Ramen Noodle Skillet was a hit with my kids when they were in school and it still is one of my favorite recipes. I think the noodles were the attraction for them. I like it because you can use just about any vegetable that you have in your garden or vegetable drawer, only one pan gets dirty, and you can have the meal on the table in 15 minutes.
Meat is the more expensive part of meals in the US. The bad news is that the money people are saving because of the gas price drop in recent weeks is likely to be offset by increased prices in beef, pork, and chicken. USDA is predicting meat prices to increase 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent in 2012.
The Ramen Noodle Skillet recipe can help you stretch your meat dollar. If you have leftover chicken, pork chop, or roast, you can store them in the freezer instead of letting them dry out in the refrigerator. When you have about 2 cups, thaw, for Ramen Noodle Skillet and you have another meal without additional meat expense.
Ramen Noodle Skillet
- 2 teaspoons vegetable or olive oil
- 1 cup onion, chopped (about 1 medium onion)
- 1 carrot, chopped or sliced into small pieces
- 2 cups frozen broccoli stir-fry vegetable mixture, thawed
- 2 cups cooked meat or poultry cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup water
- 1 (3-ounce) package beef-flavored instant ramen noodles, broken into pieces
- Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and carrots and sauté until soft (about 5 minutes).
- Thaw the broccoli mixture in the microwave and drain.
- Add the broccoli and cooked meat to the skillet. Stir and heat (about 1-2 minutes).
- Add the noodle seasonings to the water and stir into the pan.
- Break apart the ramen noodles. Add to the skillet when the water simmers. Stir to moisten the noodles. Cover the skillet and cook until done (about 2 minutes).
- Serve immediately.
- Use cooked meat and vegetables from other meals.
- Substitute 1 pound of ground beef or turkey to yield two cups of meat.
- Rinse cooked, crumbled ground beef with hot tap water to reduce fat by 50 percent.
Our featured recipe this month is Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Bake. It is a very easy recipe that costs about $.80 a serving. You can use any combination of 4 cups of meat and beans that you have. The recipe also calls for salsa. I use medium, but if you want a little more heat you could use a spicier salsa, add a hot pepper, or add a little hot sauce. Be sure you save a little of the enchilada filling to spread on top of the enchiladas.
When I make this dish, I put the enchiladas in two baking pans. I cook one and I freeze one. Then all you have to do is add fruit and milk. The frozen enchiladas will take about 30 minutes at 350⁰ F to thaw and heat through.
Chicken Safety Tip: Washing raw poultry before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. This is called cross-contamination. Rinsing or soaking chicken does not destroy bacteria. Any bacteria that might be present on fresh chicken are destroyed only by cooking. Also, make sure you wash the cutting board and knife right after you use them.
Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Bake
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 2 cups)
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 can (15-ounce) low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup salsa
- 8 whole wheat tortillas
- Cooking spray
- ½ cup 2%-fat shredded cheddar cheese
- Cut chicken breast into 4-5 chunks. Simmer in a large saucepan with water and chili powder. Cook until internal temperature is 165° F (about 10 minutes).
- Remove chicken from pan. Cut or shred into small chunks and return to pan. Add beans, corn, and salsa to saucepan. Cook until hot, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Spread 1/2 cup of chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam-side down in greased 9×13 pan.
- Spread any leftover chicken mixture over the top of the enchiladas.
- Bake at 375o F for 12-15 minutes.
- Sprinkle cheese on top of the enchiladas during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Serve immediately.
Grocery and discount stores like to promote groups of different products for the same price (i.e. mix and match for a $1.00). Some are good buys, some are the regular price, and sometimes they are more.
Last week this picture and ad caught my attention. It looked good. I wondered how they did the breading and if the chicken was baked or fried.
A closer look told me that the store is really selling raw chicken breast that has been marinated. The chicken will not be cut in strips and it will not have breading. It will have some marinade on it. The cost is $2.67 a pound. Here is how I figured the cost.
10-6 ounce breasts = 60 ounces or 3.75 pounds (60 ounces ÷ 16 ounces in a pound = 3.75 pounds) $10.00 ÷ 3.75 pounds = $2.67 a pound.
Another store has boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $1.79 a pound. I think I will buy them and save about $0.90 a pound. I will use a little Italian dressing for the marinade.
–pointers from Peggy
Soup is a great comfort food for winter meals, and so good for you too. Our featured recipe for January is Mexican Chicken Soup. Making this soup takes less time than getting in the car and driving through your favorite takeout place. You don’t have to cook the chicken ahead of time. Just place raw boneless chicken in the pot with the other ingredients. After cooking for about 20 minutes, take the chicken out and shred it into bite-size pieces. Serve it with tortilla chips or bread, apple/orange slices and you have a meal with something from each food group plus plenty of fiber. For extra instruction, check out the preparation video under the recipe instructions.
This recipe would be super economical if you made your own chicken broth and cooked dry beans instead of buying them canned; click on the hot links above to see the directions. Another advantage of doing it yourself is that you can control the amount of sodium.
If this soup scores points with your family, check out the other soup recipes in the Cook section of the SpendSmart.EatSmart web page. All our recipes are healthy, low-cost and easy.
Mexican Chicken Soup
- 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (Mexican-style)
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen corn or 1 15-ounce can corn, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can sodium-reduced chicken broth or 2 cups Homemade Chicken Broth
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast
- Add tomatoes, beans, corn, broth, garlic, chili powder, cumin (if desired), and pepper in large saucepan.
- Remove and discard any visible fat from chicken. Cut chicken into large chunks and add to the saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
- Remove the chicken and place on a plate; use forks to shred the chicken. Return the shredded chicken to soup.
- Serve with choice of garnishes, such as baked tortilla chips.
-pointers from Peggy