Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Use that Garden!

Since I posted an entry about how much gardening can save in the long run, I wanted to show one way that I am using that garden to the fullest.

Since I am only a few weeks away from having baby #3, preparing for his arrival is something that I am incorporating into my daily routines so that I don't feel overwhelmed by the process.

One dish that my family loves is Stuffed Bell Peppers. It can be expensive (bell peppers are around $1 each at the sale price) and time consuming so it isn't a meal that we make weekly.

Everyone makes theirs different, so if you have a tried and true recipe that you love follow that. I have strayed from my mother's recipe to help incorporate what we were growing and what we had available in the house.

For this recipe I used:
1 lb ground beef (though beans can be substituted)
14 bell peppers
6-7 ripe tomatoes
3/4 cup corn
1 cup of brown rice (precooked measurement)
2 cups of water (to cook the rice)
salt, pepper, and basil
1/2 a diced onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
Mozzarella cheese


First I got everything ready. I put a pan on the stove and started browning the ground beef. I put another pan on the stove with water to get it boiling. A lot of getting this done is multitasking, so do it in a way that works well for you. I also started cooking the rice in the microwave. I washed the many peppers we picked from the garden. Then I cut them in half, cleaned them out into a bowl (the ice cream one in the picture). I rinsed them again.

Since by then the water was boiling, I put the peppers in for a few minutes to blanch them. While they were blanching, I drained the ground beef and added the diced onion, garlic, corn, and seasonings to the pan. Next, I got the other set of bell peppers ready to go in the boiling water.


Then I put each pepper in a baking dish that was sprayed with Pam. They were able to sit and wait for me to finish the other steps at this point.


Next I grabbed these tomatoes and washed them. I put them into the boiling water that I used for the peppers and filled one side of the sink with cold water. This is to help get their skins loosened so I could easily peel the skin off the tomatoes.


After they were peeled I diced them and added them to the ground beef mixture. I also added the cooked rice to the mixture at this time.


At this point I preheated the oven to 375*. Then I set up an assembly line at the table to put all of the peppers together. I put a bit of the mixture into each pepper. I added more to any that seemed like they could hold more than the scoop I put in. When they were all filled I topped with cheese.


Bake for 30 minutes (or longer if you like the cheese more crispy on the top) and then enjoy!


My husband and I each had 3 peppers and the kids each had 1.


I took the leftovers and put them into freezer bags. I laid the bags flat so that they wouldn't fall apart before freezing. We had enough for 3 more meals out of this- 6 in two of them and 8 in the third.

This meal cost next to nothing even if it was for one meal. We had to spend nothing on the peppers or the tomatoes because they came from the garden. The corn was not even half a bag that was on sale for 88 cents. The onion was not a whole onion, but instead was part of one we cut up and froze in an individual serving. The garlic was from a bulk jar that is kept in the fridge. The rice was only 1 cup out of a 16 oz package that was a little over a $1. The ground beef was the most expensive part at about $2 for the pound, and that can be substituted for beans to save money or to make it a vegetarian dish. The seasonings were minimal.

Estimated cost, figuring high:
Peppers $0
Tomatoes $0
Corn $0.44
Onion $0.50
Garlic $0.50
Rice $0.25
Ground beef $2
Seasonings $0.10

Total $3.79

Even if I round it up to being $4, since I was able to make 4 meals out of it my family was able to eat for $1 per meal total. This beats any $1 menu and I can be happy with what my family is eating too.

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