Thursday, September 27, 2012
So, we started taking home made lunches to work. In jars. I thought I was unique. Forward thinking. Turns out, I'm not the only one who had this idea. Which is actually a good thing, as it meant I could now find out what other people put in their jars for lunches.
Some, haven't been so great, when it comes to trying to get each individual part back OUT of the jar to eat it. (In my defense, marinated steak strips (left jar in the above picture), topped by peas, topped by my Smashed Potatoes *recipe below*, and a liner full of home made sour cream - looks AWESOME in a jar. It's NOT my damn fault that I didn't think the whole marinade thing through, and how hard a cupcake liner of peas would be to get OUT of the jar. They went in so EASY!! However, it was damn good, if I do say so myself. Did I mention, it's cheap? Those jars of food up there cost less than a dollar!! Yes, a whole meal for UNDER a dollar!)
Others, have been awesome. They are the PERFECT jar food, and I find myself now cooking my meals at night as to how well they will convert to leftovers for the next days lunch. And how well I can double a recipe so that the kids will have a fast snack or lunch to grab, heat, and eat. One of these, "mock" White Castle Sliders, is actually BETTER the following day, than they are freshly made. You can find the recipe here: Big Red Kitchen. I know, Ms. Joss makes them look all pretty, and perfect and just the right amount of juice. However, if you are going to make these, please be forewarned that you will most likely be doing more than "blotting" some grease off the top. I, and another blogger, (ok, ok - a REAL blogger!)Groovy Mom , too, had to literally DUMP a cup or two of grease off. Don't let that deter you, they really ARE worth it. The perfect blend of beef, bun, onions and pickle. To have better flavor though, let them sit in fridge over night, and reheat in a microwave - bun and all - the next day.
By doing this, we have cut out fast food almost entirely from our meals. (This is a very, very good thing.) Each jar holds the perfect serving size for us. Mine goes in pints, Husband's goes in pint and a half jars. We aren't tempted to "super size", and then eat more than what we really want or need, to avoid waste.
I'm no domestic goddess, but I do know my way around a kitchen. Some days I wish I didn't. I'm sure every cook has those days though. By thinking ahead, and actually planning for leftovers, I have discovered that the quality of my cooking has gone back up. I am once again making an effort with it, instead of just doing it by routine. In order to make a meal in a jar work, it has to be food that will hold up, and be as good, if not better than it was the day you cooked it.
By doing all our meals in jars, I have it figured out that we are saving approximately $11 a day (yes, I said a DAY), from our at work food budget. As for calories? I haven't sat down and put all numbers to papers, but I do know that a typical fast food meal is around 1800 calories, and an average jar meal is about 400 to 600. HUGE difference.
As promised, recipe for "Smashed Potatoes":
You will need one full size potato, cut into quarters, or 2 - 4 small red or white potatoes, per each adult.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, F. Boil the potatoes for approximately 8 - 10 minutes, drain.
On a lightly greased cooked sheet, take potatoes, one at a time, and smash them onto the cookie sheet, to flatten.
Top with 1/2 to 1 tsp of butter or olive oil - according to your taste. Season with salt, pepper, or seasoning of your choice.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, until potatoes start to brown, and crisp on the edges.
Remove from oven, and serve as is, or as you would a baked potato - sour cream, cheese, bacon bits, etc.
(See, SUPER easy, not to mention CHEAP, if you use whole potatoes in place of baby potatoes. I truly wish I had a pic to show you, as these look really "fancy", and like you put a lot of effort into them! We eat these as both a side dish, and as a main course - depends on the night!)