After reading all your comments and emails yesterday about Chris’ request for brown bag ideas…I decided that I am going to do my best to post a menu plan each week! I would say at least 15% of the emails I get revolve around menu planning while saving…so it is definitely something that I think would interest lots of folks.
I want it to be an opportunity for folks to share recipes, meal plans, ideas and even ask questions like yesterday. So…while I am in the planning stages I thought I would open up the suggestion box and get some ideas from you guys.
What day works best for you guys? Would you like to see it on Wednesday when the ad starts or maybe Tuesday before the sales start? What other idea or requests do you have?? Just leave your comments below. Maybe I will have a game plan for next week!
For now, I just finished up prepping dinner for tonight so I thought I would share an example of one of my frugal recipes.
I love little shortcuts and ways that make the time I spend in the kitchen as minimal as possible. You guys know I am all about cooking once and eating twice…so today I did manicotti. I only purchased one item for this meal from this week’s grocery budget. That means the cost of the meal was under $3.25 and will actually make TWO meals! That means I am feeding my family for less than 50¢ per person per meal (try to get that at a drive through)!
Manicotti is super simple and the best part is that you can put in whatever you have on hand. You can do it with all veggies, just cheese or throw in whatever meat you have on hand! I happened to have three lonely Johnsonville Irish O’ Garlic links in my freezer as well as a box of spinach…so that is what I went with!
This is a very cost effective meal. Manicotti and Jumbo Shells rarely go BOGO so when that nice $1/1 printable was around I grabbed several boxes and used the coupon to get a great deal. There have been lots of opportunity to grab inexpensive cheese so I grabbed a package of shredded cheese from my freezer as well as a box of Birds Eye Spinach that I got when they were 50% off (plus used the $1/3 coupon–makes the boxes super cheap). The only thing I actually had to purchase for this recipe was a big container of Sargento Ricotta Cheese –of course I used the $1/1 Sorrento Ricotta Cheese 4/10/2011 SS Insert (exp 7/30/2011) and got it for about $3.19. I am confident that you guys also have a nice stash of pasta sauce in your pantry too! Check out how easy this is to throw together…
Cook manicotti according to box. Drain and place on wax paper so they don’t stick together. Allow to cool.
In a bowl combine the following items
- 32 oz container of ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/2 – 1 cup of cooked meat (shredded chicken, browned ground beef or sausage, etc..)
- chopped spinach (if frozen -defrost and squeeze out as much water as possible)
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- salt & pepper to taste
Once combined stuff into the cooked manicotti. Place each tube in a greased (I used Pam) cooking dish. Top with a jar of your favorite pasta sauce and 1/4 cup of mozzarella or parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly!
Serve with a side salad and/or bread. The best part is that I made everything ahead of time, so when my husband calls to tell me he is on his way I just have to pop it in the oven. It is a one dish meal so clean up will be quick and easy too!
Not only will I have leftovers for tomorrow but I also have about 2 cups of filling that I will freeze to use for another recipe. I just tossed my extra into a bag and labeled it. In a pinch, all I have to do is cook a little pasta and layer the filling with some pasta sauce. I will have a lasagna of sorts for another night when I need something quick and easy!