A week of fall dinner menus

spaghettiTo maximize your savings on these thrifty fall dinners, cook your own beans, rather than buying canned. Soak dried beans overnight, and cook for an hour and a half or so before preparing the meals. Lentils don’t need to be soaked and cook in about 45 minutes or so.

Buy fruit you like on sale. Bananas are always inexpensive, and you will find a variety of produce at low prices as fruit comes into season. Today at ALDI I found pomegranates for 49 cents and a pineapple for $1.29.

Florida Crops in Season¬†shows what’s in season in Florida during different months. You may be surprised when comparing what’s in season in other parts of the country. These menus combine what’s currently in season here now (cucumber, summer squash) with what’s in season a bit further north (lettuce, cabbage) and root crops such as onion and carrot, which can be stored through the seasons.

If you are a reasonably careful shopper, each of these dinners should run $1 to $2 per person, basing prices on those I see at ALDI.

Sun.
BBQ beans
Rice
Cabbage-carrot salad
Fruit

Mon.
Fried rice (use leftover rice from Sun.)
Cucumber-onion salad
Fruit

Tues.
Broiled burger on bun (use 1/4 lb meat max – it’s quite enough)
Cole slaw
Fruit

Wed.
Open face BBQ bean sandwiches
Steamed carrots
Fruit

Thurs.
Spaghetti or linguine in marinara sauce with lentils
Green salad
Fruit

Fri.
Salmon burgers
Steamed summer squash
Oven-fried onion rings
Jello or fruit

Sat.
Crock-pot chicken noodle soup
Green salad
Fruit

Notes

BBQ beans: To cooked great northern beans or other cooked white beans, add a big squirt of ketchup, a small squirt of mustard, a little vinegar, a little water, and brown sugar to taste. Heat in a saucepan until bubbly.

Cole slaw/cabbage-carrot salad: I either grate my cabbage in the food processor or with a hand grater, depending on how I feel. I use oil and vinegar on slaw (healthier than mayo).

Open-faced BBQ bean sandwich: Spoon beans over two slices of bread.

Spaghetti: Use commercial marinara sauce of your choice with cooked drained lentils mixed into it.

Salmon burgers: Fry patties of canned flaked salmon, mixed with egg and bread crumbs. Note that any bones in the salmon are fully edible and a good source of calcium. I buy pink, wild-caught Alaska salmon in large cans and freeze any leftovers.

Oven-fried onion rings: Slice onions, separate the rings, dip first in egg, then coat well with flour. Place on greased baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, then bake at 400 degrees a few minutes until browned, turning once.

Crock-pot chicken noodle soup: For each person, add one chicken drumstick, one sliced carrot, one half teaspoon salt, and one slice onion to the pot. Cover with water. Cook on high for four hours or on low all day. Add linguine, spaghetti, or egg noodles during the last half hour.

Ingredient checklist

Protein foods
Great northern beans
Lentils
Ground beef or ground round
Canned salmon
Chicken drumsticks
Organic eggs

Bread/pasta
Buns (freeze what you don’t use)
Bread (ditto)
Spaghetti or linguine

Produce
Assorted fruit on sale
Lettuce
Cabbage
Carrots
Cucumber
Onions (I prefer sweet onions)
Summer squash

Staples
Brown sugar
Flour
Jello (if desired)
Ketchup
Mustard
Olive oil
Rice
Vegetable oil
Vinegar

Till next time, stay frugal and fancy-free.

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