I’m not going to claim to be a chef. I’m not even going to claim to be a home chef. I’m just a person who cooks for their family most days. I try to focus on money saving meals, and I’d say I use a recipe about 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time, I just throw some stuff in a pot and hope for the best.
This is not going to turn into a food blog, I promise. However, I do think that it’s not too out of line with frugality leading toward financial independence to post a money saving meal recipe that worked out for us every now and again. After all, when you cook at home most of the time, it can be easy to get bored with eating the same things over, and over, and over, and over…
Sometimes you just need a new idea. Or something to get your brain juices flowing so that you can start thinking of your OWN new ideas.
End disclaimer, I guess.
I’ve been cooking most of our meals since HB and I started living together about 4(?) years ago.
I should know that. I really should.
While cooking at home saves you boatloads of cash, it hasn’t always been about that. Growing up, my mom cooked homemade meals almost every night, and now I simply can’t imagine eating most of my meals from a takeout container or while sitting in a restaurant. I can’t say I am always ecstatic to have to plan and cook a dinner every night, but if I let HB cook we would be eating tacos 7 nights a week. I wish I was joking. That man loves tacos more than he loves me, I think.
Nowadays, it’s still about having home-cooked meals, but we’ve added the fact that we want to save money as well as two little noise makers that don’t always do too well in a restaurant setting. The only place we’ve been brave enough to take them without help is the Mexican restaurant down the street that takes only about 7 minutes to bring your food.
I’ll give you one guess what my husband had to eat there.
Anyway, I’m rambling, as I tend to do. We are here to talk about easy and cheap recipes to make at home.
Today I’m sharing with you a pasta and beans with chicken recipe that is highly adaptable. You can change the type of bean, the type of pasta, or add some veggies. My husband won’t eat many veggies, so that’s why you don’t really see them here. Peas would go nicely though.
You can make it vegetarian by taking out the chicken and switching the chicken broth to veggie broth. Or, you could take out the chicken and just do a nice over easy egg on top, letting all that ooey gooey eggy goodness run down all over your noodles (even more of a money saver). If you like to drink your booze, you could add a little bit of dry white wine to the sautee step. Do whatever you want. It’s your birthday, you can cook what you want to.
Also, you’ll notice that my measurements aren’t exactly precise. Cooking doesn’t need to be precise–that’s baking. Just go with your gut. And if you need to feed more people, just add more of everything! Taste as you go. You’ll be fine.
So without further adieu–money saving meals, volume #1:
Pasta & Beans with Chicken
Serves: Two hungry adults and two 1 year olds who refuse to eat anything but goldfish crackers. There was at least one serving leftover as well. Adjust to your needs.
(1/2) LB. of shaped pasta: This is approximate. Use whole wheat, egg noodles–whatever you have.
(1) 15.5 oz can of beans: A white bean would be nice, but use what you have. Drain and rinse before using them. Beans are packed in sodium. You don’t need all that in your dish.
(1.5) cups of shredded, cooked chicken: This is approximate. I cooked mine in the crock pot, but you could also used canned chicken if you wanted to.
(2) 15.5 oz. cans low sodium chicken broth
(3-4) cloves garlic, minced
(1) small onion, diced
(2-3) tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, for sauteeing
(1) tbsp. butter, for sauteeing
(1) parmesan rind (optional–I keep these in the freezer after I shred parmesan to use around the kitchen. They just add extra flavor.)
(2-3) tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
parmesan cheese, for serving
Put some water in a pot on the stove to boil. This is for your pasta. When the water comes to a boil, salt the water liberally. This seasons your pasta. They say salty like the sea, but it’s really more salty like broth. Salty like the sea makes things a little too salty. Cook until it’s about halfway done.
Put the butter and olive oil in a skillet on the stove over medium-low heat. I used nonstick. We aren’t trying to sear anything here so it’s just going to make your life easier to use non-stick. Dice up your onion and toss it in the skillet to get a little happy.
Wait until your onion is starting to get translucent, and add your garlic. Garlic burns quickly so just cook it for about 30 seconds or so. Then add your parmesan rind, beans, chicken, chicken broth and salt & pepper. Make sure you taste before you salt because you may not need any depending on how salty your broth is. Let simmer for maybe 10 minutes on its own.
Next, dump your pasta in and cook it the rest of the way in the pan. The starches in the pasta will help it to bind and it will create its own little sauce. Remove the parmesan rind and stir in the parsley at the last minute.
To serve, top with some parmesan cheese and enjoy!