I know a lot of us who blog have figured out the balance of healthy delicious food with budget. And I don’t think it is that difficult to do. But very often in cooking competitions there is invariably a challenge that involves cooking on a budget. Time and again the reaction is it’s impossible to get flavour on a budget.
For example, I am watching season 4 of Top Chef which I believe aired about 6 years ago. They were given a challenge of cooking a healthy delicious meal with a budget of $10 for a family of four. You might as well have told them to climb Mount Everest! I don’t understand the disconnect for a lot of people when it comes to this balance.
Given that our food budget is about $150 a week which includes things like kitchen roll, soap, etc, I need to be creative with the dishes. We actually do pretty well during the summer because of our veg garden but it gets a little tricky in the winter. I sometimes skate over the line. The big budget buster is meat, especially if it is important to buy local, humanely raised meat. It just goes back to portion control. I’ll take a breast of chicken and use it for the four of us. And it’s plenty.
I also try to use an ingredient a few different ways during the week. This week it’s beets. I had some bacon fat left over from the chicken avocado dish I made so I thought I would roast them. I had half a pound of ground beef leftover so it was perfect for two burgers for my husband and I. To round it of I bought 2 large portabello mushroom caps. When I was doing research into the Paleo diet I was so overwhelmed by all the books on this subject, it was insane. I saw in one book a suggestion to use the mushroom as the base to a burger. I cannot remember which book it was though. I looked at about 30 of them!
This is an inexpensive easy dish to make even with the grass fed beef. I kept the burgers simple and used garlic chives and thyme from the garden.
I chopped up the thyme and chives with a couple of cloves of garlic. I mixed them with the beef and a dollop of stone ground mustard. Season with salt and pepper.
Set this aside. Peel and slice the beets about 1/4″ thick. Beets are so messy! Getting the stain out of my fingers is such a pain.
Set the oven to 400F/200C and place the baking dish with a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat. Allow it to melt then add the beets with salt and pepper to taste. Roast until they are tender. In the meantime, form the beef into patties.
Drizzle the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill the burgers and mushrooms. Be careful not to grill the mushrooms so much that they aren’t firm anymore. Place the mushrooms on the plate and top with the burger. Spread goat cheese on the burger then place the beets on the cheese.
I’m not a fan of beets but the bacon fat helps. 🙂 Of course after I did the photos and cut into the dish I thought I should have added some greens on top for presentation. Too late at that point!
Very creative Virginia. As you know I have the same philosophy about the foods we eat. I like your idea on roasting the beets with bacon fat. I bet it gave them great flavor.
I buy inexpensive surgical gloves and use them for peeling beets and cutting up chili peppers.
I use the gloves for the peppers as my fingers will burn for several days afterwards. Good idea for the beets though!
I am the same way with meat: a little goes a long way, if you let it!
It really does!