Quarantine Food. Is that even a thing? It is a new (to us) category of food that we are quickly finding ourselves being forced to become acquainted with. Our Grandparents would laugh at us. Most of us are not laughing right now because we have ALLLL the children at home with us and they are hungry. Again. With many grocery shelves emptied and an all-new normal of “social distancing,” we are forced to get creative.
Additionally, many have lost some or all of their income with almost zero notice. We, like many, have decided that one of the best ways we can face today is to cut expenses where we can, to cook at home and stretch our ingredients as far as we can. It has become a new challenge! How many people can I feed for the least amount of money? Challenge accepted! So, I thought I should share. Maybe another friend or family can benefit? Maybe we can come up with new ideas together and feed the masses!
Those hungry (and noisy, bored) kids may not be in school and certainly, they will not learn as much from me this semester as they do from their wonderful teachers, but we are all educators. Let’s teach them how to cook, and budget, and find peace in the chaos. Let me know what you are cooking! I would love to hear.
Whole Roasted Chicken. Mashed Potatoes. Simple Salad.
Break down a whole chicken. You can do this. Find a youtube video. Your granny had to do this to her very own chicken. You don’t even know this one’s name. Get over it, they are usually $10 or less! Or get a rotisserie chicken, but you still have to do the work. That is where the big savings are. Make it a science lesson…just not a hospital trip. Be careful.
From 1 chicken you get 2 breasts. (Big breasts if you ask the girls because EVERYTHING is a joke) 2 thighs. 2 legs. 2 whole wings (4 pieces if you ordered them from BWW) Put each piece on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt pepper and some other seasoning you like. I used garlic salt tonight. Bake for 45 minutes at 400. The breasts can be cut into 2 or 3 servings. Trust me! It will be enough.
3 large russet potatoes. Peel (If you want to not listen to your children whine. Or don’t if you have good headphones) cut into chunks and boil in salted water until fork-tender. 20-ish minutes. Drain, throw them in your mixer, add 3 Tbsp butter, 1 minced clove of garlic, salt, pepper and a splash of cream or milk. Mix until the butter melts and then add more liquid, a bit more than you think, and mix until smooth and creamy. It can be milk, chicken stock, coconut milk, oat milk….you don’t even know the kinds of milk we have up in here. Use any one of them. It will be okay unless you use almond milk and your kid is allergic. That doesn’t end well. Trust me. Then if you love yourself, add in all the schmaltz (aka chicken gold) left on the sheet pan when the chicken is done. Cover until ready to serve.
Simple salad. Get a pencil, this will blow your mind. Cut up half a head of lettuce. Grate some cheese over it. I used one of those wrapped cheese things I put in the kids lunch boxes to make myself feel better about the 6 Oreos they packed. Top with mediocre croutons or something crunchy and then yell “Dinner” and put out a few bottles of dressing. We all know which one they are choosing. Tragic! I will tell you about homemade dressing another day. We cannot do ALL the things every day.
While they make their way to the kitchen they will definitely be complaining about something. But they will stop once they move out, so just ignore them. Max you have 18 years. Everyone grabs a piece of chicken some potatoes and some salad. Condiments make the world go round for kids. Put all of them out. BBQ sauce, wing sauce, ranch (gasp!), whatever man. Eat up.
The leftover chicken breast gets put into the fridge. Tomorrow we will have chicken quesadillas and the leftover potatoes will be made into potato soup for lunch. (Saute 1/3 onion, a stalk of celery in butter until softened. Add potatoes and milk until soupy. Salt and pepper to taste. Heat through and serve. YUM!)
All of the chicken bones left from breaking down the whole bird (and I had two legs left from dinner, the back, neck and other pieces I won’t tell you or my children about because I don’t need any more barf emojis in my life) are thrown into a LARGE pot. Add in a halved onion, carrot, celery with tops, garlic, any other veggies on the verge of going bad, bay leaves, salt and pepper. (You can add any veggies and herbs you have on hand. Use the ends of veggies, the last of what you have or have used to make dinner. The more the merrier in this pot! Don’t waste!) Add in a dash of vinegar. I used apple cider vinegar. This is about science and we can learn that later. Just do it. Fill the pot with water, bring to a boil and then simmer for as long as you can, 1-8 hours. After all of the “stuff” is soft and falling apart strain it out, toss the meat and veggies, and put broth (or is it stock?) in the fridge. Tomorrow night this will be divided and used in green chile stew for dinner. And chicken soup could go a long way right now. Just ask Grandma!
As a family of 6 we had 2/3 of a breast, and two legs left from dinner. We have about a cup of potatoes and no salad. If we ordered dinner at a restaurant we would have spent at least $60 and we would have eaten WAY too much. Dinner was about $15 total and everyone left satisfied. Lunch is more than half cooked for tomorrow. We will make the potato soup, use chicken, tortillas and grate cheese for quesadillas. If you can get big blocks of cheese from Sam’s Club or Costco they are much cheaper and way better than bags of pre-grated cheese. (A large Tillamook Cheddar is only $9 Sam’s) Everybody may not get everything for lunch. Everyone will be full and happy…and also I have good earphones in case they aren’t. They will be okay.
Lesson: It cannot always be about what we wish we were having right now.
My kids I have come to expect that what I want at any moment will be available to me at all times. Today I will be grateful for having more than enough.
(I hope to post more meals and plans, with more photos and less words because apparently words are boring in 2020. But for today, this is what a have…and a giant pot of chicken stock still on the stove. Yum! Also, I definitely need an editor. It’s okay, I am good at other things. Sorry about the typos. Whatever, Man.)