I love to feed people. I mean I LOVE to feed people. I am one of those annoying people that is offended if you don’t have seconds, don’t compliment me on how delicious my food is, and will force you to eat even when you aren’t hungry. I love to try new recipes and have a desire to share everything that I make with others. Since I have a knack for feeding people, I enjoy taking meals to those in need. If you are sick, having a baby, feeling blue, lost a loved one- I will be knocking at your door with food in hand…whether you asked for it or not. I have not had anyone refuse my efforts yet and this is the only way I know how to act in crisis situations. This would be a typical Amy conversation:
Friend: My dog just died
Amy: I will bring a casserole and you will feel much better
Since I prepare meals often, I am getting my delivery of food down to a science. Here are a few helpful pointers for the frugal-minded on how to make your dinner special (but cheap!)
1. Although you may be frugal, this may be the time to break out the disposable stuff. I try and stock up on foil pans at the Dollar Tree and have these on hand to put meals in. I also have a lot of mismatched containers (ones missing lids) that you can use that Glad Press & Seal stuff on and cover those containers that you wouldn’t normally use. I usually bring disposable containers to people who I don’t know very well and am unsure if I will get my stuff back from them. For family and close friends, I do have a set of dishes that I use just for delivering meals.
2. If I actually deliver food to people in my “real” dishes, I stick those free address labels on them to make sure that I get my pans back. These labels are particularly handy for the new mommies who are weary from being up with their new little bundle of joy. Usually they are getting multiple meals and it is easy to have your things get lost in the shuffle. I put my address labels on these containers and it makes it easier for them to remember who gave them the dish and they have my address handy for thank you notes (if they feel like thanking me, which is unnecessary, but always appreciated!)
3. A tray or a sturdy box makes delivery much easier. My sister-in-law pointed out a tray to me when we were at TJ Maxx and I got it for less than ten bucks. It is so nice to stack everything on the tray to take to people, drop off the food, and take my tray home for the next round of meals.
4. Pick dishes that s-t-r-e-t-c-h. I usually fix pasta dishes for meals because I know that I can make a lot for them without going over on my own grocery budget. Making something that you can easily double is also very important. You can freeze a batch for yourself or eat it that night for dinner and have one less meal to worry about.
These are a few of my favorite dishes to take to folks because they are wallet friendly and make a wonderful presentation (with minimal efforts).
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce w/Meatballs
1 # lean ground turkey
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Â¼ cup gratedParmesann cheese
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg beaten
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cans crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
2 teaspoon white sugar
3 teaspoons salt
In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, garlic powder and beaten egg. Mix well and form into 12 balls. Store, covered, in refrigerator until needed. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil until translucent. Stir in tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leaf. Cover in slow cooker and heat on low, and simmer 2 hours. Stir in tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and meatballs and simmer 2 hours or more. Serve sauce & meatballs over penne pasta.
*For time-saving, you can bake the meatballs on a cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees and then add them to the sauce.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
2#’s beef stew meat, cubed
6 cups of various veggies- carrots, potatoes and celery
1 can diced tomatoes (with the juice poured in)
1 can beef broth
1 cup water
1 tsp ground mustard
salt and pepper
3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Put beef in a zipper bag with a 1/4 cup of flour and toss to coat. Brown the meat in a skillet and place on the bottom of the crock pot. Coarsely chop vegetables and place on top of the meat. Pour in the can of diced tomatoes with juice, can of beef broth, water, and ground mustard. Place sprigs of rosemary on top and cook on high for four hours or on low for six to eight hours.
1 pound ground turkey
1 can chili beans, with liquid
1 can kidney beans, with liquid
1 can whole kernel corn, with liquid
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 package of taco seasoning mix
In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat. Drain & set aside. Place the ground beef, chili beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes, & taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker. Mix to blend and cook on Low setting for eight hours.
1 (8 ounce) package egg noodles, broken into pieces
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups of chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons sherry
1 package mushrooms
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for eight to ten minutes or until al dente; drain. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter and cook garlic in the butter. Stir in flour, salt, & pepper. Cook stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and gradually stir in chicken broth & cream. Return to heat, and bring to a low boil for one minute stirring constantly. Add sherry, then stir in cooked spaghetti, mushrooms, & chicken. Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake for thirty minutes in the preheated oven, until bubbly and lightly brown.
Classic Baked Ziti
1 pound lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (32 ounce) jar meatless sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta, cooked & drained
2 (8 ounce) cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook ground beef & garlic over medium-high heat for six to eight minutes or until beef is browned; stirring frequently. Stir in spaghetti sauce, chicken broth, & oregano. Reduce heat & simmer for ten minutes. Stir one cup of the sauce into the cooked ziti noodles. Spoon half of the ziti mixture into a 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle with 1.5 cups mozzarella cheese & a 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Top with two cups sauce, then remaining ziti mixture & remaining sauce. Cover & bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella & Parmesan cheese. Return to oven & bake uncovered for ten minutes or until heated through.
Feel free to share your own recipes in the comments section so that we all can get new ideas for meals!