great choice for people who struggle with anemia. Plus, it’s organic and free of hormones and chemicals.

Whether you make this recipe with venison, beef, or no meat at all, it’s a delicious zippy meal to get you through on these chilly spring days. Let me know in the comments what you think! And as always, take care and God bless.