Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Twelve for Forty: Coupons add value to this week’s menu

The Co-op recommends vegetarian ham for English Muffin Pizzas, but it can be substituted for deli ham or mushrooms.

By
From page A6 | July 17, 2013 |

While I don’t always mention it in this column, I work at the Davis Food Co-op and regularly write 12 for $40 menus for our shoppers there. While these menus will be delicious no matter where you buy the ingredients, they might not be quite such a bargain if you’re shopping elsewhere.

That’s because our costs are based on Co-op shoppers’ ability to shop our bulk aisle, where you can buy only the amount you need for a recipe. In the case of this menu, that means Co-op shoppers will be able to buy a cup of dry pinto beans and half-cup of bread crumbs, while shoppers at a more conventional store may have to buy a pound of beans and a box of bread crumbs. The Co-op also offers shoppers the option of buying single sticks of butter and individual eggs, both of which figure into this menu.

For the first time ever, this menu also includes the use of coupons. It’s not dependent upon them — without coupons, the cost of these ingredients is $40.08 — but it is designed to use ingredients for which we have nice new coupons from the National Co-operative Grocers Association. While I’m not generally a big fan of coupons, these are fairly high-value numbers, cleverly displayed next to the products they cover, and are for products that we usually use in our menus. I’ve used five of them in the menu below, but there are 28 in the current cycle, which will be on the shelves until the end of August.

Using the coupons, the menu below drops in cost from $40.08 to $36.58. That’s not a huge savings, but it’s a great return on your labor; even if it takes you an extra five minutes to locate the coupons, you’d “earn” $42 an hour for your work!

Whether you shop the Co-op and use the coupons or not, the menu below is one for mid-summer. The meals are quick and easy and don’t require a lot of prep or much cooking. Most of them are on the lighter side, with plenty of protein and fiber. Note that the English muffins called for here are whole grain, with 8 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per muffin. If you choose a different brand, aim for one that has equivalent values.
———
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 about $40.

These menus assume you already have some cooking skills, and own a basic reference cookbook.
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.

The menu
Saturday
Taco Salad

In the fridge for future meals: sour cream; salsa; lettuce; tortilla chips; cooked beans; cheese

Tip: Beans are easy to cook! Soak a cup of dry beans overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water, and add a couple of cloves of garlic and a half teaspoon each of salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.

Sunday
English Muffin Pizzas
Green Salad

In the fridge for future meals: English muffins; ham

Tip: We use a vegetarian ham for these muffins. You could substitute deli ham or mushrooms.

Monday
Zucchini Fritters
Pinto Beans

Tip: Any sort of summer squash is fine. Or replace squash with an equal amount of fresh corn cut off the cob.

Tuesday
Potatoes with Everything
Toasted Muffin
Tip: Since you’re having potatoes, half a toasted muffin is plenty – it’s mostly for the crunch contrasting texture.

Wednesday
Tuna Melt
Tortilla Chips
Carrot Sticks
Tip: If you don’t care for tuna, replace it with sliced avocado and skip the mayo.

Thursday
Fried Potatoes
Eggs
Toasted Muffin

Shopping list
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 July 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: $40.08 before coupons, $36.58 after. Coupons are indicated by ** on the shopping list.

In the pantry:
mayonnaise
mustard
olive oil
flour
garlic
oregano

Produce:

bell pepper, 1

lemon, 1
avocado, 1
lettuce, 2 heads
carrots, 4
onions, 3 medium
summer squash, 1 pound
Dairy and cheese:
eggs, 5
butter, 1 stick
milk, pint
sour cream
Yves Veggie Ham**
mozzarella cheese, 1 pound
Grocery:
tomato sauce, 8 ounces
tuna, 1 can
Food For Life English Muffins**
Cascadian Farms Breakfast potatoes**
Muir Glen Salsa**
Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips**
Bulk:
pinto beans, 1 cup (1/2 pound)
fine bread crumbs, 1/2 cup (1 ounce)

The recipes
Taco Salad

Ingredients:
Lettuce, washed and torn
Carrots, grated
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
Beans
Grated cheese
Salsa
Sour cream
Tortilla Chips

Putting it together:
Make a bed of lettuce and carrot. Top with onion, bell pepper and avocado. Warm beans and spoon on top of salad. Garnish with cheese, sour cream and salsa and serve with tortilla chips.

English Muffin Pizzas
Ingredients:
1/2 onion, sliced
oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 English muffins
grated cheese
2 ounces veggie ham or deli ham

Putting it together:
Gently cook onion in a little oil until nicely cooked. Remove onion from pan and reserve. Add garlic and oregano to same pan and cook 1 minute. Add tomato sauce and let simmer, uncovered 10 minutes while you preheat oven to 350 degrees. Split muffins in half and top each half with tomato sauce, cheese and ham. Bake pizzas 8-10 minutes until hot through and cheese is melted.

Summer Squash Fritter
Ingredients:
2 cups grated summer squash (3 little squash or 2 big ones)
1/2 an onion, minced
1/4 cup finely grated cheese
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
1 egg
6 tablespoons flour
1/4-1/2 cup milk
2-4 tablespoons olive oil

Putting it together:
Wash and grate summer squash. Mince onion. Mix all the ingredients except the oil, adding milk as needed to get a thick but spoon-able batter. Heat half of the oil in a big frying pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, drop in fritter batter by the teaspoonful, flattening mounds slightly. Cook over medium heat until golden brown (about 4 minutes). Turn and cook other side until brown, 2-3 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan if needed.

Potatoes with Everything
Ingredients:
Half bag frozen Cascadian Breakfast Potatoes
Half onion, thinly sliced
Half bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 summer squash, sliced
2 ounces veggie ham or deli ham, chopped
Sour cream
Salsa

Putting it together:
Fry potatoes in a little oil 2 minutes. Add onion, squash and bell pepper and cook until just tender and potatoes are nicely browned. Add ham and let heat. Sprinkle grated cheese on top and cover. Let stand until cheese melts. Divide between two plates and serve with sour cream and salsa.

Tuna Melt
Ingredients:
1 can good quality tuna
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon. finely minced onion
¾ cup grated cheese
2 English muffins

Putting it together:
Drain tuna and flake with fork. Mix with mayo, mustard, lemon juice and onion. Lightly toast English Muffin halves. Place on a cookie sheet and top each muffin with ¼ of tuna mixture. Top with ¼ grated cheese. Broil until cheese melts.

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