Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cheap Eats Part I: Beef Stew

Frugality, for me, is always a hobby and sometimes a necessity. While I do like to experiment with fancy foods and exotic ingredients, my base recipes (those I make on a regular basis) are almost always cheap eats. Consider this your first installment in a series dedicated to recipes that cost very little per serving yet satisfy our need to have delicious nourishment.

Now you may not think that "beef" and "cheap" belong in the same sentence, but this is not the case in beef stew. Let's check it out:

Beef & Vegetable Stew

1 lb stew meat ($3.25 or less)
2 tbsp AP flour (I'm not counting this - you should have this on hand)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes ($1.25)
1 16-oz carton beef broth ($1.50)
1 16-oz bag frozen mixed vegetables ($1.50)
1/2 an 8-oz package of dried tortellini ($2.00 for the whole bag)
1 cup water
Salt (or soy sauce) & pepper to taste

Toss the cubed stew meat in flour and shake off the excess - add a little salt and pepper to season. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot. Brown the beef on all sides.
Add diced tomatoes, beef broth, and vegetables. Season with salt (or soy sauce) and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about an hour. Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Add one cup of water, bring back to a boil, and add the dried tortellini. Cook for about 15-17 more minutes. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serves 4-6.

So that's $9.50 for the whole meal to serve at least 4 people ($2.38 or less per serving). And yes, you can leave out the tortellini and add navy beans instead ($.60 a can) and save $1.40. You can even leave out the beef altogether and save yourself another $3.25.

If that isn't cheap eats, I challenge you to show me what is. Except ramen. Because you can't beat the price of ramen.
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fo said...

"you can leave out the tortellini and add navy beans instead ($.60 a can) and save $1.40."

if you do that and leave out the beef broth, you end up paying under $2 per person.

i never use beef broth when cooking beef stew. i prefer to just use water, or sometimes a beer.

Karen said... kind of beer do you use?

fo said...

just whatever i have on hand. usually that means a bud light, but it is better with darker beers. i just rarely buy dark beers to drink at home.