The blessing behind having a summer garden is the joy of having fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs available to eat for FREE! Even though it takes some work on my part to prepare, plant, water, and weed the garden, the benefits far outweigh the cost of work. Besides there is something quite satisfying about growing your own food and creating a fresh nourishing meal with the produce. But what about families that do not have access to a garden? With rising food prices, how do they afford to feed a family of four or more people? These thoughts had me thinking about quick cooking on a budget and what I came up with was baked spaghetti.
After a recent shopping excursion to my local Wal-mart* and Kroger* I found the following bargains:
2 – 24 ounce Hunts* spaghetti sauce $1.96 ($.98 each)
1.5 pounds ground chuck $3.98
2 – 8 ounce packages Kroger* brand low-fat cheese $3.38 ($1.69 each)
1 – 16 ounce package Barilla* spaghetti $.99
Total: $10.31 / 12 servings = $0.86 per serving.
So if you have hungry kids and teenagers, this is an affordable filling and easily
prepared meal. Below is the recipe. I will be inserting some alternatives, so feel free to make this recipe your own. (*Note: The items and stores mentioned are the ones available in my local area. I do not endorse, nor have I received any premium or request to use, the above brands or store choices.)
1.5 pounds ground meat (Local ground venison, turkey, or chicken may be lower cost and lower fat alternatives)
2-24 ounce cans tomato sauce (When available I like to add 8-16 ounces of chopped tomatoes from the garden to give the dish a more garden fresh taste – less salt and additives too.)
2-8 ounce packages shredded cheese (I purchase bagged shredded and block cheese while on sale. It freezes well and once thawed works well in recipes like this one. Choose a low fat version of your favorite cheese to make it more diet friendly. For this recipe I like to mix low fat sharp cheddar with low fat mozzarella.)
Optional: Dash of Garlic Salt, Black Pepper, Sweet Basil to add to meat while cooking. Salt and olive oil to use in boiling spaghetti noodles.
In large skillet cook ground meat until tender and done. Add garlic salt, pepper, and basil to taste while cooking. When done add tomato sauce, stir mixture and bring to gentle boil, then simmer.
In large 4 qt pot, boil full box of spaghetti noodles to al dente. Add salt and olive oil to taste while boiling.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
In 10 x 13 inch baking dish layer spaghetti, meat sauce mixture, and shredded cheese. Usually makes two full layers. Top thoroughly with remaining cheese and cover dish with aluminum foil.
Bake spaghetti for 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, remove foil to lightly brown cheese and bake remaining 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.
Serve warm and enjoy!
Note: You can freeze leftovers to use for future meals!
I would love to hear about budget friendly, tasty meals from you. Feel free to share your recipe.