Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fast & Frugal

Recently, I've paid closer attention to where I shop for groceries, what I buy and how I prepare meals. I've also tried to minimize costs in other ways, including making and drinking sun tea instead of pop, and making my own homemade tahini and hummus.

Though it might sound odd to the habitually or naturally frugal, I now read sales circulars (or encourage my wife, Kathy, to read them and share any bargains she comes across, something she's always enjoyed doing), I now stick more closely to my shopping lists (i.e. I resist 'impulse buys'), and I'm now shopping at Aldi, a discount grocer.

This past month, weekends have included the cooking of large main dishes and accompanying vegetable side dishes that I then freeze and later 'shrink wrap' via Foodsaver for my wife's work lunches. And, in addition to the iced tea, tahini and hummus, my wife has been using our old bread maker (long abandoned in our basement) to make delicious loaves we then eat throughout the week.

As time-consuming as it sounds, frugal meals can sometimes also be quick and easy to make. Today I'm sharing an example of just such a meal.

Quick and easy eggplant and sausage *


2 medium eggplants (~ 2 lbs., .89 cents a pound on sale)
1 large yellow onion (~.5 lb., ~.50 cents)
1 jar of generic/'store brand' pizza sauce (.99 cents)
Olive oil spray (I now use my own reusable sprayer, negligible cost)
Sprinkled thyme, coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pkg of (5) chicken-based Italian sausages ($3.49 at Aldi's (Note: Substitute Tofurky Italian Sausage to make this dish vegan))


Rinse off the eggplants, remove their tops/bottoms, cut each into 1" cubes leaving the skin on, and soak the pieces in the refrigerator covered in brine (i.e. water with a generous sprinkling of sea salt) for approximately two hours. Preheat the oven to 375F. Coat a cookie sheet with olive oil spray. Drain the eggplant, arrange the pieces on the cookie sheet, cover with sliced onion rings, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme/salt/pepper, and roast for 35 minutes. While the eggplant and onion roasts, coat a skillet w/olive oil spray, slice chicken sausages into 1/4" thick rounds and brown them in the skillet over a medium flame for approximately 10 minutes. Combine the roasted eggplant and onion with the pan fried sausage rounds and the jar of pizza sauce. Serve. Makes up to six one-cup servings. Total cost = ~$7.00.

* NOTE: This recipe was partially inspired by Weight Watchers "Roasted Vegetables" recipe.

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