Everyday Mom's Meals: Strectch A Buck

Friday, April 13, 2012

Strectch A Buck

Are there dishes you know, because of your budget, you can only make once in a while or for special occasions? I'm sure for some of you it might be steak, or maybe fresh seafood. Because let's face it, neither of those is cheap! Now I'm lucky enough to have a freezer full of beef, so we can have steak whenever we like, but seafood would definitely be on my list; along with ribs, pork tenderloin and even certain vegetables! Fresh produce is not very budget friendly, when it's not in season. The reality of the matter is this is probably why certain families don't eat a lot of fresh fruits and veggies. They can't afford them! And I completely sympathize with them. It's not easy to feed your family in today's economy, and I think we all struggle to stay on budget and still provide our loved ones w/ healthy, tasty meals. Here is a perfect example of that. We love stuffed peppers. Seriously, Alex asks me make them every other week! But to make a meal of them, it takes six peppers, two for each of us, and until peppers come back into season, or even better we can buy them at our local farmer's market this summer, it's kind of pricey. Even at our discount grocery store, peppers are running between 75 and 88 cents each! Now if that were the only produce item I was buying, it wouldn't be that bad, but I'm not that girl. I would say at least 1/3-1/2 of my shopping cart each week is filled w/ fresh fruits and veggies. So how do I still make my family a great meal they love, and not spend a bundle? Why put it into a casserole of course! I have the meat on hand, rice is cheap, cut the amount of peppers by a third, add some store bought sauce and you've got a dish w/ all the flavors they love, but is much easier on the wallet! Now I realize this concept doesn't work for all of those meals you love but can't afford (I don't suggest making a lobster and steak casserole) but if there is a way to make it work, try it! Saving money and still making my boys say "yum" at the end of a meal is my job and I take it very seriously!

Unstuffed Pepper Casserole Adapted from Kraft
1 lb. ground beef or turkey
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
2 c. minute rice, cooked
1 (26oz) jar spaghetti sauce
2 c. mozzarella cheese, divided
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet over medium heat brown beef. Add peppers, garlic salt, and pepper. Saute until beef is cooked through. Drain if necessary. Return to skillet. Add rice, sauce and 3/4 cup cheese. Mix well. Grease a 9x11 baking dish. Add beef mixture. Top w/ remaining cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until heated through and cheese melts.
*NOTE* If prepared ahead, increase cooking time to 35-40 minutes.

Shared on The Country Cook Apr. 13, 2012
Shared on Make Ahead Meals Apr. 16, 2012

Casseroles at Very Good Recipes
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