You know, a lot of what is on the Food Network, blogs, and popular culture in general is all of this gourmet food that requires you to buy things like vanilla beans (last time I checked the best I could find was 2 vanilla beans for $13.50!! That’s insane!), or other costly ingredients that would make an ordinary dinner for 2 turn into a $30-40 meal. You can go out and have someone else make great food for you at that price! So what can you do to make your food taste amazing and not break the bank?
Well, it comes down to making smart decisions at the grocery store, looking for the sales, and taking time to figure out for yourself which flavors pair well with one another; kind of like pairing wines/beers to different meals (white wine with fish or chicken, red with lamb or beef etc). For instance, what do you think of when you think “Italian”? Most people think oregano, basil, tomatoes, garlic (mmm garlic), and maybe some thyme or parsley. These flavors go well together, the Italians discovered that in their cooking a long time ago…all we have to do is look at the spices we have, look at what we’re cooking, and put it together.
As an example of a cheap, easy, and quick meal with PLENTY of flavor, I give you, today’s lunch! Mexican-style grilled chicken with frozen red potatoes and green beans (that’s right, I’m not above using frozen veggies. Don’t act like you don’t want to take off your big boy/girl pants sometimes and eat a PB&J on white bread with no crust). Chicken was on sale for $2.99/lb and the bag of frozen potatoes and green beans was maybe $2-3 as well. I took my lunch break, threw this together, and was done cooking in less than 15 minutes.
For the chicken you need:
McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Mexican Blend seasoning
Lime juice (optional)
For the veggies:
Get a sandwich baggie or small container with a lid and combine all of the dry ingredients in the bag. Be careful not to put too much Adobo or Taco seasoning or it will be too salty, but this blend of spices it completely “to taste” so there are no exact amounts.I usually put more chili powder in mine for the kick. Get your grill ready and while it heats up, seal the sandwich baggie and shake the spices until you get a nice dry rub, pat the chicken dry on both sides with paper towels, and rub the chicken on both sides. If you want to use the lime juice, put it in with the rub so that it makes more of a paste, then apply to the chicken.
Then, get your frozen veggies in the microwave and cook according to the instructions.
Throw your chicken on the grill and grill for about 5 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the chicken breast, or until you have nice grill marks and a nice dark red/brown color. I turn my chicken often (every 1-2 minutes) to keep it nice and juicy.
Plate your chicken. Open the veggies to let out the steam and add the garlic salt, pepper, and rosemary to the potatoes and green beans. Stir the veggies so that the spices are dispersed and plate the veggies with your chicken. Top the veggies with a knob of butter (I recommend using Kerrigold Irish Butter for cooking and otherwise. It’s the best butter I’ve ever had).
Mexican-style grilled chicken with frozen red potatoes and green beans.
This meal cost around $5 or so, took less than 15 minutes to make, and tasted like I had made everything from scratch. A little spice goes a long way to making delicious food.
Here’s something to think about: life is short. Why not take an extra 5 minutes or less to make your food, your coffee, and your life, as enjoyable and delicious as you can?