This is the first post of what will hopefully be a useful series to those of you who like to cook. We try to plan out all our meals ahead of time, which means 99% of the food we eat is cooked at home. Because of this, we are constantly looking for new recipes to try out, but we have some pretty stringent requirements when it comes to what we are willing to make, especially on a weeknight. Besides being delicious, which is a non-negotiable, there are three other necessities for our top recipes. We present, the Frugal Recipe Trifecta:
- Healthy – we’re often only willing to cook one “thing”, which means we aren’t usually making vegetable or salad sides. If we can get the vegetables into the actual main dish, that’s a plus. We’re also looking for some lean protein and healthy fats here.
- Relatively inexpensive – sometimes we splurge a bit, but we are generally looking to stay under about $4 / serving, often well under.
- Easy to make – this is slightly more important to me than Mr. Paradise. If we’ve planned out a complicated recipe for a weeknight and we don’t get home until 7 or 8pm, there’s a chance we (I) might throw our hands up and declare that we are having canned soup instead. Also frugal but not the healthiest choice.
Sometimes we can’t hit all three of these (e.g. we might be willing to sacrifice #1 on occasion for uber delicious recipes, #2 when we have been doing really well with groceries otherwise, or #3 if we have some extra time on a weekend). But today’s recipe meets the requirements to be a Frugal Recipe Trifecta!
Shakshuka (Baked Eggs)
The recipe for today’s post came from the magazine Real Simple. I don’t normally make recipes from magazines, but I think I was reading this at the same time as I had some leftover kale, and the recipe looked simple enough. Shakshuka is a middle-eastern dish and it is such a staple that even has its own Wikipedia page. The thing I love about this recipe (besides the fact that it tastes awesome) is that it is incredibly easy to put together so you can go from square one to done in about 20 minutes flat, and more than half of that is just oven time.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 5 oz baby kale (this is the original recipe inredient but we actually like spinach better because of the texture)
- 24oz jar of marinara sauce
- 8 large eggs (you can add more than this if you want to have more servings, it doesn’t really affect the other ingredients)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 oz feta, crumbled
- Move one oven rack to the top position (as long as there is still room for a skillet). Heat oven to 400ºF.
- Find a large ovenproof skillet. No rubber handles or anything like that. Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the kale or spinach and cook until wilted to whatever consistency you like, about 3-5 mins. Kale will take a bit longer than spinach.
- Add the marinara and bring to simmer
- Crack the eggs into the pan, distribute evenly around (RS says to crack them into a bowl first, but I just put them straight in)
- Season with salt and pepper
- Transfer to oven. Bake 10-12 minutes until eggs are just set.
- Top with crumbled feta and serve (RS says with flatbread, but we just have it by itself)
Once you get the pan out of the oven, BE CAREFUL not to touch the handle of the pan. If you don’t regularly put your skillet in the oven you might forget! (Speaking from experience involving a frantic trip to the drugstore for aloe.) To prevent this, we slide an oven mitt over the handle after it is out of the oven.
Another plus of this recipe is that at the end, you’ve really only got one pan and probably one serving utensil to clean, in addition to whatever plates or bowls you used. If you managed not to spill any of the marinara sauce or feta that’s even better!
Below is a quick analysis of the frugality of this recipe. At $2 or less per serving it earns a Frugal Paradise Gold Star. If you try out the recipe, let us know what you thought!
|Total||$5.96||Price per serving = $1.50 - $2.00, depending on your appetite.|
|2 Tbsp Olive Oil||$0.20||We buy the 365 Everyday Value olive oil from Whole Foods. It's one of the things that is actually an awesome deal there.|
|5 oz baby kale or spinach||$1.40||Costco price for 1lb of organic spinach is $4.49. You might be able to get organic kale even cheaper, it ranges from $0.99 - $1.99 a bunch at our local grocery store.|
|24oz jar of marinara||$1.99||We just get whatever is on sale at the grocery store|
|8 large eggs||$1.20||This is the regular grocery store price. When we buy organic eggs this would be more like $2.50.|
|Salt and pepper to taste||$0.02||Let's be honest, I made that number up|
|4 oz feta||$1.15||We buy the ginormous thing of block feta from Costco, which is about $4.60 / lb|