One way that the sweet hubs and I keep our budget in check is that we almost always cook dinner at home. I tell that everyone that 90% of the reason I married the hubs was for his mad cooking skills. Trust me, his mamma taught him right! Some of my favorites definitely fall in the Louisiana category: gumbo, chicken fricassee, shrimp/crawfish etouffee, charbroiled oysters , and other Cajun/French/Creole foods. He is ¼ Italian, so not only do I envy his nice olive skin (versus my English freckles!) but I love his Italian family recipes too. Of course he is a manly man as well, so he makes sure to fire up the grill from time to time (even though you’ll also find him making puff pastries). Real men make puff pastries.
Let me introduce you to one of my favorite recipes: Louisiana Red Beans & Rice. I love the tradition of eating Red Beans & Rice on a Monday. Historically, Monday was laundry day. So before the era of washers and dryers, ladies would do laundry all day and let the red beans simmer the entire time. So, if you’re feeling extra Southern, you can whip this together on a Sunday evening, and rest easy all day Monday knowing your dinner is cooking nice and slowly. It is extremely inexpensive and EASY to make (as in I can do it – that should tell you something). So without further ado, here is the hubs’ personal recipe written down just for you.
Louisiana Style Red Beans & Rice
– 1 pound of dry red kidney beans
– 2 T. Olive Oil
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
– 1 stalk of celery, chopped
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 3 Bay leaves
– Ham bone from a Sunday Ham
– ½ t smoked Paprika (optional)
– Salt, to taste
– Pepper, to taste
– Fresh Parsley, chopped
– Soak red beans overnight. Drain the next day.
– In a large cast iron pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
– Cook onion, pepper, and celery until soft, about 10 minutes.
– Add garlic and bay leaves and cook for another 2 minutes.
– Add ham bone and drained bean. Add enough water to cover the beans completely.
– Heat on medium high to a boil, and then reduce to heat to simmer for at least 2 hours, I usually let it go for 4 or more hours.
– Carefully remove ham bone and let cool. Cut away any ham from the bone and add back to the beans. Discard the bone.
– Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired add paprika.
– Remove bay leaves.
– Serve over fresh hot rice and garnish with fresh parsley.
This recipe will serve 8 people. Our budget break down for this dish is:
– Beans – $2.00
– Olive Oil – $0.15 (because you probably already have a bottle)
– Onion – $0.75
– Pepper – $1.00
– Celery – $2.00
– Garlic – $0.50
– Bay leaves – $0.10
– Hambone – free, left over from our Sunday lunch (You could also buy a ham hock for a few buckaroos.)
– Salt/Pepper/Paprika/Parsley – nominal, we’ll say $0.30
– Rice – $1.00
– Total – $7.80, Total per serving $0.98
So, for less than a $1.00 per person, we eat one of our favorite dishes from home and take it to lunch all week long. It also freezes and defrosts really well, so it can be saved for later. What ways do you guys eat for cheap? Who does most of the cooking? Do you have a favorite, super budget friendly meal you like to cook and eat? Spill the beans. Well on second thought . . . don’t spill them, make Red Beans and Rice instead!!!