Tuesday, March 31, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

12 for $40: Planning and prep save the day

By
From page A8 | March 19, 2014 |

My first real job was in a very small restaurant, where I was officially the dishwasher, but also the only kitchen staff other than the cook. She very kindly taught me to do food prep (which almost certainly made more work for her than it saved) and how to work to restaurant-kitchen standards. That early education has been invaluable to me in terms of saving time and turning out good food.

None of it is particularly difficult or tricky — in fact a lot of it is so simple that it seems boring.

Starting with a clean kitchen and an empty sink is a good example. If you never cook like that, try it just once. Being able to wash vegetables without fishing them out of the dishwater, having a place to set the hot pan and having room to spread out your ingredients all speed up work and make things easier.

Prep work is another big time-saver. More than half the work comes from getting out the tools and washing them afterward. If you chop three onions at once, you’ve saved two rounds of finding stuff and cleaning up! Multiply that by the cheese grater, the steamer and a pot or two and you can easily save yourself an hour of cleaning every week.

For the home cook more than the restaurant chef, advance planning is also a big part of the time- and money-saving equation. Knowing what you’re going to do with the other half of the onion, two spare hot dogs and a broccoli stem means they don’t get shoved to the back of the fridge to die, and you don’t lose money. The 12 for $40 menus are all about that!

Planning is everything in sticking to a food budget, and we aim to help you with six days worth of menus, which should feed two adults dinner six nights a week* for around $40.

These menus assume you already have some cooking skills, and own a basic reference cook book.
Below the menus are tips for cooking, or for cooking ahead. If you see “In the fridge for future meals” then save those items from this meal for later in the week. That’s been included in the shopping list.

*(Everybody needs to go out, or share potluck with friends, or otherwise enjoy life once a week!)

Menu
————
Saturday
Vegetable Turnovers
In the fridge for future meals:
frozen vegetables
cheese
Tip: Any sort of veggies or cooked meat can go into these turnovers.
————
Sunday
Taiwan Noodles
In the fridge for future meals:
udon noodles
Tip: A little tofu or ham in this is nice as well.
————
Monday
Beans & Puppies Hot Dish
salad
In the fridge for future meals:
salad greens
Tip: This is really nothing but baked beans with tater tots on top, but it makes a delicious supper
————
Tuesday
Tuna Cakes
Broccoli
In the fridge for future meals:
Broccoli
Tip: Cook all the broccoli, and chill half for Thursday. Save the egg yolk to add to the bread pudding as well.
————
Wednesday
Chicken noodle soup
garlic bread
In the fridge for future meals:
bread
Tip: Vegetarian option — vegetable noodle soup is also delicious.
————
Thursday
Savory Bread pudding
salad
Tip: This is another “anything goes” dish, as long as you keep the basic proportions roughly the same.

Shopping and recipes
Our shopping and recipes are scaled for two adults. Increase or decrease as needed to allow for your household. We shopped this list at the Co-op on March 14. We chose organic wherever affordable (marked “OG” on our list), and picked what we’d use at home — the best value rather than the absolute cheapest. We also assumed you had a few things in the pantry, which were not included in the shopping total. Our total: $38.85

In the pantry:
salt
black pepper
garlic
thyme
oil
baking powder
soy sauce
tomato catsup
brown sugar
mustard
oil
mayonnaise
ground cumin
salad dressing

Produce:
onions, 2 OG
broccoli, 1 lb. OG
lettuce, 1 head OG
scallions, 1 bunch OG
mushrooms, 10
bok choy, 2 baby OG
lemon, 1

Dairy and cheese:
butter, 2 sticks
eggs, 6
milk, 2 ¼ cups
jack cheese, 1 ½ cups/6 ounces

Grocery:
frozen diced vegetables, 1 bag
Asian wheat noodles
baked beans, 28 ounces
Cascadian Farms Spud Puppies, 1 bag
tuna, 1 can
French bread, 1 loaf
chicken broth, 4 cups

Meat:
chicken stir fry mix, ¼ pound

Bulk:
flour, 1-3/4 cups/ 8 ounces
panko , 1 ½ cups/3 ounces
lemon curry, ¼ teaspoon

The recipes:
Vegetable Turnovers
The ingredients:
6 tablespoons cold butter
1-3/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup diced cheese
½ an onion, diced
1-1/3 cup frozen diced vegetables

Putting it together:
Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter until it has the texture of fine cornmeal. Add milk and stir. Turn the dough out onto a floured cloth and divide into 4 parts. Roll out each part into a 7″x5″ rectangle — just about the size of your hand. Let the dough rest while you chop and mix together the onion, cheese and vegetables. Put 1/4 of the filling on each dough square. Fold up the long sides, stretching dough as necessary and pinch edges together. Fold the short sides up and use a little water as needed to seal them firmly. Put each dough packet on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Good with a little hot mustard for dipping.

Taiwan Noodles
The ingredients:
4 ounces Asian wheat noodles
oil
3 scallions
10 mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon broth
2 baby bok choy, sliced
2 eggs

Putting it together:
Cook noodles according to package instructions. Cook sliced scallions and mushrooms in a bit of oil until nicely browned. Add garlic. Add bok choy, soy sauce and broth. Cover pan and let cook until bok choy is done. Add cooked noodles and let rest while you cook two eggs — fried or poached as you like. Divide noodles between bowls and top with egg.

Beans & Puppies Hot Dish
The ingredients:
1 28-ounce can baked beans
2 tablespoons tomato catsup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoons prepared mustard
½ an onion, minced
1 bag Cascadian Farms Spud Puppies, frozen

Putting it together:
Preheat oven to 350°. In an oiled casserole dish, mix together all ingredients except Spud Puppies. Pack Spud Puppies close together across the top of the dish. Bake, uncovered, 1 hour.

Fish Cakes
The ingredients:
3 green onions, finely minced
1 teaspoon good olive oil
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mustard
¼ teaspoon lemon curry
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg white
12 ounces canned tuna
1 ½ cups dried bread crumbs

Putting it together:
Drain tuna. Mix together everything but bread crumbs. Form fish mixture a teaspoon at a time into small flat cakes. Dip in bread crumbs and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake at 350° until golden, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Chicken Noodle Soup
The ingredients:
¼ pound chicken stir fry mix
oil
1 onion
1 clove garlic
½ teaspoon thyme
4 cups chicken broth
2 ounces wheat noodles
vegetables to taste

Putting it together:
Cook chicken in oil until done. Reserve. In same pan, cook onion until tender. Add garlic and thyme. Add broth. Cook noodles in broth until tender, about 10 minutes. Add vegetables with noodles (if raw) or at end (if cooked or frozen.)

Bread Pudding Primavera
The ingredients:
4 cups torn stale bread
cooked broccoli, chopped
1.5 cups milk or cream
3 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup grated cheese
(garlic or herbs to taste)

Putting it together:
Preheat oven to 350° Grease a dish and mix the bread and vegetables together. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over top of bread mixture. Cover dish and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

— A new menu is available free of charge every Friday afternoon at the Davis Food Co-op, 620 G St. Back issues also are available. Email Julie Cross at [email protected]

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